Wechsler Memory Scale – Fourth Edition (WMS-IV)

Wechsler Memory Scale – Fourth Edition (WMS-IV)

Key Information


The most widely used scale of adult memory has been revised and enhanced to provide you with the most advanced measure and results you can trust.

Age Range:

16:0 to 90.11 years

RTI Tiers:

RTI Level 3


Contrast Scores

Publication Date:


Wechsler Memory Scale – Fourth Edition (WMS-IV)


Read about the new Flexible Approach!

In recognition of emerging demographic and clinical trends, the WMS—IV was developed to provide you with the most advanced measure of memory and results you can trust when addressing the changing clinical landscape.

Responding to influencing factors:

Changing Demographics

  • Updated normative data for ages 16-90 years
  • Enhanced utility for older adults

Emerging Clinical Needs

  • New clinical studies

New Research in the Field

  • Newly developed subtests and items

Increase Caseload

  • Reduced administration time to obtain composite scores
  • Improved scoring rules

4 Revision Goals

  • Expanded clinical utility
  • Enhanced user-friendliness
  • Improved psychometric properties
  • Updated test structure

Features & Benefits

Expanded Clinical utility

  • Improved floors across subtests
  • Included a general cognitive screening tool
  • Enhanced assessment of visual memory
  • Co-normed with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale®-IV

Enhanced User Friendliness

  • Included a brief older adult battery
  • Reduced subtest administration time
  • Minimized visual motor demands
  • Assessed working memory
  • Modified story content and administration process

Improved Psychometric Properties

  • Updated norms
  • Improved floors
  • Improved subtest and composite reliability
  • Reduced item bias

Areas of Assessment

Updated Test Structure

The WMS-IV has had significant changes to the overall test structure. Based on feedback from customers, we are introducing four new subtests and modifying three existing subtests.

4 subtests were added:

  • Spatial Addition
  • Symbol Span
  • Design Memory
  • General Cognitive Screener

3 subtests retained with modifications:

  • Logical Memory
    Although the stories remain the same as seen in WMS-III for ages 16-69 years old, the repetition trial for Story B has been dropped to increase the consistency with previous editions. For the older age range of 65-90 years old, a new story was developed with content more relevant. The story is shorter and repeated once to enable adequate floor through age 90. You can obtain immediate versus delay and recognition versus delay contrast scores.
  • Verbal Paired Associates
    It now includes a combination of difficult and easy items. For the younger age group (16-69 years) there are 14 items of which 10 are hard. For the older age group (65-90 years), there are 10 items of which six are hard. Delayed Free Recall Trial has been added while Recognition Trial has increased its level of difficulty. You can obtain immediate versus delay and recognition versus delay contrast scores.
  • Visual Reproduction
    While following the same structure and format as seen in WMS-III, there have been a few changes to the subtest. Recognition Trial has been shortened and scoring has been improved. Based on Munro Cullum’s research, scoring is easier and faster than previously experienced and emphasizes recall with less focus on drawing accuracy. You can obtain immediate versus delay and recognition versus delay contrast scores.

8 subtests were eliminated:

  • Information & Orientation
  • Spatial Span
  • Mental Control
  • Faces
  • Digit Span
  • Family Pictures
  • Letter Number
  • Word List (CVLT-II can be entered into Index)

What’s New

Spatial Addition

Based on “N-Back Paradigm”, Spatial Addition requires minimal motor function as the client must:

  • Remember location of dots on two separate pages
  • Add or subtract locations
  • Hold and manipulate visual spatial information

Symbol Span

A “Visual analog to Digit Span”, clients are asked to remember the design and the left to right sequence of the design. The clients are then asked to select the correct design from foils and choose them in the correct sequence.

No more motor requirements

Design Memory

Containing four items of increasing difficulty, Design Memory evaluates immediate and delayed recall as well as delayed recognition. It does not include drawing and reduces the opportunity to guess the correct response. You can obtain scores for spatial, details, and correct content in the correct location as well as contrast scores for spatial versus detail, immediate versus delayed, and recognition versus delayed.

Obtain scores for spatial, details, and correct content in the correct location.

Cognitive Screener

This new screener can be used to quickly evaluate significant cognitive impairment. You can assess:

  • Temporal orientation
  • Mental control
  • Clock drawing
  • Memory
  • Inhibitory control
  • Verbal productivity

Also available are classification tables that translate total scores into Average, Low, Moderately low, and Very low.

WMS–IV Flexible Approach

For use with the WMS-IV kit, new materials and data are now available that enable more flexible assessment based on individual client needs and examiner preferences.

  • New record form and corresponding normative data allow brief administration and generation of alternative memory indexes.
  • Additional new record form and corresponding normative data enable administration of new supplemental subtests (Logos and Names). The subtests provide an alternative memory index that eliminates motor demands on clients.
  • Applicable normative information is available for all current WMS–IV users at no charge via a software update for scoring and reporting software users or via an electronic norms disk for non-software users.

