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How to Pass the CogAT Test in 2023

How to Pass the CogAT Test in 2023

Updated March 26, 2023

By Kimberley Johnson
Kimberley Johnson

What Is a CogAT Test?

The CogAT is a cognitive ability test that is used to measure the cognitive development of students in relation to their classmates and for assessment for gifted programs.

It is designed to test a learner’s reasoning ability and problem-solving skills rather than intellectual ability/IQ.

The aptitude test comprises nine sections split into three main categories:

  • Verbal
  • Quantitative
  • Non-verbal/abstract reasoning questions

Each of these tests consists of multiple-choice questions.

CogAT assessments are used through K-12 and are often used to assess whether students are eligible for gifted and talented programmes. They are split into grade levels and each test level will vary slightly depending on the age group of the child.

The assessment is administered to groups of children, although it can be done on an individual basis when necessary.

Children are able to take the test online or using a paper and pencil.

Typically, each battery of tests takes 30 to 45 minutes, with the whole assessment taking between two and three hours to complete.

It is usual to complete all three batteries of assessments at once.

However, children can take the sections separately.

CogAT Test Grade Levels

Grade Test Level Number of Questions Length of Test (minutes)
Kindergarten (K) 5/6 118 112
1st 7 136 112
2nd 8 154 122
3rd 9 170 90
4th 10 176 90
5th 11 176 90
6th 12 176 90
7th/8th 13/14 176 90
9th/10th 15/16 176 90
11th/12th 17/18 176 90

Level 5-6

  • Kindergarten level
  • 118 questions to be answered in 112 minutes

Level 7

  • 1st Grade (age 7)
  • 136 questions to be answered in 112 minutes

Level 8

  • 2nd grade students, around 8 years old
  • 154 questions to be answered in 122 minutes

Level 9

  • Grade 3, aged 9 years
  • 170 questions to be answered in 90 minutes

Level 10

  • 10-year-old students in Grade 4
  • 176 questions to be answered in 90 minutes

Level 11

  • For children aged 11 or in Grade 5
  • At this level, the number of questions is the same as for Level 10

Level 12

  • Grade 6 children, aged around 12 years old
  • 176 challenging questions to be answered in 90 minutes

The Sections of the CogAT Test and CogAT Practice Questions

Verbal Battery

The verbal battery looks at a student's ability to understand written questions in English and answer questions based on what can be found within a text.

The three parts of the verbal battery section are:

Picture/Verbal Analogies

Children are required to complete a pattern by identifying the correct image or word to fill the gap in a 2 x 2 matrix.

Three of the squares will have an image in them, and students will have four possible options to choose from. The objective is to identify how they are related.

Example Question


Which image would replace the '?'

Sentence Completion

Depending on the age of the student taking the test, the sentence completion section can be done in a variety of ways.

Younger children will be required to listen to a sentence with a word missing.

They will then select the correct image from four possible options to complete the sentence.

Older children will read the sentence for themselves and choose from a selection of words.

Example Question

Alice took a ______ across the sea.

a) tractor
b) bike
c) car
d) boat

Picture/Verbal Classification

Students are required to look at three images or words and consider how they are linked.

They will then choose a fourth image or word which they feel is linked to the previous three from a selection of options.

Example Question

Walrus, Dolphin, Seal, ?

a) Ocean
b) Fish
c) Orca
d) Mammal

Quantitative Battery

The quantitative battery considers whether students are able to understand mathematical and number-based questions.

The three parts of the quantitative battery section are:

Number Analogies

Students are shown two pairs of numbers followed by a third number that doesn’t have a complete pair.

They will be shown four possible options for completing the pair and must choose the correct one.

Example Question

5 → 8 | 7 → 10 | 27 → ?

a) 30
b) 22
c) 17
d) 20

Number puzzles

For this section, students will be shown equations that have one number missing.

They must then decide which number is required to fill the gap from the options offered.

Example Question

12 + 7 = 3 + ___

a) 14
b) 15
c) 16
d) 17

Number Series

Children are presented with a row of numbers or a series of images that show beads on an abacus.

They must decide what the sequence is and which number should come next in the line.

Example Question

3, 6, 9, 12, 15, ?

a) 20
b) 19
c) 17
d) 18

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Non-Verbal Battery

The non-verbal battery consists of questions that measure reasoning skills using a series of images and geometric shapes.

Students are expected to select the correct answer from a series of options by utilizing these skills.

The three parts of the non-verbal battery section are:

Figure Matrices

This is similar to the picture and number analogies in the respect that students are expected to identify relationships between images.

In this section, they will be shown three images that are somehow related to one another alongside four possible options.

They need to choose one of the four images that is related to the first three.

Example Question


Which of the four answer options is related to the top three?

Paper Folding

Students are shown images of paper with dotted lines or holes punched into it.

They will then be shown four possible images for the final result and must decide which shows the paper after it has been folded or holes have been cut.

Example Question


Which answer option reflects how the paper would look when unfolded?

Figure Classification

Similar to the picture classification section, students must understand the relationships between shapes.

They must then find the correct answer from four possible options to complete the pattern.

Example Question

◢, ◣, ◤, ?

a) ▶
b) ◥
c) ◀
d) ◢

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What Is the Purpose of a CogAT Test?

The CogAT test is commonly used for two reasons:

  • To identify children performing above age-related expectations who should be placed into gifted and talented programs.

  • To identify and monitor students who need extra support

Gifted and Talented Students

Gifted and talented programs are used in many schools as a way to help students reach the very best of their potential.

To effectively do this, however, they need to be able to identify which students are most likely to benefit.

This is where the CogAT can help. Each school will have criteria that must be met for students to be eligible for their programmes.

