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Should I Let My Child Take the CogAT Test

Child Take the Cogat Test

The CogAT is the Cognitive Abilities Test. It’s an assessment test for K-12 students and measures their learned reasoning abilities. Many schools administer it for gifted placement or to separate students by abilities. You may wonder if you should let your child take the CogAT.

Deciding if your child should take the CogAT test

Letting your child take the CogAT test is an individual decision. Before you make it, it’s imperative to find out what the school will do with the test results.

Specifically: What happens if your child does well on the test? What happens if they don’t?

Typically, it’s not a pass or fail with the CogAT. Rather, it’s seeing who scores the highest and placing those students in different classes.

Child Take the Cogat Test

Child Take the Cogat Test

School districts across the country use the CogAT in different ways

If you are unsure whether to have your child take the CogAT exam, you must find out: Why is the school having students take the CogAT?

It’s important to find out what impact the CogAT scores will have on your child’s opportunities at school. School districts do different things with CogAT results.

Using CogAT for gifted programs at school

In some schools, it means students who score high enough will be placed into an enrichment class or gifted program.

This may be a “pull out” type of enrichment class, where the student will miss “regular” language arts or math and go to a gifted language arts or gifted math class.

Gifted class and Advanced class:

In other school districts, it may mean your child could be placed in a more advanced math class or advanced language arts class.

Schools may administer the CogAT if there are enough students in the grade to separate them by ability. They often do this for math classes.

As an example, there may be:

  • Advanced math
  • Math on grade level
  • Math class in which students need more help

Separating the students in this way enables students to learn at their level. In advanced classes, they can keep kids challenged if they already understand the material. Also, they can spend more time on concepts, oftentimes having time for hands-on activities.

In other classes in which kids may be struggling with a concept, the teacher can spend more time ensuring the students understand the material before moving ahead.

Different tracks:

Schools may administer the CogAT to differentiate students into different “tracks,” taking the highest performers for an advanced curriculum across all subjects.

This often occurs in schools with hundreds of students per grade. We’ve experienced this as kids left elementary school and went on to intermediate school and middle school. With 500+ students per grade, the district took the top 90 – 100 scorers and placed them in this advanced track.

Placement in high school:

Many high schools require entrance and/or placement exams. Many 8th graders take a CogAT exam either be accepted into a high school, especially if it’s private or a charter school.

Other high schools may accept all students but administer the CogAT to help place students in math and language arts.

Therefore, having your fifth, sixth and seventh grader start becoming familiar with these types of questions, in a zero-stress, no rush situation (years before they will take the test) will help them as well.

How will the school use CogAT results

It’s important to know the reasons the school tests. To summarize:

  • Some administer the test as just another standardized test, and the results won’t have any bearing on where the students are placed.
  • Other schools use it to find the students with the high scores and them pull them out for enrichment. As an example, the select students might miss a session of math each week (with their usual teacher) to pursue more in-depth math concepts and projects in a smaller group.
  • Other districts and schools use it to put students on a completely different track — more accelerated learning — for all subjects.

These are all very different things. The CogAT results may have a huge impact on your child’s enrichment opportunities.

Therefore, it is critical to know how the CogAT tests will affect your child. Understanding CogAT Scores

See Questions to Ask the School Before the CogAT Test

Is it worth it to take the CogAT?

Remember, the CogAT measures reasoning abilities and critical thinking skills. It isn’t how much your child knows about certain subjects. You child may excel at spatial reasoning — but that likely won’t show up on a report card. However, it will show in the results of a CogAT test.

If you determine it to be worthwhile for your child to take the CogAT, take some time to go over the nine sections of questions on the CogAT test.

CogAT test prep

Reviewing a CogAT practice test is the best way to do this. It will be very helpful for your child to see the directions and types of questions in advance.

CogAT practice will help your child understand the types of questions and directions in advance. Helping them prepare for the CogAT will help them score higher on the test. This is because this test is different than other standardized tests.

In addition, it’s important to understand many in-the-know parents have their kids prep for the CogAT. When you give your kids this opportunity, you are giving them the same advantage.

Parents likely won’t tell you they are helping their child with CogAT prep. They may want everyone to think their kids are naturally “smart.”

What if their child doesn’t perform well on the test? They don’t want anyone to know their child didn’t do well EVEN THOUGH he/she practiced.

After our kids took the test for the first time, we learned about the CogAT practice tests. We were too late but fortunate our kids scored high. When your child has access to the types of questions — the directions for each of the sections — this gives them an incredible advantage.

Because it’s a timed test, kids won’t use as much time trying to figure out what they are supposed to do during the actual test.

