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Understanding CogAT Scores Are Helpful to Parents

Understanding CogAT scores is essential. The CogAT measure a child’s reasoning abilities in three key areas (Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal) but the results and scores may baffle parents and guardians.

The CogAT is not your typical school test. So, how do you interpret CogAT scores?

While you will want to understand your child’s CogAT scores to capitalize on his or her strengths, it’s especially important to know how the schools uses the CogAT results.

State standardized tests are designed to see how well students retained the information presented to them according to state standards. CogAT tests are different in that they are the same nationwide. The CogAT evaluates how well a child figures out problems.

understanding CogAT scores

CogAT scores

Below we explain the Age Scores, including the Standard Age Score, Age Stanine, Age Percentile Rank, as well as the APR Graph.

In addition, you will learn to interpret CogAT Raw Scores, Grade Scores, and Local Scores.

There are nine sections to the CogAT test. There are three parts in each:

  • Verbal
  • Quantitative
  • Nonverbal

The CogAT is an excellent test of critical thinking abilities and logic, not rote memorization. It assesses students’ problem-solving abilities and spatial reasoning.

It also challenges students to look for patterns and to make connections between numbers, symbols, and words.

Understanding CogAT scores

Schools use CogAT scores in different ways. You need to find out how important CogAT results are at your child’s school. They not matter; however, they may give your child opportunities in gifted enrichment programs.

If you’re not happy with your child’s scores, you should familiarize yourself with the test for next time. Some schools test every year; others only periodically.

It will be so helpful for your child to see the directions and the types of questions for each CogAT section before they sit at school to take the test.

CogAT worksheets and workbooks give you and your child the opportunity to access sample CogAT tests. They have them by grade level, from K – 8th.

Once children understand the directions, they will be able to perform their best. Otherwise, many kids will use their time trying to figure out what to do. Even “very smart” students may have trouble understanding the directions when it’s time to take the CogAT.

The CogAT is a timed test, with 10 – 24 minutes per section.

What percentage is gifted?

When you look at CogAT scores, students who score in the 98% rank and higher are considered gifted.

However, schools with smaller enrollment may determine their own threshold to enter a gifted program. They may lower it. Alternatively, if they are keeping their gifted and talented classes small, they may use 98% for gifted placement.

Is the CogAT an IQ test?

No, the CogAT isn’t an IQ test. It’s a test in which students think critically, noting patterns and relationships between words, shapes, and numbers.

It’s more appropriate to think of CogAT scores as measuring critical thinking skills. It measures how well they problem solve.

What does a CogAT score of a 7 mean?

To interpret CogAT scores, you need to understand what Stanine means. Oftentimes, schools deal in percentages, where 100% is the perfect score.

Stanine is another way to measure and is a common way to rank in educational testing. It’s divided into nine classes, 1 – 9, with one being the lowest, and nine being the highest. A CogAT score of 7 means the student placed Above Average.

With regards to the CogAT, a score of 7 is equivalent to 77 – 88%.

It’s important to know there are different CogAT versions. If you see CogAT Form 7, that’s the version the school administered. It doesn’t refer to a CogAT score of 7.

What is a good score on the CogAT test?

The higher the number, the better the score. However, with CogAT results, it’s more than that.

To answer what is a good score on the CogAT, it’s important to know how the school is using the results.

If it’s to place students on a track for advanced math or for an entire accelerated program, a “good score on the CogAT” will be whatever it takes to meet the requirements. Therefore, it’s essential to know how the school uses CogAT scores.

CogAT scores for math placement

Schools are using CogAT scores — especially in math — as assessment tools to place children in different tracks.

At schools where they separate kids based on math ability, CogAT scores help determine placement. This often starts with CogAT scores in 2nd and 3rd grade as they start separating students for math. In other school districts, they may first start grouping students for math in 5th or 6th grade.

The CogAT nonverbal and quantitative sections test problem solving skills, not just addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts. They test how well a child can think critically and figure out how to solve problems. It’s not about rote memorization.

CogAT results in large schools

Teachers and administration use CogAT results to help place students, especially in larger schools. They also use the scores if they have gifted programs.

If you have a school with one or two classrooms per grade, they may not use CogAT scores in this way. However, in schools with three or more classrooms at each grade level, the often have students switch for math before other subjects.

This is why many families take advantage of CogAT math practice.

What are CogAT scores used for

In some schools, CogAT scores determine if a student is placed in an advanced track. This is often the case for larger schools when they don’t want to rely on grades as the only measure.

Schools often administer the CogAT before students leave elementary schools as a placement tool for intermediate school or middle school.

Other schools use the CogAT for acceptance into gifted classes or their gifted program. Depending on the high school, they may use junior high grades and CogAT test scores as part of their entrance requirements.

CogAT scores can also be very helpful for parents and guardians. They will highlight areas in which your child excels.

