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Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Fourth UK Edition (WAIS-IV UK) - Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ categories

Test Framework and Revisions

General Administration and Scoring

Clinical and Special Group Performance

Subtest Administration and Scoring

Related Instruments


Test Framework and Revisions

How is the WAIS–IV UK FSIQ different than the WAIS–III UK FSIQ?

Compared to the WAIS–III UK, the WAIS–IV UK FSIQ de-emphasises crystallised knowledge (Comprehension is supplemental), and emphasizes the contribution of Processing Speed (both Coding and Symbol Search are core). The WAIS–IV UK FSIQ is composed of all 10 subtests that comprise the four index scores, including the Working Memory and Processing Speed subtests. The WAIS–III UK subtests used to derive the FSIQ included only one subtest from the Processing Speed scale and one additional subtest each from the Verbal Comprehension and Perceptual Organization scales.

The VCI and the PRI are derived from three subtests. Are these as reliable as the WAIS–III UKVIQ and PIQ were?

Yes. Although the WAIS–IV UK VCI and the PRI are derived from fewer subtests (three) than the WAIS–III UK VIQ and PIQ (six and five subtests, respectively), the reliabilities are comparable to or higher than the reliabilities of the WAIS–III UK VIQ and PIQ. Some WAIS–III UK subtests that demonstrated relatively lower reliability were dropped from the battery or no longer contribute to the composite scores. The reliability of the retained WAIS–IV UK subtests is improved relative to the WAIS–III UK and the new subtests that were added are more reliable than those that were dropped from the WAIS–III UK.

Can I substitute the supplemental subtests for a core subtest?

Yes, you can substitute one supplemental subtest per index. However, you can only substitute a maximum of two subtests total to retain the validity of the FSIQ.

Can I give all the core and supplemental subtests and choose to use the highest subtest scaled scores when computing composite scores?

No. When deriving composite scores, you can only substitute supplemental subtests substituted for core subtests that are spoiled or invalidated. Supplemental subtests are also used to provide additional information on cognitive functioning. However, you should decide before you administer the subtests which one to use to derive composite scores.

If you need to use a supplemental subtest in place of a core subtest for clinical reasons, decide this before you administer the subtest—not after you have derived scaled scores. For example, an individual with motor impairment may be administered Figure Weights as a substitute for Block Design. Supplemental subtests are also useful when the scores within an index are widely discrepant. The additional information from the supplemental subtest can help tease out factors contributing to disparate results.

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Was the WAIS–IV designed to line up with CHC theory?

The development of the WAIS–IV UK was significantly influenced by current research in neurocognitive information processing models. The creation of new subtests was equally guided by clinical research and factorial data. The Wechsler four-factor structure was first introduced as an option within the WISC–III UK and the WAIS–III UK. The WAIS–IV UK strengthens the Wechsler four-factor model, and removes its status as optional.

The WAIS–IV UK subtests measure constructs that could be described using common CHC terms, such as fluid reasoning (SI, MR, FW), quantitative knowledge (AR), crystallised knowledge (VC, IN, CO), short term memory (DS, AR, LN), visual perception (BD, VP, PCm), long-term storage and retrieval (VC, IN), and processing speed (SS, CD, CA).

Why was Picture Arrangement dropped?

Picture Arrangement was dropped for a variety of reasons. It was lengthy to administer, the subtest manipulatives were heavy and contained multiple pieces that could be lost or damaged, or administered inconsistently. Ultimately, some difficult choices were made to make room for new subtests. The WAIS–III UK version of Picture Arrangement can still be used, with an understanding of the possible effects of using outdated norms.

Why was Object Assembly dropped?

Object Assembly was also dropped for a variety of reasons. There was an emphasis on decreasing dependence on time bonus points. Object Assembly was also lengthy to administer. Subtest performance was dependent on motor performance. In terms of user friendliness, the subtest manipulatives were heavy and contained multiple pieces that could be lost or damaged, or administered inconsistently. Some difficult choices were made in order to make room for the new subtests. The WAIS–III UK version of Object Assembly can still be used, with an understanding of the possible effects of using outdated norms.

