Woodcock–Johnson Test

Developed in 1977 by Richard Woodcock and Mary E. Bonner Johnson, the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities is one of the most popular IQ tests available today. Most recently updated in 2014 (referred to as the WJ IV), the Woodcock-Johnson test is an intelligence test that can be used on participants from the age of 2 all the way to people in their 90s. The test is similar in nature, and can often be used in place of, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) for an educational diagnosis of children. The test is used primarily to measure ability for academic achievement, oral language, scholastic aptitude, and overall cognitive skills.

What are the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities?

The  Woodcock-Johnson test is a multiple choice intelligence test that can be administered by schools, psychologists, and testing centers. The test includes what are known as the Standard Battery and Extended Battery of tests. Previously, the Woodcock-Johnson III test ( also known as the WJ-III test) was used to develop intelligence index scores for the General Intellectual Ability (GIA) and Brief Intellectual Ability (BIA). With the introduction of the WJ IV test, there are now three test batteries, which can be used independently or in combination. Those batteries are:

  • The WJ IV Tests of Cognitive Abilities. This test is used to identify learning problems and individual strengths and weaknesses. This is similar to other intelligence tests such as the Stanford-Binet and Wechsler Intelligence tests.
  • The WJ IV Tests of Achievement. This test battery is used to measure math and reading proficiency and compare academic achievement in relation to the subject’s academic knowledge.
  • The WJ IV Tests of Oral Language. This test battery is used to assess language proficiency.

The WJ IV Tests of Cognitive Abilities

The Cognitive Abilities portion of the Woodcock-Johnson test consists of the following tests.

Standard Battery

  • Oral Vocabulary
  • Number Series
  • Verbal Attention
  • Letter-Pattern Matching
  • Phonological Processing
  • Story Recall Test
  • Visualization
  • General Information
  • Concept Formation :

Extended Battery

  • Numbers Reverse
  • Number-Pattern Matching
  • Nonword Repetition
  • Visual-Auditory Learning
  • Picture Recognition
  • Analysis-Synthesis
  • Object-Number Sequencing
  • Pair Cancellation
  • Memory for Words

From these tests the following intelligence clusters are scored.

  • Short-Term Working Memory-Extended
  • Brief Intellectual Ability
  • Gf-Gc Composite
  • Cognitive Processing Speed (Gs)
  • Number Facility (N)
  • Perceptual Speed (P)
  • General Intellectual Ability
  • Auditory Processing (Ga)
  • Comprehension-Knowledge (Gc)
  • Auditory Memory Span (MS)
  • Comprehension-Knowledge-Extended
  • Long-Term Retrieval (Glr)
  • Fluid Reasoning (Gf)
  • Visual Processing (Gv)
  • Fluid Reasoning-Extended
  • Cognitive Efficiency
  • Short-Term Working Memory (Gwm)
  • Cognitive Efficiency-Extended Clusters

The WJ IV Tests of Achievement

The Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement portion of the test consists of the following tests:

Standard Battery

  • Letter-Word Identification
  • Applied Problems
  • Spelling
  • Passage Comprehension
  • Calculation
  • Writing Samples
  • Word Attack
  • Oral Reading
  • Sentence Reading Fluency
  • Math Facts Fluency
  • Writing Fluency

Extended Battery

  • Reading Recall
  • Number Matrices
  • Editing
  • Word Reading Fluency
  • Spelling of Sounds
  • Reading Vocabulary
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Humanities

From these tests the following intelligence clusters are scored.

  • Brief Achievement
  • Broad Achievement
  • Reading
  • Broad Mathematics
  • Written Language
  • Math Calculation Skills
  • Reading Fluency
  • Broad Written Language
  • Reading Rate
  • Basic Writing Skills
  • Mathematics
  • Written Expression
  • Math Problem Solving
  • Academic Skills
  • Reading Comprehension-Extended
  • Academic Applications
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Academic Fluency
  • Broad Reading
  • Academic Knowledge
  • Basic Reading Skills
  • Phoneme-Grapheme Knowledge

The WJ IV Tests of Oral Language

The Achievement portion of the Woodcock-Johnson test consists of the following tests.