Going over the CogAT test in advance will:

  • Familiarize your child with the specific directions in the nine different areas
  • Give kids some practice with actual CogAT questions
  • Ease some test anxiety
  • Your child will know what to do and won’t use time trying to understand the directions

There are other parents who just want to see how well their children will perform. Reviewing CogAT questions will help teach your child how to think critically.

How do I prepare for CogAT test

There are a few things you can do to help your child. One of the most important is to practice analogies with them. In addition to playing puzzles and games, you can access CogAT practice tests.

CogAT workbooks

You can use CogAT workbooks. You can buy CogAT practice test workbooks in bookstores and online. They can help your kids before they sit down to take the CogAT in school. Kids will be able to review the Nonverbal, Verbal, and Quantitative questions in advance.

A benefit to CogAT workbooks is everything will be organized. This will help keep it less stressful than accessing practice tests online.

In this way, you can have your child work through the pages of the workbook and take the practice tests.

If you choose, you can make copies and print them out to test more than once over the course of several months to a year. Alternatively, once you and your child have worked through a workbook, you can buy another. However, going through one workbook will likely be enough for kids to understand the types of questions.

These practice workbooks will be very helpful. Even if you child isn’t taking the test, reviewing these types of questions help build analytical skills as well as problem solving abilities. They are very educational and are appropriate for summer learning and enrichment.

CogAT prep workbooks are an excellent way for your child to practice. You will have the questions in an orderly fashion for when you have some time to sit with your child.

CogAT prep online

In addition, there are testing companies online that offer practice CogAT tests. These are options as well. They will give you immediate access to CogAT questions, and they can be very helpful.

The downside to using online CogAT prep questions is you will have to print out the questions yourself or have your child access them on the screen. They usually aren’t interactive on the screen.

Your child will certainly benefit from these. However, it’s important to remember, you want to keep this as simple and orderly as possible. Be sure to have all of the practice questions organized before you sit with your child. You don’t want it to be more stressful.

Like the workbooks, having your child attempt the practice tests are educational. CogAT questions will encourage your child to think in new ways, including the relationships between numbers, words, patterns and shapes.

Reviewing practice tests can help children learn strategies for solving problems — such as the process of elimination, etc.

Tips about CogAT Practice Test Prep

Here are some useful tips for parents who are helping their children prepare for the CogAT:

  • Test practices should be fun, especially for younger students.
  • The practice test must be suitable for the age group of the student.
  • During the practice test, address incorrect answers right away. Calmly go over the problem with your child. Ask your child how he/she came up with the answer, and why he/she choose it.
  • Make sure the student has enough sleep the days leading up to the test.
  • Ensure the student has a proper start on test day with a healthy breakfast.
  • Encourage the student to do his/her best but do not put extra pressure and stress on the test.

There’s such a thing as too much preparation. It should just be enough so the child is excited to take the test.

Should I let my child take the CogAT?

Reviewing the CogAT test directions in advance will make a big difference for your child. When it’s time for your child to take the actual test, your child will recognize what he/she is supposed to do in each section.

It will ease test anxiety, save time, and make them feel much more confident.

There may be certain types of questions — verbal, non-verbal and/or quantitative — that your child really excels at.

CogAT practice tests are great to see how your children will do and how interested they are. These CogAT sample questions are great to have your child do over the summer and over winter break to keep their minds active.

Taking the CogAT

How Important are the Results of a CogAT Test

Knowing what to expect

Even if you aren’t sure if your kids will ever take the CogAT test, CogAT worksheets and workbooks all help to build critical thinking skills that will serve your children well beyond taking the test.

What you MUST know about the CogAT

Most students will take all three categories of the CogAT. These are:

  • Verbal
  • Non-verbal
  • Quantitative

Each of these three categories has three sections. While the actual questions will change, the types of questions they will ask are always the same.

It is so very important for your child to know what they are supposed to do in each section. In this way, they won’t waste valuable, limited time during the actual test trying to make sense of the directions.

Using CogAT worksheets for their grade is a great way for them to see the types of questions in advance.

Sample CogAT questions

CogAT Quantitative questions:

Example question for third grade CogAT Quantitative section:

Students will see two number choices or problems. They will need to compare both and decide if one is greater than the other or if they are equal.


  1. 4 + 1
  2. 5 – 0

A. 1 is greater than 2

B. 2 is greater than 1

C. 1 is equal to 2

Answer:  C. 1 is equal to 2

There will be an entire section with this type of question. This might be confusing for students when they are first encountering it on test day.

It will be crucial for your child to understand what they need to do. Getting them a practice CogAT workbook will be a huge help.

