How to Pass the CogAT 6th Grade Test in 2023
Updated March 17, 2023
What Is the 6th Grade CogAT Test?
An abbreviation of Cognitive Abilities Test, the CogAT is a multiple-choice aptitude test designed specifically for students in the kindergarten through 12th grade range.
This form of assessment looks not at what a child has learned, but rather their capacity for learning, logical reasoning and problem solving abilities.
These cognitive skills are known to contribute to academic success, and the CogAT is typically used by schools as a selection exam for gifted and talented programs.
It is administered at 18 different levels that correspond with certain school years. For students in the 6th grade, it is the CogAt level 12 they’re most likely to take.
On occasion, a school may administer a test a level ahead for highly gifted children, but this is rare.
It’s also unlikely a 6th grader would sit the CogAT level 13/14, as this is designed for those in middle or junior high school and is a big step up from elementary level.
How Is the 6th Grade CogAT Test Structured?
The CogAt test is made up of three individual batteries, each of which looks at a specific area of cognitive ability.
- Verbal – Testing vocabulary, verbal comprehension and the ability to recognize word relationships
- Quantitative – Testing abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills in relation to numerical information, as well as basic arithmetic
- Non-verbal – Again, a test of abstract reasoning, but this time using geometric shapes and spatial relationships
These batteries may be administered one at a time, but are most commonly taken together in a single sitting.
The CogAT level 12, when taken in one, covers 176 questions, with a 90-minute testing time.
Within each battery, students will find three separate sub-tests, with a timeframe of around 10 minutes to complete each one.
Questions here ask students to identify relationships between words. They'll be given one word pairing where a relationship exists (for example, hot is to cold), and will need to select the correct pairing for a new word by applying that same relationship.
There are 24 questions in this sub-test.
Students will need to read through a sentence where one of the words will be missing.
They’ll need to choose which word from the multiple-choice options best completes the sentence, with 20 to work through in total.
Three words will be presented that all share a common link.
The student must determine which of five possible answers is the word that sits within that same classification.
There are 20 questions in this sub-test.
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Very similar to verbal analogies, students will apply the same logic but this time to identify relationships between a series of number pairings.
They’ll have 18 questions in this format.
Essentially, this is a series of 16 mathematical equations for the student to solve.
They will all be grade-level appropriate, requiring addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as knowledge on order of operations.
These questions require that students identify an underlying logic in a sequence of numbers.
They’ll need to apply this logic to determine which of the multiple-choice options comes next in the series, with 18 problems to solve in all.
Again, students must identify rules and relationships here, but this time in reference to abstract shapes displayed in a 2 x 2 matrix.
They must take the relationship between shapes in boxes one and two, and apply this to the shape in box three to determine what should appear in box four.
Twenty-two questions are in this sub-test.
In this section, questions show a piece of paper being folded and then hole-punched.
The student must decide what the paper would look like once unfolded.
There are 16 of these puzzles to work through.
In the final sub-test, students must analyze shapes and figures to find a common theme.
Three shapes that are alike in some way will be shown, and a fourth must be selected from the multiple-choice options.
This section contains 22 questions.
Example CogAT 6th Grade Questions
Verbal Battery – Verbal Analogies Sample Question
Look at the relationship between the word pairing in bold. How does the second word relate to the first? Now choose the answer that relates to the third word in the same way.
Petal : Flower
Page : ?
The numbers below follow a pattern that governs their order. Work out what that pattern is, and select the number that would next appear in the series.
14, 20, 12, 18, 10, ?
The diagram below shows a piece of paper being folded and then having a series of holes punched in it.
Choose the answer that shows how the piece of paper would look if it was then unfolded:
How Is the CogAT Test Scored?
Scores for the CogAT are given in a number of ways.
A student’s report will detail their raw scores for each of the three test batteries. This will show how many questions were attempted in each section and how many were answered correctly.
These scores are then used to give a measure of performance against two normative groups – one for grade level and one for age.
For age-related scores, students are placed in norm groups at one month intervals between the ages of four years and 11 months, and 18.
