Charlie took the gifted and talented test this past weekend to see if he could qualify for district and citywide gifted and talented kindergarten programs this September. It’s pretty crazy to me that he turned 4 last month, and this month he took a test that could potentially determine his entire elementary school experience! Luckily scores are adjusted depending on age. For instance since Charlie was born in December, his scores will be compared with children born in October – December, whereas if he were born in January, his scores would be compared to children born January – March.
We had an eye-opening behind-the-scenes guest series on one New York mom’s journey through the entire testing process. She lives in a Manhattan neighborhood that doesn’t have great public schools, so getting into a g&t program was very important to her. Charlie is in a bit of a different situation because we live in a good school district, where the schools are generally high performing and do not have gifted and talented programs. We would be thrilled to attend one of our local public schools. But we decided to take the test because the elementary school admission process changed this year where we rank schools we want to attend online instead of applying to our zoned school in person, so there is no guarantee that we’ll get into our zoned school.
We registered to take the g&t test last fall, and testing was administered at public schools throughout the month of January. The test is administered one-on-one with your child and a proctor in a classroom, and takes anywhere between 45 minutes – 1 hour.
A handbook from the New York Department of Education is available online where all this information is included, as well as some sample test questions. I honestly don’t know if Charlie would have gotten a single question right without going through the sample test together because he’s never taken a test before, it’s intimidating for a 4 year old to be alone in a room with a proctor they don’t know for an hour, and he wasn’t even familiar with some of the words in the instructions such as “booklet.”
I was talking to the mom of one of Charlie’s classmates, and her older son took the g&t test 7 years ago or so. She told me that it took him three tries to take the test. The first time he cried, the second time he wasn’t allowed to take the test because he hadn’t eaten breakfast, and the third time he took the test… and scored a 99%! A lot has changed since then and the test is even harder, but I realized that a lot of the prep we had to do was emotional.
S A M P L E Q U E S T I O N S
The test is comprised of two sections — the NNAT (Nonverbal Assessment) which measures nonverbal skills such as pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization, and the OLSAT (Verbal Assessment) which measures verbal comprehension and reasoning. This was the easiest sample question on the Nonverbal Assessment:
And this was the hardest sample question on the Nonverbal Assessment:
This was the easiest sample question on the Verbal Assessment where the child was told to select the number below the heart.
This was the hardest sample question on the Verbal Assessment where the child was told to select which image showed two items to wear and one item to play with.
T E S T P R E P
We honestly did very little preparation because we were busy, the kids had colds, life… We went through the sample test a week before his test day, and then again the night before the test. But the second time was after a full day at the Natural History museum, and he was exhausted. We also did some pattern completion exercises using his Magnatiles over the course of a week. Charlie didn’t really have any problems with the verbal portion of the test, but some of the harder questions on the nonverbal portion were really difficult. When he didn’t know the answer, he would just guess or give up, and I couldn’t blame him. Adults would have problems with some of the questions too!
I did make sure to prepare him emotionally for the test, however. I didn’t know if he would cry, or freak out about having to go into a room alone with a proctor. If he didn’t cry, I was pretty sure that he could sit there and take a test for an hour though. A friend advised me not to use the word “test,” and instead use the word “puzzles,” which I thought was really smart. Over the course of a week, I prepped Charlie about what would happen on test day. I told him that he would go into a room by himself with a teacher and work on puzzles similar to the ones we did in the practice booklet. I told him he was my brave boy, not to cry, and that I would be waiting for him the entire time. I told him to take his time, look at all the answers before picking his answer, and to just do his best.
T E S T D A Y
Charlie got a good night of sleep the day before the test, and we made sure that he ate a big breakfast. Mr. Bee thought we should all go together, but I thought that it would be easier for Charlie if I took him alone. Charlie is more attached to Mr. Bee, and I thought that he might be more likely to cry if he were there. So off Charlie and I went with our confirmation paper and his passport for his 9am test. We arrived at his school where he attends pre-k, and were given a name tag with his name and birthday on it.
I’m not sure if loveys are allowed during tests, but Charlie’s lovey is Mr. Bee’s t-shirt. He likes rubbing the edge of the sleeve where you can feel the stitching. We didn’t bring his lovey with him, but I gave him his hat and I told him to touch the edge if he felt nervous. Then Charlie and several other children were immediately whisked away to take the test. None of them cried.
Charlie took the full hour and was one of the last kids to come out. But when he returned, he was happy. I asked him if the puzzles were hard, and he said no and that he didn’t guess. The hat lovey also really came in handy to calm his nerves.
T H E R E S U L T S
I have no idea how Charlie did. We’re applying to kindergarten this month, but we don’t find out the results to the test until April, at which point we can decide to apply to a g&t program if he scores over a 90%. If he scores 97% or above, he is eligible for one of the highly coveted 5 citywide g&t programs, but realistically they only accept kids that score 99%, and then only a fraction of them because so many kids score 99%.
The New York public school system is intense, and although I don’t agree with placing so much importance on a test for 4 year olds, it’s just the way it works here. We’d be happy to attend our zoned public school which does not have a g&t program. But on the tiny, tiny chance that Charlie does well enough and gets accepted into a citywide g&t, it’s something that we’d seriously have to consider. Those schools are pretty incredible and some go up through middle school and high school, so we wouldn’t have to worry about going through this whole process again. Getting into middle school and high school here is a completely different ball game!
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Did your LO take the g&t test this year, or will they be taking it in the near future?
Gifted and Talented Programs part 1 of 41. Taking the Gifted and Talented Test by Mrs. Bee
2. Getting Into a New York Elementary School by Education
3. Testing for NYC Elementary Schools: Gifted & Talented and Private by Education
4. Getting into Your Zoned Elementary School in NYC and the G&T Testing Process by Education