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How to Pass the NNAT Test

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What Is the NNAT Test?

The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) is a standardized test developed by Pearson Inc as part of the admissions process for gifted and talented programs across the country, specifically in Texas and New York.

It is sometimes referred to as the NNAT2 or NNAT3, with the NNAT3 being the most recent revision.

It assesses nonverbal reasoning and problem-solving skills in children aged five to 17 (pre-K to 12th grade). The NNAT does not test vocabulary, grammar, language or reading skills.

The NNAT’s minimal use of reading, writing and speaking makes it culturally neutral, allowing the scoring to be unbiased.

As the test uses shapes and images, children whose first language might not be English or who haven't had access to the best educational resources will not be penalized for their circumstances.

As a result, this test is viewed as one of the fairest aptitude tests available.

What Is the Purpose of the NNAT Test?

The NNAT Test has several advantages over other gifted and talented tests such as the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT).

First, the NNAT measures your child's cognitive abilities with little interference from culture-specific factors. As such, it is commonly used for measuring general intelligence in children:

  • Who speak English as a second language
  • Have delayed speech and communication
  • Have difficulty understanding speech or reading
  • Struggle to follow instructions

Second, as the test is more fair and inclusive, many school districts use it to project grades or as a standard for gifted programs.

Third, the test can be taken privately and without reason, with the results going directly to the parents. If you need to prove your child's ability outside of the school's projection, the NNAT will facilitate that.

Those choosing the private option can get extra support and preparation through the TestPrep Online Family Membership Plan.

What Is the Test Format?

The NNAT consisted of 38 questions.

The NNAT2 and NNAT3 consist of 48 multiple-choice questions that differ depending on your child's grade. Your child will have 30 minutes to complete all 48 questions.

The tests can be administered on paper or online.

Types of Question

Questions will fall under some, or all, of these categories, depending on the grade being tested:

  • Pattern completion – Identifying which piece of the pattern is missing
  • Reasoning by analogy – Recognizing relationships between different geometric shapes
  • Serial reasoning – Recognizing a sequence of shapes
  • Spatial visualization – Combining two or more shapes and determining how the new figure will look

Levels for Different Grades

The tests are categorized as levels A to G. The levels and corresponding grades are:

  • Level A – Kindergarten
  • Level B – 1st grade
  • Level C – 2nd grade
  • Level D – 3rd and 4th grade
  • Level E – 5th and 6th grade
  • Level F – 7th to 9th grade
  • Level G – 10th to 12th grade

Kindergarteners (level A) will need to assess pattern completion and reasoning by analogy. First graders are assessed on pattern completion, serial reasoning and reasoning by analogy.

Grades 2 to 6, or Levels C to E, will have questions that assess:

  • Serial reasoning
  • Spatial visualization
  • Pattern completion
  • Reasoning by analogy

Grades 7 to 12 are tested on pattern completion, reasoning by analogy and serial reasoning.

How Is the NNAT Test Scored?

The NNAT is scored based on your child's age and not their grade.

There are three different scores.

Scorecards arrive by mail up to two months after submitting the test.

Raw Score

The raw score is the total number of correct answers out of 48.

This score is then converted into a normalized score called the Naglieri Ability Index (NAI).

This score is calculated by comparing your child's results to others within a three month age range.

The highest score is 160, and the average is 100.

However, as these scores are normalized, 68% of children score between 84 and 116.

Percentile Rank

The percentile rank (PR) is for school districts to compare their student's individual results against the rest of the country. A PR of 75 indicates your child's score was higher than 75% of all the test-takers in the country.

This result ranges from 1 to 99.

As each school district has different admission and eligibility criteria, there is no standardized pass mark. Parents are advised to speak to the child's school to discuss the desired scores.

However, gifted children typically have an NAI score of 132 or higher or a percentile rank of 92 and above.

How to Pass the NNAT Test
How to Pass the NNAT Test

How to Pass the NNAT Test

Preparation is key to passing any ability test. Below are nine ways to help your child pass the NNAT test.

1. Start as Soon as Possible

Starting preparation earlier rather than later will allow you and your child to do the necessary work without any stress.

It may take your child longer than you thought to get used to the question format. Having that extra time will give your child the room they need to learn without any added pressure.

Young children don't realize they are preparing for tests. Approaching the preparation with frustration and pressure will cause additional stress for your child. This may then cause disinterest in the preparation and the test itself.

2. Set Goals

It is unfair and realistic to expect your child to be number one or score 100%.

Before starting NNAT test prep, set realistic and attainable goals such as:

  • Complete 15 hours of test prep within two months
  • Spend 15 minutes every other day working through practice scenarios

As your child becomes more confident, set new goals and increase the amount of preparation they do.

3. Make It Fun

Children learn more when they are having fun. To help prepare your child for the NNAT, incorporate fun games that test their reasoning skills into everyday playtime.

You can have them complete jigsaw puzzles or online reasoning games.

Play games that include sequences, shapes and patterns.

Have an older sibling take part.

Playing with mechanical toys and blocks will help improve spatial reasoning.

4. Encourage Explanations, Not Answers

When playing games or working through practice papers, encourage your child to explain:

  • What different shapes and objects have in common
  • Why they think that is the answer

Understanding their thought process will allow you to see their strengths and weakness and guide them in the right direction.

It also encourages your child to think about their own actions and decisions.

5. Understand the Test Format

Understanding the question types and duration will help you decide which games to play and what NNAT prep material you need.

Understanding the format will also allow you to better describe the process to your child.

Speak to your child's teacher:

  • For a better understanding of the NNAT
  • To see what they think are your child's strengths and weaknesses
  • For any additional preparation advice

The more prepared you are, the better prepared your child will be.

6. Practice Test-Taking Tricks

Having a multiple-choice format makes finding the answer easier. However, in some questions, the solution is not always so obvious.

Teach your child the process of elimination to help save time and filter out any wrong answers.

7. Promote Healthy Habits

Having a healthy routine will help your child perform their best and improve cognitive functions.

An ideal routine includes:

  • Going to bed at a reasonable time and getting eight hours of sleep
  • Eating fruit and vegetables instead of junk food and sugary snacks
  • Drinking plenty of water instead of fizzy drinks
  • Having time to play
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day

On the day of the test, ensure your child has had a good rest and a nutritional breakfast and lunch.

8. Take Practice Tests

Working through practice tests, such as the TestPrep Online program will improve your child's performance and confidence.

It will allow them to see the question format in a real scenario and understand the time constraints.

Work through the practice tests slowly at first, and when your child is ready, include your own time limits. Depending on your child's age, start with a two/three-hour limit and reduce as your child's ability improves.

9. Improve Their Focus

Most NNAT students are in kindergarten, meaning they don't have the best attention span.

As this test is 30 minutes long, you want to teach your child how to sit still and focus for that length of time.

Begin this training with a minute or two at first, and slowly build up to 30 minutes.

During this preparation, you want them to concentrate on something that will test their patience and focus, such as reading a book or answering questions.

Final Thoughts

The NNAT is one of the most inclusive and fairest tests available, making it the perfect choice to prove your child's intelligence.

Though gifted and talented programs are not the be-all-end-all, they can offer life-changing opportunities through their network, curriculum and additional resources.

As such, if your child fails to place, you may have to wait another year before taking the test again, if your school district allows it.

Taking sufficient time to prepare will remove the uncertainty and stress of being in an unfamiliar environment and performing unusual tasks.

It will improve your child's confidence and their chance of ranking in the top 92 percentile.


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