Gifted and Talented Test Prep Curriculum

The test prep curriculum is presented below by age in schedule leading up to the test for all age groups.  I've organized material by grade level and how much time is left to prepare, but since the approach to teaching cognitive skills is somewhat similar by grade, read the preceding material to your section to understand the approach.  The only different between Pre-K and 4th grade is the amount of catching up you face at later grades on basic skills.  After 5th grade, the material changes dramatically.

To answer the two most common questions I get:  you should begin preparing your child at birth, it's possible to prepare in as little time as 6 weeks. Even if you did nothing and the test is 3 weeks away, you have work to do that can raise that score.

Test Prep Curriculum List
Age 2
Read about Welcome to Your Child's Brain to see why talking to your child nonstop with big multi-clausal sentences is so powerful. I wrote about one parent who did this and the results are stunning. For the rest of us, who didn't think of this at the time, it's not too late to start.
Age 3
Read to your child non stop.   Get some letter blocks and slowly practice letter sounds.   Learn to count.  There are a variety of simple workbooks with puzzles and pictures.  Craft books that involve cutting and pasting are wonderful ways to prepare for learning.

Pre-K
Before The Test
The process of learning to read uses all of the skills on the test, so make this a priority.  If you haven't started reading yet, and want to do reading, vocabulary and test prep at the same time, see Pre-K Phonics: Conceptual Vocabulary and Thinking.  Whether or not you choose advanced phonics or a standard phonics course, see this comprehensive reading guide guide which walk the process and describe the additional skills your child should pick up during the steps of learning to read.

There is a "phonics for math book" is early test prep for the OLSAT and the COGAT.   This was our secret weapon on the nonverbal portion of the test.  It's called Shape Size Color Count.  The quantitative version of phonics is visual number sense all of the math vocabulary through 2nd grade that will grow the brain.

The introductory level text book for test prep is Building Thinking Skills Primary.  At this age, the first 7 sections (non-verbal) are great and the last 7 sections (verbal) are hard to do, if not impossible.  If you start this before Kindergarten, it might go slowly.  If you start this after phonics and math phonics, you can skip the first book.  The math phonics book will put you right about the middle of the 2nd and 3rd grade book for non-verbal, minus skills on how to hold a pencil, and the phonics book plus a strong reading program is designed for a 2nd grade reading before age 6..

When your child gets past phonics, you can find a wonderful series at www.vocabularyworkshop.com, which I've written about before.  Keep in mind that vocabulary is a key ingredient of all sections of the cognitive skills tests, even if the tests are nonverbal.  I think this series is great for test prep, and not just because a strong vocabulary is 75% of the test (regardless of whether or not it's called 'non-verbal').

Normal math books are the opposite of test prep, and we always set aside math for 4 months to focus on cognitive skills building.  Since test prep is all about cognitive skills, it made advanced math that much easier.  You can't do this after 4th grade.

3  to  6 Months Before the Test
This would be a good time to begin working through a practice test, a few questions a day.   These don't teach cognitive skills, but prolonged exposure to test questions doesn't hurt.  If you have been doing standard math, do less of it and more cognitive skills work.  The best approach is looking at a practice test 6 months before the actual test without worrying about getting anything right, and then doing one slowly 3 weeks before the test as the final step.

If you managed to finish BTS Level 1, try Can You Find Me.

1 to 2 Months Before the Test
You need to go through a practice test in the last month.  Knowing the format is good for 4-6 points, and you will definitely need those points.  I prefer a pace of about 2-5 questions outside of test prep season (for this age), but before the test, the pace can be a section in one sitting.  Never hurry, because if your child learns hurry the test might be a disaster.

If you want, get a standardized test prep book for about 2nd grade and do the reading comprehension problems.   You'll have to do the reading, and your child will do the pointing.   This process is very similar to test conditions, mainly something new and confusing that requires a lot of thinking, and a much better teacher of cognitive skills than practice tests.

Kindergarten
A Year Before the Test
The primary curriculum will be Building Thinking Skills Primary and maybe Level 1, but at least Primary.  Level 1 is for 2nd to 3rd grade.  The first half is doable with help, the 2nd half is impossible with Level 1 because of the advanced vocabulary.  If your child is a reader, this will go faster, you can do more of the 2nd half of the book, and you might have room for a book from the Mind Benders or Can You Find Me series.

The nice thing about Kindergarten is that the majority of test prep material on the market targets this age group so you can start it right away and not necessarily run out.

Get grade level www.vocabularyworkshop.com.  This is not the type of book that is easy and your child cannot jump ahead grade level unless they earn it.

If your child is new to math, find a first grade workbook.  I recommend Spectrum's Test Prep workbook, not because it has test prep in the name, but because it's short and easy.  When you're ready, jump into Every Day Math Grade 2 and keep the first grade book handy for bad days.  Doing 2nd grade math with a 5 year old who is new to math is more art than science. Many parents have contacted me for help, and during my evaluation I always experience a child who is going through the same thing that both my children did.  The only difference is that I know how it ends and learned not to be put off on how it started.

