Preschool Language Scales | Fifth Edition

PLS™-5 Preschool Language Scales Fifth Edition offers a comprehensive developmental language assessment with items that range from pre-verbal, interaction-based skills to emerging language to early literacy. Guidance on using this test in your telepractice.

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  • Kits

    Starter & complete kits, print & digital

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    from $619.10
  • Test forms & reports

    Booklets, record forms, answer sheets, report usages & subscriptions

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    from $19.10
  • Support materials

    Manuals, stimulus books, replacement items & other materials

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    All tests & materials offered for PLS-5

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- of 13 results
  • PLS-5 Complete Kit with Manipulatives (Print)
    0158659880 Qualification Level B

    Includes Examiner's Manual (Print), Administration Scoring Manual (Print), Picture Manual (Print), 15 Record Forms (Print), 25 Home Communication Questionnaire (Print), Complete Manipulatives Kit (2 rattles, 3 cups, bowls, 3 spoons, washcloth, 2 Cars for ages 3+, ball, 2 windup toys, squeaky duck, washable plastic bear, 2 cars for ages 6 months+, comb, box of eight crayons, pitcher, 2 children's books, opaque box with lid, 8 blocks). Kit does not include bubbles with wand, sheet of paper, metal keys on a ring, watch with a second hand or sealable plastic bags.


    1-4 $724.40
    5-9 $688.20
    10-24 $652.00
    25-50 $615.80
    51+ $579.50
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Basic Kit without Manipulatives (Print)
    0158658906 Qualification Level B

    Includes Examiner's Manual (Print), Administration and Scoring Manual (Print), Picture Manual (Print), 25 Home Communication Questionnaire (Print), 15 Record Forms (Print)


    1-4 $619.10
    5-9 $588.10
    10-24 $557.20
    25-50 $526.20
    51+ $495.30
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Q-global Administration and Scoring Manual (Digital)
    A103000232008 Qualification Level B

    Once ordered, the digital asset is accessible by logging into Q-global and visiting the Q-global Resource Library. It is a view-only digital file.


    1-4 $232.40
    5-9 $220.80
    10-24 $209.20
    25-50 $197.60
    51+ $186.00
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Q-global Examiner's Manual (Digital)
    A103000232009 Qualification Level B

    Once ordered, the digital asset is accessible by logging into Q-global and visiting the Q-global Resource Library. It is a view-only digital file.


    1-4 $122.50
    5-9 $116.30
    10-24 $110.20
    25-50 $104.10
    51+ $98.00
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Q-global Picture Manual (Digital)
    A103000232006 Qualification Level B

    Once ordered, the digital asset is accessible by logging into Q-global and visiting the Q-global Resource Library. It is a view-only digital file.


    1-4 $352.00
    5-9 $334.40
    10-24 $316.80
    25-50 $299.20
    51+ $281.60
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Administration and Scoring Manual (Print)
    0158658957 Qualification Level B


    1-4 $232.50
    5-9 $220.90
    10-24 $209.30
    25-50 $197.70
    51+ $186.00
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Examiner's Manual (Print)
    0158658930 Qualification Level B


    1-4 $122.50
    5-9 $116.30
    10-24 $110.20
    25-50 $104.10
    51+ $98.00
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Picture Manual (Print)
    0158658949 Qualification Level B


    1-4 $352.30
    5-9 $334.70
    10-24 $317.10
    25-50 $299.50
    51+ $281.90
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Record Forms Qty 50 (Print)
    0158658973 Qualification Level B


    1-4 $352.20
    5-9 $334.60
    10-24 $317.00
    25-50 $299.40
    51+ $281.80
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Record Forms Qty 15 (Print)
    0158658965 Qualification Level B


    1-4 $128.90
    5-9 $122.40
    10-24 $116.00
    25-50 $109.50
    51+ $103.10
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Q-global Home Communication Questionnaire For Age 0-35 Months (Digital)
    A103000232007 Qualification Level B

    Once ordered, the digital asset is accessible by logging into Q-global and visiting the Q-global Resource Library. It is a downloadable file.


