Understanding CogAT Scores Are Helpful to Parents


CogAT scores measure a child’s reasoning abilities in three key areas (verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal) but the results and scores may baffle parents and guardians.

The CogAT is not your typical school test.

For most students, state standardized tests are designed to see how well they’ve retained the information presented to them in their school lessons according to the state  standards. CogAT tests are different in that they are the same nationwide. They evaluate how well a child figures out problems.

In the younger grades, the teacher reads the questions aloud.

There are nine sections to the CogAT test, three in each: Verbal, Nonverbal, and Quantitative.

It’s an excellent test of critical thinking abilities and logic, not rote memorization. It assesses students’ problem-solving abilities. Schools are using them as assessment tools to place children in different tracks — especially in larger schools — and for gifted programs.

This is why many families take advantage of study guides.

Best CogAT practice tests books

CogAT workbooks also make for great summer enrichment as they encourage critical thinking skills.

There are easy-to-use CogAT practices guides which can really help.

Your child may need to take a high school entrance exam. Even if it is years away, it’s never too early to (even casually) start helping your child to prepare at his or her current grade level.

Even if your child never tests for the CogAT again, the guides help reinforce critical 21st century skills.

Understanding CogAT results

If you’re not happy with your child’s scores, you should familiarize yourself with the test for next time. Some schools test every year; others only periodically.

It will be so helpful for your child to see the directions and the types of questions for each CogAT section before they sit at school to take the test.

In addition to workbooks — which we have used and find very beneficial — there is a site you where you can access sample CogAT tests. They have them by grade level, from K – 8th.

We learned of them after our kids took the CogAT for the first time. Our kids were much better prepared the next time they took it due to seeing these questions in advance.

What are CogAT scores used for

In some schools, CogAT scores determine if a student is placed in an advanced track. This is often the case for larger schools when they don’t want to just rely on grades.

Schools often administer the CogAT before students leave elementary schools as a placement tool for intermediate school or middle school.

Other schools use the CogAT for acceptance into gifted classes or their gifted program. Depending on the high school, they may use junior high grades and CogAT test scores as part of their entrance requirements.

CogAT scores can also be very helpful for parents and guardians.

With the insights provided by the CogAT, they can work in conjunction with teachers in order to provide the best type of assistance for their child.

If your child’s school doesn’t explain them fully, it can be difficult to understand CogAT results. When the CogAT determines students’ participation in a special educational opportunity, then these scores are much more important.

Just remember, the CogAT measures reasoning and problem-solving skills. However, these are not the only predictors of academic success.

Understanding CogAT Scores

Interpreting CogAT test scores

Teachers are well versed at interpreting CogAT test scores.

But the same cannot be said of parents who see the scores of their children after they’ve taken the CogAT. Parents can learn how to interpret these numbers so that they can understand what all these scores mean.

Explanations for various parts of the CogAT test scores:

Abilities. The CogAT tests three different types of cognitive abilities. Learn more about CogAT questions.

There’s the verbal section, which evaluates your child’s ability to remember and change sequences of English words.

The way your child understands the words are measured, and so is their ability to infer implications based on the meaning of those words.

The quantitative portion of the test is about numbers.

Your child’s ability to find relationships among numbers and equations are measured.

The CogAT asks what number comes next in a sequence.

It also asks the child to use numbers and symbols to form the right equation.

STEM Educational Toys to Improve Your Child’s CogAT

Finally, there is the nonverbal part of the test. This is mostly about shapes and symbols.

This portion examines the reasoning skills of your child when it does not involve words at all.

Your child may be asked to choose which shapes are most alike, for example.

There are paper folding questions for older grades where your child’s spatial abilities will be tested. Seeing these types of questions in advance will help your child immensely.

Standardized test scoring terminology

You may have heard of Composite Score, in which the total score is derived for all the batteries of tests.

If your child scores 90 on the composite score, then it means that the child did better overall than 90% of the students in their age group.

Standard Age Scores (SAS).

For each portion and the composite, you’ll then see an age score.

These scores tell you how your child compares to the other students in their age group.

The SAS has a mean of 100, which just tells you that a score of 100 is average for the age group.

It has a standard deviation of 16, which is just a fancy way of saying that most students fall within 16 points of the mean (84 to 116).

So a child who has an SAS score of 130 reveals that the child has a higher level and a faster rate of development in verbal reasoning skills than the other children in their age group.

Stanine Age Scores.

The next batch of scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 9, and they group percentile ranks to give you a clearer idea of your child’s ranking among others of their age.

A score of 9 means that the child is among the top 96% to 99% of the students in their age group.

Stanine, % Rank, Description

9        96-99            Very High

8        89-95            Above Average

7        77-88            Above Average

6        60-76            Average

5        40-59            Average

4        23-39            Average

3        11-22            Below Average

2        4-10             Below Average

1        1-3               Very Low

Age Percentile Rank.

This is just a more specific idea of how the child ranks among their age group in the entire country.

So a score of 82 on a the verbal portion means that 82% of the students in their age group in the country scored less than your child did.

APR Graph.

This is simply a graph which shows your child’s age percentile rank. The score is represented by the diamond surrounded by a rectangle.

  • Diamond represents the score, such as 82.
  • Rectangle represents the confidence interval.

In other words, the real score of your child is actually somewhere between 72 and 92, for example.

There’s always an expectation of error, so the score offers a plus or minus range.

Understanding Your Child’s CogAT Scores

The error scores are different for each child.

For example, the error score may be larger if your child performs inconsistently to question items in the same battery of tests.

