How to effectively test for dyscalculia?

Last Updated on October 1, 2022 by Editorial Team


Dyscalculia is a disorder that is often confused with math anxiety. But, its way more complex and serious than just fear of numbers. Not enough research makes it extremely hard to differentiate its symptoms from a common math fear. In a recent study that included observing mathematics performance of 2,421 primary school children over a number of school years suggested that the number of pupils with dyscalculia are similar to those with dyslexia. But only  1 out of 108 ever received an official diagnosis.

Why diagnosis is important?

Dyscalculia is still an under-researched and understudied subject. There is no definite list of symptoms. The symptoms may change person to person. Severity may alter as the child grows. Please note that not all children may show all symptoms, and kids might occasionally have trouble with math. But children with dyscalculia will struggle a lot more than other kids who are the same age.

If you are wondering, whether your child is suffering from dyscalculia, or is something else causing the difficulty? Then the best option is to test the child for dyscalculia. Don’t worry. Just being a little cautious towards a child’s behavior can help a long way in his/her future. Early you identify the signs, earlier the child will be able to adapt to the new learning process and overcome the struggle. It’s important to keep a daily check of the child’s learning pattern. Look up to his/her stuff such as homework, class test sheets, etc. to investigate any possible signs of dyscalculia. If found, don’t panic. Consult a qualified school psychologist or special education worker to do the full evaluation.

Types of Tests for Dyscalculia

Although there are no specific tests for dyscalculia an evaluator will lookup for the level of a child’s developmental skills. A professional evaluation includes going through stages to achieve output from the subject to test his/her Computational, Math fluency, Mental Computation, Quantitative reasoning abilities. Each of these skills has its own specific test. Evaluating these An overall score is prepared based on which dyscalculia is diagnosed.

Woodcock-Johnson IV: Calculation subtest is one of the tests for evaluating the computational skills of the child. The administrator of this test will need the insight to see if your child can comprehend simple math problems. These tests are tailored specifically to the grade or grade equivalent that your child is in. The subject is given a piece of paper and a pencil to help them solve the problems. In this test, the test examiner will determine if your child is understanding the math that is being taught by the level of their skill and knowledge of the material. They compare these results with that of their peers to get a better understanding of where the child is at academically. If your child scores low, the test examiner will keep a record of the score.

MJIV (Woodcock-Johnson IV) Math fluency subtest is common to test for testing mathematical fluency. This test will give the administrator insight if your child can recall addition, subtraction, or multiplication facts quickly and easily. Subjects are given mathematical problems based on his/her level of understanding. The test is timed and is usually only 3-5 minutes long, depending on their age group/grade level. The test examiner will record the grading to see how your child scored and may also use that of their peers to see where they are academic.

The third test that will be performed on your child is called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) Arithmetic subtest. This test takes longer than the previous two to complete as the subject has to solve math problems in his/her head. They have to remember the problem that they were told and recall the math facts and either add, subtract, or multiply to figure out the answer. This is also called mental math. The tester will keep a total of your child’s score and also compare it to that of their peers to see where your child is standing academically.

The fourth test and final test is called WJIV (Woodcock-Johnson IV) Applied Problems. This test is prominently used to test the quantitative reasoning power of the child. This test is both verbal and visual. The subject is given a piece of paper and a pencil to help them solve the problems. The purpose of this test is to determine how well your child can analyze and solve math problems by themselves. The test gives insight into how the subject relates to real-life instances quantitatively. The tester will keep a record of their score to see where he/she is.

The examiner of the tests will look over all of the tests that he/she administered and it may take a few weeks to get all of the information all together to record it all. The examiner may also use an intelligence test to refer to as well as the recorded data. If your child scored low with all four of these tests, then he/she will be diagnosed with Dyscalculia.

Leave a Comment