    1-4 $57.70
    5-9 $54.80
    10-24 $52.00
    25-50 $49.10
    51+ $46.20
    Savings are estimated
  • PLS-5 Home Communication Questionnaires Qty 25 (Print)
    0158659287 Qualification Level B


    1-4 $19.10
    5-9 $18.10
    10-24 $17.20
    25-50 $16.20
    51+ $15.30
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    Estimated to ship:6-7 weeks
  • PLS-5 Manipulatives
    0158659899 Qualification Level B

    Includes Plastic Bear, Comb, Crayons (8), Books (2), Pitcher, Cloth, Rattles (2), Ball, Plastic Bowls (3), Cups (3), Spoons (3), Squeaky Toy, Cars (3), Wind Up Toys (2), Box with Lid. Kit does not include bubbles with wand, sheet of paper, metal keys on a ring, watch with a second hand or sealable plastic bags.


    1-4 $280.10
    5-9 $266.10
    10-24 $252.10
    25-50 $238.10
    51+ $224.10
    Savings are estimated


Publication date:


Age range:

Total language, auditory comprehension, expressive communication standard scores, growth scores, percentile ranks, language age equivalents

Qualification level:
Completion time:
45-60 minutes
Pointing or verbal response to pictures and objects
Scoring options:
Manual scoring
Other languages:
Guidance on using this test in your telepractice

Product Details

This play-based assessment comprehensive, reliable, and trusted information about language skills for children birth through age 7.


  • Address a wider variety of early play behaviours.
  • Better elicit target responses due to test item modifications that are based on examiner feedback.
  • Minimize transitions between the play and picture pointing tasks now that test items with manipulatives are grouped to streamline administration.
  • Engage children with the new Picture Manual featuring large, colorful illustrations.
  • Target multiple phonemes within words using the brief Articulation Screener, which now includes picture stimuli.
  • Track progress using Growth Scores to monitor a child’s skills from Birth through age 7:11.


Find out how to use this test in your telepractice.

Learn more

PLS-5 Required Manipulatives


PLS-5 provides assessment of preschoolers with new items for letter naming and book handling, and updated school readiness skills. Approximately 25 percent of PLS-5 items are new, 50% have been modified, and 25% are unchanged from PLS-4.

  • The standardization sample matches updated U.S. Census figures for region, race/ethnicity, and level of caregiver education.
  • Clinical studies include a developmental delay study and three language disorder studies (children with receptive language disorder, expressive language disorder, and both receptive and expressive disorder).
  • Includes new language tasks such as assessing use of irregular plurals and synonyms, constructing sentences using two or three target words in the sentence, and answering questions about a story.
  • Many of the manipulatives are plastic (including “Mr. Bear”) so they can be wiped clean after each administration.


The following resources are available for PLS-5.



Select a question below to see the response:

PLS-5 Enhancements

I like PLS-4. How different is PLS-5?

Current Norms:  The normative data for PLS-5 are now 10 years old. There has been a significant demographic shift from the time PLS-4 was standardized, with increasing diversity in the U.S. population and shifts in the socioeconomic status of families with children birth through age 7.

Streamlined administration:  Some tasks were combined in PLS-5 to minimize shifts in administration that require excessive switching between presentation of manipulatives and the Picture Manual.

Improvements to test items:  Clinicians working with young children have provided feedback over the years about how test items could be improved. PLS-5 includes modifications that better elicit target responses and make the items easier to administer and score. Approximately 25% of the items on PLS-5 are new; 50% have been modified based on clinician feedback and expert review; 25% are unchanged from PLS-4. See for examples of new and modified test items.

Addition of Growth Scale Values:  PLS-5 now includes Growth Scale Values that were developed so that you can track progress for children birth through age 7.

