Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales Explanation


Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales


The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales is a widely used intelligence test. It is a comprehensive, norm-referenced, individually administered examination.


The purpose of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales sometimes called the Stanford-Binet test or Stanford-Binet, is to assess general intelligence and cognitive abilities in children and adults from the ages of 2 to more than 85 years. Specifically, it tests intelligence in four areas: abstract and visual reasoning, quantitative reasoning, short-term memory skills, and verbal reasoning.



Considered the oldest and most influential intelligence test, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales was devised in 1916 by the Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman (1877–1956) Binet-Simon model.Stanford Binet Intelligence Scales

Alfred Binet (1857–1911) created what is considered the first usable intelligence test.

The French government gave Binet this task to develop a method to assess and identify intellectually disabled children to be eventually placed in special education classes.

Later, in 1908 and 1911, Binet and another French psychologist, Théodore Simon (1872–1961), revised the Binet-Simon model first published in 1905.

The test consisted of various activities (such as touching one’s ear and drawing objects or figures from memory) that children of multiple ages commonly performed.

Binet and Simon selected these activities based on numerous years of observing children in usual activities.

The two psychologists used 50 children—10 children considered average intelligence by their teachers in each of five age groupings—to validate 30 actions of increasing difficulty.

Although many psychologists and other professionals question some of its concepts, such as mental age and intelligence quotient (IQ), the test is still widely used to assess cognitive development and determine placement in special education classes.

The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales is considered the introduction of intelligence testing (or IQ testing) to the modern era, and its use continues into the twenty-first century.

The scoring of this test was based on the performance of these age-related tasks.

For example, a five-year-old child who completed all of the assigned tasks that a normal five-year-old could pass would be scored as having a mental age equivalent to his or her chronological age.


Revised in 2003, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Revision Five (Stanford-Binet 5, or SB5) can be used with children from ages two years and older up to young adults.

Consisting of questions and short tasks arranged from easy to complex, the Stanford-Binet measures a wide variety of verbal and nonverbal skills.

Its structure is divided into four areas:

1) hybrid structure;

(2) oral routing test;

(3) nonverbal routing test;

(4) verbal and nonverbal age scales.

The Stanford-Binet 5 includes the following:

(1) Full-Scale IQ (a comprehensive measure of cognitive ability based on the taking of the subtests);

(2) two-domain scores (Nonverbal IQ and Verbal IQ); and

(3) two sets of five-factor indexes (both nonverbal and verbal).

The five-factor indexes include:

  • nonverbal fluid reasoning
  • verbal fluid reasoning
  • nonverbal knowledge
  • verbal knowledge
  • nonverbal quantitative reasoning
  • verbal, quantitative reasoning
  • nonverbal visual-spatial processing
  • verbal visual-spatial processing
  • nonverbal working memory
  • verbal working memory

In addition to the five-factor indexes, two special routing subtests—Nonverbal-Fluid Reasoning:

Object Series/Matrices and Verbal-Knowledge: Vocabulary—are also provided.

Together these are called the Abbreviated Battery. These two subtests are taken before the Stanford-Binet 5 test.

Depending on these two routing subtests’ scores, the administrator may begin the SB5 trial at Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.

The SB5 nonverbal subtests, which require minimal receptive language skills and fine-motor coordination, include:

  • Nonverbal Knowledge (Picture Absurdities [Levels 4–6]and Procedural Knowledge [Levels 2–3])
  • Nonverbal Quantitative Reasoning [Levels 2–6]
  • Nonverbal Visual-Spatial Processing (Form Board [Levels 1–2]and Form Patterns [Levels 3–6])
  • Nonverbal Working Memory (Block Span [Levels 2–6] and Delayed Response [Level 1]).

The verbal subtests, which require the reading, speaking, and comprehending of age-appropriate English, include:

  • Verbal Fluid Reasoning (Early Reasoning [Levels 2–3], Verbal Absurdities [Level 4], and Verbal Analogies [Levels 5–6])
  • Verbal Quantitative Reasoning [Levels 2–6]
  • Vocal Visual-Spatial Processing (Position and Direction [Levels 2–6])
  • Verbal Working Memory (Memory for Sentences [Levels 2–3] and Last Word [Levels 4–6]).