If your child ever gets 2 years ahead in math, very high scores are expected on standardized tests like the ITBS.  I call this cheating, but it takes a bit of work.

3 To Six Months Before the Test
At the six month mark, you should begin doing a cognitive skills work at least once a week instead of math.  If you don't face a standardized test right a way, by 3 months put math on hold.

At this age, you can fill your house with test prep books if you want, but I still recommend BTS and vocabulary workshop.  When it comes to cognitive skills, practice tests are good for preparation, but other material teaches the skills more thoroughly.  Make a reading comprehension book a monthly exercise.  For reading comprehension, I recommend Continental Press for 1st grade (hard) or Spectrum's  test prep book.

If you managed to finish BTS Level 1, try Mind Benders.

6 Weeks Before The Test
At this age, a child can sit for longer and perhaps get most of a practice test completed in an afternoon (if they work up to it) or do a section a day for 2 weeks.  I highly recommend 30 minutes of reading comprehension or a practice ITBS for 2nd grade, because both of these experiences will be much more like test conditions than a practice test. The practice tests are fairly easy, even 2nd grade practice tests, compared to the real thing.  Working through a reading comprehension question for a second grader when you can barely read and don't understand much of the vocabulary is going to be at the level of the test. 
1st Grade
The test prep material drops off at this age a bit and the level is much easier.  A child in K might get something out of an NNAT 2nd grade book, and might have exhausted the whole list before the first grade.  Practice tests will be less useful from this point on.

If your child is in 1st Grade, read the K section because the recommendations are similar, and expect the material to go much faster.

One Year Before the Test
Make reading and Vocabulary Workshop part of your routine.  Whether your child is going to sit for a standardized test or just the COGAT, catch up on math until your child is at least a year ahead.   I still recommend Every Day Math Grade 2 as the starting point.  It will go more quickly.  After that, stick with 2nd or 3rd grade word problems, like Kumon Word Problems, or take the year off from math.

The Building Thinking Skills Primary Level 1 book is the starting point, and you should plan to cover both the first half (non-verbal) and the 2nd half (verbal) thoroughly, 1 page at a time.  You'll get slightly more out of the 2nd half of the book.

6 Months Before the Test
At this point, you should make reading comprehension a center of your routine. In Kindergarten, a child could get a competitive advantage by being a wiz at figure matrices or math, but by 2nd or 3rd grade, the bar shifts and you need to be strong on the verbal sections to succeed.   1st grade is somewhere in the middle.  I recommend either grade level or 2nd Grade Reading Comprehension. Since these are only $10 a piece, the best thing to do is get them both.  Both of these books are hard, and hard reading comprehension is great test prep, possibly the best.

You might do a whole practice test in this period.  In the absence of more test prep books, stick with math word problems and reading comprehension as your core curriculum.  Finish the BTS book,

2 Months Before the Test
Take what little practice test material you can find (bottom of page) and do it slowly and carefully. Make your child explain and prove every problem before going to the next one, especially if your child struggles. Doing a practice test problem might or might not help with the actual test at this age, but over analyzing it will help.

1 Month Before the Test
Do a whole practice test, in one sitting if possible.   The go back through it and analyze what went wrong.  Pick some really hard reading comprehension questions and do those as if it were a practice test.
2nd Grade
You've reached the grade where your child has outgrown the usefulness of practice tests to do anything but give your child a few points on the test because they are familiar with the format.  Which you still need, by the way.

At this point, cognitive skills tests more closely reflect the child's level of cognitive skills, more kids are catching up, and strong readers are overcoming their disadvantages.  It's much harder to cheat.

Off Season - Up To a Few Month Before the Test
Get The Read Aloud Handbook and build a strong reading program. Add Reading Comprehension Level B, continuing on to Level C if possible, and Vocabulary Workshop.

Building Thinking Skills Level 1 is for 2nd and 3rd grade.  The vocabulary section might be hard, but we did the nonverbal section in the 4-6 grade book.  We did the grade in first grade.  I like this book, but I think it was written at a time when very few people took cognitive skills seriously.

Test Prep Math Level 2 has 3 sections: word problems, a quantitative section, and a non-verbal section.  The word problems are not like a verbal section on the COGAT, obviously, but are the introduction to the cognitive skills at the base of the pyramid.  The quantitative section is designed to be overkill for the test, as is the visual-spatial section.  It takes much longer to do these problems than a book like Building Thinking Skills which is designed for a broader market.  Test Prep Math is a relentless march to 99% broken up by the goofiness of the word problems.   The introduction explains how to pull it off and how to contact the author if you need help.

Test Prep Season
Test Prep season is going to consist of at least one practice test.  This is mandatory for the reasons I mention above.

I like Smart Cookie's NNAT book (see bottom) for grades 3 and 4 because the problems are somewhat hard and there are a lot of them, and this can supplement the training.

