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Cognitive and motivational profile shape predicts mathematical skills over and above profile level


Correspondence to: Giselle Reimann or Alexander Grob, Faculty of Psychology, University of Basel, Missionsstrasse 60/62, 4055 Basel, Switzerland. E-mail: or


The interpretation of subtest profiles from intelligence testing remains popular among many practitioners who use subtest performance to draw diagnostic conclusions, in spite of criticism by some researchers, who point to the low reliability and predictive validity of subtest scores in predicting achievement outcomes. Prior research outlines two approaches to the study of subtest variation: the examination of interindividual variation in specific cognitive domains or subtests as compared to a standard sample, and the examination of intraindividual strengths and weaknesses, regardless of overall level. The present study seeks to add to knowledge in this field with data from 567 children ages 5 to 10 years who exhibit meaningful subtest variation on a new test of intellectual abilities. Results from the present sample point to statistically significant utility, with small to medium effects, of intraindividual cognitive and motivational profile shape over and above profile level in predicting mathematical skills. We discuss implications for school psychological and educational assessment research.