2023 Parent’s Guide to Cognitive Abilities Test Scores (CogAT)
by Sarah Duncan
The CogAT is an assessment test aiming to measure children’s cognitive abilities during their school years. With 14 different complexity levels and an extensive score report, it is important to know exactly what the CogAT will measure and how it will show you your kid’s scores.
To help you, we’ve put this comprehensive article that tells you everything you need to know about the CogAT test and scores. We will provide you with some sample questions from the tests and provide answers to FAQs about the CogAT.
We will also recommend you some practice materials you can use to help your child ace the test and feel proud.
Table of Contents
What Is the CogAT Test?
The CogAT or the Cognitive Abilities Test is a multiple-choice assessment given to preschool, middle school, and high school kids.
The CogAT test measures reasoning or cognitive skills through a set of test batteries with verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative questions.
- Verbal skills – connected to a child’s ability to remember, understand, use and modify English words, phrases, and sentences.
- Non-verbal questions – measure a student’s ability to understand, visualize, and modify pictures and geometric shapes (i.e., reasoning without the use of language).
- Quantitative skills – measure the child’s ability to understand and use quantitative concepts (such as weight, time, size, and amount) and their relationships.
These skills start developing in early childhood and continue during their schooling. However, they are not solely connected to the school curriculum since they can be gained outside the classroom.
At its base, the CogAT is an aptitude test given to groups of kids of the same age and school year. With the CogAT test, students, parents, and teachers can compare the students’ abilities with their peers by age and by grade. It’s mainly used as an entry exam for gifted programs.
The CogAT scores derived from the testing give useful information about the kid’s cognitive abilities, but they also give rates and percentiles in connection to how other peers performed.
The next section of our article will provide more info about the testing material itself, while the later sections will help parents interpret and understand CogAT scores.
What Is on the CogAT Test?
As we already mentioned, the CogAT is a cognitive test that contains three different batteries, measuring three aspects of cognitive abilities:
Each of the batteries is further divided into three sections that measure a different aspect of the ability. The next couple of sections of our article will get into more detail about each of the batteries and their categories.
It is important to note that the CogAT test does not measure how well students learned their class curriculum. The CogAT is focused on the child’s cognitive abilities as a whole: reasoning, problem-solving, and logical thinking, to name a few.
The verbal battery is used to measure the child’s ability to understand and use the English language. The battery itself is divided into three categories.
In the picture analogies category, there are visually-based questions where the first two pictures show a matrix (pattern). In the next row, there is a picture and an empty cell where the child needs to input the right answer. The correct answer would be a logical deduction based on the pattern shown in the example.
This category measures the student’s ability for logical reasoning and making deductions by observing patterns.
This section of the test contains around 14 questions and will require around 15 minutes to complete.
In this part of the verbal battery, the child needs to read (or listen) to questions and select the missing word. This category of the verbal battery section measures the child’s knowledge of English words and their appropriate usage. The sentence completion section is made of 14 questions and will require around 14 minutes to finish.
Picture or Word Classification
In this part of the verbal battery, there will be a couple of pictures (or words) that are correlated to each other. In the next line, there will be four possible answers, out of which one is related to the sample above, while the others are not. This might include all of the samples being clothes, fruits, flowers, or words.
This category measures the child’s ability to deduce and organize objects or words by similarity or correlation.
The section itself will have around 14 questions and it takes 14 minutes to complete.
The non-verbal battery will also measure the child’s cognitive abilities as in the verbal battery but without the usage of words or language. To successfully answer the questions from this battery, the student needs to be able to imagine and visualize objects and find correlations between symbols or objects.
In this category, the student needs to use the same deduction thought process as with picture analogies from the verbal battery and the number analogies from the quantitative battery. In this category, however, there will be a figure duo with some minor changes. The child needs to identify the type of change and apply it to choose the correct answer. For a better understanding, take a look at our sample picture below.
The figure matrices section has 14 questions and should take around 12 minutes to complete.
In the paper folding category, the child needs to imagine how a paper would change after being folded and hole-punched or cut in a certain way and unfolded back again. This requires the child to visualize the folding/cutting/unfolding process and identify how the piece would look afterward.