Ideally, you would do one practice test 6 months before the test and 1 practice test a few weeks before the test.  If you didn't read this in time and the test is in a month, do 2 anyway if you can, but the effect isn't the same.

Using Test Prep Math, I have a 6 to 8 week program that uses about 20 problems from each section.  That will solidify at least the higher order skills. This book is a good way to tackle test prep and math at the same time, thus it's name.  If you get this book and don't finish it before the test, which is common, finish at least 40 more word problems and as many of the quantitative problems as you can.  The payoff on academic work is extraordinary.

Also, you can do a reading comprehension test ( a few challenging problems that you've selected, preferably above grade level with some new vocabulary words) and if you have time, a practice ITBS or other standardized test for 3rd grade.  The experience of trying to answer questions on material that the child has never seen before will be like the COGAT.

3rd Grade
Everything I just said about 2nd grade is true, so please that section, but it gets more challenging in 3rd Grade.  The good news is that fewer children are doing test prep, so there's less competition.  The bad news is that other than a practice test for test familiarity, there isn't anything on the market that couldn't be done by a 1st or 2nd grader.  We did 3rd and 4th grade practice tests in Kindergarten and it didn't help.

If you need remedial training,  I recommend going with Building Thinking Skills Level 2 is for grades 4 to 6 especially the verbal section.   The non-verbal section is way too easy unless you are catching up, and there is no quantitative section.  To supplement these, I recommend Mind Benders.  The activities is this book become much more relevant for older children.

Test Prep Math Level 3 is just like I described above for Level 2, so I'm going to repeat it.  The quantitative and non-verbal section are designed to move a child way past the difficulty level of the test.  The introduction explains how to pull this off, and it's fairly easy to track down the author if needed.  The word problems are the best part of the book and have tax some of the sub-skills of reading comprehension.  You may get this book because the methodical way in steps through quantitative and visual-spatial problems, but if you take the time to do about 75 or 80 word of the problems, you'll appreciate the impact on reading comp scores on standardized tests down the road. 

Next, I like the reading comprehension books Level D from Continental Press (4th grade).  A tough reading comp question is a good practice for simulating test conditions, at least for those who aren't 3 years ahead in reading..

The nice thing about 3rd and 4th grade is that your child will be capable of more work for longer periods of time.  If you can just find a year where academics is the only priority, anything is possible.

Test Prep Season
Unlike earlier ages, I don't recommend setting aside any of your activities other than school math, which becomes a disadvantage on cognitive skills tests if your child is not in an accelerated program.  If your child needs a high MAP or ITBS score, you should be working on 4th or 5th grade math at home.

During the few months leading up to the test, shift the curriculum to harder material that takes longer, results in more mistakes and incorrect answers, and focus on the process and not the outcome.  Reading comprehension work above grade level is a good example of this.  The test will be new and surprising, and super hard, even if you've see a practice test.   Also, a practice test is mandatory in the weeks leading up test, ideally one 6th months before the test and one a month before the test.

If a standardize test is also required, the preparation above should suffice, but I also recommend being at least a year ahead in math.  18 months is ideal.

Practice Tests
Practice tests are not designed to increase cognitive skills but to remove unnecessary errors and delays by introducing the format of the test ahead of time.
The maximum number of practice tests I recommend is 2.  One for 4-6 months before the test and one for the weeks leading up to the test.

For the OLSAT, there are no good practice tests that I would recommend.  Instead, I recommend COGAT practice tests because they are better.

The most authentic looking COGAT practice tests are from Mercer.  These are also the most expensive and they're not all that hard.  This book for 5 year olds currently cost $37 and contains 118 questions.  It doesn't help to get the book for the next age up because the formats are very similar and the question structure changes very little.

My favorite books are from Smart Cookie.  The books half the price of Mercer. The best part of Smart Cookie is that they came to the market later and had to come up with more creative questions to avoid copyright issues.  Because of this, their questions tests are more "real world" in that they are more surprising and unexpected.

Smart cookie sells an NNAT Practice book that I think is great COGAT practice if you have time.  Remember, it's not possible to "learn the test" from a practice test like you learn geometry from a geometry book, but there's quite a bit of thinking in this book.  If your test is the NNAT, this is the route to go for grades 2-4.

The are many newer publishers and online websites offering practice questions.    I haven't gotten any good reviews about the online versions. 

For our first test, I tried an online testing service.   Many of my readers complained about issues with this site, especially getting charged on a never ending monthly subscription, but I didn't have those problems.  The problem I had was that it has thousands of average level practice problems in the format of the test, and this is not a good way to study for the test that is going to throw unexpected hard problems at the child.   I had 10 practice tests on my shelf, 20,000 online questions, and we still missed the cutoff for lack of cognitive skills. It was exactly like trying to learn math by doing Kumon worksheets.  All practice and no learning.




