Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Guide

PPVT Summary
What: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test
Who: Children ages 2 ½ through adults 90+
Where: Schools, test centers, doctors offices
When: Anytime after a child reaches 2 ½
How: Test takers identify pictures
Type: Vocabulary
Why: he test is used to help evaluate one’s vocabulary and diagnose learning disabilities
Time: Anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes
Language: American English
Preparation: No special preparation is needed.
Cost: Test kits start around $150.

By: Erin Hasinger, Tests.com


The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, or the PPVT, is a test that evaluates a person’s English vocabulary. The test is used both to measure verbal ability and estimate future academic success. Created in 1959 by Lloyd Dunn and Leota Dunn, the PPVT can be used for children ages two-and-a-half through adults age 90 and up. The PPVT has been revised three times: the PPVT-R was an updated version created in 1981, the PPVT-III was developed in 1997 to be used for identifying students’ special needs, and the PPVT-IV is the latest version used for speech and language assessments. This most recent version, the PPVT-IV, was developed by Lloyd Dunn and his son Douglas Dunn.


The PPVT-IV is used for a number of reasons, including identifying language disorders, estimation of verbal intelligence in children with special needs, estimation of academic potential, and in the identification of possible learning disabilities. Because the test does not require any reading or writing, it is an assessment often used to evaluate children with severe physical disabilities. The test is designed to evaluate one’s knowledge of American English, though test kits do include a letter of explanation to parents that is available in both English and Spanish.


During the test, a teacher or other test administrator shows the test taker a series of pages of full color images. Each page features four pictures, and the test administrator will say a word that describes one of the four pictures. The test taker then is asked to identify which one of the four pictures is being described. Depending on the age of the test taker, an answer may be identified by pointing, selecting the image’s number or by selecting from a multiple-choice menu.


For example, one page might show illustrations of a cow, horse, sheep and llama. The test administrator will ask the test taker to identify which picture shows a horse.


The test includes 228 test items shown across 19 test pages. The images represent 20 different content areas, such as actions, animals or fruits and vegetables, as well as both nouns and verbs. The PPVT should only take from about ten to 30 minutes to complete.


The test has been nationally standardized to calculate scores for age groups for test takers of all ages. Raw scores can be converted to mental age or percentile rank. A PPVT test score can also be used to calculate an IQ score, though some psychologists discredit the PPVT as an IQ test. Exams can be scored by hand or using a specialized PPVT software program in about five minutes.


PPVT-IV test kits are available through Pearson Education’s PsychCorp. Test kits start at about $150.00. Kits may include an easel, carrying case and scoring cards, so prices will vary depending on the number of accessories one opts to purchase.


For more information about the PPVT or to find a test or test preparation materials, see the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Directory. To learn more about intelligence tests in general, take a look at the Intelligence Test Guide.


Source: PsychCorp, Education.com