There was a time when report card grades were the measure for which students were selected for “gifted and talented education.” Today, the selection process for these programs is more complicated. Though criteria vary by states and even individual schools, most gifted and talented programs require testing in some form as a means of getting in. This can cause pressure for both students who are qualified for such benefits and their parents as well. Luckily, there are organizations that provide insight into these gifted/talented tests and methods for successful results.
Measuring and the Need for Gifted and Talented
Experts agree that “giftedness” in students is dependent upon the integration of talent, potential, comparative performance (against peers), and accomplishment. Though there is no set standard for identifying or measuring gifted and talented students, there are agreed upon checklists and characteristics. Many of these are subjective, such as behavioral signs and indication of complex thinking. However, certain intellectual ability and cognitive skills can be measured through testing. Some may argue that such testing does not indicate a holistic view of a child’s potential or talent. Yet tests such as the CogAT are one form of standardization in which to measure a child’s giftedness and talent.
Some would also argue against the need for gifted/talented programs and accommodations. However, studies show that these students need challenges beyond regular classrooms in order to maintain interest and motivation in education. In addition, gifted/talented programs are proven to have long-term benefits for participants when it comes to college preparedness and pursuit of higher degrees.
What is the CogAT Test?
If your child is being considered for a gifted/talented program, he/she may be offered the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). This multiple-choice test is designed to measure a student’s academic aptitude and cognitive development. It is frequently used to identify and admit children into a school’s gifted/talented program.
The CogAT is made up of three sections: verbal battery, quantitative battery, and nonverbal battery. Each section/battery of the test consists of three types of questions. For example, the verbal battery would cover questions regarding sentence completion. The nine sections of the test each measure certain cognitive abilities. The level of CogAT test depends on the child’s age, and total test time is between 90 minutes and 2 hours depending on which test level the student takes.
The CogAT Form 7 is a current version of the test that can be administered online or on paper. In addition, it is accessible to non-English speaking students.
Acing the CogAT Form 7
One aspect of the CogAT that separates it from others such as IQ test is that it measures standardized reasoning and problem-solving skills rather than intellectual potential. Therefore, the CogAT is a measurement of learned skills, which can be improved. This is excellent news for parents and educators who wish to recommend their student for a gifted/talented program.
Regardless of a student’s age or grade level, preparation is essential for success. The CogAT Form 7 is no exception. In order for your child to ace this test, it’s important that they understand the process of taking it. Gathering information regarding the administration of the CogAT Form 7 will allow your child to envision what is expected when taking the exam and in what form the test will appear. This can reduce test-taking anxiety which will improve results.
In addition, there are study guides, practice questions, and response explanations designed to familiarize your student with the exam before they take it. For example, Argo Prep has a gifted and talented test prep book that increases with difficulty to help students develop their logic and analytical skills. Utilizing this type of prep material has 2 benefits: it can create a sense of mastery of the test for your child through practice, and it can reduce stress levels when it’s time for them to take the actual test. This gives your child every advantage for a successful CogAT score.
Ultimately, no test is comprehensive enough to measure how gifted or talented a child is. And no child should feel judged by a test score. Children should understand when being assessed for gifted/talented programs that it is just one aspect of their education, and that there is no failure involved. As parents and educators, you can make sure that your student is fully prepared for tests like the CogAT. However, your positive assessment of the child’s individual gifts and talents should be clear to them; that’s a test they should always pass.