Structure of Intellect (SOI) Assessment

The Structure of Intellect (SOI) Assessment is the most common paper-and-pencil assessment given at the McNatt Learning Center. While a HANDLE® Screening or HANDLE® Assessment gauges everyday learning efficiency, the Structure of Intellect Assessment measures ability and/or willingness to demonstrate learning capability at the time of testing. The SOI Assessment provides a baseline of intellectual performance, and it guides selection of training materials for use in tandem with many students' HANDLE® Programs. The Structure of Intellect system of assessment and intervenion is unique—and uniquely effective. Here are some reasons why:


The Structure of Intellect system is relevant to students’ lives.

Many students with behavioral difficulties have experienced standardized test results as irrelevant. “How come I do so well on the test, then so bad in class?” It’s a common question. After students take a Structure of Intellect assessment, they receive a Structure of Intellect profile, along with an empathetic and insightful explanation. The profile and explanation are relevant. This helps motivate students to give their training program a try. “That sounds like me.” “Yeah, I can see that. I really am that way.” “Finally, somebody ‘gets’ me.” Often, such responses readily give way to: “Yeah, I’ll do it. Count me in.”


The Structure of Intellect assessment is not an academic test.

Many students with academic difficulties have experienced standardized tests as too hard. Some have given up even trying to do well on such tests. The Structure of Intellect assessment, however, looks nothing like students’ periodic testing at school—and very little like their school work. This difference helps motivate students to give the test a try.


A Structure of Intellect profile answers: “What am I good at?”

Students with academic and/or behavioral difficulties have often heard what they’re bad at. Sometimes, the presentation of a student’s SOI results is the first time in years—or even a lifetime—that the student has had some of his or her strengths acknowledged and honored.


A Structure of Intellect profile is learning-oriented.

Students with academic and/or behavioral difficulties have often internalized their failures. Instead of concluding, “I’m not good at this yet because I haven’t honed the abilities that this requires,” they’ve concluded, simply: “I’m not good at this.” Every Structure of Intellect profile is clearly presented with an emphasis on learning: we become good at what we practice.


A Structure of Intellect profile guides intervention.

Most of the time, people take basic skills for granted. We notice we’re good (or not so good) at activities that require these skills—but few people have been blessed to hear: You’re not good at that because you haven’t developed these skills, but you can develop them. Moreover, here’s how.


Structure of Intellect profiles let students “save face.”

Not knowing how to improve, to some extent, excuses lack of progress. It’s frustrating to put a lot of effort into trying to improve… and then to see quite little progress. “I’ve tried in school—and for what?! It’s not like it got me anything.”

Every person is ignorant of some things, while knowing other things. Everyone is unskilled in some areas, while being adept in others. Admitting under-developed skills or knowledge is the first step of learning. We have little reason to practice what we think we’ve already mastered. We have little reason to learn what we think we already know. Admitting ignorance is therefore often wise, since it opens the door to learning.

A Structure of Intellect profile empowers us to tell a student: Before, you may not have known how to improve. It’s natural to grow frustrated when one’s efforts don’t net results. By both removing the stigma of ignorance—and also offering an “out” to students who haven’t been investing themselves in learning what their teachers and, likely, future employers consider important—a Structure of Intellect profile lets students “save face.”


Structure of Intellect profiles encourage responsibility.

Often, students’ prior efforts have been frustrated by unidentified weaknesses. Sometimes, students’ prior efforts have also been frustrated by unidentified strengths. In general, whenever people do activities that simultaneously call upon areas of great strength and areas of weakness, they don’t rapidly improve in their areas of weakness. Instead, they simply rely on their strengths: their well-developed skills get stronger, while their under-developed skills further atrophy. While not every SOI profile shows huge differences between a student’s strengths and his or her weaknesses, those that do provide an additional explanation for why a student’s prior efforts have been frustrated: he or she may have been relying on strengths.

In any case, a Structure of Intellect profile also empowers us to tell a student: Regardless of what’s happened before, now we know how you can improve. We know specific, basic skills you can work on so you can see results. (For the “atypically gifted” students who are off-the-charts good at other skills, we also know specific, basic skills that we must avoid extensively drawing upon during their training.)

A Structure of Intellect profile affirms to each student: You have skills you can draw upon to succeed.

A Structure of Intellect profile promises each student: Improving these particular skills will make your learning easier, quicker, and more accurate.

Of course, it’s up to a student whether to believe this promise. Each student’s Structure of Intellect profile is therefore a catalyst for him or her to decide:

  • Do I believe that improving these skills will make my learning easier, quicker, and more accurate—or, in the very least, am I willing to suspend disbelief to give this program a try?
  • Is it possible that to some extent, I’ve been justified in not wanting to simply try harder? Is it possible that I can now try smarter, now that I know particular basic skills I can improve?

Structure of Intellect profiles, when desired, can help students choose a career.

A Structure of Intellect profile can focus on remediation, answering “What skills do I need to improve?” or on careers, answering, “What careers do I have the skills to do well at but not (due to over-qualification) get bored with?” Seeing that a career which interests them requires certain skills they haven’t yet developed, for some students, provides ample motivation to develop those skills.

For many students, a Structure of Intellect Career Profile is a great reward for their hard work in remediating deficit skills. They may have been weak in certain skills when they initially took a Structure of Intellect assessment as a high school sophomore, for instance. Now, as a high school senior, they can see: not only have life and academics gotten better as their scores improved, but a much wider range of careers is now open to them—and they can keep honing skills that will benefit them in the job trainings, colleges, and/or careers they choose.


Structure of Intellect training doesn’t “teach to the test.”

The Structure of Intellect Assessment tests specific areas, which students can then train with the help of their coach-counselors. This ensures efforts at remediation aren’t wasted.

The Structure of Intellect Assessment measures abilities. These abilities are then trained using modules and games. The way that each ability is assessend and the way that it is developed is different. This ensures that subsequent assessment remains valid—an important safeguard for practitioners and for students, who can be assured that the improvement their follow-up assessments indicate is genuine.


What is the history behind the Structure of Intellect?

The Structure of Intellect model of human intelligence was developed from 1945 to 1965 by Dr. J. P. Guilford and, later, validated and refined by one of his former graduate students, Dr. Mary Meeker, and her husband, statistician Dr. Robert Meeker. Robert Meeker also created one of the most successful reading programs for overcoming difficulties understanding symbols, called LOCAN.

The Structure of Intellect Assessment provides quantitative measures of the most important foundational learning abilities that can be gauged by examining the end-results of a student’s efforts. Our observations while administering each SOI Assessment provide additional insight into struggles a student may be having with sensation, coordination, and/or various aspects of attention.

An Interactive Metronome Long-Form Assessment, an IVA+ Plus Continuous Performance Test, and a complementary vision screening are all useful to provide quantitative confirmation of our initial observations.


Structure of Intellect Training

In addition to Structure of Intellect training booklets (called "SOI Modules") from SOI Systems, the McNatt Learning Center, Inc., often recommends a few training games for each learner as we explain his or her SOI profile (at which time we also explain the three-letter abbreviations for SOI Abilities). We often recommend abstract strategy games. To read about some of the resources we recommend, along with the abilities they train, click "Games" (here, or in the menu to your left).