Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
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The Cognitive Abilities Test, known as CogAT, is widely used by schools across the United States to assess children from Grades K to 12.
The test measures a child’s reasoning ability against others in the same age group and grade and is often used as an entrance exam to a school’s gifted program. It may also help determine how teachers approach learning and teaching strategies.
There are 14 CogAT levels, each designed to suit the age and grade of the child taking the test, with the type of question and length of test adjusted accordingly.
The number given to the level roughly corresponds to the age of the students it is designed for, so level 8 is usually administered to eight-year-olds and so on.
|Grade||Test Level||Number of Questions||Length of Test (minutes)|
This is the test administered at kindergarten level, with 118 questions to be answered in 112 minutes.
Aimed to assess the talents of children in Grade 1 (aged 7), the CogAT Level 7 has 136 age-appropriate, challenging questions to be answered in 112 minutes.
Grade 2 students are around eight years old, and this CogAT assessment has specific questions for this age group. 154 questions in total need to be answered in 122 minutes.
For those aged nine and in Grade 3, 170 questions need to be answered in just 90 minutes.
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10-year-old students in Grade 4 must answer 176 questions in 90 minutes.
At this level, the number of questions is the same as for Level 10, but the difficulty increases to be suitable for children aged 11 or in Grade 5.
Administered to Grade 6 children, 176 challenging questions need to be answered in 90 minutes, with questions aimed at students aged 12.
The CogAT assesses three separate areas of cognitive ability
Unlike attainment tests such as SATS, the CogAT does not assess knowledge or measure how much has been learned at a certain stage.
Instead, it requires students to use cognitive skills, such as reasoning and problem-solving, to work out the answer.
This helps to give a more thorough understanding of a student’s academic aptitude.
The CogAT results are used to compare students with others in their cohort and also to help identify particular strengths and weaknesses and how these can be supported or developed.
As mentioned above, teachers and other school staff often use the CogAT to determine which children are eligible to join a program for gifted children.
The predictive data can also highlight discrepancies between a student’s progress and their expected academic achievement.
The CogAT is delivered in three different sections, known as batteries, each is focused on a different cognitive area and consists of three different types of questions:
Students must identify how two concepts are related. These concepts may be represented by images or words depending on the age level of the test.
There are 14 questions in this section and it takes around 15 minutes to complete.
Calf is to cow as foal is to ____.
Sarah joined the choir because she enjoyed _____.
The three words in bold are alike in some way. Choose one more word from the list below that goes with the words at the top.
Saxophone Trombone Trumpet
Which number comes next in this sequence?
2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17
10 + 2 = 3 x ?
The CogAT is a multiple-choice test and can either be taken online or on paper. It may be administered individually or in groups.
Students tend to take all three batteries together but schools can choose only to administer certain batteries or to set them separately. Children will usually have about 30 to 45 minutes to complete each battery.
As mentioned earlier, there are different levels of CogAT so the test your child sits will depend on their age and grade. There are also different versions of the test, known as ‘forms’, which have been released as the test is updated and modified. The most recent is Form 8.
It is important to check which form your child will be taking so they can prepare accordingly.
At the end of the test, the student’s raw score is calculated by adding up all their correct answers. There is no penalty for incorrect answers.
The raw score is then converted to a Universal Scale Score (USS) for each battery. The USS is a normalized standard score. The student also receives a composite USS, calculated by averaging the USS scores across all three batteries.
This USS is then used to calculate the student’s Standard Age Score (SAS), Age Percentile Rank and Age Stanine Score:
The SAS is a normalized age score with a maximum of 160 and a mean of 100.
The Age Percentile Rank is used to compare students in the same age group and grade, so a child with a percentile score of 90 scored higher than 90% of other students at their level.
The Age Stanine Score is a more simplified nine-point scale, with 9 the highest and 1 the lowest.
These scores are all used to determine the student’s score profile, which gives a more comprehensive view of how the child performed overall in the CogAT test, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
The score needed to qualify for a gifted program varies from state to state. In general, a student who scores in the top 3% and above, based on national averages, is likely to gain a place on most programs.
The CogAT assesses cognitive ability and reasoning skills, so students cannot study for it as they would for other types of tests.
However, the following tips should help your child to feel as prepared as possible:
Different schools may administer different versions of the test, or use different testing methods, so it is important to contact your child’s school to clarify.
You should ask:
- Whether the test will be taken online or on paper
- Which form and level your child will be taking
- Whether they will take all three batteries together
Your child will feel much more confident if they have prior experience of the types of questions they will encounter in the CogAT and know how to approach them.
When practicing with your child, try to follow your school’s procedure as closely as possible.
Remember to take breaks when your child needs them, ideally between each of the three batteries.
As well as trying practice questions, you can help to develop the cognitive skills assessed in the CogAT by introducing games and activities into your child’s everyday routine.
Look for educational games that focus on similar areas to the CogAT, such as reasoning, classification and number puzzles.
You may also find opportunities to put these skills into practice through day-to-day activities such as baking or playing with toys.
Reading with your child is also hugely valuable in developing listening and comprehension skills and exposing your child to new vocabulary and concepts – all of which will support your child in performing their best in the CogAT.
All parents want their children to excel, and scoring highly on the CogAT can be an important first step in opening doors to opportunities such as a place on a gifted program.
The test may seem daunting for those who have not tried these kinds of questions before, but with practice, your child will learn how to apply their reasoning and logic with ease.
Proper rest, nutrition and exercise are also vital when it comes to performing well in any test, and it is always important not to place undue pressure on your child.
By keeping practice sessions fun and focused, your child should feel calm, confident and ready to do their very best in the CogAT.