Now through age 7:  Now you are able to assess language from emerging communication behaviors through emerging language and literacy skills through age 7:11. This will provide a single, standardized measure for children with significant deficits (such as children with autism) who are being tracked from a very young age through their early school years.

Updated Articulation Screener:  You can now test multiple phonemes within words. PLS-5 includes picture stimuli to elicit target words. The screener takes less than 2 minutes to administer.

Are there new tasks for children functioning at an infant/toddler level?

PLS-5 addresses a wider variety of early play behaviors: play with others (interaction & turntaking) and play with objects (functional and relational play). Use the two-page Home Communication Questionnaire to obtain information from caregivers who have a child whose language abilities are in the Birth through age 2 range. If the caregiver completes the Questionnaire before testing, you can score many of the test items without administering them to the child. This frees you up to observe naturally-occurring parent-child interactions during the testing session.

Are there new tasks for preschoolers?

There are new items assessing emergent literacy skills such as book handling and concept of print. Many of the items at this level have been modified based on PLS users’ feedback!

What are the new tasks for older children, especially at age 7?

The new items at age 7 include tasks such as using irregular plurals, using synonyms for a word, usign two or three target words to construct a sentence, and using prefixes.

Why do the “Preschool” language scales extend to age 7:11?

Providing norms through age 7 enables clinicians to obtain standardized scores (including Growth Scale Values) to address the needs of children who:

Better demonstrate their language skills when provided with a variety of interactive test formats Have severe, persistent language deficits such as children with autism or severe developmental delays

Start Points and Age levels

I’m confused about the Start Points versus. Developmental Tasks age ranges. What’s the difference?

The start point icon (the arrow) appears throughout the Record Form and the Administration and Scoring Manual. It indicates the recommended Start Point for the ages listed. It does not indicate the age at which the skill is mastered.


The bars marked “Developmental Tasks for Ages __–__ in the Record Form and Administration and Scoring Manual indicate the ages by which developmental tasks are mastered.

Developmental Tasks for Ages 1:0—1:5

Why are the test items so much harder now on PLS-5? “Responds to speaker by smiling” is now at Ages 0:6 to 0:11. It used to be at 2 months.

The age description you are referring to in the Record Form and Administration and Scoring Manual has an arrow icon in front of it (see an example above).

This arrow icon indicates that the age listed is the recommended Start Point for a child age 6 to 11 months. The icon does not indicate the ages at which the skill is acquired. The age band highlighted in gray or purple, such as, “Developmental Task for Ages 0:3–0:5,” shows the developmental ages for the task.

You will see differences in the age placement for some of the PLS-4 test items on PLS-5. Generally, the age placements in PLS–5 were adjusted to show the ages at which at least 90% of the children acquired the developmental skill. In PLS–4, at least 75% of the children had acquired the skill. Changing the criterion for item placement form 75-90% made it more likely that a child can achieve a basal on PLS–5 at the suggested start point without having to drop back and administer additional items.

For example, the test item “Responds to speaker by smiling” was Item 3 on PLS–4 and was placed as the most difficult item on PLS-4 for children ages birth through 2 months. On PLS–5, “responds to speaker by smiling” is Item 4, and is placed as the easiest item for ages 0:3–0:5.

Test Administration

Are there guidelines that relate to how often PLS-5 can be administered?

We recommend that one or more of the following three criteria be met before PLS-5 can be re-administered:

  1. Re-testing should be conducted after the child no longer remembers the test items and/or his or her responses when tested previously
  2. Re-testing should be conducted when the examiner feels that the child has made progress since the previous test administration (otherwise, there is no reason to re-test)
  3. Re-testing can be conducted when the child’s age at testing results in the use of the next-age norms table to score.

Picture Manual

We work in a setting with children who crush or tear the pages. After heavy use, the pages get really dirty and we would really like to see a Picture Manual with pages that we can wipe clean. Was this considered when designing the test?

We actually have a prototype of a Picture Manual with plasticized “tear-resistant” pages that we will be piloting. The pages can be crushed then laid flat (it does leave some wrinkles, but the page is still usable) and can be wiped clean after use.