The total testing time of the SB5 is 45–75 minutes for the Full-Scale IQ Battery, with the time variance depending on the test taker’s age and the number of subtests given.

About 30 minutes is required to administer the Verbal and Nonverbal IQ scales. The Abbreviated Battery test takes 15–20 minutes to complete.

Whilst the child’s attitude and behavior at the time of the test are recorded, they are not used to resolve the result, which is concluded by converting a unique raw result for the full text to a figure indicating mental age (mean age of a child accomplishing that result).

A formula is then implemented to arrive at the intelligence quotient (IQ). An IQ of 100 confirms that the child’s chronological and mental ages match.

Traditionally, IQ scores from 90 to 109 are considered average, scores below 70 indicate intellectual disability, and scores of 140 or above place a child in the gifted category.

The Stanford-Binet 5 was standardized on a sample of 4,800 individuals (selected at random from all parts of the United States) that match the U.S.

Census was taken in 2000. A Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales for Early Childhood is also available for children two years to seven years, three months.

In its fifth edition, the test is also called the Early SBS. Both the Stanford-Binet 5 and the Early SBS are published by Riverside Publishing, headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.


The SB5 requires all administrators have the skills to administer the test properly.

Such skills come from administering sufficient practice tests to acquire reliable knowledge of the testing procedure.

Workshops are often used to train personnel used to administer the SB5, as are graduate-level testing courses.

The technical manual provided with the SB5 provides evidence that the scoring process is reliable.

The review of the SB5 by the Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY), published by the Buros Center for Testing, stated that internal consistency reliability coefficients for the IQ scores were from 0.95 to 0.98, while the coefficients for the five Factor Index scores ranged from 0.90 to 0.92.

The MMY review added, “…reliability coefficients were quite high and appropriate for an instrument of this magnitude.”.

The MMY review concluded with the following summary: “The publication of the newest revision of this well-established test of intelligence continues an almost 100-year-old tradition of evolution and refinement.

Despite some technical and statistical limitations (e.g., lower stability for young children and individuals with low cognitive abilities, problematically high correlations with achievement, uncertain factor structure), the SB5 offers important improvements over the previous version of the scale. It remains one of the premier instruments for the estimation of cognitive abilities of children, adolescents, and adults.”.

The American psychologist and professor of psychology Judy A. Johnson, and Rik Carl D’Amato, professor of psychology, who reviewed the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Fifth Edition (SB5), as part of the Mental Measurements Yearbook, stated,

“TheSB5 is the long-awaited revision of the Stanford-Binet 4, and the publication of the SB5 was worth the wait.

The test development process followed the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, & NCME, 1999). It resulted in a well-designed, technically sound instrument that follows in the footsteps of earlier editions of the Binet scales but also integrated new research on intelligence into the measure.”

The reviewers concluded that although the SB5 does have some weaknesses, its strengths far outweigh them.

For people who require an individually administered, norm-referenced intelligence test, the SB5 is “… an exceptional instrument.”


The test should be administered by a trained professional. Similarly, the results must be interpreted by a professional, often a child psychologist.

Parents should not attempt to apply similar methods or make evaluations about their child’s intelligence because they may lead to false conclusions and concerns.

Children with disabilities may require accommodations while taking the test, such as rest breaks or extra time.

Parents should make the examiner aware of a child’s potential limitations before the day of the test.

Also, anxiety about test results by the parents can harm the child’s performance. Parents should reduce the child’s stress level and ensure the child is well-rested and fed before the test.



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Riverside Publishing. StanfordBinet Intelligence Scales (SB5), Fifth Edition.Riverside Publishing. (accessed April 30, 2020).


American Educational Research Association (AERA), 1430 K St NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 238-3200, Fax: (202) 238-3250, .

American Psychological Association (APA), 750 First St NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242, (202) 336-5500; TTY: (202) 336-6123, (800) 374-2721, .

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), PO Box 3006, Rockville, MD 20847, (800) 370-2943; TTY: (888) 320-6942, Fax: (866) 760-5947,, .