This week, I received a note from a dad who is a member at my other website, www.TestingMom. He had been helping his son get ready for the CogAT, a test that would decide whether or not the boy would be admitted to his school’s G&T program. The school had not specified whether they would be giving CogAT Form 6 or CogAT Form 7, so they prepared for the CogAT Form 7 – the newest version of the test. The father wrote:
“Thanks for all the help. Today was the last day of the 4th grade testing. He said it went great until there was a part where he had no idea what to do…the best way he explained it was it looked like this; 7 25 + – , another one was 19 35 + -. He had 8 minutes for 20 of them and was completely lost. My 2nd grader tests in 2 weeks. How should we prepare him? Dave”
Here was my response:
“Dave, it sounds like he was given the CogAT Form 6. It’s an equation building subtest. They have to put the numbers with the plus and minus signs to reach one of the answer choices. That’s very interesting because most school districts have moved to the CogAT Form 7, which replaced CogAT Form 6 over a year and a half ago. Most sections on the CogAT Form 6 are similar to Form 7, so for the most part, your son worked with the right material. This is one of the few different parts for a 4th grader.
I would make sure to work with CogAT Form 6 for your 2nd grader just to be sure. I’m guessing if they use Form 6 for 4th grade, they may use it for 2nd grade. We do have practice materials on our site.
I’m sorry he was lost on this section. Even if he hadn’t practiced it, the teacher should have made sure the kids understood it before turning them loose on the section. Hopefully he aced everything else!”
If you learn that your child will be taking the CogAT, try to find out whether he will be given CogAT Form 6 or Form 7. Form 6 is the old Form of the test, but as you can see, schools are still using it. For kindergarteners – 2nd graders, the two tests are especially different. As kids get older, the two tests are quite similar except for two math sections. We do have practice materials for both tests at www.TestingMom.com, but it is helpful to know which group of questions to focus on.
If you cannot find out which CogAT Form your school will you, it will be important to practice questions for both tests. Otherwise, your child might be “completely lost” as Dave’s son was. This is the value of preparing your children for these kinds of tests. At least they will not lose time trying to figure out what they are supposed to do. Often, on these tests, questions are structured in a way that children have never seen before. With the type of question that Dave’s son faced for the first time when tested, they were expected to put numbers and signs together that lead to an answer choice: 5 2 4 – + might be featured with answer choices 1,11, 3, 6. The child would need to create the problem 5 + 2 – 4 and get to the answer 3. It’s not that hard – as long as you know what you are doing. By practicing, your child will have gone over each type of question and will know how to handle it. They can spend their time working the questions and showing what they know rather than struggling with instructions they don’t understand.
These days, children are regularly tested to get into private school or gifted and talented programs. If you live in the NYC, the ERB or WPPSI®-III test is given for private school admissions. The OLSAT® and NNAT®2 is given for gifted & talented qualification. The Stanford-Binet is given for Hunter College Elementary qualification. But even if you don’t live in NYC, children around the country are being tested for private school admissions and gifted and talented qualification. The CogAT® Form 6 and Form 7 are commonly given, along with the ITBS® (Iowa Test of Basic Skills), the KBIT®-2 and more.
There is so much you can do to prepare your child for these tests at home. If you have some time, I highly recommend that you pick up my book, Testing For Kindergarten. It is full of games and activities that are fun for your child to do and preparatory for the most common tests that young children are given. IQ Fun Park is a wonderful game you can play with your child that will prepare him for testing. It’s actually a test prep kit, but to a child, it’s play. If you would like your child to do practice questions for the most common tests children are given across the country, TestingMom.com offers thousands of practice questions that she can work with either pencil to paper or even as games.
When you do work with your child to prepare for testing, keep it light and fun. Never talk about it as test prep. Call it special homework, brain teasers, or puzzles. Give your child brightly colored stickers for doing a good job. We find that children generally love doing this special work with their parents – it’s a bonding experience. And it is great for you because you get to see what your child is good at and what they need to work on. Once you see that, you’ll want to work on the things that give you’re your child trouble outside of the test prep situation. So, for example, if you learn that your child doesn’t know his letters or numbers during test prep, you’ll want to play fun games with him to teach him those things.