With the insights provided by the CogAT, they can work in conjunction with teachers in order to provide the best type of assistance for their child.

If your child’s school doesn’t explain them fully, it can be difficult to understand CogAT results. When the CogAT determines students’ participation in a more rigorous educational opportunity, then these scores are much more important.

It’s important to ask the school why they administer the CogAT.

Just remember, the CogAT measures reasoning and problem-solving skills. However, these are not the only predictors of academic success.

CogAT scores for high school entrance or placement exam

Depending on the high school your 8th grader will enter, he or she may take a CogAT test.

Some private high schools and other high schools where students will need to take a baseline test to attend administer it.

Sometimes the CogAT scores will determine whether a student “gets in.” They use it as an entrance exam for potential incoming students.

Other high schools will use CogAT test scores as a placement tool. They will use it to place incoming freshmen in math and language arts.

Interpreting CogAT Scores

Your child may have taken the CogAT, and the way you find out about it is when you get the test results from the school. You will see the score with little other information from the teachers or administration.

Oftentimes, you get the CogAT results and that’s it. You won’t hear anything from the school about your child’s scores.

Teachers are well versed at interpreting CogAT test scores. But how do parents interpret CogAT scores?

The CogAT tests three different types of cognitive abilities. One is with words and language. The other two are more math-based. One section focuses on math through numbers, equations, etc. The other is about math concepts and relationships through patterns, shapes, and spatial reasoning.

Verbal section scores

The verbal section evaluates your child’s ability to break about words and change sequences of English words.

The way your child understands the words are measured, and so is their ability to infer implications based on the meaning of those words.

This section asks students to find the relationships between words, including whether it’s finding a synonym or antonym.

Quantitative test scores

The quantitative portion of the test is about numbers. CogAT scores measure students’ abilities to find relationships and solve problems with numbers and equations.

The CogAT asks what number comes next in a sequence. It also asks students to use numbers and symbols to form the right equation.

Nonverbal test results

Interpreting CogAT scores in the nonverbal section is likely different than other tests your child has taken.

The three parts to the nonverbal section measures children’s reasoning skills without words. The nonverbal part is mostly about shapes, symbols, and patterns.

Your child may be asked to choose which shapes are most alike, for example. There are paper folding questions for older grades where your child’s spatial abilities will be tested.

Seeing the directions to these types of questions in advance will help your child immensely.

Standardized test scoring terminology

You may have heard of Composite Score, in which the total score is derived for all the batteries of tests.

If your child scores 90 on the composite score, then it means that the child did better overall than 90% of the students in their age group.

Standard Age Scores (SAS)

For each portion and the composite, you’ll then see an age score. These scores tell you how your child compares to the other students in their age group.

The SAS has a mean of 100, which just tells you that a score of 100 is average for the age group.

It has a standard deviation of 16, which is just a way of saying that most students fall within 16 points of the mean (84 to 116).

As an example, a child who has an SAS score of 130 reveals that the child has a higher level and a faster rate of development in verbal reasoning skills than the other children in their age group.

Stanine Age Scores

The next set of scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 9, and they group percentile ranks to give you a clearer idea of your child’s ranking among others of their age.

A score of 9 means that the child is among the top 96% to 99% of the students in their age group.

Stanine, % Rank, Description

9        96-99            Very High

8        89-95            Above Average

7        77-88            Above Average

6        60-76            Average

5        40-59            Average

4        23-39            Average

3        11-22            Below Average

2        4-10             Below Average

1        1-3               Very Low

Age Percentile Rank

This is just a more specific idea of how the child ranks among their age group in the entire country.

A score of 82 on a the verbal portion means that 82% of the students in their age group in the country scored less than your child did.

APR Graph

This is a graph which shows your child’s age percentile rank. The score is represented by the diamond surrounded by a rectangle.

  • Diamond represents the score, such as 82.
  • Rectangle represents the confidence interval.

In other words, the real score of your child is actually somewhere between 72 and 92, for example.

There’s always an expectation of error, so the score offers a plus or minus range.

Understanding Your Child’s CogAT Scores

The error scores are different for each child. For example, the error score may be larger if your child performs inconsistently to question items in the same battery of tests.

Your child may have been unable to provide the right answers for the easier items, but was able to give the right answers for the more difficult ones. That’s an inconsistency, and the error score will reflect it.

Another possible error factor is if the child does poorly in one section of a specific portion (the verbal portion, for example) but does really well in another area of the same portion.

Raw scores

This part gives you three numbers for each test portion.

These numbers represent the number of items on the test, the number of items your child tried to answer, and the number of correct answers for each portion.

Grade scores

This shows how your child compares to other students in the same age group in the entire country.

Local scores

This is important because it shows how your child compares to other students in the same age group in the same school district.

CogAT profile

Taking the various scores for all the portions of the test as a whole also gives the profile for your child.

With the profile, appropriate steps and measures can then be taken so that your child gets the right kind of educational help.