This part of the nonverbal battery has around 10 questions and needs approximately 10 minutes to finish.
Similarly, as in the picture or word classification category, students need to identify the relationship between shapes and figures in the figure classification part. In this section, there will be a sequence of objects or figures with some logical order in them. It will be the child’s job to identify the last picture of the sequence, the one that follows the same logical order.
This category has 14 questions too and requires around 10 minutes to be completed.
The last of the three batteries is the quantitative one. In it, students need to show their cognitive abilities connected with numbers and quantitative concepts, such as:
As in the other two batteries and their “analogies” categories, the number analogies category requires the student to find the logical analogy for the second pair, in the same way, that there is a connection to the first sample pair. This time, the pairs won’t be words or objects but numbers.
This section contains 14 questions and should take 13 minutes to complete.
The Number puzzles are, at their base, math problems. For kindergarten and lower-grade students, the puzzles might be in the form of two trains. The point of the puzzle is to find the answer that makes the second train carry the same quantity of objects as the first one. For higher school grades, the puzzles might come as simple math problems.
The number puzzles section has 10 questions with a maximum time of 11 minutes for completion.
The Number Series is the last category of the qualitative battery. For smaller children, this category will display an abacus with a certain bead pattern. By noticing the patterns, kids need to answer with the next logical part to continue the given sequence.
For higher grades, these series of numbers will be more complex and will require the child to find the pattern in the given series and correctly continue it.
This category has 14 questions and takes around 10 minutes to be finished.
If you want to find more sample questions and online sample tests, TestPrep Online offers some online sample tests. Your child can take them and you can get an idea of their current cognitive abilities.
Which CogAT Level Will My Child Take?
There are CogAT tests for each grade (1st to 12th grade) and kindergarten. Which CogAT test will your child take depends on the school and the level that they will be administering. Administered CogAT tests that are above grade level are done to identify gifted students that might be suitable for gifted programs.
If the CogAT test is administered at the beginning of the school year, chances are that the CogAT is below the grade level, and it aims to check if all students are ready to follow and understand the grade’s curriculum.
These are the grades where CogAT can be administered and the test level for each:
How Do I Interpret CogAT Scores?
CogAT results have two purposes. One is to display info about the level of cognitive abilities that your child has compared with children of the same age and grade. To do so, the report compares the individual reports with national age and grade norms.
The school itself might also do a comparison between the students in the same school system i.e., local scores.
Age scores take into consideration even monthly age differences, so the students are grouped in one-month intervals from the age of 4 years and 11 months, up to 18 and more years of age.
The extensiveness of the report depends on the primal reason why the CogAT test was administered, and the interpretation can be done online, or with the help of a school employee. The next couple of sections of our article will get into more depth about the different scores you can expect to see on the CogAT scores sheet.
What Is a CogAT Raw Score?
The raw scores on the CogAT test are a plain display of the correctly answered questions. For example, if there is a total of 135 questions, and your child gets a raw score of 94, it means that he or she correctly answered 94 of the questions. Wrongly answered questions do not subtract points from the score, as is the case with some other types of tests.
What Is the Universal Scale Score (USS)?
Once the raw score is done, the results are converted into the Universal Scale Score i.e., the normalized standard scale expected from students of the same age group. There will be three different USS scores for each of the batteries, and all of them together would comprise the Composite USS, which becomes an average CogAT Composite USS.
The Universal scale score of your child will tell you where they fall in the rank when compared with other students of the same age.
What Is a Standard Age Score (SAS)?
The standard age score also called SAS, is a normalized scale where a score of 100 is an average. With the Standard age score, educators compare the cognitive development of the particular child with other children from the age group.
Each battery will have a different SAS, which will then be added into one CogAT SAS. The highest rank that a child can get on the CogAT SAS is 160.
As an example, if your child has an SAS score of 125 on the Nonverbal battery, it means that the child performed better than average compared to other peers. Contrary, if the SAS for the Nonverbal is 90, it means that your child’s development for nonverbal cognitive abilities is less than average.
What Is an Age Percentile Rank (PR)?