It appears that using this type of material in the manual would add approximately $125 to the cost of the kit. We do not yet know how much time is added to the manual’s shelf life with heavy use.


Do I need to buy the manipulatives set or can I collect my own?

You have the option of purchasing manipulatives sets or collecting your own. The PLS–5 manipulatives sets are included in the Complete Kit and Upgrade Kit for customers’ convenience. Examiners who participated in the PLS–5 standardization collected their own manipulatives to administer the test, so the normative data is based on a variety of manipulatives that meet the criteria described on pages 6–7 in the Examiner’s Manual. If you lose or break one of the manipulatives in the kits, you have the option of ordering a replacement from Pearson or using another item from your home or school (e.g., another box that has a lid) that meet the description in the Examiner’s Manual.

The administration directions and record form say I need to use a “loud squeaky toy” to administer some items, but the duck that comes with the kit does not have a loud squeak.

Squeaky toys that are made with latex (e.g., dog toys) have a very loud squeak when squeezed because they are stiffer than latex-free squeaky toys. The duck in the PLS–5 kit is latex-free and has a hole rather a whistle so that there are no loose parts. The duck has a louder squeak when squeezed in a way that maximum air is forced through the hole.

We used a sound level meter and ran a test with the ducks in stock. We found that the “squeak” ranged from approximately 60dB (approximately the noise level of normal conversation) to 80–90db (approximately the noise level of an alarm clock or vacuum cleaner). To get the loudest “squeak”, we recommend you squeeze the duck’s head and body together. See images below.

The squeak volumne tends to be low when the duck is squeezed from the sides and/or your thumb is covering the hole. It won't squeak loudly when you hold it like the images below.


On page 7 of the Examiner’s Manual, it says I need two cars for administration, “one of which should be blue.” I didn’t receive a blue car in my manipulatives kit!

The requirement that one of the cars be blue is an error in the Examiner’s Manual. That will be corrected in the next printing of the Manual. There were no items tested during standardization that required that the cars be a specific color.

I tried to administer Auditory Comprehension item 27 and found that the blue plastic box that comes in the kit is not large enough to fit both the bear and the pitcher.

It is a tight fit–the bear and blue pitcher fit snugly (you have to push the bear down), and the bear’s ear sticks up in a way that you cannot fit the lid on the box and snap it shut. Place the bear and pitcher in the blue box as shown below and simply lay the lid on top. The new pitcher has been designed and completed child safety testing. The new pitcher is now available – call Customer Service at 800.627.7271 to obtain a replacement pitcher for each PLS-5 kit you purchased before February 2012.


The plastic blue box in the kit isn’t large enough to fit all the manipulatives!

The plastic blue box in the test box is used to administer specific PLS-5 test items. It was not meant to be the manipulatives storage box. The large blue box labeled PLS-5 Manipulatives Set can be used for storage of the manipulatives.

The large blue box isn’t large enough to hold the manipulatives and the manuals. Why wasn’t the kit packaged in a larger kit box or in a tote?

Market research with PLS-4 customers showed that SLPs use a variety of methods to store and carry their test components. Some clinicians take all their test materials out of the shipping carton and place it on their shelves; others have their own rolling cases, bags, or boxes that they use to transport kits from one site to another. A majority of clinicians surveyed preferred to find their own storage and “transportation” solution to keep the overall kit price down. The PLS-5 kit was designed to minimize the price of the kit.

I didn’t receive the books that are shown in the catalog. I received one book that is different.

Two books come in the PLS-5 Complete Manipulatives Set and PLS-5 Upgrade Manipulatives Set.

Our company stocks three different wind-up toys and three different children’s books for the PLS-5. When you order a kit with manipulatives, the kit is assembled with two different wind-up toys and two different books randomly selected for inclusion in the kit.