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Why was Information chosen as a core subtest over Comprehension?

A number of factors were considered when making this decision. Information psychometric properties such as reliability, subtest floor, gradient, and ceiling, were considered and the correlation between WISC–IV UK and WAIS–IV UK composites had an edge over Comprehension. User-friendliness factors, such as administration time and ease of recording and scoring, clearly supported Information.

The performance of different demographic groups was examined statistically, and results indicated smaller differences between racial/ethnic group performance and smaller differences based on level of education on Information, rather than Comprehension. At the subtest level, Comprehension was more sensitive than Information for a number of clinical groups; however, selecting Comprehension as a core subtest did not improve the clinical sensitivity of the VCI or the FSIQ for those groups.

With respect to construct coverage, the specificity (unique contribution to the battery) of Information was higher than that of Comprehension, and the g-loadings were almost identical, and there was no clear pattern of differential correlations with reasoning tasks with Information compared with Comprehension. Consideration was additionally given to customer preference, in the form of market research surveys specifically addressing this choice and that captured customers’ desire for decreased administration time.

Why was a third task—Digit Span Sequencing—added to the Digit Span subtest?

Digit Span Sequencing was added to increase the working memory demands of the Digit Span subtest relative to the previous version, in response to research indicating different cognitive demands for the Digit Span Forward and Digit Span Backward tasks.

The total raw score for Digit Span is now based on Digit Span Forward, Digit Span Backward, and Digit Span Sequencing. Digit Span Forward must be administered, as pilot study data indicated the omission of this task results in lower Digit Span Backward scores for some examinees (possibly due to the loss of instructional progression). Retaining Digit Span Forward also ensures sufficient floor items for examinees with intellectual disability or general intellectual deficiency. The separate process scores for each of the three tasks allow practitioners to evaluate differential performance across the tasks.

Why was Arithmetic chosen as a core subtest over Letter–Number Sequencing?

Arithmetic was chosen over Letter–Number Sequencing reasons similar to those for choosing Information over Comprehension. In addition, substantial revisions were made to the Arithmetic subtest to reduce the arithmetic knowledge necessary to complete items successfully and to eliminate superfluous irrelevant information. Research indicates that tasks involving cognitive arithmetic are sensitive to dementia.

Regarding the new WAIS-IV UK, is there a notional time when the old WAIS is not valid anymore.

The reason that we publish these newer editions of assessments that we validate on a UK population is to provide the clinician with relevant theoretical updates and up to date normative data. We do not recommend using older versions of assessments when we have new editions with valid theory and up to date norms. However, you need to use your professional judgement when deciding whether it would be more appropriate to use the WAIS-III UK or WAIS-IV UK with your participants.

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General Administration and Scoring

Do we have to wait for General Ability Index (GAI) tables to be generated by outside researchers? Which tables are endorsed by Pearson?

You don’t have to wait for outside researchers to generate GAI tables. The WAIS–IV UK includes the GAI as an optional index score. See Appendix C of the WAIS–IV UK Technical and Interpretive Manual for the norms table and other pertinent analyses relevant to using the GAI.

Why are some 0-point or 1-point responses on the verbal subtests not queried?

It was determined during standardisation that querying certain responses did not result in any additional information. You have the option to query these responses if, based on your clinical judgment, the examinee's performance on surrounding items, and other test behavior observations, you believe the examinee may be able to improve upon the initial response. However, clearly wrong responses should not be queried. In addition, the responses marked with a (Q) in the manual must be queried.

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Why were the discontinue rules shortened from the WAIS–III UK?

The shortened discontinue rules reduced the overall testing time. Standardisation discontinue rules were set generously to enable the examinee to attempt all passable items, yet limit the number of items presented. Final adjustments to the discontinue rule for each subtest were made based on empirical studies of the standardisation data.