The Age Percentile rank is done for each battery and as a composite (combo of the three batteries). The CogAT Age PR indicates the percentage of same-age students that had lower scores than your child.
As an example, if your child has an age percentile rank of 83, it means that he or she outperformed 83% of his or her peers. The higher the percentile rank, the better CogAT scores compared to other test-takers. A percentile rank of 50 is considered to be the average.
After the Age percentile rank, there is a display of the age percentile graph. This graphic representation shows the scores for each of the batteries and the composite.
What Is a Stanine Age Score?
The Stanine age score is a more broad score scale displayed in a simple manner of levels from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest. It takes the age percentile rank score and transforms it into a number, for easy interpretation.
In short, the stanine number is a broad scoring of the student’s cognitive abilities. Thus, a stanine age score of 7 or 8 means that your child’s abilities are above the average, 4 to 6 means that they are in the average (lower or upper part), and a CogAT stanine score of 2 or 3 means that there is a lot of room for improvement.
Depending on the school and the usage of the CogAT test, you might receive a detailed CogAT report with all previously mentioned scores and ranks, or you might just receive the CogAT score profile. The profile is a formula that tells the longer report in a short and simple manner.
These score profiles can be interpreted for you by a school professional, or you could input the profile details on the official website by the CogAT Score Profile interpretation app by Riverside Insights.
Our next section will give you more details about the formula parts of each profile.
Reading Score Profiles
For a lot of students, teachers, and parents, the separate scores on each of the three batteries are more important than the Composite score on the CogAT. They can give some valuable info about the aspects of the student’s cognitive abilities that need improvement and practice.
Before we move to the way that the CogAT score profiles are formulated, we will explain what each of the profiles tells.
- A Profile indicates that all of the scores on the three batteries (verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative) have roughly the same level of proficiency.
- B Profile indicates that one of the scores is considerably higher or lower than the other two. With that, the profile will display either a relative strength or a relative weakness. It might be an indicator that the student has difficulty with or preference for cognitive reasoning in one aspect (for example quantitatively, with numbers).
- C Profile displays that the student has one score above average, and one below. The C profile will have both relative strength and relative weakness, meaning that the student has both a gifted way of cognitive processing and a weakness (i.e might be very good with nonverbal reasoning, but has a harder time in cognitive processing of verbal materials.)
- E Profile is given when there is a difference in the SAS score of a certain battery with 12 points or more, which is considered too much. This type of profile indicates that the student has one battery and type of cognitive reasoning that requires attention.
The CogAT Profile contains a formula that includes:
- Middle stanine (median number from 1 to 9 that is derived from all three battery Stanine scores)
- Profile (the way that batteries correspond to each other, as explained earlier)
- Parentheses with the relative strength and/or the relative weakness.
Can You Prepare For the CogAT Test?
Helping your child prepare for the CogAT test by practicing is the best way to ensure that they are going to get the best result possible, and hopefully, get accepted into acceleration programs, scholarships, or gifted student programs.
TestPrep Online has an extensive library of practice materials and sample questions for each of the 14 levels of the CogAT test, starting with kindergarten, up to 6th grade.
TestPrep Online CogAT practice materials include full-length CogAT sample tests, more than 400 practice questions, and 9 practice drills.
Aside from just the CogAT practice materials, they also provide thorough explanations about the testing, the battery questions, and the logic behind the answers to help your child not only practice but also learn from their mistakes.
Furthermore, TestPrep Online offers helpful tips, study guides, score reports about the improvement, and 24/7 customer support, in case you have any questions.
The CogAT test is a test given to students starting from the age of 4 years and 11 months, up to 18 years of age. It’s used to determine the cognitive abilities that the students have and can serve multiple purposes (informational, for acceleration, or for checking progress).
With a thorough scoring, it’s important to understand how CogAT scores and reports are done. Hopefully, this article explained everything you wanted to know about the CogAT.
Using the help of TestPrep Online, you and your child can rest assured that all the questions from the batteries are covered, learned, and understood. That way, your kid can ace the test and feel confident in their cognitive abilities.
- When Is CogAT Test Given and Who Conducts It?
- How to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten CogAT – Ultimate Study Guide with Practice Tests
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.