For 100 free practice questions, visit www.TestingMom.com.
Visit IQ Fun Park!
I wanted to share a question a mom from Florida asked me yesterday because she brings up a problem that so many parents struggle with. Her son is very smart and does super well in school. His teachers for the last 2 years have recommended him for the school’s Gifted and Talented Program. Each time he is tested, however, he misses the cut-off and can’t get into the program. She is a member of www.TestingMom.com. When she works with him on practice questions from the site, she observes that he is impulsive and doesn’t consider all the possibilities before choosing an answer. She asked me if there was any way to help him with this.
The answer is YES! There is. It is so important to realize that when you do practice questions with your child, he is learning 1) how to handle the substance of different types of questions whether it be math, analogy or “What Doesn’t Belong” items, and 2) how to answer a test question, which involves reading (or listening to) the whole question, considering each possible answer, eliminating answers that are definitely wrong, and choosing the answer that seems most right. These are two very different skills.
If you have a child who doesn’t listen well to questions, doesn’t think them through, doesn’t consider all of the options, here is what I would recommend that you do. Select a group of age appropriate questions to work with. These can be practice questions from a test your child is not taking. Here, you are working on test-taking skills, not practicing for a particular test.
Ask your child the first question. Instead of having her go right for the answer, ask her to tell you why each answer choice is either right or wrong. Then have her select the best answer. You can let her know if she is correct or not. Either way, talk about how well she thought through the question, or what she might have missed in her thinking so that she can do better next time.
Now go to the next question. Do the same thing with this question. And so on. By getting your child to articulate his thinking, his answer elimination, and his ultimate choice, you are teaching him how to think through, analyze and answer test questions. Later, when he is actually tested, he will know to go through this process in his head. He will not rush to mark an answer!
Many tests, such as the OLSAT and CogAT, have subtests that require children to listen carefully to questions, remember them, and then answer them. In going through this process, you might discover that your child isn’t hearing the entire question. Maybe she isn’t paying attention, maybe her mind is wandering, but she isn’t focused! Once you discover that, tell her to “put on her listening ears” each time you read a question. Concentrate on getting her to focus and then go through the analysis described above. Even if you only work with a few questions this way, you will be teaching your child the skill of listening to, analyzing, and choosing answers to test questions. This will help her when it really counts!
Finally (and this is “advanced” test taking when it comes to younger children), when your child isn’t sure about the answer, you want to teach her how to eliminate answers that are definitely incorrect, and then choose between the answers that seem possible. When you are talking through your child’s analysis of a question, talk to her about how she is sure that these two answers are wrong, so just focus on the ones that could be right. Still not sure? Make your best guess! By learning to block out the options that are definitely wrong, this will help her focus and increase her likelihood of doing well.
In grades 3 and up, children taking the CogAT are asked to solve sentence-completion questions using words and not pictures. As part of your child’s preparation for the CogAT, running through a few sample questions can be extremely helpful. Free CogAT practice questions are available online, and these questions are wonderful for familiarizing your child with the question structure. They may have never encountered this particular structure before, and understanding it can make a big difference in their performance.
The concept is simple. A sentence will be presented with one word missing. Your child will be asked to choose, from a short list of approximately five options, the word which best completes the sentence. If your child is struggling with this question format, work with them using free CogAT sample questions, cognitive tests, or thinking-skills materials. Many children unfortunately score inaccurately poorly on the CogAT due to a lack of familiarity with the question structures, but proper preparation can help avoid this issue.
One of the most common questions parents and students face is a simple one: What is the cognitive abilities test? The answer is that the cognitive abilities test (or CogAT) is a comprehensive test which determines cognitive abilities, also known as cognition or reasoning. Another common way to look at cognition is problem-solving skills. The CogAT is can be given to children in any grade, K-12, and takes approximately an hour for most grade and age levels.
Many parents often also wonder why their child has been singled out to take the CogAT. While this test is usually administered in a group setting, some children (usually those whose teachers believe they are either falling behind or are especially gifted) take it individually. In these cases, the children are usually given a different version of the test than the rest of their class, in order to better determine their individual strengths and weaknesses.