Young Girl Preparing for a Gifted Assessment

Everything You Need to Know About Gifted Tests

Gifted and talented tests can be challenging for students that are attempting to impress their peers or be granted admission into a gifted and talented institution.

You can help your child to prepare for their upcoming gifted and talented tests, and we are going to explain how.

What Is a Gifted Test?

A parent may suspect that their child is gifted when they begin seeing potential gifted characteristics in their child. To help parents unravel the mystery of whether their child is gifted or not, there are several assessments that their child can undertake in order to evaluate different aspects.

Gifted tests are used to determine if a child is intellectually gifted, creative, or displays extraordinary leadership abilities from an early age. Students that possess exceptional cognitive and academic abilities can be granted access to gifted programs or institutions by obtaining a gifted and talented status.

Gifted tests come in all shapes and sizes. Most gifted tests are multiple-choice-based examinations. Some of the assessments are timed, while others have no time limits. Most gifted tests are suitable for students from kindergarten to grade 12.

State schools offer gifted and talented tests that will group students in a percentile amongst their age groups. Students that fall within the 95th percentile or the top 2 – 3% are generally considered to be gifted students.

State schools that offer gifted testing will usually screen the entire grade and obtain a grade norm, or, depending on where the student is based, the school will screen certain individuals.

Types Of Gifted Tests

students sitting in the classroom

As mentioned above, the criteria for determining a gifted student is rather broad. In order to accurately assess a student, there are two types of gifted tests that are generally used to measure a student’s abilities.

The two most common category tests that are used to identify a gifted individual are Achievement and Ability tests.

Achievement Tests

Achievement tests are focussed on measuring the knowledge of students with regard to a specific subject. Achievement tests are generally written in groups consisting of 20 students, for example, the SATs, which is an achievement test that is administered in a group.

Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievements are individual achievement tests administered by a trained professional. The student will be tested in a one-on-one setting where their strengths and weaknesses will be assessed by a qualified individual.

Achievement tests that are administered to a large group of students are standardized. Students’ results are recorded by a percentile score. On the other hand, individual achievement tests are more personal in nature which allows the assessor to give a detailed profile of the student.

Achievement tests are often used to screen gifted students to highlight specific areas in which the student excels, for example, in academics or creative arts.

Abilities Tests

As we all know, it’s not just about what you know, but how you are able to draw conclusions. In order to test these skills, a wide variety of ability tests can be used to evaluate a student’s natural thought process or intelligence quotient (IQ).

Abilities tests tend to go in-depth and measure a student’s reasoning, problem-solving, and spatial thinking skills. In order to gain admission into a gifted and talented program, students are required to write an abilities assessment such as the CogAT, NNAT, OLSAT, and many more.

What Is the CogAT?

CogAT test

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a multiple-choice assessment that does not necessarily assess what a student has learned at school. The primary focus of this assessment is to evaluate a student’s cognitive ability, which has proven to lead to academic success.

The CogAT assessment uses particular questions to assess the cognitive development of students from Kindergarten to Grade twelve (12). This test is commonly used when students apply to be accepted into gifted and talented institutions around the United States.

The Format Of CogAT

Most tests are divided into sections, and the CogAT is no different. The CogAT is divided into three separate batteries (sections).

The three different batteries are:

  • Verbal Battery
  • Quantitative Battery
  • Nonverbal Battery

The purpose of splitting the assessment into different batteries is to accurately assess a student’s cognitive abilities. The verbal battery uses picture analogies, the quantitative battery uses number analogies, and the nonverbal battery uses figures.

The CogAT assessment is assessed per age group, and every age group has its own set amount of questions and time limits. There are between 118 – 176 multiple-choice questions, and students are given between 112 – 90 minutes to complete all the questions.

Students are often required to write the CogAT assessment in groups of 20. A student’s score is calculated by tallying their correct answers. The student’s score is compared to other peers in their age group or grade.

This is used to identify if the student qualifies as gifted, with a score that should fall within the 95th percentile or the top 2 – 3% of their peers’ scores.

