From the Annals of NIH History

Intelligence Tests

Flat box with compartments with toy cars, blocks, and other items

card with illustration of little boy; vocabulary test; other items


This Houghton Mifflin test material was part of the “Form L Revised Stanford-Binet Scale,” used by National Institute of Mental Health researchers in the 1950s to test the intelligence of children taking part in certain clinical studies. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale was first developed in 1905 by French psychologist Alfred Binet and his collaborator Theodore Simon to test the attention, memory, and verbal skill of schoolchildren and thereby measure their intelligence. It was revised in 1908 and 1911. In 1916, Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman released the “Revised Stanford-Binet Scale.” The ”Form L” refers to Terman’s version of the test; there’s also a ”Form M,” named for his graduate student Maud Merrill. The test is now used for clinical and neuropsychological assessment, educational placement, etc.

”The Stanford-Binet is one of the first examples of an adaptive test. Examiners use the information they have about an examinee to determine where to begin testing and administer only those items that are appropriate for that examinee…. One element of test structure that appears throughout the history of the Stanford-Binet is that of point scales and age scales. A point scale is the currently widespread arrangement of tests into subtests, with all items of a given type administered together. Age scales, long a part of the Stanford-Binet format…was used to provide a direct translation of the child’s performance to mental age.” (source: K.A. Becker, ”History of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales: Content and psychometrics,”  Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition Assessment Service Bulletin #1 (Itasca, Ill.: Riverside Publishing, 2003).