How To Prepare Your Child For Gifted Tests

Do you have a child who will be taking a gifted and talented test? Get study tips and find out how the experts at Elm Academy can help you and your child feel prepared and ready to excel on test day.

CogAT Test Preparation

About Gifted and Talented Tests and Programs

Schools around the country offer gifted and talented programs to students who learn and develop at an advanced pace. These programs are intended to challenge these students in a way that standard classroom material might not. With some children, it is evident when they are learning and developing at a faster rate, as they excel in their schoolwork and are able to quickly learn new things. But for some children, giftedness can present in the opposite way. Lacking intellectual stimulation and challenging material in a classroom can lead to these students feeling bored or uninterested in learning. For these reasons, many teachers and educators recommend using a variety of tools to assess students for gifted and talented programs, including interviews, meetings, and written tests. With limited spots, these programs are becoming increasingly competitive. 


You may already be familiar with some of these gifted and talented tests, such as the CogAT, CCAT, SCAT, OLSAT, and NNAT. Schools and gifted programs can choose which test to use based on their own specific criteria, but they all serve the same purpose: to create a snapshot of your child’s intelligence and how quickly they learn.

Gifted and talented tests are unique in that they do not test your child on learned material. Rather, they use images and number sequences to test your child’s abstract abilities, such as recognizing patterns, following instructions, and making connections.

Young Children and Test Anxiety

If you have older children who have already entered elementary school, chances are high that they have encountered a standardized test of some sort. But for children below first grade, gifted and talented tests can be their first dip into the pool of standardized testing, and it can be scary and unfamiliar for them.


Riverside Insight, the publishers of the widely used CogAT, states:


“Research shows that young children sometimes do not fully understand what they are supposed to do on tests, especially when tasks are unfamiliar and test directions are brief.”


Test anxiety can be a barrier for a child to show their full potential on a standardized test. And with good reason! Even for adults, taking a test can be a stressful experience, both because of strict time constraints and the pressure to succeed.

If you want to help your child succeed on these tests and reduce the fear or anxiety associated with them, your best bet is to familiarize them with the tests beforehand. By being familiar with the test, time limits, and the concept of how a test works, the preparation can help alleviate some of the fear and anxiety your child may have around their upcoming gifted and talented test.

How to Prepare for Gifted and Talented Tests

To begin paving the way for your child to perform well on their gifted and talented test, you need to start with the right preparation. When children are familiar with the testing format and questions, their anxiety during the test is reduced. As a result, they can focus on answering the questions correctly, and therefore improve their performance.


Here is how Elm Academy recommends preparing for the gifted and talented tests:

Gifted and talented test preparation

Prepare with Full-Length Tests

Full-length practice tests offer a number of benefits to children preparing for gifted and talented tests. The first benefit they offer is plenty of practice questions to allow your child to fully experience and comprehend each type of question that will appear on the real test. Remember that gifted and talented tests are not a test of your child’s breadth of knowledge, but rather of their reasoning and comprehension skills. This means many of the question types will be very different from anything they’ve seen in school, so it is crucial they understand what the test is asking them to do before they can begin to find the right answer.


The second benefit of a full-length practice test is that, toward the end of your child’s study schedule (see below), you can begin to mimic the time constraints of the real test to help your child manage their time. As these tests are often very long, it’s helpful for your child to be able to practice sitting through an entire test. This includes seeing and working through several different question types and test sections in one sitting. 

Create a Study Schedule

Children tend to perform better when they are prepared for the events and tasks in front of them. Therefore, we highly recommend beginning to prepare for the test at least 2 weeks in advance. This includes talking about the test itself and beginning study sessions to help your child understand what the test is and what they might expect to encounter on it.


To make the most of the study time, we recommend short study sessions. This way, your child won’t be cramming, or being forced to understand a lot of material in a short span of time. And by keeping the study sessions short, you are more likely to get the most out of the time with a child with a short attention span.


As you get closer to test day, your child will build familiarity with the test’s question types. You can then have them try sitting through a full-length test to combine what they’ve learned in their short study sessions with the experience of taking a timed test. 

Study Tips for Gifted and Talented Tests

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you help your child prepare for their upcoming test: 

Preparing for Gifted and Talented Tests with Elm Academy

Choosing to prepare for a gifted and talented test with Elm Academy gives your child their best chance at a success. Elm Academy’s preparation courses include realistic full-length tests, detailed lessons and quizzes for every question type, a parent guide with recommended study schedules and tips, and detailed answers and explanations for every question. Our courses are all available online, meaning they are ready for your child to begin as soon as they are ready. Start practicing today with Elm Academy. 

We hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments. 

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