Understanding Your Child’s CogAT

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    What is the CogAT?

    The CogAT is a group administered cognitive abilities test that assesses verbal, quantitative, and non-verbal abilities.  The CogAT is NOT an IQ test; it focuses specifically on reasoning skills that are related to school success. The CogAT may be administered on a computer or on paper.  Questions on the CogAT are multiple choice, and the total testing time is typically 90 to 120 minutes, depending upon the CogAT test level. 


    It is an age-based assessment.  If your child is 5 years old, (s)he will take the CogAT level 5.  If your child is 7 years old, (s)he will take the CogAT level 7. Your child’s school may choose to administer an above-level assessment to identify children for a gifted and talented program.  The school may also choose to administer a below-level assessment to assess students suspected of learning disabilities.  To find out, ask your school’s guidance counselor. 

    What does the CogAT Verbal Battery test?

    The CogAT Verbal battery assesses vocabulary, verbal memory, the ability to determine word relationships, and comprehension.  It is comprised of three subtests: picture analogies, sentence completion, and picture classification.

    Picture analogies are visually based questions consisting of 2×2 matrices.  Each matrix includes 3 pictures and 1 empty cell. The student must determine which multiple choice option best fills in the empty cell. Students taking the CogAT level 9 or beyond will complete a verbal analogies section instead.  Students must determine the relationship between a pair of words. Then, (s)he must find an answer that relates to the third word to demonstrate a relationship similar to the first word pair.

    For the sentence completion subtest, students listen to a sentence or question and select a picture answer on their test booklet or computer. The picture classification subtest asks students to review 3 pictures and identify a fourth picture that belongs to the same group.

    What does the CogAT Quantitative Battery Test?

    The CogAT Quantitative Battery assesses mathematical reasoning and problem solving skills, numerical sequencing, and pattern recognition.  It is comprised of three subtests: number analogies, number puzzles, and number series.
    Number analogies are similar to picture analogies.  Rather than identifying the relationship between pictures or words, students must identify a quantitative relationship.  

    Number puzzles look very much like a math equation.  The complexity of these equations vary depending upon the level CogAT your child takes.  For example, a question for an upper elementary student might look something like 4 x 3 = ? + 2.  Your child’s performance on this section is largely dependent upon their math facts skills.

    Number Series provide students with a series of images.  Each image has beads on an abacus. Students must determine which abacus toy comes next in the series.  Students taking the Level 9 CogAT or higher are given a series of numbers. They must determine which number comes next in the pattern/series.  

    What does the CogAT Nonverbal Battery Test?

    The CogAT Nonverbal Battery assesses reasoning and problem solving skills related to patterns and relationships.  It also includes analogies and categorization. It is comprised of 3 sub-tests: figure matrices, paper folder, and figure classification.  

    Figure matrices require spatial reasoning skills.  Students are presented with pictures in the form of matrices.  Students must assess a pattern to determine the next matrix in the sequence.  Similar questions appear on IQ tests such as the WISC-V and the Stanford-Binet.

    Paper folding is a measure of visual-spatial awareness.  Students review a series of pictures that show a piece of paper being folded and cut.  Students must determine what the paper will look like when it is unfolded.

    Figure classification assesses a student’s ability to classify objects based on similar attributes.  

    How is the CogAT scored?

    Raw Score:  The Raw score tells you how many questions your child answered correctly.  Incorrect answers do not deduct from the score. Depending upon how detailed your report is, you may also have information on the number of items (maximum score possible) for the section, the number of questions your child attempted (answered), and how many questions your child answered correctly.  You will receive a raw score for each battery.  

    Standard Age Score:  The Standard Age score is a normed score.  You should receive a Standard Age Score (SAS) for each battery and a composite score.  The mean SAS is 100 with a standard deviation of 16.  The maximum SAS is 160.  while this score looks very much like an IQ score, it is important to remember that the CogAT is NOT an IQ test.  

    Age Stanine: An age stanine score ranges from 1 to 9 with 9 being the highest.  A higher stanine indicates higher cognitive abilities as measured on the CogAT whereas a lower stanine indicates lower cognitive abilities as measured on the CogAT.  A stanine of 5 places your child in the 40th – 59th percentile (about average).  

    Age Percentile Rank: The age percentile rank indicates how your child performed on the test compared to other students in their age group.  You may receive an age percentile rank comparing your child nationally and/or an age percentile rank comparing your child to other students in the same school district.

    What do my child’s CogAT scores mean?

    The CogAT is not an IQ test, but it is often used to identify students for gifted and talented programs.  Some schools administer the CogAT to all students whereas other schools may only administer the CogAT to students recommended for a gifted and talented program.  It’s a screening test. Each subtest is comprised of 10 to 15 multiple choice questions, so it’s only a snapshot of your child’s cognitive abilities.

    Does the CogAT have a ceiling effect?

    Yes, the CogAT definitely has a ceiling effect.  The CogAT is an age-based assessment.  If your child is grossly outperforming his/her peers, (s)he may “hit the ceiling” on the CogAT.  If your child tests at the 99th percentile in one or more sections, above-level testing will give you a better idea of your child’s skills; however, if you feel you need a better picture of your child’s abilities, a more comprehensive assessment such as the WISC-V or Stanford-Binet would be more appropriate.  

    My child didn't do well on the CogAT. Does that mean my child isn't gifted?

    Not necessarily.  The CogAT is one test administered on one day.  If your child was sick, uninterested in the testing itself, or having an otherwise off day, his/her abilities might not be adequately represented by his/her CogAT scores.  

    Since the CogAT is an age-based assessment related to school-house skills, exposure to certain skills and knowledge at school also has an effect on their performance.  Your child may have a high aptitude, but they may not have the learned skills and knowledge to do well on the test.  For example, questions on the Level 10 CogAT may ask a student, 10 + 5 = ____ x 3.  If your child hasn’t learned multiplication yet, this question would be very difficult.  While a student SHOULD be introduced to multiplication in third grade, this is (unfortunately) not always the case.  

    What should I do with my child’s CogAT scores?

    If your child’s school administered the CogAT, the school likely already has a “plan” for the scores.  They might use the CogAT scores as a screening measure for special education services — remedial or gifted.  You can also submit your child’s CogAT scores for admission into Mensa or HEROES Academy.

    For a list of NJ schools that administer the CogAT, click here.

    Schedule CogAT Testing

    Have Your Child Evaluated

    HEROES Academy offers CogAT testing for children ages 5 and up.  Compared to IQ Testing, CogAT testing is a cost-effective and time-effective method of identifying gifted children.  Find out if your child is gifted by scheduling a CogAT test for your child.

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