How To Prepare For The CogAT Assignment

Students that are required to write the CogAT assignment can prepare for the assessment by doing practice questions and familiarizing themselves with the structure of the assessment.

What Is the OLSAT?

a person taking an exam

The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) is a multiple-choice assessment that can be used to assess students from kindergarten to grade twelve (12). There are seven different levels to the OLSAT assessment, and each level has its own number of questions and time allocation.

The OLSAT assessment is frequently used by schools across the United States to identify students that are gifted and talented. Students will generally write the OLSAT assessment in groups of 20 individuals, whereas younger students will be assessed in a one-on-one setting.

The OLSAT ability test is similar to the CogAT test as it is comprising of several different types of verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative reasoning questions. The assessment is designed to evaluate a student’s ability to complete academic tasks.

The purpose of the OLSAT assessment is to test the memory of students, and it seeks to evaluate if a student can draw inferences. It also tests the student’s speed of thought and their ability to identify patterns.

How Is The OLSAT Scored?

The OLSAT test scores students according to their age percentile score. This means that a student’s score is calculated by tallying up how many questions the student answered correctly and then comparing the score to other student’s scores of the same age.

A student’s score will only be compared to other students that are of the same age. A student will not be compared to another student that is over a month older than them. This ensures the accuracy of the conclusion as to whether the student is gifted or not.

The raw score (which is the number of correct answers) that a student has achieved will be converted into a School Ability Index score (SAI). The score will then be placed on a percentile rating scale. Students that are placed in the top 2 – 3% will be classified as gifted students.

What Is the NNAT?

students in the classroom taking the test

The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) is a non-verbal test that assesses how a student processes their thoughts and not what they have learned at school. This ability test is used extensively in the United States to identify gifted and talented students.

The NNAT test is unique in that it is considered culturally neutral. This means it uses minimal language skills (it does not require reading or writing). Instead, this assessment uses abstract shapes and designs to evaluate a student’s cognitive abilities.

The NNAT Format

The NNAT is suitable for students of all ages, from kindergarten to grade twelve (12). There are four (4) types of questions that the NNAT uses to evaluate students.

These types of questions are:

  • Reasoning by analogy: Students are required to use their visual-spatial abilities to recognize the connection between multiple figures and geometric shapes.
  • Pattern completion: Students are required to find a pattern within a larger design from which a section of the pattern has been removed. They must then identify the missing shape.
  • Serial reasoning: Students are required to discern different sequences created by figures and shapes in order to form logical patterns.
  • Spatial visualization: Students are required to visualize what form a design will take when it has been combined with another. The question may, for example, have shapes that are rotated to the side, and they are required to select what the original design was.

The NNAT assesses students based on their age groups. The kindergarten level, for example, only has two types of questions: pattern completion and reasoning by analogy. Other levels use all four (4) types of questions.

NNAT assessment consists of 48 questions and, on average, takes 30 minutes to complete. This assessment is purely based on evaluating a student’s non-verbal reasoning skills and their ability to solve problems.

NNAT Question levels

As we have previously mentioned, not every NNAT level will have all four (4) types of questions. The latest Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test version is known as the NNAT3.

The NNAT3 is assigned by grade level, and students’ scores are based on their age; a student’s score is compared with other students that are within three months of their age.

Students that are entering, or are already in kindergarten, will take the Level A examination. This exam only has two types of questions, namely, Pattern Completion and Reasoning by Analogy questions.

Students that have entered the first (1st) grade will be required to take the Level B examination. This examination has three types of questions, which are Pattern Completion, Reasoning by Analogy, and Serial Reasoning questions.

Students that are in second (2nd) grade will be required to take the Level C examination. This examination consists of four types of questions, that is, Serial Reasoning, Reasoning by Analogy, Pattern Completion, and Spatial Visualization questions.

Students that are in third (3rd) and fourth (4th) grade will be assigned the Level D examination. This examination consists of all four types of questions, which are Spatial Visualization, Reasoning by Analogy, Serial Reasoning, and Pattern Completion questions.

Students in the fifth (5th) and sixth (6th) grades will be assigned the Level E examination. This examination includes Pattern Completion, Spatial Visualization, Serial Reasoning, and Reasoning by Analogy type questions.