The percentile ranks of examinees within an age group were compared before and after application of the reduced discontinue rule. The discontinue rule was set at the lowest number of consecutive scores of 0 that resulted in a rank-order correlation of .98 or higher. For example, the Similarities discontinue rule was five consecutive scores of 0 for standardisation and was reduced to three consecutive scores of 0 for the final version of the scale. Following the reduction, 99% of the examinees’ Similarities total raw

What is the rule of thumb for clinical significance in base rates?

In general, you should use the rule of 10%. Once you get a base rate that is less than 10%, you should begin to do additional hypothesis testing to confirm or disprove your conclusions. However, if there are medical reasons to expect certain discrepancies, such as a previous traumatic brain injury, then even 15% or higher could be meaningful.

What scores do I use if I want to do a discrepancy analysis?

The VCI is the functional equivalent of the VIQ. Similarly, the PRI is the functional equivalent of the PIQ. You should use the VCI and PRI as you would use the VIQ and PIQ. A number of other discrepancy analyses can be conducted between the index scores (e.g., VCI versus WMI or PSI; PRI versus WMI or PSI, WMI versus PSI).

The process-level discrepancy comparisons reflect the differences between scores for a subtest and the corresponding process score (i.e., Block Design [BD] and Block Design No Time Bonus [BDN]), or differences between two process scores for a single subtest (e.g., Digit Span Forward [DSF] and Digit Span Backward [DSB]).

These process-level discrepancy comparisons may be of particular clinical interest. For example, additional information on the contribution of speed to an examinee’s Block Design performance may be obtained from comparing the BD and BDN scaled scores. Prior to interpretation, the practitioner should know whether such a difference is statistically significant and how frequently it occurs in the normative sample.

Can you give me some information about the normative data?

Data was collected in the UK between September 2008 and April 2009. This data was collected to see if the UK data validated against the US norms. Using Confirmatory Factor Analysis, the WAIS-IV subtests and indexes replicate the model structure found in the US standardisation project. The validation study provides sufficient evidence that the UK data closely reflects that of the US, allowing for the reliable use of the WAIS-IV in the UK.


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Clinical and Special Group Performance

Why are the clinical studies in WAIS–IV UK different than those in WAIS–III UK?

We did extensive market research with customers, using unaided questions, to determine the need for new clinical studies. New clinical groups were chosen based on these responses, including Gifted Intellectual Functioning, Borderline Intellectual Functioning, Asperger’s Disorder, Autistic Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Mild Cognitive Impairment.

If you are interested in conducting clinical studies with other groups, you may request permission via the following website: Pearson may provide support for such studies by providing test materials and matched control groups for comparison.

Why is reliability lower for the intellectually gifted and the intellectually disabled (learning difficulties) special group samples than for the normative sample?

It is a consistent finding that the restriction in the range of scores obtained by these groups frequently results in lower reliabilities.

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Are there profiles typical of clinical disorders?

Generally, the answer is no. However, ongoing research may identify certain characteristics of cognitive functioning for specific clinical disorders. While specific profiles are not diagnostic of particular disorders, working memory and processing speed are implicated in a variety of psychoeducational and neuropsychological disorders.

Do examinees with neuropsychological or learning issues score lower on WMI and PSI?

Consistent with current research, studies reported in the WAIS–IV Technical and Interpretive Manual suggest that examinees with various neuropsychological and learning issues tend to perform lower on working memory and processing speed tasks.

I retested a gifted examinee using the WAIS–IV UK and the scores were lower than previously reported on the WAIS–III UK. Why is this?

This is due to the difference in the core subtests between WAIS–III UK and WAIS–IV UK; core subtests in the WAIS–IV UK reflect the increased emphasis on fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed in more recent conceptualizations of intelligence. Compared to the WAIS–III UK, the WAIS–IV UK FSIQ de-emphasizes crystallised knowledge (Comprehension is supplemental), and increases the contribution of Processing Speed (both Coding and Symbol Search are core).

The WAIS–IV UK FSIQ is comprised of all 10 subtests that comprise the four index scores, including the Working Memory and Processing Speed subtests. The WAIS–III UK subtests used to derive the FSIQ included only one subtest from the Processing Speed scale, and one additional subtest each from the Verbal Comprehension and Perceptual Organization scales. Gifted examinees tend to score lower on Processing Speed subtests relative to subtests from other scales, perhaps due to a problem solving approach that stresses accuracy over speed.

