Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Book On GAT

I've been asked repeatedly to write a The Book on how to get your child into a GAT program.   I've been dragging my feet for 3 years.  It's a good thing.  It's taken me three years to figure out what I'm going to say.

Up to this point, I've only been half the way there.  

My first breakthrough was to realize that the concept of intelligence is a complete myth and a sham.   I hope that this is well known in 2016, but in 2010 and 2011, I had to spend a few hundred hours reading a lot of very technical math oriented books to figure it out.  Your child has learned behaviors, habits, and learned skills.  You child doesn't have any intelligence.  No one does.  But your child has a brain, and it's a muscle, and it needs exercise and growth.  (I'll have to write another article on this.)

Next, I realized that the GAT tests were measuring cognitive skills.  The greatest tragedy in education is that we test for these skills and don't teach these.  I hope someday to pick up a Kindergarten or First Grade math book and see these skills listed in the table of contents as chapter headings.

The problem with cognitive skills in the psychology literature is that they are given names like "Verbal Fluidity" or "Spacial Reasoning".   This is not really helpful to the average education researcher.  The other problem with education researchers is that they don't have a 3 or 4 year old child at home while they are reading technical papers.  If they did, they would have realized what I saw next.

Cognitive skills are a lot more fundamental.  Things like reading the question again slowly because you didn't get it the first time or checking your answer because you got the last 3 wrong and this one is probably wrong as well.   Once a child learns these skills, and gets a bit of practice, they can figure out what a star looks like when it does a 1/8 clockwise turn, and they have spacial reasoning.   Or maybe they just have learned the patience to think through the problem.  There probably are advanced skills like spacial reasoning, maybe 100's of these advanced skills, which you don't have to worry about if your child has the core skills because they will pick these up on their own through trial and error.

So far, all of this is in my blog.  In the early years, it is described in painful detail while I was trying to figure it all out and conducting experiments.  Lately, I've been summarizing it in various ways.

 I've begun writing the introduction to the Gifted and Talented Phonics book, a project I've been working on for the last 18 months.   As I'm describing how to go through the process from letter sounds through advanced reading, I'm outlining basic parent behaviors that are going to be critical during test prep (aka teaching cognitive skills).   I realized that I could rewrite this whole blog in terms of "How to Get Your Parent into GAT and then your child will follow".

I'm going to start writing about Parent GAT skills.   I've described many of these in my past articles and put this concept into the introduction to Test Prep math.  I've never gone into detail on how important these skills are.  As I describe these skills in the phonics book, I'm cognizant of the likelihood that the parent will be less experienced, and the child will have much higher variations in their skill list.  It's much more challenging than a 5 or 6 year old.  That's why this topic is getting more attention.

In working with parents locally, that I approach myself, for every success I've had a failure.  I generally don't write at all about these experiences, usually just what I learn from working with their children.   Failure generally consists of me outlining the whole approach and the parent putting their child on the soccer traveling team.  When parents approach me, they are motivated, and things generally go well.

Shortly, I'm going to take on 6 very special clients with a very high risk of failure.  I'm going to select them myself.   I've been waiting for my phonics book because I'm going to need it.  The rest I'm going to crowd fund.  The World's Greatest Academic Coach and Foremost Authority on Getting Into A GAT Program needs a challenge, after all.  Then I'm going to write the book.


  1. I let my first grader do some COGAT questions (level Grade 5-6) and getting almost every question wrong (and 50% wrong on a good day). Should I continue with this hoping he will learn something from this challenging stuff, or should I let him try his level?

    1. Commendations for your bravery, but the COGAT format changes from 1st to 6th grade based on concepts learned at school over the years. This makes the 3 verbal sections and the 3 quantitative sections not useful as practice. If you let him try his level first, feel free to use the 5-6 grade book for the figure matrices and the folding questions. Go really slowly, like 1 or 2 questions a day on the hard material and emphasize deconstructing the question and answer sets, not answering.

  2. Can't wait to see those books!

  3. How can I help my child score better on the online COGAT test. He is in Second Grade

    1. Read the article I just published today. Sorry for the late response. There's a lot you can do.

  4. You can start by reading the link Gifted and Talented Test Prep Curriculum in the upper right. Follow this up by reading my articles in reverse order. There are probably about 150 on this topic.