The Cognitive Abilities Test, more popularly known as the CogAT, is an assessment test designed for K-12 students to measure their learned reasoning abilities. These abilities are in the areas of verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative reasoning which have been linked to success in academics.
Its primary goal is the assessment of what reasoning abilities students have acquired but it also provides predicted achievement scores. Authored by University of Iowa professor emeritus David F. Logman, the CogAT is not a test of a student’s IQ, albeit there is a known correlation between a student’s performance and his/her innate ability.
The CogAT is important to educators to help them make informed decisions on student placements for their talented and gifted programs. The CogAT is given in levels as three test batteries that focus on the mentioned areas. It can be conducted either in part or in whole but the comprehensive assessment of a student is based on all three.
Should I Let My Child Take the CogAT Test?
Is the CogAT Intelligence Testing?
Contrary to what most people think, the CogAT is not a test to gauge how intelligent a student is; it measures his/her reasoning ability.
Neither does the CogAT measure a student’s speed in processing information, the amount of knowledge that he/she has retained or other components that are directly linked to an IQ appraisal.
The CogAT is not a measure of the child’s innate ability mainly because the ability to reason is learned. But while the CogAT is not, in any way, an IQ test, a CogAT score is acceptable for admission to Mensa, the world’s largest and oldest high IQ society, whose members score 98th percentile or even higher on a supervised intelligence test.
Mensa requires a CogAT with a CSI or SAS score of 132. The Johns Hopkins University program for talented and gifted young people requires a 95% score on a CogAT. Northwestern University, meanwhile, accepts CogAT scores which are above 90%. IQ is measured statistically by test scores.
Intelligence and cognitive ability may be related and even intertwine, but they are really not the same. Cognitive abilities are mental processes using skills that are brain-based to carry out tasks and have more to do with the mechanisms of learning, remembering, and paying attention rather than actual knowledge that was learned.
A lot of parents interpret the CogAT wrongly as an IQ test which is designed to gauge the general ability of the individual to solve given problems as well as understand concepts. A high score on an IQ test does not necessarily ensure success in academics or even the workplace.
There are two kinds of norms used by the CogAT for test scores: grade norms and age norms. Grade norms make a comparison of a student’s performance and the performances of other students in the same grade. Age norms, on the other hand, compares a student’s performance with other students of the same age.
The span of age norms is between four years old and 11 months and 18 years old wherein students are typically grouped in intervals of one month. The use of age norms has proven to be more accurate in the assessment of students who are either old or very young for their grade levels. The raw score of the CogAT is initially calculated with a tally of the total of correctly-answered questions.
The raw score is converted using the Universal Scale Scores (USS) for each battery test. Calculation is then used to determine percentile rank, stanine score, and the SAS, short for Standard Age Score.
Is the CogAT a Good Test for Gifted Programs?
The CogAT’s purpose is to determine giftedness in children. It is a group test, not an individual one, given by professional testers and/or district teachers, not by private psychologists.
The CogAT is a gauge for a child’s ability for potential success and an opportunity to discover possible learning strengths in the child. Additionally, it can:
- Measure the student’s development of his/her deductive and inductive reasoning abilities, two factors which are critical for academic success.
- Appraise the student’s general abstract reasoning abilities as well as his/her capacity to apply these to non-verbal and verbal cognitive tasks.
- Provide data on the development levels of a student’s specific and general K-12 cognitive skills.
CogAT results are typically used when one teacher has particular concerns regarding a specific student’s lack of performance progress, especially in the classroom. The CogAT score of this student will give the teacher an overview of the student’s learning styles as well as his/her abilities that are analyzed for resolution.
Why Should I Have My Child Tested?
Parents should be aware that standardized testing is only one way of measuring a student’s ability as well as his/her achievement. An individual’s capabilities are certainly more complex and actually more diverse than what academic ability or even achievement tests are able to measure.
The words “gifted” and “talented” are used to recognize students of exceptional abilities who require educational programs especially designed to help them achieve not their personal potential but also their future contribution to society. These students include those who have already demonstrated achievement or potential ability.
If you think your child may be gifted or talented, you, teachers, and school guidance counselors can refer him/her for identification to receive gifted services as early as kindergarten level. The qualifications for these services will be based on the CogAT as well as MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) scores.
At What Age to Give the CogAT Test?
The CogAT may be administered to children from kindergarten to grade 12. The CogAT level of the test is based on the child’s age with the number assigned to each level corresponding to the particular age level of the child it is administered to.
Level 9, for instance, is given to nine-year-olds and generally administered to third graders.