I received two level 2 books (“Dog named Sam” and “Three by Sea”), but I test 2 and 3 yr olds, and I need the books that are level 1. Is there a different level of the books that are available?

The three books available are all the same level. The younger children are only tested on book handling or following directions with books (e.g., “Get the book and bring it here, please.” There are no test items for young children requiring Level 1 reading skills.

Can I order individual manipulatives separately or do I have to order the whole set?

You can order any of the PLS-5 manipulatives individually (e.g., the bear, the blue box). The 2 English children’s books shrink-wrapped as a set (ISBN 0158658981.)

Why does the Upgrade Manipulatives Kit cost so much? I don’t save much if I order a Basic Kit and just the Upgrade Manipulatives kit.

The best “deal” is purchasing the Complete Kit with Manipulatives. The Upgrade Manipulatives Kit includes the most expensive components of the manipulatives set, so current pricing for the Basic Kit without Manipulatives and the Upgrade Manipulatives Kit is only $11 less than the Complete PLS-5 Kit with all the manipulatives.


Am I able to qualify a child for services using the Auditory Comprehension or Expressive Communication score?

A child may earn a low score on only the AC or EC scale because the child has only a receptive or expressive language disorder. When that happens, the resulting Total Language score may not qualify the child for services.

Standard scores and percentile ranks are reported for the Auditory Comprehension and Expressive Communication scales as well as for Total Language ability. Each of these scores can be used by a clinician to determine if a child meets eligibility criteria under IDEIA for speech-language developmental delay or disorder. AC, EC, or Total Language scores (in conjunction with other test results) can assist a clinician in determining if the child has primarily a receptive language delay/disorder, expressive language delay/disorder, or a delay/disorder that involves both (see the PLS-5 Examiner’s Manual, p.3). Low standard scores or percentile ranks for Auditory Comprehension, Expressive Communication, or Total Language ability can be used to diagnose a disorder and qualify a child for services.

Some students I have used the PLS-5 on so far seemed to be scoring higher than on the PLS-4. I am concerned that in some districts with rigid eligibility cutoffs, these children no longer qualify for services.

A PLS-4/PLS-5 study was conducted in 2010 with 134 children from the PLS-5 standardization sample. Each child’s PLS-5 Auditory Comprehension (AC), Expressive Communication (EC), and Total Language standard score was compared to the corresponding scores on PLS-4. On average, scores on the PLS-5 are 1 point lower on the AC scale, 1.5 points lower on the EC scale, and 1 point lower on the Total Language score in this study.

We realize that if a child receives PLS-5 standard scores that are even one point higher than PLS-4 standard scores that were borderline (e.g., 77), the child may no longer meet the district criteria for eligibility for services. As you will find in the PLS-5 Examiner’s Manual on page 16:

Because no test is perfectly reliable, the true score is expected to be within a range of scores that reflects the expected amount of measurement error…Using confidence intervals, rather than a specific single score enables you to state the degree of confidence you have in a classification, eligibility, or placement decision based on PLS-5 results. Therefore, reporting a confidence interval around a child’s score is particularly important in cases for which the score will be used to make those types of decisions.

You pointed out that you are working with districts with rigid eligibility cut offs—apparently that means the district does not take other test results (e.g., language sampling, observations in the classroom, teacher interviews) or the standard score confidence bands into account. These requirements do not align with IDEIA legislation, best testing practice, or appropriate PLS-5 test interpretation.

If you are testing a child who has made enough progress on developmental language skills that he or she no longer qualifies for services, but still shows deficits in specific language skill areas, we recommend:

Additional testing using CELF Preschool 2, which provides a more in-depth assessment of semantics, morphology, and syntax, and/or

Addressing the child’s language needs within a Response to Intervention (RTI) service delivery model.

For the children I am working with, PLS-5 scores seem slightly high. Do you have any insights into this?