A profile

The A profile means that your child’s scores across all the portions (verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal) are roughly the same.

This profile applies to about 1 out of 3 students.

B profile

The B profile applies when one of the scores is either much higher or much lower than the two others.

This then reveals a child’s relative strength (one is higher than the others) or relative weakness (one is lower than the others).

About 40% of all students get this profile.

C profile

The C profile denotes “contrast”. This is when a child has both a relative strength and a relative weakness.

About 14% of students have a profile like this.

E profile

Finally, there’s the E profile, which stands for “extreme”. This applies when there’s at least a 24 point difference between two of the scores in the CogAT.

So if a child scores a 90 on verbal and a 65 on nonverbal, then the E profile applies.

How CogAT Test Results Can Help Parents and Teachers

CogAT scores a child gets after taking the CogAT assesses his/her reasoning abilities. It’s a practical test and isn’t based on state standards.

CogAT scores can be used by parents and teachers in several possible ways:

The test can identify gifted children who can make the most of special educational programs.

Some schools offer educational programs for gifted students. CogAT scores are often used as determining factors.

Gifted programs offer the ability for students to fine-tune reasoning and critical thinking skills. Teachers generally have a smaller group of students and can focus on projects and subjects in greater depth.

Being in an accelerated program or gifted class assumes the child already understands what the teacher is teaching in the regular class. In elementary grades, gifted classes are often opportunities to leave the regular classroom and make up the work they missed.

The CogAT will help to identify these gifted students so they can take advantage of these special advanced school programs.

It’s really important to know if your child is suited for this type of enrichment so he/she can advance in certain subjects in which he/she excels.

Gifted classes offer enrichment opportunities. They focus on group work and projects. There will be a curriculum but it will be more fluid and classroom-paced based on the students’ engagement.

Gifted programs allow for opportunities to delve into certain areas more than in a traditional classroom setting. Oftentimes, there is more hands-on learning and experimentation.

They can help predict how students will perform in the near future.

The correlation between CogAT scores and school performance is obvious, especially when the test is used in conjunction with other tests such as the Iowa Tests.

A child with much higher scores is generally expected to perform well in school.

However, if the child who scores well on the CogAT does not do well in school, another factor may be affecting the child’s ability to get better grades. It’s important to identify and correct it so the child can be successful.

There are many possible reasons why a child with high test scores in the CogAT may perform poorly in school. Oftentimes, teachers overlook gifted students because they are “doing well.”

Teachers with 20 – 30 kids in a classroom typically need to focus on the struggling students. Schools don’t have resources or curriculum in all subject matters for students who excel and “get it.”

Teachers are busy ensuring students are grasping the concepts and lessons. If your child excels, they can focus on those who aren’t.

By correctly identifying the problem, guardians can take measures to help the student get the grade that better reflects their abilities.

They can be used to gauge a child’s reasoning abilities.

At home, parents can use puzzles and games to encourage a child’s strengths with regards to reasoning.

At school, CogAT scores are also used to evaluate the reasoning abilities of classes and various groups of students.

This can provide teachers some valuable insights as to how their students learn, so that they can tailor and tweak their instructional methods to help students learn their lessons in school.

Teachers can teach to the strengths of the children. They can also plan their lessons around the weaknesses common to most of the children in their class.

Those students who are also having some difficulty may get the extra help they need.

They can help identify children with special learning difficulties.

While the CogAT is more often used to identify students for gifted programs, it can be used for other reasons.

For example, a child may not do well with the verbal portions of the test but get excellent scores on the other portions. This may mean that the student may have some trouble with verbal comprehension.

This can alert teachers to provide extra attention to verbal matters. Some tutoring may be offered for subjects which rely heavily on verbal instruction.

CogAT Sample Questions for Young Students

Questions to Ask the School Before the CogAT Test

Should I Let My Child Take the CogAT Test

Increase CogAT score

CogAT practice materials are very helpful to prepare your child for this test. Many parents take advantage of the resources available. It will  help set your child above the rest and likely net them higher scores.

In general, preparing properly for the CogAT is important.

They can at least alleviate their anxiety by knowing how the exams work. However, the biggest advantage is the kids will see the exact directions for questions.

By familiarizing your child with the types of questions in advance, you will be allowing them more time to work on the problems.

Each section of the CogAT is timed, up to 24 minutes each.

The type of questions they face in the actual test won’t be as intimidating if they have already faced similar questions before. At the very least, they will know what they are supposed to do.

When it comes to these types of tests, it’s very easy to score much lower than what they could have.

However, by preparing, they have a better chance to increase their CogAT score.

With the right preparation, at least your child can increase the chances of scoring the highest score they can possibly achieve. Many parents take advantage of these resources to give their children every advantage.

The CogAT does not measure work habits, motivation, and attention. As a parent you may need to gently help in these areas as well. Summer bridge workbooks and free math worksheets are a great place to start.

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