Example for the third grade Equation Building section:

Your child will be given instructions to arrange the signs and numbers to come up with an equation that equals one of the answer choices.

They will have to work quickly to arrange them to find one of the answers.


Numbers and signs:  3  2  4  x  –

Answer choices:  A. 1   B. 2   C. 6   D. 12   E. 8

Answer is B   3 x 2 – 4 = 2

You can imagine that seeing a 3, 2, 4, x, and – may be confusing for kids who are seeing this for the first time on a test.

This will definitely be the case if they haven’t already done these types of problems in school.

Get them a workbook and familiarize them with the types of questions.

If your children aren’t interested or are struggling, you can then decide if you want them to take the CogAT.

Best CogAT test prep guides

You may want to get them a CogAT workbook for their current grade and the next grade up. Spend a few weeks working on their current grade. Then you can decide if you want them tested that year or the next year.

And even if you ultimately decide you don’t want them to take the test, all of these CogAT workbooks will still benefit your children.

They help to teach critical thinking, relational and reasoning skills.

  • 6th grade CogAT practice tests
  • 5th grade CogAT test practice
  • CogAT practice for 4th grade
  • 3rd grade practice for CogAT
  • 2nd grade CogAT practice guide
  • CogAT practice for 1st grade

You can use free CogAT worksheets with sample questions. They will help your child be more prepared. These practice tests will give your child an idea of how to answer the questions.

Students do not have a lot of time during the actual test to figure it out.

When kids take the practice tests, even over the span of days, weeks or months, they will at least know, “Okay, this is the section where I need to do (this).”

Then they can spend their time answering the questions instead of trying to decipher what they are supposed to do.

Attempt CogAT practice test

There are CogAT practice tests for every grade. You may want to access study materials from your child’s current grade and one year younger.

By seeing the questions from the year before, it will give your kids confidence. It will also give you that many more questions to practice. 

Cognitive Abilities Test is a form of examination which is designed to test a child’s or a student’s aptitude for performing certain things.

Scoring well is important because it determines whether or not they will be eligible to enter gifted and talented enrichment programs.

What you will learn about your child taking the CogAT

What is amazing about the CogAT tests and results is that they really do show you and highlight your child’s particular strengths.

These are aptitudes you most likely won’t realize your child has… skills like spatial reasoning and relations, correlations, quantitative aptitude, nonverbal strengths, etc.

While you may recognize certain tendencies in your child — good at math, spelling, or reading, etc. — it will be interesting to discover your child has an affinity for these types of problem solving skills.

Even if your child doesn’t score high enough to get into the particular program at his/her school, at home there are things you can do to further develop their abilities and interest in these areas.

They can play with tangrams, logic games, mazes, and other games or workbooks for critical thinking.

It’s best when the puzzles, games and toys you use to develop skills are fast, fun and educational!

What does the CogAT test measure

Its primary goal is the assessment of what reasoning abilities students have acquired but it also provides predicted achievement scores. Authored by University of Iowa professor emeritus David F. Logman, the CogAT is not a test of a student’s IQ, albeit there is a known correlation between a student’s performance and his/her innate ability.

The CogAT is important to educators to help them make informed decisions on student placements for their talented and gifted programs.

The CogAT is given in levels as three test batteries that focus on the mentioned areas. Administrators typically give the entire test to students. However, in some instances, they may test them in one or two of the batteries instead of all three.

The comprehensive assessment is based on all three.

Should I Let My Child Take the CogAT Test?

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Is the CogAT Intelligence Testing?

Contrary to what most people think, the CogAT is not a test to gauge how intelligent a student is; it measures his/her reasoning ability.

Neither does the CogAT measure a student’s speed in processing information, the amount of knowledge that he/she has retained or other components that are directly linked to an IQ appraisal.

The CogAT is not a measure of the child’s innate ability mainly because the ability to reason is learned.

But while the CogAT is not, in any way, an IQ test, a CogAT score is acceptable for admission to Mensa, the world’s largest and oldest high IQ society, whose members score 98th percentile or even higher on a supervised intelligence test.

Mensa requires a CogAT with a CSI or SAS score of 132.

The Johns Hopkins University program for talented and gifted young people requires a 95% score on a CogAT.

Northwestern University, meanwhile, accepts CogAT scores which are above 90%. IQ is measured statistically by test scores.

Intelligence and cognitive ability may be related and even intertwine, but they are really not the same.

Cognitive abilities are mental processes using skills that are brain-based to carry out tasks and have more to do with the mechanisms of learning, remembering, and paying attention rather than actual knowledge that was learned.

CogAT isn’t an IQ test

A lot of parents interpret the CogAT wrongly as an IQ test which is designed to gauge the general ability of the individual to solve given problems as well as understand concepts.

