Pre-testing essentials (paper)

Using the screening tool

The screening process should be fun – it is not meant to be like a formal test. Therefore, it is acceptable to do different bits on different days; for children younger than three years, you may need to administer items at different times of the day rather than doing them all at once. This will help keep the child’s attention and will give you a better idea of what they are capable. If a child is finding it hard to concentrate, take a break and come back to it later. Make sure the child waits until you have finished saying what you want them to do before he/she picks up or points to any objects or pictures.

Materials needed

Early Years

  • The Little Book of Score Sheets and Rules
  • WellComm Picture Book


  • The Little Book of Rules
  • Score Sheet
  • WellComm Picture Book

Setting up

  • Gather the required equipment: real objects or toys and the WellComm Picture Book. The Little Book of Score Sheets and Rules contains exact instructions on how to complete each Score Sheet item and lists the resources needed to administer them.
  • For each item, it is essential to use the instructions in The Little Book of Score Sheets and Rules, rather than just looking at the Score Sheet for what to do.
  • If possible, find a quiet corner to carry out any direct screening of items. This will help with the child’s concentration. If you are screening in the child’s own home, try to minimise any background noise.
  • When giving instructions to the child, do not give any visual or verbal clues. This includes looking at or pointing to any of the objects or pictures you are asking questions about, as well as nodding with your head, or stressing individual words.
  • Try not to give any specific feedback regarding whether an item has been achieved or not. Keep praise general regardless of the child’s response (e.g., ‘good listening’ or ‘good try’). Specific praise can change subsequent responses on items requiring more than one trial. Also, it can be demoralising when it is clear the child has not achieved an item.

Recording responses

Both the Score Sheets and the corresponding set of instructions in The Little Book of Score Sheets and Rules are colour-matched and banded according to age. Select the Score Sheet and the corresponding instructions that match the chronological age of the child being assessed in completed months. It is important to calculate a child’s age in completed months first, as this will guide you as to which Score Sheet to use. This is done in months and is best done on the day that you begin profiling. A child born on 2 March 2005 will not turn 5 years old until 2 March 2010. Therefore, if a child is screened on 1 March 2010, then the age would be 4 years and 11 months. Here are some more examples:


Date of Birth

23 April 2008

8 July 2006

2 March 2005

Screening date

22 April 2010

7 June 2010

1 March 2010

Age (years: months)





Each Score Sheet contains space for details about the child to be recorded. This is followed by ten items: five items for screening ‘What the child understands’ and five items for screening ‘What the child uses.’ Some of the information needed to complete the Score Sheets should be obtained from observations of the child and from talking to the parent/s; this is especially true for the younger age groups.

Draw up a profile for each child by recording their responses in the right-hand column of the Score Sheet. Next, add up all the items the child has achieved (i.e., those marked ‘Yes’ or with a tick). This will give you a total score out of ten. These scores are then used to give the child a colour-code of Red, Amber or Green. You should look at the ‘Score Guide’ located on the bottom right-hand corner of the Score Sheet to work out what colour-code the child has achieved. This will help you then decide what action (if any) you need to take next. Please note that the ‘Score Guides’ are different for each Score Sheet so should always be consulted.

On the back of the Score Sheet, there is room to make additional comments regarding any concerns you may have about attention and listening, stammering, voice problems or speech sound development. For guidance on what to look out for, please see the information in the Handbook and the relevant sections in The Big Book of Ideas for further advice and activities.

Using the WellComm Picture Book

  • Each page of the Picture Book relates to individual items on the Score Sheets, as listed in the ‘Resources needed’ column in The Little Book of Score Sheets and Rules.
  • When using the Picture Book, you may want to draw the child’s attention to the fact that sometimes there is more than one item on the page. Where two items are presented (e.g., the ‘broken’ and the ‘normal’ pencil), point to both pencils randomly before asking, ‘Where is the broken pencil?’
  • Encourage the child to scan the whole page before asking them to listen and respond. It may be helpful to draw your finger over all the items, asking the child to ‘look’ without supplying any additional information before you ask them to ‘point to the …’. Pointing to the different areas of the page will help the child scan all the items before selecting.
  • When using real objects or toys, allow some handling of the items first if appropriate. This should ensure the child chooses the item due to processing the language rather than selecting the item they like the most. Take your time and remember it is more important to get an accurate picture than to go through all the items in one session.