In addition to the difference in the core subtests on WAIS–III UK and WAIS–IV UK, the norms for the newer test are slightly harder due to the Flynn effect. Although some examinees exhibit scores that regress to the mean upon retesting, analyses of the normative data from the WAIS–III UK and WAIS–IV UK indicate that the same percentage of examinees, approximately 2%, is identified as gifted based on the FSIQ. However, the same examinees may not be identified due to the shift in the conceptualisation of intelligence reflected in the core subtests that contribute to the WAIS–IV UK FSIQ.

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Can the VCI and PRI be substituted for the VIQ and PIQ?

There is a statement on page 5 of the WAIS–IV UK Administration and Scoring Manual that was designed to address this situation: "The terms VCI and PRI should be substituted for the terms VIQ and PIQ in clinical decision-making and other situations where VIQ and PIQ were previously used."

I work in an area where many different languages are spoken. What do I do if an examinee has recently immigrated to the United Kingdom and needs to be assessed in a language other than English?

The WAIS–III UK has been adapted and standardised in 16 different countries. For examinees whose families have recently immigrated, these are the most current, valid tests available in their first language. Adaptations for Canada, United States, France and French-speaking Belgium, The Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Sweden, Lithuania, Slovenia, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Puerto Rico can be obtained by contacting Pearson. Use of these adaptations requires an examiner or experienced professional who is fluent in the examinee's language.

The WAIS–IV UK for United States is available and an adaptation for Canada is currently in development. Standardisation projects are underway for English language versions in Australia; a French version is also under development for use in French-speaking Canada.

Can you please tell me the lowest IQ the WAIS-IV UK measures. Would this be the same across all age ranges, or does it vary. If it varies, what is the range of the lowest IQ please?

The lowest FSIQ derived from the normative data was 40. The technical and interpretive manual states:

“Attention to the floors and ceilings of the subtests ensures an adequate range of scores to represent a broad range of cognitive ability, from extremely low (I.e., 40< FSIQ < 69) to very superior (i.e., 130 < FSIQ < 160). To adequately measure this range of ability, items of both low and high difficulty were added to retained subtests as necessary…Data were collected on individuals diagnosed with mild or moderate intellectual disability (i.e., mental retardation) according to criteria in the… (DSM-IV-TR)…The improved subtest floors and ceilings allow for better discrimination among individuals performing at the extreme ranges of cognitive ability, as well as an extended FSIQ score range of 40-160…”

Wechsler, D. (2008). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – fourth edition. San Antonio, TX: Pearson

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Subtest Administration and Scoring

Why are Letter–Number Sequencing, Figure Weights, and Cancellation not administered to ages 70–90?

These particular subtests were omitted from the test protocol for ages 70–90 for various reasons. These subtests were not administered to ages 70–90 due to concerns with fatigue in older adults. Standardisation editions include more items, involve using longer discontinue rules, and require additional recording procedures relative to final editions of tests. These factors increase testing time. In standardisation, examinees typically are administered both the main test being standardised (e.g., WAIS–IV UK) and various other tests required to establish validity (e.g., WMS–IV UK, WAIS–III UK).

The introduction of Digit Span Sequencing decreased the unique information that Letter–Number Sequencing contributes to the battery. Figure Weights and Cancellation were new subtests, with unproven utility for older adults. All of these subtests were likely to be selected as supplemental subtests. Ultimately, the decision was made to omit these subtests for these ages.

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Why was Block Design selected as the first subtest for WAIS–IV UK?

Block Design was chosen as the first subtest because it is an engaging task that gives the examiner more opportunity to establish rapport. This is consistent with a recent revision of another Wechsler product, the WISC–IV, where Block Design as the initial subtest has been well-received by examiners. When testing examinees with motor impairment, examiners may decide to begin with a different subtest in the interest of rapport.

