What Is On The Gifted and Talented Test?

Note to reader:  I wrote this page at the beginning of my blog when I started my quest to conquer the test. I have replaced this material with Chapter 3 of my blog's permanent pages which is much more useful.

By the way, I don't recommend starting a blog to track your child's progress on test prep because, as I found out in nerve wracking months leading up to the test, people read blogs.  Fortunately, I figured out what makes a child gifted, we did it, and it worked.

Since the CPS test is super secret, and no one has had any luck asking their four year old what is on the test, there is not simple answer to this question, even with my exhausting research.   The results of my findings are going into my curriculum page.  

The goal is to turn your child into a bright, successful  gifted and talented kid, whatever his current IQ  is, constrained by the need to start preparing for the actual test in the weeks leading up to it.  My other goal is not to waste money on expensive material.

As I do this research, I’m looking for exercises and practice that is conducive to learning.   For example, there are testing strategies that include sentence completion and word analogies.   Practicing these is fun for competitive boys and builds their vocabulary.   A bigger vocabulary makes one smarter and should increase test scores as a bonus.   Testing strategies like the tap test or “what’s the last word in the sentence I just spoke” are great measures of intelligence, and it’s hard to improve scores through practice.   These types of questions (unlikely to be on the CPS test anyway) should be practiced in the week or 2 before the test just to make sure the child is comfortable.  In other words, it seems more productive to let your child practice being better at geometric thinking than to practice 50 questions on shapes under a specific question format unless that format is a fun way to learn.

Here is where this research is leading:
1.    What are the tests trying to measure?  How can I increase these attributes in my child?
2.    How do these tests work?  Why are the test makers structuring their tests the way they do?
3.    What are all of the different types of questions?   Which of these when practices lead to a smarter or more capable child?  Which types of questions get easier with practice?
4.    If this test sets an achievable standard for kids, what is it and am I doing what I can as a parent so my child meets this standard?
5.    Where do I need to spend my money and time?

Let’s start with #1.   The test takers are trying to find the students who are best able to succeed in the Gifted and Talented program.  This program accelerates the curriculum by up to 2 years in some areas, piles on heavy doses of projects, and tends to dive deeper into the curriculum than normal.

The test makers know this from academic research:
1.     Current academic performance is the best predictor of future academic performance.
2.    There is a list of attributes that children who enter and succeed in these programs have.
3.    Speed of learning is a great predictor of giftedness.
4.    Vocabulary is highly correlated with Reasoning Tests.   (I’m assuming that reasoning is featured on these tests.)
5.    Reasoning is central to success in academics (when paired with motivation and interest.)
6.    Some argue that the distinctive characteristic of “giftedness” is exceptional insight ability.

So assuming that the test design is consistent with this list, test preparation should be consistent with this as well.  Can you teach your child to ask questions and dig deeper into a problem?  You bet.

Here is a diagram of the different types of questions that show up on various tests used to quantify intelligence and giftedness (Lohman and Lakin 2011).   The three sections are the three different types of intelligence, and the ones closest to the center are the ones most correlated with general intelligence.   I would say off hand that the practice target should be the questions right near the center.  For actual test prep, I would restrict those to ones you can use pictures and manipulatives.  For 1st grade on, the circle can be expanded to include basic reading and math.

I also recommend putting about 75% of the effort into vocabulary building exercises, not just with general vocab  (top section) but with math/quantitative vocab (left section) and with special reasoning or fluid reasoning vocab (I think this is the right section).  The reason for this is that increasing vocabulary increases intelligence and a variety of other gifted attributes, in addition to improving your child’s chances on any test.

At this time (Jan 2012) we’re doing lots of reading, weekly vocab lists in puzzle format (analogies and sentence completion) math vocab (see the book I put on the curriculum page) and I just found some great material on the edhelper.com web site that is introductory fluid reasoning stuff.   We’re 12 months away from the test.  Research continues.

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