I’d Like to Learn About Memory Tests

Reader’s Question

I want to understand memory tests. I want to learn the scoring method of the Wechsler Memory Scales-Third Edition (WMS-III) and how it is used to assess memory. Can you please suggest any manual for this purpose?

Psychologist’s Reply

All of the generally accepted instruments used to assess memory and other brain functions have manuals that provide instructions for their use as well as normative information. These materials are not meant for general consumption, however. There are many reasons for this. First, properly administering these instruments generally involves much more than following manual instructions. Supervised administration practice is required as well as an understanding and appreciation of testee behavior variables that can influence the accuracy of assessment. Second, someone who is familiar with the instruments and how they are interpreted or scored puts themselves in a position of not being able to receive a fair and accurate assessment should they themselves need one. So, it’s generally a good idea not to familiarize yourself with these instruments unless there is an important, valid reason to do so and also not a good idea to share such information with others. Third, interpretation of test results most often involves far more than accurate scoring and lifting descriptive phrases from the “manual.” For all these reasons, learning about the tests, their strengths and limitations, and proper procedures for scoring and interpreting them is generally limited to individuals receiving appropriate training in a mental health discipline. In addition to formal coursework, there are many reputable textbooks that provide information on how to properly administer, score, and interpret the tests.

There are many other reasons a person might be interested in the nature of psychological tests. As mentioned above, there are many textbooks available that provide excellent information on the subject. However, it’s also a good idea to have professional consultative guidance when attempting to digest these materials. If you’re a student wanting to do research, you supervising professor should be able to provide adequate guidance.

The manufacturers of all psychological tests publish strong caveats about their use. Similarly, the licensing and accrediting bodies of mental health professionals and other disciplines that use such tests enforce strict guidelines about their use and interpretation.

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