If you have the opportunity, there are so many questions to ask the school before the CogAT test.
Realize the school may not be open about answering your questions. They may view this as giving you and your child an unfair advantage.
Therefore, the more you 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.
Learn all you can about the CogAT test before going to the test administrator or your child’s teacher.
Below is exactly what you need to know so you can determine if you should help your child prep in advance and how to go about it.
What to know before you talk to the school about the CogAT
Before you meet with the school, get a CogAT practice test workbook so you can familiarize yourself with the directions and types of questions.
If you do nothing else, at least go over the types of questions in each section.
This will also help you understand the basics before you talk to the school or the teacher about the CogAT. Even better is if you can have your child review the test in advance of your meeting.
Before your child takes the CogAT
Prior to your child taking the test, let him/her review the practice guides.
The CogAT is a timed test.
Ensure your child understands the directions for each section in advance. This way, he/she won’t be wasting time during the test to figure out what to do.
This is critical!
I was shocked when we looked at a practice test and my fifth grader didn’t understand what he was supposed to do in one part of the math section. And he tests in the 95%+ percentile for math!
Get a workbook for your child’s grade in advance.
Here are the questions to ask the school before the CogAT test. Write these down, and ask them during your meeting.
Familiarize yourself with the questions. You may not have the opportunity to ask everything. Also, depending in the answers, you will likely skip around. Be prepared for your meeting.
It can mean all the difference for your child. Understanding Your Child’s CogAT Scores
What questions to ask the school before the CogAT
Before you decide about whether to help your child prepare for the CogAT, it’s important to ask the school some questions.
Depending on your unique situation, some questions to ask include the following:
1. Why are they having students take the CogAT?
At my children’s former school in the Midwest, every student in kindergarten and fourth grade took the test.
While in kindergarten, 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.
He didn’t need to retest to qualify.
It was different for the fourth graders in that Midwestern school. Their CogAT results mattered.
If students scored well on the fourth grade CogAT test, they would be placed in a “fast track” program for 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.
You need to know what the CogAT scores will mean for your child.
2. What score does a child need to place into the program?
If there is a special program, what score will students need to get into it?
In order to get into the gifted program at my children’s current Colorado school, a student needs a score of 96% in one of the sections.
That’s not the case in all schools. Some schools take the top percentage of all students in the grade.
3. 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 96% 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.
You will want to know this.
If your child shows strengths in a particular section when you practice the CogAT, you may want to focus more on that section.
Knowing if a child places high in one of the three sections of the CogAT and can be in the program, even if they don’t place high enough in the other two sections is essential.
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.
Choose the one where you believe your child shows the most knowledge/skills in and is most comfortable during the practice workbooks and practice tests.
It will be especially helpful to just focus on one area if time is an issue and if the test is just weeks away.
4. Can they retest?
Is there a limit to how many times they can test?
Be sure to include this in your list of questions to ask the school before the CogAT.
Does the school administer the test yearly? For all students? If your child takes the CogAT and scores very well, will he or she have to take it again?
If you child “makes it into the special program,” does he/she have to test in again yearly or is he/she automatically in it?
Will your child have a chance to retake certain parts of the CogAT if he scored lower than the other parts?
At my children’s current K – 6 school, administrators told us different things. One time, the gifted teacher told me students can take it again after a year but only up to three times in their time there.
However, after my older child took the test, the teacher told him he could try again in two years.
Unless your school district has a set plan in place, this is arbitrary. In our school, it seems the enrichment gifted teacher makes the rules.
It may also depend on how full their gifted classes are.
5. 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 students in the faster paced program for fifth grade.
At my kids’ current school, the students leave their regular class to meet with the gifted teacher by grade.
There are three sections to the CogAT test.
Depending on the number of sections the child scored high enough in (at least 96% in one section, and then 93% or higher in one or two sections) students leave class that number of times to meet with the gifted teacher.
In his enrichment class, my second grader learned to play chess, solved tangram puzzles, and played math games.
Schools use CogAT results differently
Another example of a school using the CogAT:
A friend who resides in Iowa said her elementary-aged children take the test every year.
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 third example of how a school uses the CogAT:
A friend in Oregon said their elementary school sent a flyer home about their enrichment/gifted program.
In that school, a child’s parent or teacher recommends he/she takes the test.
If the child passes with a high enough score, (95% or higher) they leave school on Friday afternoon, once a month.
The students take a school bus to one of the district’s elementary schools. Elementary school students from the district meet 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.
6. What CogAT form will your school use?
If you can get the answer to this question, this will make a big difference. However, if there is one question to skip, this is it. This question will make it look like you know what you are talking about. You may not want to give that impression.
Feel free to skip this question and prep using CogAT Form 7.
Our current school isn’t well-funded and doesn’t have a set gifted curriculum or test process in place. Teachers “suggest” certain students take the CogAT. They use an outdated CogAT version, Form 6.
For sure, in third grade tests and higher, one of the math sections is different.
Before helping my child prep for the CogAT, I specifically asked the teacher which form they were using.
She said, “I cannot answer that question.” Again, despite trying to be subtle and act like I didn’t know much about the test, she wouldn’t answer.
They don’t want kids to have an advantage by prepping. This makes sense.
So be prepared to not get an answer.
But if you feel comfortable, try to work this question in when it’s appropriate. The answer is VERY important, especially for kindergarten, first and second grades.
Here’s one example of why it matters:
My second grader was testing in the CogAT Verbal and Quantitative sections.
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.
Why are there different versions?
Based on the schools we were in, it seems the school districts with more money — aka the ones that are better funded — will have the most up-to-date version of the test.
So that would be Form 7 and not Form 6. Also, if they rely on the CogAT results for placing the students, they will likely be using Form 7.
At our (well-funded) school in the Midwest, all of the kindergarten and fourth grade students in the entire district took the CogAT. They mailed the test results to parents and guardians months later.
At our much smaller and not-as-well funded school in Colorado, only certain children took the test. Additionally, the gifted teacher graded the tests BY HAND. In this instance, they didn’t have funds to upgrade to the latest CogAT version.
If you can’t find out which version the school administers, access both CogAT Form 6 and CogAT Form 7 practice questions.
Review them in advance. Then, you can present them logically and straightforwardly in a zero stress environment when you work with your child.
Your child will have had experience working out all the different types of problems.
7. 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, 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.
8. 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. (You don’t want to stress your child out!)
It will also enable you to be sure your child has a healthy breakfast and lunch those days.
When my child took the CogAT in kindergarten, I had no idea he even took the test until we received the results in the mail.
At a minimum, it would have been good to have had made sure he had enough sleep, etc. in the days leading up to the test.
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 or 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?
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.
If you find your child has a particular interest or strength, you may want to get a CogAT workbook and just study those questions.
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
Questions to ask the school about the CogAT
Whether or not to prepare your child for the CogAT depends on many factors.
It’s important to learn as much as you can before your child takes the test.
In addition to workbooks, a valuable option is to purchase a month or longer access to a testing site. We’ve used it to familiarize our kids with the CogAT and it was immensely helpful. You can print out the tests for multiple grades and access them whenever you want.
After you gather the information about CogAT test from ordering workbooks online or from an online practice test service, make an appointment to talk with someone at your child’s school.
After your meeting and based on what you learn, you can make an informed decision about how to help your child prep for the test.
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.
It can be very stressful for your child and for you, so get information first.
At a minimum, find out if this is a once-a-year test for all students. In this way, if you aren’t happy your child’s scores, you can help them prepare for the next time.
It will be helpful if school personnel will be willing to help interpret your child’s CogAT scores.