Their raw scores are converted into a standard age score (SAS) for each battery. This has a mean of 100, with a standard variation of 16, so a score around this mark indicates average ability.
Perhaps most useful though are the stanine score (standard-nine) and percentile ranking.
These correspond with the percentile rank showing the percentage of test takers in the age group who scored less than the student in question and the stanine score presenting this on a scale from 1 to 9.
For example, a stanine score of eight corresponds to a percentile rank between 89 and 95, and indicates above-average ability.
Stanine scores and percentile rankings are also given against grade norm groups. However, age scores are considered a more accurate measure of ability, as there can be a significant number of months between students in the same grade.
What constitutes a ‘good’ score is really student-specific, but a percentile rank of 77 or higher shows your child is above average in their cognitive abilities.
How to Pass the CogAT Test in 2023
Strictly speaking, there is no pass or fail mark for the CogAT test. It is a measure of natural ability, used to determine where a child sits in their cognitive development and whether they’re suited to more advanced learning programs.
That said, you’ll likely be looking to support your child in their efforts, and there are methods you can use here to help them achieve their best.
Step 1. Use Practice Tests
Questions on the 6th Grade CogAT may be unlike anything your child has come across before, so it’s important they’re introduced to the test format early on.
Practice tests will help them build confidence in their skills and understand exactly what is being asked of them in each subsection of the test.
Step 2. Introduce Creative Learning Techniques
We all process information in different ways, but for younger learners, creative techniques are typically most effective.
Try introducing games that use logical concepts like word association and pattern recognition. Visual learning aids will also help your child process information to a greater degree.
The level 12 CogAT does not include picture questions like those present in levels 1 to 8, but that’s not to say you can’t use these question types to bring more fun to revision and break up word and number-heavy sessions.
Step 3. Read Through Questions Slowly
When working on CogAT practice questions with your child, remember that what’s obvious to you may not be to them. Work at a slow and steady pace with patience, reading all questions word by word and as many times as needed.
Once they’re comfortable with the various question formats, work on improving reading speed, aiming for a pace of around one question every 30 seconds.
Make sure this isn’t the primary focus of study, though, as it may cause stress. Put quality of answers first and quantity second.
Step 4. Focus on Weak Spots
If a child is particularly strong in one area, they’re likely to get more out of practicing those questions on their own. For areas where they struggle, however, you should focus on offering additional support.
It’s all too easy to concentrate on what we’re good at and ignore what we aren't, particularly at a young age, so it’s important to keep your child engaged with their less favoured topics.
The CogAT may be a test of natural abilities, but all the relevant skills can be developed with practice.
Step 5. Talk Through Answer Explanations
Regardless of whether your child has answered a question correctly or not, make a point of talking through the logic behind their conclusions. This will help them better understand the reasoning process and why they came to their decision.
If they were correct, it will give them confidence in their logic and help them work faster. If they were incorrect, it will help them understand exactly where they went wrong.
Step 6. Stick to a Paced Study Plan
Structure and routine for test prep is something your child will need to get to grips with more and more as they progress through school, so introducing it at this stage is not just beneficial for their 6th grade CogAT, but also their continued education.
Encourage them to study at specific times, with goals for each session that give them a sense of achievement.
If it fits with your parenting style, you may consider incentives for certain milestones – but never punish failure, as this can cause anxiety.
Step 7. Find the Right Balance
As a 6th grader, it’s likely your child is used to a degree of structured, formal study. However, it’s crucial to find the right balance between revision, recreation, exercise and sleep.
An imbalance can significantly affect a child’s mood, concentration and attitude, which in turn will affect their CogAT performance – and, of course, their wellbeing is a priority over anything else.
The 6th grade is a time when these tests are often administered. Sometimes it is merely a way for a school to contextualize its own teaching performance, but more often than not the CogAT is used to determine a child’s progress as they approach middle or junior high school.
It’s important to remember that while it’s only one measure of their ability, and that they are of course still developing at this age, their test results are likely to impact decisions made on their future.
In offering as much support and encouragement as you can, you give your child the best chance of reaching their full potential and help to boost their confidence in the process.