Kohs Block Test

Kohs block test is a performance-based nonverbal intelligence test requiring the subject to reproduce a series of geometric patterns using colored blocks.

The Kohs block test, or Kohs block design test, is a cognitive spatial reasoning test originally designed for children or adults with a mental age between 3 and 19. It is mainly used to test persons with language or hearing handicaps, but also given to disadvantaged and non-English-speaking children. Subjects are tested on an individual basis; the test is not designed for administration to groups.

The test subject is shown a series of 17 cards with a variety of colored designs in order of increasing complexity and asked to reproduce them using a set of 16 colored cubes that measure an inch on all sides. Four sides of each cube are painted red, white, blue, or yellow, with the remaining two sides divided diagonally between red and white or blue and yellow. Scoring is based not just on the accuracy of the reproduction, but also on the number of moves the subject takes to complete the design. In addition, the examiner observes the subject's behavior during the test, including such factors as attention level, self criticism, and adaptive behavior (such as self-help, communication, and social skills).


To act out a story or give instructions through bodily gestures without the use of speech.
Spatial reasoning—
The ability to mentally (and sometimes physically) manipulate two-or threedimensional figures. It is also called spatial visualization ability.

The Kohs block test was widely used as a separate test up through the 1950s and 1960s, but by 2015 was more often included in such other tests as the Merrill-Palmer, Wechsler, and Arthur Performance scales. One reason is that the original version of the test is fairly time-consuming. Kohs' 1920 article specified time limits for each of the 17 designs, with 1.5 minutes for the first three tests up through 4 minutes each for the last four. It thus required a minimum of 45 minutes to administer the test and very often close to an hour. In 1942 a group of psychologists reported on a shorter version of the Kohs test suitable for use by the military in testing volunteers and draftees. The short form used a smaller number of Kohs' designs, but administered them in the order he had originally presented.

In the 1960s a version of the Kohs block test that could be used to test blind persons was devised by two psychologists working for the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration of what was then the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Known as the Stanford-Ohwaki-Kohs test, this version was rarely used as of 2015. A newer use of the Kohs block test is in evaluating the level of cognitive function in elderly adults or in patients recuperating from brain surgery; most of this research is conducted in Japan. Although the full Kohs block test is used less often than it was when it was first introduced, test kits and score cards for the test are still manufactured and distributed by the Stoelting Company in Illinois. The cost for the complete kit as of 2015 was $140.00.

See also Intelligence testing; Terman, Lewis.



Dauterman, William L., and Richard M. Suinn. Stanford-Ohwaki-Kohs Tactile Block Design Intelligence Test for the Blind; Final Report. Washington, DC: Vocational Rehabilitation Administration, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1966.

Flanagan, Dawn P., and Patti L. Harrison, eds. Contempo-rary Intellectual Assessment: Theories, Tests, and Issues, 3rd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2012.

Geisinger, Kurt F., ed. APA Handbook of Testing and Assessment in Psychology. 3 vols. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2014.


Benton, Arthur L., and James D. Perry. “Short Method of Administering the Kohs Block Designs Test.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 12 (April 1942): 231–33.

Brand, H. J., M. J. Pieterse, and M. Frost. “Reliability and Validity of the Ohwaki-Kohs Tactile Block Design Test for the Blind.” Psychological Reports 58 (April 1986): 275–380.

Kohs, S. C. “The Block-Design Tests.” Journal of Experimental Psychology 3 (October 1920): 357–76.

Sakamoto, R., et al. “Predictors of Difficulty in Carrying Out Basic Activities of Daily Living among the Old-old: A 2-year Community-based Cohort Study.” Geriatrics and Gerontology International, February 6, 2015 [E-publication ahead of print].

Suzuki, M., et al. “Predicting Recovery of Upper-body Dressing Ability after Stroke.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 87 (November 2006): 1496–1502.


Kohs, S. C. “The Block-Design Tests.” This is a link to a downloadable PDF of Kohs’ original article. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kohs-BlockDesign_tests-1920.pdf (accessed August 17, 2015).

Stoelting Company. “Kohs Block Design Test.” http://www.stoeltingco.com/kohs-block-design-test3481.html (accessed August 17, 2015).

Test Screening IQ—Kohs. This is a 2-1/2 minute video (no voiceover) showing a child completing one of the Kohs test figures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xze_9ION-4I (accessed August 17, 2015).


American Psychological Association Division 15, 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC, United States, 20002-4242, (202) 336-5500, (800) 374-2721, http://apadiv15.org/ .