55 comments:

  1. My child (grade 1 now) has finished Building thinking skills (level 1 and 2)a while ago because we started when he was a kindergartener. Do you think it's worth going back and redoing some of the problems at all or not worth it at all. Or find other materials to work on which is pretty challenging. We have a year to prep.

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    1. I was in this position once. It is worthwhile to do the first half of the grade 4-6 book, and go back and do the parts you skipped in the first 2 books, probably the second half.

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  2. My daughter in K last year did not use any pre-testing material to prepare for the Cogat test but she passed and made it to the list (gifted). Her reading and math were both in 4th grade level, and her comprehension is average. Now that she's in 1st grade, I want to try any Cogat textbook to familiarize her with the format and some context. Would you recommend a higher grade book? Like up by 1 or 2? Planning to buy a book either by Smart Cookie or Won Suh. We only have like 2months to prepare. Thank you.

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    1. First of all, congratulations for doing it the right way. My entire blog, 6 years and about 430 articles, is dedicated to us parents who didn't think about any of this until our child is 5 years old and then have a lot of catching up to do.

      The K, 1, and 2nd grade books are all about the same cognitive level and the "trickiness" techniques of the questions in each book differ very little. The primary difference among the levels is that the format changes a little. By second grade, the math pictures turn into equations and after that, the non-verbal verbal section gets actual words. These books are produced for the mass market which is about the 50th percentile to the 75th percentile. There is nothing for kids to practice who are above that. I would stick with grade level for the purpose you stated, and you're not going to get much out of it other than question formats. Outside of test formats, I like Smart Cookie NNAT for 3rd to 4th grade because there is a bit more of a challenge, but the format is of course for a different test.

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    2. If I want to get COGAT books (Mercer although their price is outrageous), which grade levels do I want to try? I have a second grader taking the test next month.

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  3. My child is in 4th grade. He will be taking COGAT and IOWA tests. Could you suggest some books? Already bought test prep test 1 from Mercer.

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    1. See my recent article for 2nd grade. It's the same, just different levels. All of what I said for 2nd grade applies to 4th grade, doubly of course.

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  4. My daughter is in kindergarten. she will be taking COGAT7 and OLSAT. she is daily does practice test on testing mom. always scores more than 95%. Other than testing mom , we never used any other material. After reading your information, i realized, we need more materials. Just can't go by testing mom. Already ordered smart cookie practice test for kindergarten. Please suggest me some materials to practice her. Thank You

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    1. Please refer to recent articles. I need to rewrite this page. It's too confusing. What you do next depends on when the test is. For both kids at this age, we used to do reading comprehension once or twice a week, usually me doing the reading. I think it's the best practice for the test situation.

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    2. Thank You so much. she has test on January 2017 for cogat and March 2017 for olsat. Any Book suggestion for Reading Comprehension

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    3. At this age, I recommend a standardized test prep book from Spectrum or one of the other popular publishers for 2nd grade. We used this and an ITBS book (which, if I were actually preparing for a 2nd grade standardized test would be ridiculously easy). You may end up doing a significant portion of the reading, but it's up to your child to do the thinking work.

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  5. My child is in 1st grade and we are exploring materials for NNAT. We have completed working through a couple of NNAT prep books (smart cookie, building thinking skills level 1), but I am looking for online practice tests since the test will be online. I looked at testing mom, but getting suspicious after reading your review and also after getting multiple emails a day urging me to pay after registering with them. I looked at mathtosuccess and testpreponline websites, but confused about which one to use. Any recommendations on online NNAT testing materials?

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    1. This is such a great question that I have to do a post on it.

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    2. OK, the post is out there, with lots of great advice, that ended up being pretty long.

      The short answer is that it doesn't matter, and the last few paragraphs explain why.

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  6. My son is in 3rd grade,can you please suggest some books for him please.my daughter is going in kindergarten next year, Should i start preparing her now for these test what books i can use for her and from where should i buy these books. Please help

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  7. Your daughter is the easy case. Start with Every Day Math Grade 2 and Building Thinking Skills 1 (1st grade). There's much more in here that you can read at your own pace.

    For your son, it's time for a practice test and some reading comprehension exercises. I'm guessing that he didn't spend the last year working on his cognitive skills as I describe in this article. When you get his score, if it isn't high enough, get Test Prep Math Level 2 and building thinking skills for 4-6 grade. These books will take about 4 to 6 months.

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  8. You mention that parents should be prepared for the child to be completely stumped and get 50% less or worse on practice tests. How do you 'teach' the child to think if they don't understand how to attack the problem, without basically telling them what to do? Also, if they get it wrong, how should parents guide the child to figure it out?

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    1. This isn't an easy question to answer in a comment. I have answered it in today's article, The Darker Side of GAT, and if you read it, you'll find your answer.

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  9. Thanks. My hope/plan is to equip him with skills and a love of learning that will keep hungry to go beyond the material presented in school. If I can help cultivate that attitude his advanced cognitive skills will hopefully take care of themselves.