The exact nature of these criteria will vary from state to state.

By accurately ranking students within their peers, it is easy to identify those who are achieving above expectations.

These are the ones who would benefit from entry to a gifted and talented programme that can help to nurture their abilities.

Additional Support

Students can need additional support with learning for a wide variety of reasons.

Sometimes, it will be because of medical conditions, which means that they cannot process and retain information in the same way as the average child.

Other times, it can be because of personal, family or social needs which impact their ability to learn.

The CogAT test can help to identify any areas where a child may be struggling.

This, in turn, means that teachers can implement plans to offer additional support or change their approach to learning in a specific area so that the child can catch up and keep pace with their peers.

How Is a CogAT Test Scored?

Once students have taken the CogAT test, the next stage is to calculate the test score.

The first step in calculating the results is to identify a student's raw score.

This is done by counting the number of correct answers.

Once this has been done, the raw scores can be converted into Universal Scale Scores. One of these is given for each battery of tests.

These figures can then be used to calculate the Standard Age Scores, Statine scores and Percentile ranks.

Standard Age Scores

Standard age score is a normalised score that takes the average results of children within the same school system who are the same age.

Typically, 100 would be classed as the average score when looking at these scores.

A pupil who scores over 125 would be considered above average.

The standard age scores are broken down into three separate batteries and before also providing an overall score.

Age Percentile Rank

The percentile scores are used to accurately calculate where students rank concerning another.

A way of considering a percentile score is to consider a line of 100 students, with number one being the highest score and 100 being the lowest.

If your child were in the third percentile, then they would be number three in the line.

If your child is ranked in the 57th percentile, they would be number 57 in a lineup of 100 children.

Statine Scores

The Statine Scores are a method of ranking students on a nine-point scale. This can make understanding a child’s CogAT score much easier for parents.

Stanine scores are given in relation to age, and children are given a score between one and nine.

The average score is a five, whereas one would be considered low and nine high.

How to Pass the CogAT Test in 2023

Step 1. Practice Tests

Although the CogAT test measures cognitive ability, which means that it isn’t the type of assessment that can be studied for, taking practice papers can still be useful.

Giving children an opportunity to practice questions that are similar to those they will find in the assessment can help build familiarity and confidence.

This can, in turn, enable them to perform to the best of their ability on the day.

Step 2. Remember That the Tests Are Timed

Another vital factor to consider when using practice tests is that the CogAT assessment is timed*.

For this reason, it is important to make sure that children are timed when they take practice tests.

This can help them to understand how to effectively answer questions within a time limit and how to approach their assessments.

Step 3. Learn Origami or Download a Paper-Folding App

One of the sections of the non-verbal battery of tests focuses on a student's ability to understand how paper is folded to achieve a specific shape.

Learning origami or using an app to practice paper folding techniques can help children to understand what they will need to do during the test.

Step 4. Play Language Games

Playing games such as scrabble and mad libs can help children broaden their vocabulary and understand how language works.

These games can also be useful in building confidence.

Step 5. Play Maths Games

There are many maths websites and apps now that can help build mathematical skills for children.

Practicing not only helps to cement a child's understanding but also builds confidence.

Step 6. Read With Your Child and Ask Questions

Not only does this help to improve your reading skills; however, it can also help to improve the ability to comprehend and infer from written text.

By asking your child questions, you are encouraging them to think about the text and the meaning behind what they have read.

This can also help them get into the habit of thoroughly reading through pieces of text to fully understand what is said.

Step 7. Practice Mindfulness

If your child is particularly nervous or anxious, then mindfulness can be a helpful tool.

When used effectively, mindfulness can help reduce feelings of stress and tension and improve mental clarity and focus.

Step 8. Make Sure That Your Child Is Well Rested

One of the most important things you do ahead of any test is to ensure that your child has had enough sleep and is well-rested.

Studies have shown that tiredness can negatively affect cognitive performance.

By making sure that your child gets a good night's sleep, you will be giving them the best possible chance to perform to the best of their abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

The maximum score on the CogAT test is 160. A score above 100 is an average score.

Students who are considered exceptional fall within the top 2% of scores.

Anywhere within the region of 100 to 160 will place you in stanines 9 to 5. Stanines 7,8, and 9 will place you in the above-average category.

Balance is very important when preparing for the CogAT test. Ensure that your child has the time to revise, but do not push them too hard to achieve the top results.

Putting them under pressure will make them feel nervous and they will not perform as well as if they are calm and confident.

The CogAT test is an honest reflection of their academic abilities, and so you should prioritize learning how your child can improve from the test results.

There are three types of questions on a CogAt test, and in each section, there are subsets of other questions. The verbal battery tests include picture analogies, sentence completions and picture classifications. The quantitative battery includes number analogies, puzzles, and series that test a student’s mathematical skills. Finally, the non-verbal battery includes figure matrices, figure and statistic classifications, and shape classification.

Depending on the level of the CogAT test, there are usually between 118 and 176 questions. Students are usually given 30 to 45 minutes per battery. In total, the examination should take around two hours to complete, but this is dependent on the volume of questions. In general, you will have to complete more questions if you are older and in a higher grade.

Final Thoughts

CogAT assessments are a commonly used method of testing throughout the education system.

Because of the multiple choice nature of the questions and scoring system, it is a reliable way of assessing students’ progress and cognitive ability to decide whether they require additional support or need to be pushed further than their peers.

As with all forms of cognitive assessment, revision options are limited.

The test is not designed to assess knowledge.

There are still things that can be done to ensure that your child is relaxed and prepared ahead of the assessments to be able to perform to the best of their abilities.