A high score on an IQ test does not necessarily ensure success in academics or even the workplace.

There are two kinds of norms used by the CogAT for test scores: grade norms and age norms.

Grade norms make a comparison of a student’s performance and the performances of other students in the same grade.

Age norms compares a student’s performance with other students of the same age.

The span of age norms is between four years old and 11 months and 18 years old wherein students are typically grouped in intervals of one month.

Using age norms has proven to be more accurate in the assessment of students who are either old or very young for their grade levels.

The raw score of the CogAT is initially calculated with a tally of the total of correctly-answered questions.

The raw score is converted using the Universal Scale Scores (USS) for each battery test.

Calculation is then used to determine percentile rank, stanine score, and the SAS, short for Standard Age Score.

Is the CogAT a Good Test for Gifted Programs?

The CogAT’s purpose is to determine giftedness in children.

It is a group test, not an individual one, given by professional testers and/or district teachers, not by private psychologists.

The CogAT is a gauge for a child’s ability for potential success and an opportunity to discover possible learning strengths in the child.

Additionally, CogAT can:

  • Measure the student’s development of his/her deductive and inductive reasoning abilities, two factors which are critical for academic success.
  • Appraise the student’s general abstract reasoning abilities as well as his/her capacity to apply these to non-verbal and verbal cognitive tasks.
  • Provide data on the development levels of a student’s specific and general K-12 cognitive skills.

Why Should I Have My Child Tested?

Parents should be aware that standardized testing is only one way of measuring a student’s ability as well as his/her achievement.

An individual’s capabilities are certainly more complex and actually more diverse than what academic ability, learned reasoning abilities, or even achievement tests are able to measure.

The words “gifted” and “talented” are used to recognize students of exceptional abilities who would benefit from additional, enhanced educational programs.

These students include those who have already demonstrated achievement or potential ability.

If you think your child may be gifted or talented, you, teachers, and school guidance counselors can refer him/her for identification to receive gifted services as early as kindergarten level.

The qualifications for these services will be based on the CogAT as well as MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) scores.

At What Age to Give the CogAT Test?

Your child can take the CogAT from kindergarten to grade 12.

The CogAT level of the test is based on the child’s age with the number assigned to each level corresponding to the particular age level of the child.

Level 9, for instance, is given to nine-year-olds and generally administered to third graders.

CogAT Testing Levels

Here is a quick rundown to give you an idea of the CogAT testing levels.

CogAT Level            Grade

5/6                      Kindergarten

7                           Grade 1

8                           Grade 2

9                           Grade 3

10                         Grade 4

11                         Grade 5

12                         Grade 6

13/14                   Grades 7 to 8

15/16                   Grades 9 to 10

17/18                   Grades 11 to 12

CogAT sections

The sections are termed as batteries which may be administered either together or separately depending on the specific needs of the school which administers the CogAT.

The goal is to:

  • Assess particular reasoning skills in the area which has a strong link to success in academics.
  • Measure cognitive development of the student.
  • Quantify the ability of the student to learn new or different tasks.
  • Appraise the student’s ability to solve problems.

Much of the content in the CogAT is nonverbal, which can be effective in testing non-native speakers of English.

Types of CogAT questions

Take a look at what kind of questions are asked in the CogAT to give you an idea of how your child may fare:

  • Nonverbal: subtests include figure matrices, figure classification, and paper folding.
  • Verbal: subtests include picture/verbal analogies, sentence completion, and picture/verbal classification.
  • Quantitative: subtests include number series, number analogies, and number puzzles.

CogAT Nonverbal battery

How long is the CogAT test

Each section is different depending on the grade. Often, students have 30 to 45 minutes per test battery.

The CogAT has 118 to 176 questions, depending on the test level and may take the student between two and three hours to answer all of them and complete the three battery tests.

The current CogAT is known as CogAT Form 7.

However, some schools still administer CogAT Form 6, its predecessor. You need to find out if your school will tell you which version they have.

If they will not tell you or if you don’t want to ask, buy the Form 6 and Form 7 CogAT workbooks and compare the types of questions.

There is some overlap; they are not completely different tests.

CogAT Form 6

Number of Questions Per Level                    Level

120 questions                                                                5/6

132 questions                                                                7

144 questions                                                                8

190 questions                                                                9

190 questions                                                                10 to 18

CogAT Form 7

Number of Questions Per Level                    Level

118 questions                                                                5/6

136 questions                                                                7

154 questions                                                                8

170 questions                                                                9

176 questions                                                                10 to 18

Form 7 is considered more accessible to students who are non-native English speakers.

It is designed in a nonverbal format.

