Dr. Nicholas F. Benson

Dr. Nicholas F. BensonTitle

Evaluating Tests of Intelligence


Surveys of test usage consistently indicate that tests of intelligence are among the most frequently utilized assessment tools in educational, occupational, and clinical settings. These tests provide standardized samples of behavior useful for norm-referenced comparisons that facilitate inferences about how individuals are likely to perform and participate within social, academic, and occupational settings. Tests of intelligence are utilized for a variety of purposes, perhaps most notably as part of the following processes: (a) eligibility determination for special education and related services, (b) eligibility determination for Social Security income benefits, (c) selection of employees in industrial and business settings, (d) problem-solving activities in educational settings, and (e) diagnostic formulation and development of treatment goals and strategies in clinical practice. No test is universally valid for all purposes. Thus, test users must evaluate tests relative to their intended interpretations and uses of test scores. As tests of intelligence are routinely used to inform important decisions, it is imperative that test users be familiar with evaluation criteria and empirical research so that they can better evaluate the adequacy of these tests for specific purposes.


Nicholas Benson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at Baylor University. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Dr. Benson has served as a Mental Measurements Yearbook test reviewer since 2011 producing top-quality reviews of four high-profile achievement, personality, or intelligence tests for school-age children. His research interests focus broadly on psychological and educational assessment, with emphasis on examining the validity of interpretations and uses of test scores. Much of his research pertains to evaluating tests of intelligence. He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of School Psychology and School Psychology Quarterly. He is a member of the National Association of School Psychologists and Divisions 5 (Quantitative and Qualitative Methods) and 16 (School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.

  1. Recognize the importance of selecting an appropriate test of intelligence for a particular purpose and understand how to accomplish this by marshaling evidence to support inferences and actions.
  2. Recognize the importance of theory as well as the need to select tests that maximize correspondence between test scores and constructs posited by the theoretical framework an examiner will utilize when interpreting performance with cognitive tasks.
  3. Recognize that the factor structure of a test may be non-invariant across groups, particularly groups that differ with respect to their degree of proficiency with the language in which the test is administered, and therefore it is important to establish that the impact of construct-irrelevant sources of variance are minimal and the probability of obtaining a given observed score is independent of group membership. 
  4. Recognize the importance of developmental considerations when evaluating tests and interpreting performance with cognitive tasks.