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  10. Hi.I found your blog today. It's amazing. Thanks. My 5th and 7th grader is taking the Cogat in May this year. My 5th grader got into gifted in both Math and reading (in 3rd grade) but my 7th grader only got into math. Now the school decided to give all 5th and 7th grader the cogat and Itbs test again. Tf my 7th grader passes this cogat test, she can get into reading gifted too. So, my question is: Will the Mercer publish cogat books for 7th-8th grade help ? Any other book you would suggest for 7th grader? Please let me know. Thanks a lot.

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    1. Thanks for the reply. I emailed you.

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    2. Hi,
      I just wanted to let you know that my 7th and 5th grader took the cogat test and passed. I am so happy. Both might qualify for Mensa. Is it worth getting Mensa membership for them?

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    3. Congratulations. I'm glad to hear things worked out.
      Mensa membership traditionally requires passing an IQ test. I'm not aware that the COGAT, which is a cognitive skills test, is used to qualify. I have no opinion on either IQ tests or Mensa. I'm sure there are benefits to Mensa membership, but I have no idea what they are.

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    4. Thank you :). Mensa accepts Cogat test score of 132 or higher. I e-mailed them to confirm. If one has SAS (Standard Age score) of 132 or higher in Cogat, they are qualified to apply for Mensa membership. There is a list of other tests they accept too in their website.

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  11. Hi,
    Firstly, Thank you for all the great tools and study material posted here. It is such a great resource for parents. I am looking for prep materials for NNAT and DAS/WISC for a grade K student. There are 2 rounds of tests for the gifted screening here in our school.

    We are working on Building Thinking Skills (Level I) and Can you find me series now, with Everyday Math books as well.

    I could not find much information on the DAS (Differential Ability Scales) format. Can you please recommend study materials for this format of the test?

    Thank you in advance.

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    1. This testing process sounds very thorough. What you do next really depends on where you are and when the test is. There is plenty of test prep material for the NNAT on my curriculum page on the right. If you are ahead in math, I would recommend setting it aside and doing vocabulary workshop. Skip the red book if your child can read. Finally, look at my reading page. I'm going to replace it next week with what it used to have on it, but read about the word board. You need a word board with about 20 words at all time, and you will test your child daily and take down any word he knows in 2 sittings. This isn't to build the vocabulary as it is to prepare for the soft skills needed for the wisc/das. This is of course an awful exercise if you don't retain a sense of humor. And, of course, get a practice test for the NNAT. Hopefully, the NNAT is first and you can prepare properly according to best practices.

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  12. Hi,
    Thank you for giving us this site with lots of informations. My daughter started 1st grade when she was 5, youngest in her class. She recently took COGET and missed by 10 points. In 2 weeks, she is taking OLSAT and I think she is smart enough to get in. What can I do at this point? Could you please recommend me some books, materials that I could go over with her? Another reason I found is that her attention span is less than her classmates due to the age difference. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you in advance!

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    1. There's a lot that goes into attention span. I think # of hours reading each day is probably the top of the list. The second biggest impact is that parents. The third biggest impact, especially for tests, is how the children go about their work. The last 2 are the most important, obviously, at this point.

      I've never seen this situation before. It's basically the need for 10 points on a cognitive skills test in the next 2 weeks. If you see the GAT skills behind the test, you could use the word attention span as a big bucket to put them in. For the OLSAT, I think reading comp is probably the best. There are no good OLSAT practice tests after K, and the only good one before that is the one I wrote. For this test, reading comp books at the 2nd or 3rd grade level are the best, maybe the verbal sections of a COGAT practice test. But the key is to do it the write way.

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    2. Hi, my daughter just passed her screening test (CogAT) and now she will either take the RIAS 2 or the WISC V. Is there any test prep material for either of these tests?

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    3. First of all, good job getting past your hurdles. We had the same experience and I think maturity had a role. The 2 tests are timed and are similar to the COGAT but go way beyond to find kids who have the skills that a child would have by spending most of their time in learning activities like crafts, puzzles and reading and not just prepped for a test. If you look at a description of questions, you'll see that some of these lend themselves to DIY for a motivated parent, but a practice book would undermine the test. I guess that's good news/bad news. The Word Board as I've presented in all of its glory is very important. COGAT test prep is good, as is NNAT test prep. For 2nd grade and older TPM is probably the only working memory based book, which is fundamental to both tests, and is heavy on object rotation (whereas most COGAT books barely touch on rotation). Both tests are extensions and modifications of earlier versions and I wouldn't pay extra for a V than a IV. I don't think it would matter much. Critical Thinking Co has a great description of the test but their material dramatically undershoots the level our kids need to get to. The books on amazon with 'wisc iv' or 'wisc v' are overpriced and the IQ-y stuff is mainly adult level. I named 3 books above that would form a 2 or 3 month curriculum (plus much of TPM left over for IQ building after the test since there are so many questions in this book). If you want to challenge me on some of the DIY questions, I'd be more than happy to elaborate. Or, you could pay $100 to $300 to some publishers for less material in the exact format. It's up to you - this is not a bad decision but I go in a different direction because I have broader long term goals.

