Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions about our Program:

How much does the INDIVIDUAL assessment cost?

How often may I have my child tested?

How do I schedule an appointment for my child to be INDIVIDUALLY tested?

Who are the test examiners, and how are they trained?

What days and times are available for INDIVIDUAL appointments?

What is your appointment cancellation policy?

What is an interpretive feedback session?

When will I receive the psychological report and interpretive feedback session?

I think my child may have a learning problem. Can a learning disability be diagnosed from a cognitive test, like the WISC-IV, alone?

I received my child’s WISC-IV results, and I saw a great deal of variability among the four WISC-IV index scores. Should I be concerned?

I received my cognitive test results, and the scores are much lower than I expected. I don’t think the scores are consistent with my child’s academic performance and/or the advanced abilities I have noticed at home. What happened?

Questions for FCPS Advanced Academic Program Applicants:

How do I submit an application for my child to enroll in FCPS AAP center program?

What INDIVIDUAL test(s) is my child required to take?

Will GMU submit my child’s scores to FCPS?

Do I need to have my child tested at GMU?

What quality assurance is offered in the GMU Cognitive Assessment Program?

What are the cut-off scores on the tests that my child needs to get to be eligible for the FCPS AAP program?

What influence does GMU have in determining my child’s eligibility for the FCPS AAP program?

General Questions about our Program

Q: How much does the INDIVIDUAL assessment cost?
A : Fees are $380 for cognitive assessment and $700 for cognitive and achievement assessment payable to GMU by cash or check only. Students with documented eligibility for a free or reduced price lunch from any public school system are awarded scholarships covering all testing costs. Fees must be paid in full at the time of the initial appointment. Bounced checks will be pursued according to usual GMU policies and procedures and may include a service charge.

Q: How often may I have my child tested?
A : Your child may not take the same test more than once a year, unless there are compelling and documented reasons to question the accuracy or validity of a prior test score.

Q: How do I schedule an appointment for my child to be INDIVIDUALLY tested?
A : Appointments for INDIVIDUAL assessments must be made by telephone by calling (703) 993-4200 and press 1. Our office staff accepts telephone inquiries from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. , Monday through Friday (except for Holidays). If you leave us a telephone message with your name and phone number, our staff will return your call by the next business day.

Q: Who are the test examiners, and how are they trained?
A : Our INDIVIDUAL intelligence test examiners are graduate students in GMU programs in clinical or school psychology. All examiners have received formal training and supervision in psychological testing. A licensed psychologist supervises every case.

Q: What days and times are available for INDIVIDUAL appointments?
A : Our office is available for testing from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. , Monday through Thursday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. , Friday through Sunday. Our building security locks the doors after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, after 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and all day on Sundays. Your examiner will admit you at your scheduled appointment time on those occasions.

Q: What is your appointment cancellation policy?
A : Twenty-four (24) hours is requested for cancellation or change of appointment, or a full fee will be charged and paid prior to re-scheduling another appointment. If you need to reschedule your appointment for any reason we request that you notify our office as soon as possible and send in payment before we will be able to hold a second appointment. This check will not be cashed until after the appointment.

Q: What is an interpretive feedback session?
A : An interpretive feedback session is a meeting with your examiner in which you can receive information on the results of your child’s assessment and gain an understanding of their meaning in context.

Q: When will I receive the psychological report and interpretive feedback session?
A : A psychological report detailing your child’s performance will be given to you during the interpretive feedback session no more than 30 days from the date that testing is completed. During the appeals phase of FCPS AAP center placement, we complete the entire evaluation process in no more than 14 days.

Q. I think my child may have a learning problem. Can a learning disability be diagnosed from a cognitive test, like the WISC-IV, alone?

A. No. No single testing instrument, in isolation, is sufficient for diagnosing a learning or other developmental disorder. The WISC-IV, SB-V, or DAS-II are often used as part of a comprehensive assessment for a learning disorder, in conjunction with tests of educational achievement, tests of cognitive processing, teacher and parent reports, etc. If you are interested in obtaining a more comprehensive assessment, you may contact you may contact our intake office, (703) 993-4200, for more information. Parents and individuals typically utilize the results of a cognitive assessment alone for the purposes of obtaining admission to a specialized program, or simply to gain additional insight into a child’s individual cognitive profile.