Standard Battery

  • Picture Vocabulary
  • Oral Comprehension
  • Segmentation
  • Rapid Picture Naming
  • Sentence Repetition
  • Understanding Directions
  • Sound Blending
  • Retrieval Fluency
  • Sound Awareness
  • Vocabulario sobre dibujos
  • Comprensión oral
  • Comprensión de indicaciones

From these tests the following intelligence clusters are scored.

  • Listening Comprehension (Spanish)
  • Broad Oral Language (Spanish)
  • Oral Language (Spanish)
  • Speed of Lexical Access
  • Phonetic Coding
  • Vocabulary
  • Oral Language
  • Broad Oral Language
  • Oral Expression
  • Listening Comprehension

Woodcock-Johnson IV Scoring

Like many other intelligence tests, Woodcock Johnson scoring has some complexities. There are several different scores generated upon completing the Woodcock-Johnson test. The three types of WJ IV scoring ranges that are provided upon completing the exam are the level of development, comparison with peers and degree of proficiency scores.

Level of development scores are designed to explain the scores in terms of age equivalents and grade equivalents. Thus, these scores explain a child’s score against people of their same age or grade to determine if their scores index at, above, or below their current age and grade.

Comparison with peers scores test takers against a standard score like other IQ tests (where the average score is 100 and the standard deviation is 15). This also offers a percentile rank which quantifies where the score falls within the total testing population and a range classification which assigns a label to a range of scores. The table below shows how all three relate.

Score Range Percentile Rank Range Classification
131 and above 98 to 99.9 Very Superior
121 to 130 92 to 97 Superior
111 to 120 76 to 91 High Average
90 to 110 25 to 75 Average
80 to 89 9 to 24 Low Average
70 to 79 3 to 8 Low
69 and below 0.1 to 2 Very Low

Degree of proficiency scores are metrics which show how a child performs on a functional level versus tasks that typical children in their same age group or grade would perform at a 90% level of efficiency. Scores can range from 100/90 to 0/90. The table below shows a detailed view of RPI scores, perceived functionality, and the score’s implication for the child’s academic achievement.

RPI Score Functionality Expected Difficulty in Academic Area
100/90 Very Advanced Extremely Easy
98/90 to 100/90 Advanced Very Easy
95/90 Within Normal Limits to Advanced Easy
82/90 to 95/90 Within Normal Limits Manageable
67/90 to 82/90 Mildly Impaired to Within Normal Limits Difficult
24/90 to 67/90 Mildly Impaired Very Difficult
3/90 to 24/90 Moderately Impaired Extremely Difficult
0/90 to 3/90 Severely Impaired Impossible


In 2014 The fourth edition of the test replaced the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities. There were quite a few changes as the test moved from version three to four, with some of the more notable changes listed below:

  • The Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement had fourteen more extended battery clusters between Parallel Forms, Standard Battery Academic Tests, Extended Battery Academic Tests, Standard BAttery Academic Clusters, and Extended Battery Academic Clusters.
  • The Tests of Achievement Story Recall, Understanding Directions, Picture Vocabulary and Oral Comprehension tests in the WJ III were replaced with the WJ IV Cognitive Battery, WJ IV Oral Language Battery, WJ IV Oral Language Battery, and WJ IV Oral Language Battery.
  • The Academic Knowledge Cluster was replaced by a long selection of new tests including: Oral Reading Test, Reading Test, Reading Recall Test, Number Matrices Test, Word Reading Fluency Test, Science Test, Social Studies Test, Humanities Test, and a new Reading Cluster.
  • The Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities included five new tests within the standard battery including Verbal Attention, Letter Pattern Matching, Phonological Processing, Story Recall, and Visualization
  • Another key change in the Cognitive Abilities test was the inclusion of tests for diagnostics, which were previously only included as a supplement to the WJ III tests.
  • Scoring differences on the Cognitive Abilities test was also quite significant, as the WJ III tested a variety of new clusters of intelligence. As an example, Phonemic Awareness, Working Memory and Delayed Recall were replaced by Comprehension Knowledge, Fluid Reasoning, and Short-term Working Memory.