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  13. Thanks for your blog. We just found out last week our child was accepted into the gifted program after COGAT testing (the top 3% are eligible here). She did not do well the first round of school screening, but her teacher still thought she was gifted so we asked for retesting. (She obviously scored significantly better--in the first screening she barely got 63% of the questions right, so she may have had a bad day or didn't take the first test seriously--we didn't even know she was taking it.) If we had not found your blog telling us to review with the Mercer tests (with less than 2 weeks' notice prior to the exam), I think she would have barely missed the cut off. Since she is extremely bored in school, this would have been pretty devastating for her.

    Now our problem is the second child, and we realize that we are way behind with her. Oops. She is in first grade and the school screens the children in the spring of second grade. We have one year. She is at a second grade reading level, but I know this is inadequate. She struggles with reading, although we have worked on that in the last year and she has improved a lot by taking Kumon classes. She does seems to have a natural ability to understand math concepts quickly, however. With her, knowing the COGAT is a year away, would you start in the 1st grade section you listed above? Or the second grade section? Any other tips?

    Thanks so much.

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    1. Yes, I would go right to 2nd grade for this situation. One year is more than enough time for any child at any age to 'catch up'. When I started this blog, I was in a similar situation and decided to ignore the older child (he already had his shot) and this worked out really well in the long term in ways I didn't anticipate for both of them. I have since discovered that TPM has an amazing impact on reading. Outside of math, it's not the full academic decathlon, but covers the 3 events that are most helpful for tests. The difference with a child who hasn't hit second grade is the amount of time it's going to take, and the 30 minutes to get through a single question is exactly the skill set you need going into the test. Also, read with your child, alternating chapters or pages. I think we alternated pages at age 6. I'm going to have to write a post soon on this topic because it looks very similar to cognitive skills work.

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  14. Thank you. Keep up the good work!

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  15. I have twin boys, 4 years old, and we are aspiring to get them into the GT School. They test during their kindergarten year to begin GT in 1st grade. There are 2 parts to the testing process. The first test is the Naglieri test, and if they pass this test, they take the MAP test. I have read your test prep curriculum, and plan on purchasing all materials to add to the existing work that we do. They read daily, work on their math facts, sight words, work on solving patterns through programs we use on testingmom.com in addition to other programs membership offers on this website. Is there anything else you would recommend that would help solidify their entrance into the GT program? I have exactly one year to prepare them from this point.

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    1. The Naglieri is doable. I think it's easier than the other cognitive skills tests. I would recommend Smart Cookie's test prep book instead of testing mom. The MAP test will test your children on curriculum between 1st grade and 8th grade if they make it that far. Stop doing math facts and start doing more thinking work. The test prep curriculum is geared toward the OLSAT and the COGAT. These are harder than of the NNAT. This is a good start for the MAP, but I recommend that you study math through 3rd or 4th grade. Not deep, not thorough, not memorized, but do an overview.

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    2. I appreciate your recommendations, and after reading your blog, I have been feeling like maybe I've been doing the opposite of what I should've been doing for a long time - counter-productive. Based on the tests that they will be taking, could you provide me with a list of test prep that would be most beneficial for them? I would greatly appreciate your help.

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    3. Should I purchase Smart cookies test prep grade 1?

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    4. The MAP test will evaluate how far along the child is on math and reading. The sight words and math facts are generally counter productive for both GAT and a 99% on a test like the MAP, not to mention learning, but sight words as a precursor to vocabulary on a word board are fine. The magic bullet you are looking for is how you approach your daily work. I'm going to demonstrate this on Saturday.

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  16. What's the best material for the OLSAT my daughters wants to be in the gate program but When I was a child only grades qualified you now it's this test. Is there a site she can get tested on that is similar to the OLSAT

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    1. I consider the OLSAT to be a slightly easier, more verbally intense version of the COGAT. There are lots of great practice tests and test material available for the COGAT and I recommend these instead. I don't recommend OLSAT practice tests either. I have them on my shelf and they are disappointing. A more specific answer to your question depends on your daughter's age.

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  17. Another question - My child is 4, just started PreK. Should I follow the PreK guide above OR the K guide because she would be testing for K this coming January?

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    1. The PreK discussion is for 4 year old's in Pre-K gearing up for the K test. The SSCC and Phonic materials are a superset of test prep, meaning they over do it with an eye toward a strong performance in the years that follow and much bigger things down the road. BTS is a traditional route and easier as well. You would need a practice test for K. The K section is definitely for K, unless you're child is super advanced already.

