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Raven Intelligence Test

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

Q: In order to identify gifted students, our district uses the Raven test. I've heard that the test primarily tests one's spatial abilities, but a psychologist told me that the test covers many areas, not just spatial. I can't find any in-depth information on the Raven test. Are there any disadvantages compared to other, similar tests? What are its advantages?

A: The Ravens was designed to reduce the biases that language differences can have on measuring IQs. It allows children to show pattern-recognition, attention to details, memory, and spatial reasoning. It is similar to the performance scales on a WISC-III or other forms of intelligence test. It is a useful test, but like any assessment, it gives only part of the picture. If your child happens to have problems with directionality, visual memory, and/or line closure, the Ravens will under-predict intelligence. The best assessments rely on multiple types and sources of information.

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Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.


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