Whether or not to prepare your child for the CogAT depends on many factors. It’s important to learn as much as you can in advance of sitting down with your student. After you gather the information from the school, you can make an informed decision about whether to invest time and money into working with your child. It can be very stressful for your child, so get information first. Here are the questions to ask the school before the CogAT test. Write these down, and ask them during your meeting. It can mean all the difference for your child.
What to know before you talk to the school about the CogAT
It is important to understand the CogAT test itself before going to the test administrator or your child’s teacher. The more you can understand about the test in advance, the more streamlined and relevant your questions will become when faced with limited time in front of school personnel.
Sections of the CogAT
The CogAT has three sections, (Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal) usually each administered on a different day. Each section includes three parts. Research some sample questions to know what each of these sections and parts entail.
CogAT Verbal section:
- Verbal classification
- Sentence completion
- Verbal analogies
CogAT Quantitative section:
- Number series
- Equation building
- Quantitative relations
CogAT Nonverbal section:
- Figure matrices
- Paper folding
- Figure classification
What questions to ask the school before the CogAT
Before you decide about preparing your child for the CogAT, it’s important to ask some questions from the school. Depending on your unique situation, some questions to ask include the following:
Why are they having students take the CogAT?
At my children’s school in the Midwest, every student in kindergarten and fourth grade took the test. My son tested in the 98 – 99th percentile in all three sections of the test. We received a letter that he scored high enough for the gifted/talented program; however, there wasn’t a program at the school, so it didn’t matter. However, when we moved to Colorado, those scores carried over so that when he was in second grade at his new school, he was accepted into their gifted program.
The fourth graders at the Midwestern school who took the test were given the CogAT so that they could be placed in a “fast track” program in fifth grade, at the intermediate school. A high enough score on the CogAT would have very positive ramifications for the students as they would be in a higher track surrounded with students who are on grade level and above.
What score does a child need to place into the program?
In order to get into the gifted program at my children’s current Colorado school, a student needs a score of 97% in one of the sections.
Does the student need that score in all three sections of the CogAT or just one?
At my children’s current school, once a child scores a 97% in one of the three sections, they need a 93% in one or both of the other sections to be placed into the gifted program in those sections.
If my child’s CogAT score is high enough, what program will he/she be in?
In the case at my children’s first school, administrators used the CogAT to place the students in the faster paced program. However, this was only in the later grades.
At my kids’ current school, the students are pulled out of class to meet with the gifted teacher by grade. Depending on the number of sections the child scored high enough (97%, then 93% or higher) they would leave class that number of times to meet with their same grade peers with the gifted teacher. My second grader learned to play chess; solved tangram puzzles; and played math games.
A friend who resides in Illinois said her elementary-aged children take the test every year and if students score high enough, they are placed into the fast-track classroom, a few weeks ahead of the other classes in that grade.
A friend in Washington state said their school sent a flyer home about their enrichment/gifted program. If a child’s parents or teacher recommends they take the test and the child passes high enough (97% or higher) they leave school on Friday afternoon, once a month, and take the bus to a nearby elementary school with other students for a two and a half hour enrichment session.
It is imperative you understand how your child will benefit if he/she scores high enough.
Can the student place high in one of the three sections of the CogAT and be in the program even if they don’t place high enough in the other two sections? Can they retest to get into those sections?
Be sure to include this in your list of questions to ask the school before the CogAT. The answer is essential to find out. If students just need one very high score in one of the sections, it may well be smart to focus on just one area of the CogAT, one where you believe your child shows the most knowledge/skills in. It will be especially helpful to just focus on one area if time is an issue and if the test is just weeks away.
How soon can students retest? Is there a limit to how many times they can test?
At my children’s current K – 6 school, administrators told us different things. Once I was told they can take it again after a year but only up to three times in their time there. However, after my older son took the test, he was told he could try again in two years. We will have a new gifted teacher next school year so I will be getting the correct information then.
What CogAT form will your school use?
This is very important, especially for kindergarten, first and second grades. My second grader was testing in the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the CogAT, and I had him practice the regular second grade tests, CogAT Form 6 and CogAT Form 7. Little did I know the test he was taking was read aloud by the teacher and contained pictures instead of words for the Verbal section. This was disappointing because the point in having him practice the sample tests was so that he would be familiar with the format of the test. The tests he took were completely different from what we practiced.
What grades will take the test? Does everyone take it or only certain students?
When we lived in the Midwest, all the students in the grades K and 4th took the tests. At our school in Colorado where we live now, the only students who take the test are the students that the teacher recommends. A parent can also request their child take the test but this is not widely known or advertised.
What is the date (or dates) your child will take the CogAT?
This will enable you to know how much time you have to prepare and if it will be worth it. It will also enable you to be sure your child has enough sleep leading up to the test and especially the night before the test. It will also enable you to be sure your child has a healthy breakfast and lunch those days.
How often is the CogAT administered? How will you get the results? Can your child retest? How soon and how often can your child retest?
Find out if this is a once a year test and how often your child can retest. It will be helpful if school personnel will be willing to help interpret your child’s CogAT scores.
Can any students retest for the CogAT?
Ask if your child needs a certain percentage to be able to qualify to take the test or certain parts of the test again.
Talk to your child’s teacher about the CogAT test
If possible, find out from your child’s teacher any additional information about your child and the CogAT. Does your child’s teacher recommend your child take the CogAT? Does the teacher see certain qualities in your child that leads him/her to believe your child will excel in one or more parts of the CogAT? If so, it might be worth your time to focus just on one section of the test. This way, you will be focusing on only those three parts instead of all three sections and all nine parts.
After you have answers to these questions, you need to process and really think about your child. Is your child competitive? Will he/she enjoy a challenge? Will your child be willing to sit down and learn about the types of questions on the CogAT and take a few sample questions? Is there a gifted program or separate track or other way your child will benefit from a high score on the CogAT or is the test just a formality? How will you and/or your child will feel if he/she doesn’t get into the special program?
What to ask at school about the CogAT
Is this a program that will change your child’s entire track/experience? This is significantly different than it if it will only be an enhancement to what they are already learning. If your child will be pulled out of class for a special gifted session, what will your child miss? How will that affect your child, and how will you feel about that?
It is so important to know the questions to ask the school before the CogAT so that you can make the best decisions for your child.