If you wanted to reduce the effects of speeded performance, why not eliminate time bonus points from Block Design altogether?

In general, higher ability examinees tend to perform the task faster. Without time bonus points, Block Design does not provide fine discrimination at higher ability levels.

Why do Visual Puzzles and Figure Weights have strict time limits, and Matrix Reasoning only has a 30 second guideline?

Similar to Block Design, higher ability examinees tend to perform Visual Puzzles and Figure Weights items more quickly. Given enough time, low ability examinees can eventually respond to items correctly. This is not the case with Matrix Reasoning.

The 30 second guideline was established because completion time data indicated that the vast majority of examinees who will respond correctly do so within 30 seconds, but giving additional time to low ability examinees did not result in correct scores. A strict time limit is therefore unnecessary: Grant additional time if the examinee has established a pattern of providing delayed but correct responses as the item difficulty increases.

Why is Digit Span placed so early in the subtest order?

To avoid interference effects between Digit Span and Letter–Number Sequencing, these subtests were widely separated in the order of administration.

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In the Letter–Number Sequencing subtest, the examinee is instructed to repeat the numbers in ascending order first, and then the letters in alphabetical order. For Items 3–10, why is credit awarded if the examinee repeats the letters first in order and then the numbers in order?

There is a distinction between reordering and sequencing: Reordering involves placing the numbers as a group prior to the letters as a group, and sequencing involves placing the numbers in numerical order and the letters in alphabetical order—regardless of which grouping comes first. The reason for instructing examinees to reorder the numbers before the letters is to provide a structured way of approaching the task, which is especially helpful for examinees that are anxious or have difficulty structuring their own work.

The WAIS–IV UK version of Letter–Number Sequencing introduces a new graduated teaching strategy. Using Sample Item A, the examinee is taught to reorder the number before the letter for the two-character trials. If the examinee does not reorder correctly as instructed, no credit is awarded for a given trial on Items 1–2. Sample Item B is used to teach the examinee to sequence the numbers and letters, while maintaining the previous reordering instruction.

For Items 3–10, credit is awarded for sequencing alone: Regardless of how the examinee reorders the numbers and letters, he or she is using working memory to sequence the numbers and sequence the letters. Although the incorrect reordering approach has always been infrequently observed, the graduated teaching strategy introduced for WAIS–IV UK has reduced the frequency of incorrect reordering even further. In addition, prior data analysis results have indicated that these items are equally difficult when either numbers or letters are given first.

What should I do if an examinee writes too faintly to be seen through the Cancellation scoring template?

You don't need the scoring template to score the subtest. If necessary, remove the template and simply count each correct shape with a mark through it and each incorrect shape with a mark through it. You should ensure that you double-check your work.

Is colour-blindness a factor on the WAIS–IV UK?

Individuals with colour-perception differences are a group that encompasses greater than 10% of the general population. These issues are much more common in males. We have made every effort to ensure our items, including those on the WAIS–IV UK, WISC–IV UK, WPPSI–III UK, and WASI UK, are free of bias against these individuals. Items are reviewed by colour-perception differences experts, as well as individuals with colour-perception differences, during the early stages of the test-development process.

In addition, acetate overlays have been utilised so that the test developers can understand the appearance of the stimuli to individuals with various colour-perception differences. Items are also copied in black and white to check appearance to those with monochromatic colour perception. All items are also subjected to an electronic “colour-blindness” simulator, to check item appearance with every type of colour-perception difference and ensure that the intensity and saturation of colours are not confused or resulting in different responses.

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Related Instruments

Was the WAIS–IV UK co-normed with the WMS–IV UK, as it has been with previous editions?

Like their predecessors, the WAIS–IV UK and the forthcoming Wechsler Memory Scale–Fourth Edition (WMS–IV UK; Wechsler, in press) research projects overlapped during the standardisation stages to allow co-norming. The linkage provides a more complete picture of cognitive functioning in the areas of intellectual ability and memory, and enables a direct comparison of intelligence and memory through normative information.