In the PLS-4/PLS-5 study conducted in 2010, we found only a 1-2 point score difference between PLS-4 and PLS-5 (see the answer to the previous question)

Whenever a new edition of the test is published, you will see some differences in scores. The PLS-4 norms were collected in 2001; the PLS-5 norms were collected in 2010. In addition, there are differences between the PLS-4 and PLS-5 tasks. Those differences, coupled with the current normative information which includes test results from an increasingly diverse population, result in the score differences you are seeing.

If you are testing a preverbal child, or a child with limited verbal skills, his scores may be slightly higher on the Expressive Communication test because children at that level are now given credit for key developmental communication skills such as joint attention and using gestures.

I found information about how to score when a child has multiple basals [page 11 of the Administration and Scoring Manual], but I don’t see information in the Manual about scoring when the child has a double ceiling. Which one should I use?

The PLS-5 norms are based on using the lowest basal and the lowest ceiling obtained--the one obtained at the lowest (youngest) age level.

Is there an error or omission in Appendix E (Dialectical Variations), since we do not offer any dialectical variations for AC item 62 a? Variations are listed for AC 62 b, c, & d.) Is this purposeful, because there are no variations, or is there an error in the manual?

Good question! The short answer: it is not an error or omission. AC 62a is a sentence that is grammatically correct. In the normative sample, it was found that a typically developing child will identify the sentence in AC 62a as "right" whether a child is a speaker of Mainstream American English (MAE) or a speaker of a dialect other than MAE. Children who were speakers of dialects other than MAE did not provide a dialectal response to AC 62a after identifying the item as "right," so no dialectal variations are listed in Appendix E. If a child identified the sentence as "wrong," he or she may introduce a grammatical error in his or her response (e.g., for AC 62a, the child answers, "They goin' the store" [omits "to"]). What was more likely to occur was the child responded with an objection to the content (e.g. for AC 62a, the child answers, "No, they goin' to school.") In both instances, AC 62a is scored incorrect (0).

The sentences in AC 62 b through AC 62 d are grammatically incorrect. Typically developing children speaking a dialect other than MAE may identify the sentence as "wrong" and may provide a dialectally appropriate response to correct the sentence. Dialectally appropriate responses are listed in Appendix E. These answers will be marked as correct. If the child identifies the sentence as "wrong," he or she will not receive credit (score=-0) if the response does not correct the grammatical error (e.g., AC 62b, a child who speaks English influenced by Spanish responds "Her can eat a cookie.") or is an objection to the content (e.g., for AC 62d, a child answers, "No, the girl ran slow.")

When calculating PLS-5 scores, can I adjust for prematurity? I don’t find anything about this in the Examiner’s Manual.

The PLS-5 normative data does not include children who were born prematurely. Best practice indicates that clinicians may choose to adjust for prematurity through the age of 24 months. Note that a premature birth is defined as 36 weeks or less gestation. To correct for prematurity, calculate the number of months and days born prematurely by subtracting the child’s date of birth from the expected date of birth. Subtract months and days born prematurely from the child’s chronological age. After age 24 months, it is not appropriate to adjust scores for prematurity.

Recycle Program

Can I recycle my old PLS-4 kit?

Each PLS-5 kit includes a mailing label so that you can ship your PLS-4 kit back to Pearson at no charge. Pearson will recycle manuals and record forms. If the mailing label was missing from your kit, you may contact us at to request one.

PLS-5 Screening

When was the PLS-5 Screening?

April, 2012

Can I use the PLS-4 Screening Test and apply those scores to the PLS-5 Screening Test?

Unfortunately not; the visual stimuli for many of the pictures have changed. If you administer the PLS-4 Screening Test, you will need to administer all the PLS-5 items unless each sub-item within an item and each corresponding auditory and visual stimulus is completely unchanged from PLS-4.

Can I use the PLS-5 Screening Test and apply those scores to the PLS-5 diagnostic test?

Yes, the scores from the PLS-5 Screening Test can be transferred to the PLS-5 Record Form. You do not need to re-administer the test items when you administer PLS-5.




The following training events are available for Preschool Language Scales | 5th Edition