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What is a Stanine Score?

Stanine scores (short for “Standard Nine”) are standardised 1-9 scores commonly used in psychometric testing. Stanine scores allow psychometricians to convert rather abstract scores into more interpretable numbers, with a score of 5 representing the average performance.

1:02 Lead consultant, Ben Schwencke, explains what a stanine score is.

As with other standardised scores, they are based on the average and distribution of scores for a specific population.

When using Stanine scores, scores between 1-3 are typically considered to be “low” scores, scores between 4-6 are often considered the “average” range, and scores 7-9 are considered “high” scores.

Technically, Stanine scores theoretically can range from negative infinity to positive infinity, but the vast majority of data points in a normally distributed dataset will fall between 1-9. Traditionally, Stanine scores are reported as whole numbers rather than decimals.

Stanine scores are similar to percentiles, which are also used to report scores in a standardized way. Percentiles divide the distribution of scores into 100 parts, while Stanine scores divide the distribution of scores into 9 parts. By definition, the average Stanine score is 5, which is analogous to a percentile rank of 50. Stanine scores can be useful for setting broad pass marks or cut-scores, and are commonly used in educational and psychological testing.