Read the WMS–IV Flexible Approach Information Sheet

The WMS-IV offers a number of subtest configurations that yield Immediate, Delayed, Visual and Auditory Memory Index scores. The combinations of subtests reflect the desire to reduce administration time and to address specific clinical situations (e.g., limited motor ability).

WMS-IV Batteries

The Standard WMS-IV: This consists of the 7 primary subtests that comprise the full WMS-IV battery and provide coverage for all the memory indexes.

The OAA* Battery: The OAA battery was developed in the standard WMS-IV as a shorter battery for use with older adults ages 65 to 90. This battery configuration was made available for examinees ages 16 through 69 in the WMS-IV Flex. The OAA battery uses LM, VR, and Verbal Paired Associates (VPA) to derive Immediate, Delayed, Auditory, and Visual Indexes.

The LMVR and LMDE* Batteries: 
Two shorter alternative batteries were developed: LMVR, consisting of Logical Memory (LM) and Visual Reproduction (VR), and LMDE, consisting of Logical Memory and Designs (DE). LM and VR are the most frequently used subtests in the previous editions of the WMS and provide coverage for all the memory indexes. The second configuration of LM and DE retains the
content coverage with reduced motor demands.

The VRLO and LONA Batteries: 
The last set of alternate batteries focuses on using supplemental subtests for assessing visual memory, which is a difficult construct to measure. During the development of the WMS-IV, two additional memory subtests were created: Logos (LO) and Names (NA). These two subtests provide optional measures of visual memory with the understanding that auditory memory functioning will also affect performance on these tests.

*LMDE and OAA batteries can be collected using standard WMS-IV record forms and an accompanying worksheet provided in the WMS-IV Flexible Manual.

  • Scores are now derived for Older Adult Battery (65–90) and Adult Battery (16–69)
  • Ability / Memory Discrepancy Scores (for use with WAIS–IV)
  • Index Scores
    • Auditory Memory
    • Visual Memory
    • Visual Working Memory
    • Immediate Memory
    • Delayed Memory
  • NEW – Contrast Scores (PPT – 268 KB)
    • Scaled scores contrasting performance across scores
    • Provide information on clinical significance of changes in scores across subtests or indexes

WMS-IV Scoring Assistant

View a sample copy of the Scoring Report to accompany WMS-IV

View System Requirements.

WMS-IV Report Writer

  • Click here for a sample interpretive report from the WMS-IV Report Writer (male/21 years)
  • Click here for a sample interpretive report from the WMS-IV Report Writer (female/62 years)

View System Requirements.

Q-global Unlimited-use Scoring Subscriptions

Two pricing options are now available for scoring and reporting on Q-global. In addition to the current per-report price, there is now an unlimited-use scoring and reporting subscription available in one-, three-, and five-year terms.

Important note: Each subscription is per user for the WMS-IV only and will begin on the date of order processing unless otherwise requested.

  • WMS®-IV Wechsler Memory Scale – Fourth Edition: An Introduction

    This pre-recorded 20-30 minute session allows you to learn at your leisure. All you need is access to the Internet and the sound enabled on your computer. Please keep in mind that the session may take a few minutes to load.

    This session provides you with essential information regarding the features of the WMS-IV.

    Attend a session

Pre-recorded Webinars

  • Advanced Interpretation of the WAIS-IV and WMS-IV

    Presenter: Gloria Maccow, PhD

    This hour-and-a-half long webinar will focus on interpretation of the data from the WAIS-IV and WMS-IV. The presenter will use data from the assessment instruments to describe strengths and needs in reasoning ability and memory. The data will be linked to the demands of the individual’s functional environment in an effort to identify appropriate interventions.

    This webinar is designed for clinicians who are familiar with the administration and scoring of WAIS-IV and WMS-IV subtests.

    Date: Sep 13, 2011



  • Overview of the Wechsler Memory Scales-Fourth Edition (WMS®-IV)

    Presenter: Gloria Maccow, PhD

    The Wechsler Memory Scale-Fourth Edition is an individually administered battery designed to assess various memory and working memory abilities of individuals ages 16-90 years. The WMS-IV offers a brief evaluation of cognitive status and provides a detailed assessment of clinically-relevant aspects of memory functioning commonly reported in individuals with suspected memory deficits or diagnosed with a wide range of neurological, psychiatric, and developmental disorders. Scores from the WMS-IV subtests are organized into summary index scores.

    WMS-IV Introductory Webinar

    This introductory, overview webinar will describe administration and scoring of the subtests and interpretation of the results. The webinar will be presented in three separate modules, each one hour in length. During Module One, the presenter will discuss the administration and scoring of the Brief Cognitive Status Exam and the subtests on the Auditory Memory Index. Module Two will focus on administration and scoring of the subtests on the Visual Memory Index and the Visual Working Memory Index. Module Three will focus on the basic interpretation of WMS-IV results.

