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CogAT Test (Guide and Tips)

CogAT Test (Guide and Tips)

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It’s common for parents to want their children to succeed academically. With a high CogAT score, your child can gain access to talented or gifted programs that will accelerate their learning and development.

In this article, you will learn more about the CogAT test, including its structure, scoring and get some tips on how to prepare for the CogAT test.

What Is a CogAT Test?

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, CogAT stands for Cognitive Aptitude Test.

The test is unlike the typical vocabulary and math tests students will take at school. It’s a multiple-choice test that examines the level and pattern of a student's cognitive development relative to other pupils of the same age or grade.

The test consists of a variety of verbal, quantitative and non-verbal question types, and assesses the student’s cognitive reasoning.

Usually, the test will be conducted by a classroom instructor. In some schools, the test may be administered by a specialist or proctor.

However, it can only be delivered by authorized teachers or administrators. Substitute teachers cannot administer the test.

The CogAT Test Levels

There are 14 grades ranging from grades K through 12.

Each test level corresponds to the age of the student who will be taking the test.

For example, if your child is in sixth grade, they will likely be taking level 12 tests.

Some schools may administer a higher grade examination to gifted pupils.

However, this is not the norm and will only occur in exceptional conditions.

If testing occurs around the beginning of the academic year, some schools may also opt to administer a lower level.

Here’s a breakdown of the test levels, the corresponding grades, the number of questions and the length of the test:

Level Grade Number of Questions Length of Test
Level 5/6 Kindergarten 118 112 mins
Level 7 1st grade 136 112 mins
Level 8 2nd grade 154 122 mins
Level 9 3rd grade 170 90 mins
Level 10 4th grade 176 90 mins
Level 11 5th grade 176 90 mins
Level 12 6th grade 176 90 mins
Level 13/14 7th to 8th grade 176 90 mins
Level 15/16 9th to 10th grade 176 90 mins
Level 17/18 11th to 12th grade 176 90 mins

The CogAT Test Format

Past Level 10, the exam consists of 176 questions and has a 90-minute time limit. For lower levels, there are fewer questions and more time is allowed.

The CogAT measures reasoning abilities and consists of three sections: verbal battery, nonverbal battery and quantitative battery. These three talents are evaluated at every level of the test.

Each section also has three subsections. Here’s a brief overview of the three different sections and their subsections:

Verbal Battery

This component of the exam evaluates a student's:

  • Vocabulary
  • Efficiency
  • Verbal memory

As well as their ability to determine word relationships and ability to comprehend ideas.

Picture/Verbal Analogies

Here, the pupil will be given three words. The first two words will be related in some way, and the third word will be paired with one of the multiple-choice answers.

Sentence Completion

Under this subsection, the learner will find a sentence with a single word removed. The learner must select the appropriate replacement term from among the four multiple-choice options.

Classification of Images/Words

In this section, the student will be presented with three similar words. They will need to choose the word that matches the others the best.

Non-Verbal Battery

This portion assesses the student's thinking skills using spatial and figurative challenges.

It's useful for evaluating the progress of pupils with reading difficulties or who do not speak English as their first language.

Number Analogies

The students will be shown four squares making up a box. They must determine a mathematical relationship between the top two boxes.

Then, students must couple the bottom left box with the appropriate box from the multiple-choice selections that have the same mathematical connection.

Number Series

In this subsection, students are provided with a number series and instructed to accurately fill in the next number in the sequence.

Number Puzzles

Here, students are expected to solve arithmetic equations by selecting the proper multiple-choice response to make the equations on one side equal the solution on the other side.

Quantitative Battery

The quantitative battery section assesses students’ quantitative thinking, problem-solving skills and abstract reasoning ability.

Figure Matrices

Students will be shown a 2 x 2 square box. Similar to the number analogies, the student must determine the relationship between the two boxes on top and select the correct box for the missing square that has the same relationship as the box on the bottom left.

Nonetheless, figure matrices use spatial forms. Developing the ability to determine the relationship is essential for answering questions of this type.

Figure Classification

Students are provided with three shapes or figures. The objective is to select the multiple-choice figure that fits in with the others.

This part attempts to develop the ability to recognize and apply patterns.

Paper Folding

Students must determine how a folded sheet of paper will unfold. The folded pieces of paper will include holes, and the students must determine how the paper will look when unfolded.

This component measures the spatial ability of the learner. The capacity to predict the unfolded appearance of paper can be reflective of an analytically minded student.

CogAT Sample Questions

Take a look at sample questions for each of the three sections of the CogAT test:

Verbal Section

Example Question

Katie joined a book club because she likes ____________.

a) Running
b) Swimming
c) Reading
d) Dancing

Quantitative Section

Example Question

6 + 6 = 3 x ?

a) 4
b) 7
c) 2
d) 3

Non-Verbal Section

Example Question

Choose the right image from the four multiple-choice to match the triangle at the bottom of the quadrant.

CogAT Test (Guide and Tips)
CogAT Test (Guide and Tips)

How Is the CogAT Test Scored?

At the end of the test, the student's raw score is determined by adding up all of their correct responses.

There are no penalties for answering incorrectly.

The CogAT uses age norms and grade norms to determine results, so it compares the results of pupils in the same grade or age group across the country.

The results consist of a raw score and a percentile group, known as the stanine, that compares the students' cognitive abilities to those of their peers.

Students' results come in the format of a score report.

Age Norms

The age section of the score report contains three subcolumns:

  • Standard Age Score
  • Stanine Test Score
  • Age Percentile Rank

Additionally, the scores are displayed on an APR graph.