Q. I received my child’s WISC-IV results, and I saw a great deal of variability among the four WISC-IV index scores. Should I be concerned?

A. Not necessarily. Significant variation among the cognitive skill areas assessed by the WISC-IV is not uncommon, particularly among children identified with significant cognitive strengths. For example, research studies have reported substantial discrepancies between WISC-IV indices (> 23 points) in 74 – 79% of gifted samples (Rimm, Gilman, and Silverman, 2008). Thus, nontypical profiles appear to be “typical” for gifted students (Flanagan and Kaufman, 2009). If a child’s scores are within normal expectations and no educational concerns are present, there is usually little reason for concern. Please feel free to discuss any specific concerns you may have with your evaluator.

Q. I received my cognitive test results, and the scores are much lower than I expected. I don’t think the scores are consistent with my child’s academic performance and/or the advanced abilities I have noticed at home. What happened?

A. Though the correlation between cognitive test scores and academic success is generally strong, it is not perfect. Any standardized test provides information on only a limited sample of a child’s knowledge and skills. In general, we are inferring an abstract concept (i.e., ability) from a small sample of behavior (i.e., the ability to solve or answer a particular set of problems). For some children, the testing items may not fully tap the abilities they have demonstrated in other areas. For example, a young child’s grasp of advanced mathematics or interest in science may not be reflected in the scores of a standardized test with little science or advanced mathematical content. In addition, transient factors (i.e., fatigue, test anxiety, inattention) may impact a child’s performance on any given occasion. As a result of the inherent limitations of standardized testing, GMU supports a holistic approach to assessing a child’s cognitive strengths. No single measure of ability (such as an IQ score) can provide a complete summation of any individual child’s ability in all settings, or across domains.

Questions for FCPS Advanced Academic Program Applicants

Q: How do I submit an application for my child to enroll in FCPS AAP center program?
A : Your most important source of information is staff at the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), and you may ask your school’s gifted specialist, counselor, or principal for guidance. You should read the Parent Information Packet at http://www.fcps.edu/DIS/AAP /pdfs/ParentInfoPacket.pdf . You may also telephone the Elementary School FCPS AAP Programs Office at (703) 846-8670 or the Middle School FCPS AAP Programs Office at (703) 846-8674.

Q: What INDIVIDUAL test(s) is my child required to take?
A : The results from at least one ability test from the FCPS list of approved tests are required in order for a student to be considered for FCPS AAP center placement. GMU offers the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence (WPPSI-III), the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC-IV), the Differential Ability Scales (DAS-II), and the Stanford-Binet (SB5). If you have been evaluated with one of these instruments in the past year, please inform our intake staff when you call to make the appointment. The WISC-IV is one of the most widely administered intelligence tests in the U.S, and is the test administered most frequently by our examiners.

Q: Will GMU submit my child’s scores to FCPS?
A : No, you as a parent are responsible for delivering test scores to FCPS as a part of the completed AAP application file.

Q: Do I need to have my child tested at GMU?
A : No. FCPS recommends GMU as a provider of assessments for students seeking admission to their gifted and talented centers and programs, but you can chose other qualified providers.

Q: What quality assurance is offered in the GMU Cognitive Assessment Program?
A : We double-check each test protocol for accuracy and conduct a multi-point quality assurance review. When the psychological report is completed, we conduct another quality assurance review. Only after a thorough review is completed will the report be made available to the parent or guardian at a meeting to be arranged at a mutually convenient time for all parties.

Q: What are the cut-off scores on the tests that my child needs to get to be eligible for the FCPS AAP program?
A : There are no specific cut-off scores for any of the tests that determine eligibility for AAP center placement. The test scores are just one of several components that will be taken into consideration for the program. The FCPS central AAP selection committee makes placement decisions after taking a holistic look at the child’s educational history, reviewing progress reports, test data, and observations of the student’s classroom behaviors.

Q: What influence does GMU have in determining my child’s eligibility for the FCPS AAP program?
A : None. GMU conducts the testing, but we do not make any eligibility or placement decisions. The FCPS AAP central selection committee makes all decisions.