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  18. I am so glad I found your blog! My daughter is 8 years old /First grader. We are full time working parents. We have been sending her to Eye Level and Mathnasium since she was 5 years old. Her reading is 1-2 above grade level and working on 3rd grade math. We thought sending her to these programs will be well prepare her for the tests until I heard some parents told me their kids didn’t get into the gifted program due to lack of test prep (even after so much time and money spent on enrichment programs). I am panicked now! Her first MAP Test is Nov 2017 (School Teaching Guideline) and April 2018 (For Gifted Program) and COGAT is Feb 2018. Based on my current situation do you think I should be getting the below books recommended by you to prepare her for MAP and COGAT? Or any other suggestions? Thank you very much!

    Building Thinking Skills Level 1
    Reading Comprehension Level B
    Test Prep Math Level 2 has 3
    Smart Cookies, 2 Practice Tests for the CogAT Form 7 (one test NOW, one test 3 weeks before actual test)
    Vocabulary Workshop
    The Read Aloud Handbook

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    1. First of all, you can stop panicking. Feel free to email me directly at getyourchildintogat@gmail.com. BTS Level 1 is great for verbal. You might be between TPM Level 1, which is not released, and TPM Level 2, which is really hard and usually requires 2nd grade executive skills. I'd like to send you a couple of questions to see where your daughter is. The COGAT is a long way away and now is a good time to begin studying.

      Eye Level and Mathnasium have their role, especially if you work, but the COGAT is a different animal. Both of these are good for the MAP and being ahead is a key to the MAP.

      Reading Comp Level B is great for the MAP test. Vocabulary Workshop is good all year long, but it goes very slowly, like 1 lesson a week or every other week, and Read Aloud Handbook is of course a longer term project.

      As for a practice test, you can worry about that after you determine exactly where your child needs to practice and how.

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  19. Hi,
    Loved your blog. My daughter will take the CoGAT on June 4 of this year. She’s a third grader and an advanced reader ( Level R last September, next test still pending at school). I just found out about CoGAT and started looking into prep material! Guess I m too late to get on this boat for the upcomg test. Still, I’d like her to prepare as much as she can. She did the basic online test but I need prep books. Which ones should I get ? Should I get the books you have recommended for the 2nd grade in the above pist? I intend to finish the books with her after the exam is over. Also for 4th grade, should I follow your recommendations above ?
    Please reply ASAP. Thanks

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    1. I'm way behind on answering questions, but grade 2 and up has very little on the market. It's more approach than material at this point.

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  20. Hello!

    I think I've found my new favorite blog/procrastination tool! I have read a few pages (this one, and the first couple chapters of the book, and the latest blog post) in the last 2 days, and I plan to at least scan everything here. I am so excited to learn about new ways to help my children learn! I admit, I am sort of a laid-back (read: lazy) parent when it comes to academics- I managed to get into a competitive public gifted high school program without any intentional/directed help from my parents, so I guess I just figured my kids would be OK... but I realize that my study skills were all over the place and I didn't really figure out how to learn until grad school when it became necessary. I would love to help my kids avoid that trap. Thankfully my husband is a math/physics prof and he has a much better work ethic and a more proactive attitude to getting kids to learn. Last night when I was telling him some of what I read on your page about how schools are failing kids by spoon feeding them math, he said "ya think?" He is tired of teaching calculus to kids who have never encountered a difficult problem that someone else didn't tell them how to solve! But I don't know that he has necessarily thought much about how to make sure that *our* kids don't end up in someone else's calculus class, crying that they have "never done poorly in any class before." (Which btw, was me, but not until I encountered Discrete Math in college- that's when I decided that actually I am not cut out for anything harder than calculus.)

    Anyway, my point! I have a point and a question!

    Question: I am planning to have my kids take the Cogat next fall, probably in October. It is now late June. When I give them their first practice test, do I make them sit down and do the whole thing in one sitting alone, and just keep them on it but not actually help them in any way? Or do I let them do a few questions here and there, get through the book on our own time? Do I help them? Do you address this somewhere in your blog? If it matters, my kids are entering 2nd and 4th grade. Younger one is a bit of a perfectionist, likes to solve problems, is more of a naturally gifted academic kid with some advanced skills but mainly she's just a major questioner/thinker. Older one is lazy- she is capable of thought and will do it for something that interests her but otherwise gets very angry about someone trying to make her do something hard. The younger one is more like my husband, the older one is more like me :).

    Also, the reason for the cogat: my kids are right now in a private school that we love (and I believe they are learning to think there and being challenged, but gosh I don't really know)- this school is in danger of closing its doors, so the public G&T program is my back-up plan for my younger daughter. Older daughter.... I actually doubt she'll get in, and if she does I don't know that it would be a good fit for her. But I can't imagine making my younger daughter do all this work without her big sister doing it too, and after reading what I have read here I believe it will be good for her, maybe a little fun, and a bonding experience for all of us! And in the end, who knows, I might get her into the second-tier gifted program, which is kind of baloney but it's something. And I've told her that if she wants to go to private middle school she'll need to take a test, so it doesn't hurt to get some practice in. (We depend on financial aid, so private school is not a given in any case.)

