Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test Score Interpretation: KBIT Scores Explained

The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT) is, as the name suggests, a short assessment designed to measure intelligence. The test is often used to assess students for entrance into gifted programs or to screen potentially gifted students for further testing.

The test provides three scores: a Verbal IQ, Nonverbal IQ, and overall IQ composite. Of course, Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test score interpretation requires an understanding of what the test is, how the test is scored, and what these scores mean for your child.

Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test: The Basics

The first KBIT test was introduced in 1990, and the most recent edition, the KBIT-2, followed in 2004. The assessment can be individually administered to people ages 4-90.

The KBIT-2 takes only about 20 minutes to complete and features three question types. On the Crystallized Scale (verbal section), subjects answer questions on Verbal Knowledge and Riddles. The Fluid Scale (nonverbal section) measures nonverbal intelligence with a matrices subtest.

On Verbal Knowledge questions, your child will be presented with a series of pictures. The test administrator will read a word aloud, and your child will have to point to the image that represents the given word or phrase.

For questions involving riddles, your child will be given hints about a word they will need to guess.

For the matrices questions on the test’s nonverbal section, your student will be shown an image and a series of additional images. He will be asked to point to the image that can most logically be paired with the original image. Older children are presented with more complex matrices in a 4 or 9 box grid.


Although the test must be administered in English, correct answers given in other languages still receive credit.

Benefits of the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test

The KBIT can be a great test for children because it’s so brief, not requiring excessive stamina or focus. It also features engaging full-color artwork specifically designed to appeal to children and reluctant test-takers. The combination of brevity and color makes the test feel less formal and stressful than many others.

This assessment can provide a quick estimate of intellectual ability, as well as an idea of an individual’s verbal versus nonverbal skills. This can help you determine your child’s relative strengths and weaknesses, providing insight into special abilities that need to be nurtured and/or areas that need additional work.

Additionally, experts have determined that the test has a high level of reliability and validity. It also utilizes culturally fair item selection and norming procedures. Norms have been independently established based on a national standardization sample selected to match United States census data.

Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test Score Interpretation

As mentioned previously, your child will receive three scores from the KBIT:

Verbal (assessing crystallized ability)

Nonverbal (assessing fluid reasoning)

Overall IQ composite

Naturally, the overall IQ score is likely what will be looked at when determining if your child is eligible for a gifted program or for additional testing.

The composite IQ score is found by converting your child’s raw score (total number of correct answers) on the verbal and nonverbal subtests into a standard score. This score is provided on the traditional scale, with 100 serving as the mean and 15 as the standard deviation.

The KBIT’s overall IQ score ranges from 40-160. Most gifted schools and programs expect a score from 125-130. However, requirements vary, so it is always best to contact your desired school or program and ask about score criteria.

In general, the following ranges can be used as a guide for Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test score interpretation.

130 and above: Upper extreme

120-129: Well above average

110-119: Above average

109-90: Average

80-89: Below average

70-79: Well above average

69 and below: Lower extreme

While the most important KBIT score is the overall IQ, the verbal and nonverbal scores can give you a more detailed understanding of your child’s abilities.

For example, your child’s IQ score won’t tell you that your child is verbally gifted but struggles with nonverbal skills. However, the additional scores help provide a more complete picture that can inform your child’s education moving forward.

How to Prepare for the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test

Now that you have a grasp on Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test score interpretation, it’s important to know how to help your child earn the best score possible.

Like most intelligence tests, the KBIT features questions your child has likely not encountered in school, or at least not on a regular basis. For this reason, practice with KBIT question types is essential.

Begin practicing at least one month before the KBIT, although 4-6 months in advance is ideal. Initially, have your child practice with no time constraints as he builds confidence and familiarity with test content. Ask him to explain each answer, giving you the opportunity to reinforce sound logic and correct misconceptions as needed.

As your child becomes more confident and successful with the test questions, begin timing him to more accurately mirror test conditions. We also recommend having your child take at least a few full length practice tests to gain a better understanding of pacing and structure for test day.

Additionally, you can incorporate test concepts into your everyday life. Have your child read more to build up his vocabulary, or play fun vocabulary games like Catch Phrase. Quiz your child with riddles and vocabulary flash cards.

You can even present the test questions as a game to help increase your child’s engagement and decrease his resistance to practice sessions.

While you want to avoid putting excess pressure on your child or being overly critical of incorrect answers, you can consider rewarding improvement and strong performances. Perhaps use a sticker chart, with a certain number of stickers earning your child a toy or a favorite treat.

Your knowledge of what works best for your child, combined with the tips and information provided here, should help him reach his fullest potential on the KBIT.

Afterwards, you’ll be prepared to make a sound Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test score interpretation. Remember that even if your child’s score is lower than expected, the KBIT score gives you useful information about what you can work on to aim for a higher score next time!