Your child may have been unable to provide the right answers for the easier items, but was able to give the right answers for the more difficult ones.

That’s an inconsistency, and the error score will reflect it.

Another possible error factor is if the child does poorly in one section of a specific portion (the verbal portion, for example) but does really well in another area of the same portion.

Raw scores

This part gives you three numbers for each test portion.

These numbers represent the number of items on the test, the number of items your child tried to answer, and the number of correct answers for each portion.

Grade scores

This shows how your child compares to other students in the same age group in the entire country.

Local scores

This is important because it shows how your child compares to other students in the same age group in the same school system.

CogAT profile

Taking the various scores for all the portions of the test as a whole also gives the profile for your child.

With the profile, appropriate steps and measures can then be taken so that your child gets the right kind of educational help.

A profile

The A profile means that your child’s scores across all the portions (verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal) are roughly the same.

This profile applies to about 1 out of 3 students.

B profile

The B profile applies when one of the scores is either much higher or much lower than the two others.

This then reveals a child’s relative strength (one is higher than the others) or relative weakness (one is lower than the others).

About 40% of all students get this profile.

C profile

The C profile denotes “contrast”.

This is when a child has both a relative strength and a relative weakness.

About 14% of students have a profile like this.

E profile

Finally, there’s the E profile, which stands for “extreme”.

This applies when there’s at least a 24 point difference between two of the scores in the CogAT.

So if a child scores a 90 on verbal and a 65 on nonverbal, then the E profile applies.

How CogAT Test Results Can Help Parents and Teachers

The scores a child gets after taking the CogAT assesses his/her reasoning abilities.

There are practical reasons for children to take the test.

CogAT scores can be used by parents and teachers in several possible ways:

The test can identify gifted children who can make the most of special educational programs.

Some schools offer educational programs for gifted students. CogAT scores are often used as determining factors.

You can see sample questions and get access to tests for them to be prepared before taking it.

Gifted programs offer the ability for students to fine tune reasoning and critical thinking skills. Teachers generally have a smaller group of students and can focus on projects and subjects in greater depth.

Being in an accelerated program or gifted class assumes the child already understands what the teacher is teaching in the regular class. In elementary grades, gifted classes are often opportunities to leave the regular classroom and make up the work they missed.

The CogAT will help to identify these gifted students so they can take advantage of these special advanced school programs.

It’s really important to know if your child is suited for this type of enrichment so he/she isn’t bored in certain subjects in which he/she excels.

They can help predict how students will perform in the near future.

The correlation between CogAT and school performance is obvious, especially when the test is used in conjunction with other tests such as the Iowa Tests.

A child with much higher scores is generally expected to perform well in school.

However, if the child who scores well on the CogAT does not do well in school, another factor may be affecting the child’s ability to get better grades. It’s important to identify and correct it so the child can be successful.

There are many possible reasons why a child with high test scores in the CogAT may perform poorly in school. Oftentimes, teachers overlook gifted students because they are “doing well.”

Teachers with 20 – 30 kids in a classroom typically need to focus on the struggling students. Schools don’t have resources or curriculum in all subject matters for students who excel and “get it.”

Teachers are busy ensuring students are grasping the concepts and lessons. If your child excels, they can focus on those who aren’t.

By correctly identifying the problem, guardians can take measures to help the student get the grade that better reflects their abilities.

They can be used to gauge a child’s reasoning abilities.

CogAT scores are also used to evaluate the reasoning abilities of classes and various groups of students.

This can provide teachers some valuable insights as to how their students learn, so that they can tailor and tweak their instructional methods to help students learn their lessons in school.

Teachers can teach to the strengths of the children. They can also plan their lessons around the weaknesses common to most of the children in their class.

Those students who are also having some difficulty may get the extra help they need.

They can help identify children with special learning difficulties.

While the CogAT is more often used to identify students for gifted programs, it can be used for other reasons.

For example, a child may not do well with the verbal portions of the test but get excellent scores on the other portions. This may mean that the student may have some trouble with verbal comprehension.

This can alert teachers to provide extra attention to verbal matters.

Some tutoring may be offered for subjects which rely heavily on verbal instruction.

Benefits of CogAT Test Practice Materials

CogAT practice materials are very helpful to prepare your child for this test. Many parents take advantage of the resources available. It will  help set your child above the rest. It’s easy to get a one-month subscription to access the tests you need.

In general, preparing properly for the CogAT is important. Younger children may not appreciate having to take a practice test, but older students can see the value of these.

They can at least alleviate their anxiety by knowing how the exams work. They will see the exact directions for questions.

By familiarizing your child with the types of questions in advance, you will be allowing them more time to work on the problems.

Each section of the CogAT is timed, with less than 20 minutes each.

The type of questions they face in the actual test won’t be as intimidating if they have already faced similar questions before. At the very least, they will know what they are supposed to do.

When it comes to these types of tests, it’s very easy to score much lower than what they could have. However, by prepping, they have a better chance to achieve a higher CogAT score. See sample questions.

With the right preparation, at least your child can increase the chances of scoring the highest score they can possibly achieve. Many parents take advantage of these resources to give their children every advantage.

The CogAT does not measure work habits, motivation, and attention. As a parent you may need to gently help in these areas as well. Summer bridge workbooks are a great place to start.

Check out our Blog.

Resource to Understanding Kid’s CogAT Scores:

How Important Are the Results of a CogAT Test
What To Do If You Are Questioning Your Child’s CogAT Scores
How To Interpret Your Child’s CogAT Scores And Their School Success
Educational Games To Help With The CogAT Assessment
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