Normed for ages 5:0 to 17:11 (Usual age range is 6:0 to 17:11; Out of level
age range is 5:0 to 5:11).
This subtest assesses the ability to encode and retain visual-spatial
information and then use adequate levels of motor skills to reproduce the
design; short-term visual recall; spatial orientation; and drawing skills. The
child reproduces pictured designs that have been exposed to view for only 5
seconds and then removed.
The Recall of Designs subtest contains a total of 21 items. Sixteen items are
scored 2, 1, or 0 while the last five items are scored as 3, 2, 1, or 0. Three
different starting points are available (age 5:0 to 7:11 start at item 1; 8:0 to
11:11 start at item 4; 12:0 to 17:11 start at item 9).
Factor analytic findings
The Recall of Designs subtest is considered a fair measure of g across all
ages (overall r = .63). This subtest contributes substantially to the Spatial
factor (loading = .69). Specificity is ample for all age groups 6:0 to 17:11.
Reliability and correlational highlights
Recall of Designs is considered to possess medium overall reliability (r =
.84), with reliability coefficients ranging from .79 to .89 across all of the 13
whole-age groups It correlates best with Pattern
Construction (r =.57) and least with Speed of Information Processing
(r = .16). It has a moderate correlation with the GCA (r = .71). Despite
the obvious memory demand, Recall of Designs has relatively low correlations
with other DAS subtests requiring memory: r = .35 with Recognition of Pictures,
r = .25 with Recall of Objects-Immediate and .22 with Recall of Objects-Delayed,
r = .19 with Recall of Digits.
In the Broad stratum definition of abilities, Recall of Designs is considered
to be a strong measure of Visual Processing (Gv). In the Narrow stratum of
abilities, it is considered to be a probable measure of Visual Memory (MV)
(McGrew & Flanagan, 1998, p. 118).
Administrative and interpretive considerations
The Recall of Designs subtest is described on pages 147 to 193 in the DAS
Administration and Scoring Manual and discussed on pages 55 and 56 in the DAS
Introductory and Technical Handbook. The child draws the designs on paper
provided that has been cut into sheets approximately 4 inches high by 5 inches
wide. These authors have found that having available a stapler or a paperclip
can be very useful and prevents the problem of losing all the loose sheets of
paper. It has also been suggested that examiners simply fold an 8- by 11-inch
paper into quarters and allow the child to draw on the folded page. For each
subsequent design, simply turn the page over to a new folded section. At the end
of the subtest, you will have all the designs drawn in separate sections of the
Second attempts at drawing the designs are allowable if the child is
dissatisfied with the initial drawing. The examiner should not cue the child to
this possibility. A number of children will naturally trace the designs in the
air while the design is in view. This is permissible so long as the child does
not attempt to draw the figure on the paper. Erasing is permitted.
Although a child is allowed to rotate the paper to any position he or she
wishes, the scoring of the final design is dependent on correct orientation. The
Manual recommends writing the item number consistently in the same corner of
each sheet. The examiner should, of course, also do this in each quadrant of a
folded sheet of paper if folded sheets are used. Examiners should also get into
the habit of placing an arrow or some other mark on the paper, if the child
rotates the sheet, so as to be able to correctly score each item later. Although
scoring is not difficult, and the DAS Administration and Scoring Manual provides
many example of what is correct and incorrect drawings, the following are noted:
Carefully study the scoring procedures in Appendix B (pp. 417-431) of the
Manual and become proficient in the use of the two transparent scoring templates
provided in the DAS kit. Examiners must be careful to use Set B (not A) to score
straightness of lines. It would be prudent to attach a reminder note to your
Until you are fully familiar with the scoring criteria, rather than trying to
score each item as it is produced (in order to follow the 3 by 3 rule) examiners
should simply administer all of the items in the age appropriate block. This
speeds up administration time and, in the vast majority of cases in our
experience, there was no need to go back or continue on with the next block. As
one gains more experience with the scoring, it becomes fairly evident when a
design has failed or when the designs are perfectly drawn.
It is important to watch as the child draws the designs since the examiner
must determine if any added lines are due to poor coordination or if the child
indicates that additional lines were not intended. Small gaps are also
acceptable if they are due to crudeness, not memory problems. If either is the
case, the child should not be penalized. Decorative additions as well as
overworked, feathered, or scribbled lines are generally acceptable. The child
may also use one of the edges of the paper as one line of drawing.
Be aware that the criteria given for scoring refer to the criteria for a
specific score (e.g., a 1- or 2-point criteria). For example, the Manual notes
that "Criteria for 2 points: lines are straight according to Set B (H, I
fail)." Although the figures H and I fail this criterion, they are not
scored as 0 points. They are scored as 1 point since they failed only the
2-point criteria. Examiners should study the criteria, practice scoring, score
very carefully with the provided templates, and seek second opinions from
colleagues until they become truly proficient in scoring this subtest.
Although, as noted above, Recall of Designs is not highly correlated with
other DAS memory subtests, a child with a serious memory weakness might be
penalized on this subtest and might appear to have lower Spatial ability than is
actually the case. Examiners should be alert to this possibility.