    Thanks for your blog and your answer if you get around to reading my long-winded blather!

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    1. What a great question. It was like an article. I think you might be underestimating the older child even if the younger one is smarter, which by the way was the theme of this webiste. Since skills are 100% learnable, it sounds like older sister is past due for the learning train. Yes is going to be a bonding experience. If I were in your shoes, I would be pushing the older kid - except that I declared 4th grade a complete waste of time and let my older one get bad grades, then I made him do 2 SAT test prep books starting the next summer. But this was after years of daily math and weekly vocab.

      I cover your first question in today's article.

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  21. I saw that- thank you!!

    I am inspired by your blog. Yesterday we were on a long car trip and my kids asked to do some math problems while stuck in traffic. They were expecting me to test how well they have memorized their "math facts" so they were a little surprised when I gave them problems a bit out of their reach and told them to take their time, we have hours! And little do they know, that was just a teaser to get them used to the new normal- the focus is no longer going to be memorizing anything, we're going to work more on deriving answers from what they already know. So exciting!

    BTW, they both eventually figured out their math problems (it took me a few tries to come up with one that was hard enough to really stump them and draw some serious whining that it was too H-A-R-D) and all I did was say, "I don't want to hear guesses, I want to hear how you are getting to your answer." My older daughter came up with excellent strategies but kept making dumb arithmetic errors.. so we still need to work on math facts. But I want her to understand that we need to memorize our math facts so she doesn't make dumb mistakes when she understands the bigger picture. I think you might be right that I underestimate her. Her main problem is that she doesn't have great working memory, but in the last year she's already improved it just by doing school work... I think we can push it much further. Maybe we can do this, get her into G&T for middle school (I'm starting to feel more confident about our lovely elementary school remaining open).

    Thanks!

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  22. I guess I also need to work on helping her go back and check her work to make sure she didn't make an arithmetic error. That might be a better long term strategy than mere memorization of math facts. I know that my reluctance to check my own work cost me some gpa points in college and grad school. Corporate Finance, I am looking at you.

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    1. I've enjoyed rereading your comments and thought about these for months. The long term strategy I've used is making sure my kids have problems that they'll get wrong. Eventually they know that they'll get them wrong and checking emerges naturally if they aren't faced with 30 more problems to do. To get a single problem correct in 3 to 5 tries means essentially a Kumon worksheet - where 3 arithmetic problems turn into 15 because of redos.

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  23. Hello!

    My daughter has taken the OLSAT twice (2nd & 3rd grade) and each time she missed the cut off by 8 points!!! I have to be honest that I didn't really know you could prepare for these tests. The only reason she even took the test again was because she is determined to get into our districts gifted program. So now she's in 4th grade and wants to try again. So now I'm determined to help her. We have about 6-8 months before the test is given again. Based on the results of last years OLSAT test, it seems she needs to improve her non verbal skills. I bought Mind Benders 3 and Building Thinking Skills 2 and some other things for verbal skills. I also bought CoGAT as a practice test. Are there any other resources you recommend I should look into? I need to help my daughter get those last few points to get her into the gifted program. Thank you so much for your help

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    1. Building Thinking Skills is good for non-verbal skills as well, but you should consider using the next level for non-verbal. It's not so much the material you use (especially at this age) but the way you go about the work. It's not about learning something. It's not about getting the answer correct. It's about analyzing the problem and looking for subtle details and subtle paths. Without meeting you or your daughter, I'd guess that she approaches test prep like school approaches academic work - looking for progress and gains, speed and # of problems completed. It's the opposite of that. You need to get the material down to 1 or 2 questions (max 5) per session and spend a lot of time on them. The only other material I recommend is the non-verbal section of Test Prep Level 2 and searching for 'india figure matrices' or 'pipe fitter test' and doing some adult level problems - slowly and carefully without looking at the answers.

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  24. My son didn’t get into gifted in kindergarten bc of a low cog at score . The policy in Georgia is that you have to wait 2 years to retest which would mean he can retest in spring of second grade . I am still pushing to see if he can be tested in the fall of second grade . Is there a difference when you take the cogat fall or spring ? Since he’s going to be taking a second grade test should I follow your outline for first or second grade ?

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    1. If you properly prepare, the age curve in grading will not matter and the earlier the test the better, provided it follows 4 solid months of consistent work. If you are not able to spend the time in the summer or during the school year, then schedule the test for the other time.
      The material is for age range and not target year. If your child is in K now then start with the cognitive skills training like BTS. If your child is in 1st, then focus on reading and math first and don't stress your test prep until after Christmas. In both cases, by January it should be obvious to your child's teacher that your son is gifted, and that would be the appropriate time to ask about a fall test if you're interested in early testing. If there is no impact to early testing (like an early switch to the desired program), then just keep training and take the test as late as possible.

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