CogAT Testing Levels
Here is a quick rundown to give you an idea of the CogAT testing levels and the particular grades these are administered to:
CogAT Level Grade
7 Grade 1
8 Grade 2
9 Grade 3
10 Grade 4
11 Grade 5
12 Grade 6
13/14 Grades 7 to 8
15/16 Grades 9 to 10
17/18 Grades 11 to 12
The test is comprised of three sections:
The sections are termed as batteries which may be administered either together or separately depending on the specific needs of the school which administers the CogAT. These battery tests have been designed to:
- Assess particular reasoning skills in the area which has a strong link to success in academics.
- Measure cognitive development of the student.
- Quantify the ability of the student to learn new or different tasks.
- Appraise the student’s ability to solve problems.
Much of the content in the CogAT is nonverbal, which can be effective in testing non-native speakers of English.
Types of CogAT questions
Take a look at what kind of questions are asked in the CogAT to give you an idea of how your child may fare:
- Nonverbal: subtests include figure matrices, figure classification, and paper folding.
- Verbal: subtests include picture/verbal analogies, sentence completion, and picture/verbal classification.
- Quantitative: subtests include number series, number analogies, and number puzzles.
How long is the CogAT test
The time of administered the CogAT varies and depends on how much time is spent by the proctor who administers it. A student is provided from 30 to 45 minutes per test battery. The CogAT has 118 to 176 questions, depending on the test level and may take the student between two and three hours to answer all of them and complete the three battery tests.
The current CogAT being administered is known as Form 7, albeit CogAT Form 6, its predecessor, is still administered at particular schools. Parents should be aware about the differences between Form 7 and Form 6 in order to know which version of the test their children are going to take. Some differences have been made as to the number of questions on each of the levels of both Form 7 and Form 6.
CogAT Form 6
Number of Questions Per Level Level
120 questions 5/6
132 questions 7
144 questions 8
190 questions 9
190 questions 10 to 18
CogAT Form 7
Number of Questions Per Level Level
118 questions 5/6
136 questions 7
154 questions 8
170 questions 9
176 questions 10 to 18
Form 7 is considered more accessible to students who are non-native English speakers because it has been designed in a nonverbal format. Changes between the two Forms in the primary levels were made for the accommodation of ELL (English Language Learner) students.
Form 7 of primary levels 5/6 to 8, in fact, is now nearly made up of non-verbal questions. The one section which will require language skills is the section on Sentence Completion that is, even the, optional and available for both Spanish- and English-speaking students. Additionally, all levels have instructions in either Spanish or English.
Can the CogAT Test Contradict Performance?
The CogAT is a challenging test. The increasing number of children whose parents want them in gifted programs has made the CogAT a challenge to take. Can this test’s results contradict a student’s performance? Yes and no.
Yes, if the student scores a passing grade and makes it to the program. If the student fails to make the grade, it can discourage him/her because of frustration. The trick is to prepare the child for CogAT. There are several websites that offer comprehensive packages of practice tests that resemble the questions of the CogAT.
Additionally, your child’s school can suggest the best CogAT practice tests. It is generally believed that cognitive ability can predict academic success, not contradict it. Both parental involvement and expectations, however, play a key role in academic achievement as well. There are several factors that influence a student’s academic performance:
- Cognitive ability
- Achievement motivation
- Socio-economic status (SES)
Cognitive psychologists have now identified several aspects of cognitive abilities – including how efficiently a student processes information, how much of this information can be processed simultaneously, how much of it can be retained in the mind, and how well new problems are solved – that can either encourage or constrain learning.
One has to understand the direct relationship between a student’s cognitive development and his/her academic performance, especially the cognitive ability of perceptual reasoning, reading fluency, mental arithmetic, and reading comprehension.
Should every child take the CogAT test?
A child’s cognitive ability influences academic performance; it does not contradict it. In fact, a high CogAT score translates to high academic performance and, in some cases, vice versa, although a passing score may not necessarily mean the child is gifted or talented but is more of the average student. Should your child take the CogAT? For all intents and purposes, yes.
If your child has a high capacity for crystallized knowledge, taking the CogAT will further enhance it. Crystallized knowledge is acquired knowledge such as arithmetic and vocabulary. If your child has a high capacity for fluid knowledge, the CogAT can determine the extent with which your child can solve new problems.
Fluid knowledge is acquired by having fluid skills, the capabilities needed for abstract reasoning in order that the student may solve new problems like identifying patterns and making extrapolations without basing the solutions on acquired factual knowledge.
Students with strong fluid skills have the advantage to acquire crystallized knowledge. Cognitive ability has an innate component while the majority of cognitive skills can be learned. Cognitive ability enables the student to process sensory information that he/she collects to evaluate, analyze, and retain, make comparisons, determine action, and recall experiences.
When these abilities are in place, academic performance is improved or enhanced. Cognitive skills can be strengthened, enhanced or even restored to increase the performance and ease of learning. Let your child take the CogAT test to know if he/she can get into a gifted program because it is worth a try.
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