Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WAIS and WISC on the iPad - the good and the bad

OK, I have now had a week and a half of using  WAIS and WISC on the iPad. I have played with it a lot and I have now assessed four people with it. My impressions are rather mixed. I am giving Pearson lots of feedback (poor people), so it is quite possible that some of my pet peeves will disappear in the next version. Here it is: the good, the bad and the ugly:

The good:

1. The app is a solid translation of the test into the electronic medium. Things work, the subtests are the same, and the test is an exact copy of the original.

2. The administration instructions on the screen allow for a nice, uniform administration.

3. There are also some additional instructions about the administration and scoring that are easily accessed by tapping an icon.

4. The software scores each subtest and provides the scores immediately after each subtest. It also provides all the scaled scores, index scores and information about differences between indexes, including base rates, after the completion of the test. Nice.

5. If you score as you go, the test lets you know when to discontinue. It also gives you the option of testing limits if you want - very nice.

5. On verbal subtests one can choose one of the 'example' answers by pressing it, which frequently saves you from writing full answers down. There is also an option of writing things down in their entirety.

6. It seems somewhat less onerous to administer the test on the iPad, and one does not have to double-check the scoring.

The bad:
While the program is a competent version of the test, it is not a good app. The sleekness that one expects from an iPad app is lacking. It would probably not bug me if this was a PC application, as one does not expect it to be especially user-friendly. However, the same issues bother me greatly on an iPad. Here is a list of some things that bug me:

1. The app is not easy to start using. Do not count on being able to administer the WAIS without going through at least a couple of dummy clients - some practice is definitively needed.

2. There is no on-screen help for the features of the program, and it would be really useful at times.

3. The writing on the screen is very small and hard to read - granted, the writing is the same size as it would be in the manual. However, it could have been made much bigger, especially considering that there is often one line of 10-point text at the top of the screen, while the rest of the screen is empty.

4. Scoring is fully non-automatic, even in places where you would expect it to be. For example, you can choose a 2-point answer on Vocabulary, but that does not automatically give the clients a 2-point score. Apparently, automatic scoring was in the original and was criticized by users in the USA, hence no automatic scoring. Judging from Word Reasoning on WISC, where the scoring, in contrast to all other subtests, seems to happen entirely in the background and without the clinician's input, this was not that good either. Some automaticity in scoring that can be adjusted by the clinician would be best.

5. The timer is built-in, and can be used to count up or down. However, there is no option of having a chime at the end of the count-down. I found myself using my own timer on Symbol Search and Coding because of that.

6. The exported results are formatted in a quite painful way and there is no obvious way of getting Block Design with no time bonus score or Reliable Digit Span.

7. The logging-in problem is still an issue: while Pearson managed to log me onto the two iPads they provided, my attempts to log on using another iPad are still unsuccessful. I understand that the developer is looking into this.

8. One cannot delete a client file once it is created. This is a potential confidentiality issue, e.g.: at times when the client did not attend. I don't like client details floating in places they don't need to be. I have discussed it with a Pearson representative and she said that they will have a look into the issue. In the meantime, I found that I can edit the client details completely, leaving only the client number unchanged, so there is a way of dealing with it.

I'll be back with more information of CVLT and D-KEFS

Till next time,


  1. Very helpful as I am considering its use. The bonuses may well outweigh the minuses for me.

  2. Nice one
    NovoPsych is an iPad app used for clinical rating scales, like the DASS-21, Autism scales and so on. Check it at novopsych.com