Changes between the two Forms in the primary levels were made to accommodate ELL (English Language Learner) students.

The one section which will require language skills is the section on Sentence Completion. Additionally, all levels have instructions in either Spanish or English.

STEM Educational Toys to Improve Your Child’s CogAT

Can the CogAT Test Contradict Performance?

The CogAT is a challenging test. The increasing number of children whose parents want them in gifted programs has made the CogAT a challenge to take.

Can this test’s results contradict a student’s performance? Yes and no.

Yes, if the student scores a passing grade and makes it to the program.

If the student fails to make the grade, it can discourage him/her because of frustration.

Cognitive ability can predict academic success, not contradict it. Both parental involvement and expectations, however, play a key role in academic achievement as well.

There are several factors that influence a student’s academic performance:

  • Cognitive ability
  • Achievement motivation
  • Socio-economic status (SES)
  • Parents
  • Peers
  • Culture
  • Teachers

Cognitive psychologists have now identified several aspects of cognitive abilities. These include:

  • How efficiently a student processes information
  • How much of this information the student can process simultaneously
  • Is the student able to retain information
  • How well someone solves new problems

An individual’s abilities can either encourage or constrain learning.

One has to understand the direct relationship between a student’s cognitive development and his/her academic performance, especially the cognitive ability of perceptual reasoning, reading fluency, mental arithmetic, and reading comprehension.

CogAT practice test

The trick is to prepare the child for CogAT.

There are several websites that offer comprehensive packages of practice tests that resemble the questions of the CogAT.

Your child’s school WILL NOT suggest the best CogAT practice tests. They do not want you to prep or prepare your child. They want to see what the students naturally know. Do not ask them how to prepare.

Should every child take the CogAT test?

A child’s cognitive ability influences academic performance; it does not contradict it.

In fact, a high CogAT score may translate to high academic performance, whether or not the schools considers them to be “gifted” or “talented.”

Should your child take the CogAT? For all intents and purposes, yes.

Crystallized knowledge

If your child has a high capacity for crystallized knowledge, taking the CogAT will further enhance it. Crystallized knowledge is knowledge they have acquired in arithmetic and vocabulary, etc.

If your child has a high capacity for fluid knowledge, the CogAT can determine the extent with which your child can solve new problems.

Fluid knowledge

Kids acquire fluid knowledge by understanding abstract reasoning. This includes solving problems like identifying patterns and making extrapolations without basing the solutions on acquired factual knowledge.

Students with strong fluid skills have the advantage to acquire crystallized knowledge.

Cognitive ability has an innate component. Students can learn the majority of cognitive skills.

Cognitive ability enables the student to process sensory information that he/she collects to evaluate, analyze, and retain, make comparisons, determine action, and recall experiences.

Deciding what to do

You can let your child take the CogAT test to find out if he/she can place into a gifted program.

It is worth a try. If they don’t get it, you can use their test results to see their strengths and build on them.

These abilities are in the areas of verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative reasoning.

Order prep materials, and then review them in advance, before you sit down with your child. Be sure you understand the types of questions first.

You can make this a fun time with you and your child, offering lots of encouragement.

You and your child will be able to see the the types of questions that are on the CogAT tests. It will be a huge advantage for your child to understand the types of questions before he sits down to actually take the test at school.

Benefits of taking CogAT practice test

The big reason schools administer this cognitive abilities test is to determine which students can benefit and prosper in advanced educational programs for gifted students.

With the right kind of CogAT prep, your child may attain a high score in order to take advantage of special enrichment opportunities.

It’s easy to practice and review for the CogAT test. Many families “in the know” are prepping for the CogAT. (Though they may not admit it.) CogAT Sample Questions for Young Students

Should I have my child take the CogAT test?

Another practical option is to use an online subscription to a site which gives you access to the grade level CogAT test you need.

This is a good option if you want to have access to different grade level tests. This is important if you have more than one child or if you want to see a larger range of questions.

As an example, if you have a second grader, you can easily access the first grade and second grade level CogAT tests. Your child will get to see more practice questions this way. With an online service, you will often have access to all the CogAT tests as well as other learning tools and websites.

Whether you choose workbooks or access the questions online, you can calmly go over the questions together.

If you choose to use the online testing site, you can always print out the questions and then use them whenever you want. This means you can purchase access for a month online, and print them out for now and for future grades. In this way, you can use them when you want.

The smartest, easiest, and best thing to do is to see how your child responds to CogAT prep guides or practice questions.

Note, the CogAT is different than the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, which only tests for nonverbal skills.

If you can’t decide if you should let your child take the CogAT, you must find out why the school administers the test.