    WMS-IV: Module One

    During Module One, the presenter will discuss the administration and scoring of the Brief Cognitive Status Exam and the subtests on the Auditory Memory Index.

    WMS-IV: Module Two

    Module Two will focus on administration and scoring of the subtests on the Visual Memory Index and the Visual Working Memory Index.

    WMS-IV: Module Three

    Module Three will focus on the basic interpretation of WMS-IV results.

    Date: Sep 09, 2011




  • Overview of the WMS-IV: Flexible Approach

    Presenter: Gloria Maccow, PhD

    The WMS®–IV Flexible Approach uses core and supplemental memory measures to expand the usability and utility of the Wechsler Memory Scale®–Fourth Edition (WMS–IV; Wechsler, 2009). The WMS®–IV Flexible Approach enables clinicians to identify memory difficulties by using alternate indexes derived from new subtest configurations. These alternate indexes and supplemental subtests were designed to create shorter or alternate memory assessments for use with the standard WMS–IV kit. The WMS–IV Flexible Approach allows the examiner to complete a survey of memory functions when a comprehensive evaluation of memory functioning is not required or cannot be completed.

    During this one hour webinar, the presenter will describe the WMS®–IV Flexible Approach Batteries. The focus will be on the available subtest combinations clinicians can use to derive Index scores for Immediate, Delayed, Visual, and Auditory Memory.

    Date: Mar 08, 2011




Frequently asked questions follow. Click on a question to see the response.

  • On the Brief Cognitive Status Exam, Item 11 (Inhibition), the examiner is supposed to administer the sample item, and then tell the examinee to do the same thing for the actual item. After I demonstrate the entire row and tell them I want them to do the “same thing,” should the examinee redo the first row that I just showed them and continue on, or should they begin with Line 2 (and continue from where I left off)?

  • The verbal load on many of the Visual Memory and Visual Working Memory subtest instructions seems substantial. We are concerned that the difficulties a client may experience in understanding the directions may cloud the results of these Visual Memory subtests.

  • Please explain why the Designs task is better than the Faces task. Besides the fact that it is more difficult to verbally mediate the Designs task, and that there may be other confounds on a face memory task, it seems that there are significant executive functioning demands with Designs and it appears to be an incredibly difficult task! (i.e., there are lots of distracters that have many similarities to the target stimuli; consequently, establishing relevant from irrelevant may be difficult).

  • What are Contrast Scores and how do I use them?

  • Which medications were listed as acceptable and how did you decide they were? What medications were examinees taking, e.g., Aricept for Alzheimer’s?

  • Do you have more information about the clinical groups reported in the WMS–IV (e.g., TBI, ALZ)?

  • Where can I get training on administering the WMS–IV?

  • In the past, the Wechsler Memory Test came with a cardboard easel so that the instruction panels are not visible to the examinee. The WMS–IV does not. What did the developers consider when they changed the format of the stimulus books?

  • My office just changed our operating system from XP to VistA. We were told by a Pearson representative that there is no upgrade for the CVLT–II. Is that true?

  • Why is there no opportunity to repeat the Joe Garcia story? Many clinicians like to evaluate if repeating the story benefits the examinee and if there is a difference in narrative recall for immediate and delayed recall for each of the stories.

  • Why is the WMS–IV devoid of human figures?

  • The Spatial Addition task seems as if it would be too confusing for impaired or elderly patients. If you are testing patients with Alzheimer’s disease, can they understand the task and get a scoreable response?

  • Why was Digit Span dropped from WMS–IV?

  • Why was Letter-Number Sequencing dropped from WMS–IV?

  • Why were the Mental Control, Information, and Orientation subtests dropped from WMS–IV?

  • Why was Faces dropped from WMS–IV?

  • Why was Family Pictures dropped?

  • Why was Spatial Span dropped?

  • Why was Word List dropped?

  • Why does WMS–IV focus on Visual Working Memory with out Verbal Working Memory?

  • I often use Demographically Adjusted Norms, will those be available and if so, when?

  • I test low functioning individuals who appear to have difficulty completing the WMS–IV tasks. Is the WMS–IV appropriate for this population?

Benefits of WMS-IV on Q-interactive

  • Access the full complement of WMS-IV subtests with the tap of a button
  • Create custom batteries by combining WMS-IV subtests with other tests such as the WAIS-IV.
  • Standardized administration displays stimuli for correct time on subtests like Visual Reproduction
  • Automatically score items “Designs and Spatial Addition”
  • Obtain scaled scores immediately after finishing a subtest
  • Generate score reports with one click, including ability-memory discrepancy analyses with the WAIS-IV.