Students that are in seventh (7th), eighth (8th), and ninth (9th) grade are required to take the Level F assessment. This level is the second most challenging level and consists of Pattern Completion, Spatial Visualization, Reasoning by Analogy and Serial Reasoning type questions.

Lastly, students who are in grades ten to twelve (10 – 12) will take the Level G assessment. Naturally, this is the hardest assessment level and consists of Spatial Visualization, Reasoning by Analogy, Pattern Completion, and Serial Reasoning type questions.

NNAT Test Preparation

Although the NNAT doesn’t require language skills, this test is still regarded as a difficult test. What makes the NNAT test difficult is the mere fact that students have less than a minute to answer each question.

The best method to ensure that students obtain a high NNAT score is for them to familiarize themselves with the questions and shapes that have previously been asked in an NNAT assessment. Students will find it easier to pick up on how to answer the questions once they are familiar with the types of questions that are asked.

What Is the NYC G&T?

students in front of the school

The NYC G&T test can be taken by children that reside within New York City and are between the ages of 4 – 7 years old. Children that show potential signs of excelling in specific areas are encouraged to take the assessment.

The test assesses New York City’s children’s abilities for eligibility into gifted and talented programs. Children that do well in the assessment will be granted admission into New York’s gifted and talented school programs.

The NYC G&T Format

The New York City G&T Test consists of multiple-choice questions. The assessment is a combination of two other assessment tests; mainly verbal questions from OLSAT-8 and nonverbal questions from the NNAT2.

The verbal component consists of 30 OLSAT questions, which accounts for fifty percent (half) of the student’s score. There are two general question types that are included in the verbal section: Verbal Reasoning and Verbal Comprehension.

Under each of these general questions, there are several other specific question types that form part of the two categories.

The additional question types that fall under Verbal Reasoning are:

  • Aural Reasoning
  • Logical Selection
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Word/ Letter Matrix
  • Inference
  • Verbal Analogies
  • Verbal Classification

The additional question types that fall under Verbal Comprehension are:

  • Following Directions
  • Antonyms
  • Sentence Completion
  • Sentence Arrangement

The Nonverbal component of the NYC G&T test consists of 48 questions from the NNAT. The NNAT is a non-verbal assessment that evaluates the spatial thinking skills of students. The NNAT uses shapes and figures and provides a true reflection of a student’s cognitive abilities.

How The NYC G&T Is Scored

The NYC G&T assessment has two sections, that is, the verbal and nonverbal, and each section counts 50% and has a combined score of 100%. The verbal section consists of 30 questions, and the non-verbal section consists of 48 questions.

The students’ results from both sections are combined and converted into a percentile score. The percentile score is out of 100, and students’ scores are placed in their percentile.

In order to be accepted into the New York gifted and talented school programs, students must obtain a score in the 90th percentile, and often, students that score in the 95th percentile are immediately granted admission.

What Is the SCAT?


The John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth is one of the most renowned institutions in discovering and nurturing gifted students by providing them with the necessary mechanism to fully develop their exceptional talents.

In order to gain access to the CTY, students are required to write the School and College Ability Test (SCAT). This assessment is notoriously difficult to pass and consists of both a verbal and quantitative section.

The Format Of The SCAT Test

The SCAT is an above-grade-level, multiple-choice assessment that can be written online and is available at most computer test centers. The SCAT assessment has three (3) different levels.

The three different levels of the SCAT are:

  1. Elementary SCAT: For 2nd and 3rd-grade students.
  2. Intermediate SCAT: For 4th and 5th-grade students.
  3. Advanced SCAT: For 6th – 8th-grade students.

The SCAT is divided into two sections: Verbal and Quantitative. The exam is out of 110 marks in total, with each section out of 55 marks. Students are given 22 minutes per section for a total time of 44 minutes to complete the test. However, students have the option to take a 10-minute break.


Students that show exceptional intellectual, creative, and/or leadership abilities are able to prepare for a gifted test by practicing previous question papers and becoming familiar with the structure of the test that they are required to take.