The CogAT is the Cognitive Abilities Test. It’s an assessment test for K-12 students and measures their learned reasoning abilities. My children have taken the CogAT multiple times, and I have lots of experience regarding this test.
The smartest, easiest, and best thing to do is to see how your child responds to the CogAT prep guides. Order them, and then review them in advance, before you sit down with your child. Be sure you understand the types of questions first. Then, you can calmly go over them together. You can make this a fun time with you and your child, offering lots of encouragement.
You and your child will be able to see the the types of questions that are on the CogAT tests. It will be a huge advantage for your child to understand the types of questions before s/he sits down to actually take the test at school. The CogAT is a timed test. It will make a big difference for your child if s/he can recognize what they are supposed to do in each section. It will ease test anxiety, save time, and make them feel much more confident.
There may be certain types of questions — verbal, non-verbal and/or quantitative — that your child really excels at. CogAT practice tests are great to see how your children will do and how interested they are.
These CogAT workbooks are great to have your child do over the summer, to keep their minds active. Even if you aren’t sure if your kids will ever take the CogAT test, these workbooks all help to build critical thinking skills that will serve your children well beyond taking the test.
Many high schools require entrance and/or placement exams. Having your fifth, sixth and seventh grader start becoming familiar with these types of questions, in a zero-stress, no rush situation (years before they will take the test) will help them as well.
What you MUST know about the CogAT
Most students will take all three categories of the CogAT. These are:
Each of these three categories has three sections. While the actual questions will change, the types of questions they will ask are always the same. It is so very important for your child to know what they are supposed to do in each section. In this way, they won’t waste valuable, limited time during the actual test trying to make sense of the directions. Getting a CogAT workbook for their grade is a great way for them to see the types of questions in advance.
Here are two examples of questions in the Quantitative section:
Example for the third grade CogAT Quantitative Relations section
Students will see two number choices or problems. They will need to compare both and decide if one is greater than the other or if they are equal.
- 4 + 1
- 5 – 0
A. 1 is greater than 2
B. 2 is greater than 1
C. 1 is equal to 2
Answer: C. 1 is equal to 2
There will be an entire section on this type of question. This might be confusing for students when they are first encountering it on test day. It will be crucial for your child to understand what they need to do. Getting them a practice CogAT workbook will be a huge help.
Example for the third grade Equation Building section
Your child will be given instructions to arrange the signs and numbers to come up with an equation that equals one of the answer choices. They will have to work quickly to arrange them to find one of the answers.
Numbers and signs: 3 2 4 x –
Answer choices: A. 1 B. 2 C. 6 D. 12 E. 8
Answer is B 3 x 2 – 4 = 2
You can imagine that seeing a 3, 2, 4, x, and – may be confusing for kids who are seeing this for the first time on a test. This will definitely be the case if they haven’t already done these types of problems in school. Get them a workbook and familiarize them with the types of questions. If your children aren’t interested or are struggling, you can then decide if you want them to take the CogAT.
Deciding if your child should take the CogAT test
Letting your child take the CogAT test is an individual decision. It’s imperative to find out what the school will do with the test results. What impact will the CogAT scores have on your child’s opportunities at school? If you determine it to be “worth it” for your child to take the CogAT, take some time to go over the nine sections of questions on the CogAT test. Buying a workbook with CogAT practice questions is the best way to do this. This will:
- Familiarize your child with the specific directions in the nine different areas
- Give kids some practice with actual CogAT questions
- Ease some test anxiety
Best CogAT test prep guides
You may want to get them a CogAT workbook for their current grade and the next grade up. Spend a few weeks working on their current grade. Then you can decide if you want them tested that year or the next year. And even if you ultimately decide you don’t want them to take the test, all of these CogAT workbooks will still benefit your children. They help to teach critical thinking, relational and reasoning skills.
- 6th grade CogAT practice tests
- 5th grade CogAT test practice
- CogAT practice for 4th grade
- 3rd grade practice for CogAT
- 2nd grade CogAT practice guide
- CogAT practice for 1st grade
You may be tempted to look for free CogAT sample questions but really, it’s worth it to buy a workbook. They will help your child be more prepared. These practice tests will give your child an idea of how to answer the questions. Students do not have a lot of time during the actual test to figure it out. When kids take the practice tests, even over the span of days, weeks or months, they will at least know, “Okay, this is the section where I need to do (this).” Then they can spend their time answering the questions instead of trying to decipher what they are supposed to do.
Gifted programs at school
If you can’t decide if you should let your child take the CogAT, you must find out why the school administers the test. Specifically: What happens if your child “passes” the test? What happens if they don’t?
School districts across the country use the CogAT in different ways:
- Some administer the test as just another standardized test, and the results won’t have any bearing on where the students are placed.
- Other schools use it to find the students with the high scores and them pull them out for enrichment. As an example, the select students might miss a session of math each week (with their usual teacher) to pursue more in-depth math concepts and projects in a smaller group.
- Other districts and schools use it to put students on a completely different track — more accelerated learning — for all subjects.
These are all very different things. The CogAT results may have a huge impact on your child’s enrichment opportunities. Therefore, it is critical to know how the CogAT tests will affect your child. See questions to ask the school before the CogAT test.
What you will learn about your child taking the CogAT
My children have taken the CogAT several different times in the three elementary schools they’ve attended. What was amazing about the CogAT tests and results is that they really do show you and highlight your child’s particular strengths. These are aptitudes you most likely won’t realize your child has… skills like spatial reasoning and relations, correlations, quantitative aptitude, nonverbal strengths, etc. While you may recognize certain tendencies in your child — good at math, spelling, or reading, etc. — it has been very interesting to discover your child has an affinity for these types of skills.
Even if your child doesn’t score high enough to get into the particular program at his/her school, at home there are things you can do to further develop their abilities and interest in these areas.
What does the CogAT test measure
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.
CogAT isn’t an IQ test
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.
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, learned reasoning abilities, or even achievement tests are able to measure.
The words “gifted” and “talented” are used to recognize students of exceptional abilities who would benefit from additional, enhanced educational programs. 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?
Your child can take the CogAT 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.
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.
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 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. The goal is 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
Students have 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 is known as Form 7. However, some schools still administer CogAT Form 6, its predecessor. You need to find out if your school will tell you which version they have. If they will not tell you or if you don’t want to ask, buy the Form 6 and Form 7 CogAT workbooks and compare the types of questions. There is some overlap; they are not completely different tests.
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. It is designed in a nonverbal format. Changes between the two Forms in the primary levels were made to accommodate ELL (English Language Learner) students.
The one section which will require language skills is the section on Sentence Completion. 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.
CogAT practice test
Additionally, your child’s school can suggest the best CogAT practice tests. 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. Developmental toys can help your child reach his maximum potential.
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 may translate to high academic performance, whether or not they are considered “gifted” or “talented.” 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.
Kids acquire fluid knowledge by understanding abstract reasoning. This includes solving 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.
You can let your child take the CogAT test to find out if he/she can place into a gifted program. It is worth a try. If they don’t get it, you can use their test results to see their strengths and build on them. These abilities are in the areas of verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative reasoning.
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