The linkage additionally enables prediction of memory scores on the basis of intellectual ability scores and interpretation of memory scores in the context of intellectual ability scores. Information regarding the co-normative sample, correlations between measures, and analyses relevant to concurrent use of the two scales (e.g., ability-memory discrepancy comparisons and ability-memory contrast scores) will be reported in the WMS–IV UK Technical and Interpretive Manual.

Will scoring and reporting software be available for use with the WAIS–IV UK and WMS–IV UK?

Scoring assistants and interpretive writers are available for use with both the WAIS–IV UK and the WMS–IV UK, and for the joint applications of the two tests.

I would like to purchase the new WAIS-IV UK later this year but have a major concern. This is that the current WIAT-II book of adult norms is not linked to the WAIS-IV, and I cannot find any information to the effect that an updated set of norms is on its way.

Could you tell me whether your company plans to link any achievement tests with the WAIS-IV UK, so that I could plan to buy this test and proceed with ability-achievement discrepancy in the traditional way when working with adults.

The WAIS-IV US has been correlated with the following assessments:


  • CMS
  • Brown ADD
  • D-KEFS


The WIAT-II assessment correlation data (as well as the correlation data for the other assessments mentioned above) is available in the technical and interpretative manual of the WAIS-IV. In the manual it states:

“Overall, the relations between the WAIS-IV and WIAT-II are similar to those reported between the WAIS-III and the WIAT-II….These results support the construct validity of the WAIS-IV, replicate findings from earlier research, and demonstrate that specific WAIS-IV subtests and composites relate differentially to specific domains for achievement. Tables…provide data for use in conducting ability-achievement comparisons with the WAIS-IV and WIAT-II…”

This statement refers to US data. Although the WAIS-IV UK correlates highly with US data, a study has not been completed with UK adults on WIAT-II. Therefore, if you wanted to use this information, you would need to interpret with care.

I wonder if you could tell me if the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR) (2001) is compatible with the WAIS-IV, also how useful will WTAR be with the new WAIS-IV UK and WMS-IV UK?

The WAIS-IV UK and WMS-IV UK have not been correlated with the WTAR.

The version of the WTAR, now called the Test of Premorbid Functioning– UK version (TOPF) is in preparation and will be published late summer 2010. This new edition of the assessment has been validated against the UK versions of the WAIS-IV and WMS-IV and should be used in place of WTAR. 

I have heard that the ACS (published by Pearson US) has a test of premorbid function. How is this different to the UK Test of Premorbid Functioning (TOPF) that has been advertised for publication in late summer 2010? 

A; The Advanced Clinical Solutions (ACS) is a US test which was published at the end of 2009 and is an extension of the WAIS-IV and WMS-IV predominantly for use by neuropsychologists. This US test was administered to a sample of examinees along with the WAIS-IV/WMS-IV. This has US data, measures for predicting premorbid intellectual functioning, effort, executive function and social perception. 

In the UK we have taken the Test of Premorbid Functioning (TOPF) from the US ACS and published this as a stand alone tool, as we believe that psychologists would want this part of the ACS, over the other dimensions assessed in the ACS.

We have collected UK data on Test of Premorbid Functioning (TOPF) and correlated this against WAIS-IV UK/WMS-IV UK and then published this as Test of Premorbid Functioning (TOPF) UK. It is important to note that we have not collected data on the other aspects of ACS. From late summer 2010 in the UK you will be able to purchase either TOPF-UK or ACS –UK. The latter includes the ACS with US data and TOPF-UK.

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Can you advise whether Pearson will be running training sessions on the new version of the WAIS-IV UK?

We have published and online administration and scoring training programme with the WAIS-IV UK and the WMS-IV UK which is an alternative way of learning the WAIS-IV UK.. Please refer to our training page for regular updates.

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Key Information


Provides you with the most advanced measure of cognitive ability in adults. Includes updated normative data for ages 16-90 years.


David Wechsler

Publication Year


Age Range

16 years to 90 years 11 months


Individual - 75 minutes

Qualification Code


£1,338.50 (Complete kit price from)
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