Standard Age Score

This section of the report displays the students' age scores. The report divides pupils into one-month age groups for an accurate comparison.

The Standard Age Score displays normalized scores for each battery and a total score.

The mean of this score is 100 and the standard deviation is 16.

Teachers will utilize this to compare a student's results and level of cognitive development to those of students of the same age or grade.

Stanine Age Score

The Stanine Age Score is provided in the second column of the Age Scores section.

This is a normalized standard score scale with nine levels from 1 to 9.

Stanines are percentile rank classifications.

The cognitive abilities and growth of a student with a stanine of 8 surpass those of a student with a stanine of 5.

Age Percentile Rank

The third column of the Age Scores table displays the Age Percentile Rank for each component and the total.

A percentile rank indicates the proportion of students in the same age group who scored lower than the student.

Grade Norms

The APR graph is the next section of the score report. It corresponds to the student's AGE scores and graphically represents the student's scores for each battery and overall score.

The raw score component of the score report has three subsections. This displays the total number of test items, the number of questions tried and the number of questions answered correctly for each segment.

The grade scores correspond to the national percentile rank of pupils in the same grade throughout the nation.

The local scores correspond to the local stanine and percentile rank, derived from the scores of pupils in the same school system.

The composite score is a percentile score based on all test components. This figure combines all three results and indicates where the student sits relative to other students.

Therefore, a composite percentile score of 85 means the student performed better than 85% of other pupils in their age group in all three areas combined.

A stanine score of 4 to 6 is considered typical, 7 to 8 is above average and 9 is relatively high.

It's not possible to fail the CogAT test, but a below-average score indicates the student has a lower cognitive ability than their peers.

How to Prepare for the CogAT Test

Your child can feel more prepared for the CogAT test by using the following tips:

Step 1. Understand the Test Format

Since the CogAT test is so different from the normal tests students take at school, it’s important that they are familiar with the format of the test and the types of questions that will come up.

This is especially important for younger students who haven’t taken many similar tests before.

Make sure the student takes time to prepare for the test by looking at sample questions and getting familiar with the questions asked.

Step 2. Take Practice Tests Online

Practicing tests online is one of the best methods to prepare for any upcoming exam.

While this isn't a conventional academic test, the same kinds of questions always appear on the CogAT tests.

Therefore, it’s possible to improve upon these types of tests by getting plenty of practice by doing CogAT practice tests.

Step 3. Practice Under Timed Conditions

In addition to getting familiar with and studying the questions, it’s crucial to practice the test under exam conditions.

The CogAT test has strict time limits, so the student must be comfortable finishing it in the allotted amount of time.

It’s important to remind students not to focus on difficult questions. They can always return and retake the ones they missed.

However, it’s better to answer more questions to increase the likelihood of answering more correctly.

Step 4. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

Before taking an exam, students should recognize their strengths and weaknesses to determine which areas require further practice.

This might also boost the student's confidence if they recognize the areas they excel in, which could help them perform better on the day.

Step 5. Get Enough Rest and Maintain a Healthy Diet

Again, this is sound advice before taking any test.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that those who are well-rested and maintain a healthy lifestyle are more likely to perform better on tests.

This will ensure that students are energized and can perform to their full potential on the day.

Frequently Asked Questions

CogAT is an abbreviation for the Cognitive Aptitude Test. The test is unlike the regular vocabulary and mathematics examinations that children would take in school.

It examines the level and pattern of a student's cognitive development relative to other students of the same age or grade. It is often used to place students on talented and gifted programs.

You can find full-length CogAT practice tests at TestPrep-Online.

The number of questions on the CogAT test increases at each level. After level 10, there are 176 questions on the test.

There are fewer questions for the lower-level grades. Lower levels are also given more time to complete the test.

The CogAT test doesn’t have a pass or fail mark. How well the student performs depends on the individual abilities and expectations of the student.

If the student wishes to be placed on a gifted program, they should be aiming for a stanine score of 9 or higher on the test.

It’s difficult to determine a good or a bad score on the CogAT test. A stanine score of 4 to 6 is considered typical, 7 to 8 is above average and 9 is relatively high.

It’s not common for students to retake the CogAT test if the student didn’t perform as well as they hoped. Resits are usually decided by the school that administered the test.

You can find full-length CogAT practice tests online at TestPrep-Online.

Results for the CogAT test are usually posted around eight to 10 weeks after the test was administered.

However, you should ask the school for more details on when the results will be shared.

If the student performed particularly well on the CogAT test, the school may decide to place them in a gifted program.

The school will usually be in touch to discuss this after the results have been posted. Alternatively, you can reach out to the school to ask about the next steps.

Similarly, if the student has performed poorly on the test, the school might be in touch with you to discuss getting extra support for the child in any areas that are required.

The CogAT test looks at a student's level and pattern of cognitive growth compared to other students of the same age or grade.

It’s often used to place students who have performed well on the test in gifted programs to accelerate their learning.

You can find full-length CogAT practice tests at TestPrep-Online.

Questions differ throughout the 14 different levels of the CogAT test. However, all levels receive multiple-choice questions designed to assess them in three batteries: verbal battery, nonverbal battery and quantitative battery.

Final Thoughts

The CogAT test is one your child will become more familiar with as they move through the school system. It’s not like other tests students take at school, so it’s important they are familiar with the style and format of the test before they take it.

Performing well on the CogAT test can place children in gifted programs and accelerate their learning and development.

For these types of tests, practice is the ultimate way to ensure the student performs the best they can, so make sure your child has access to plenty of sample tests and questions when preparing for it.


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