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The OLSAT Test

The OLSAT Test

Updated May 17, 2022

By Melissa Turner
Melissa Turner

What Is the OLSAT Test?

The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) is issued by Pearson, a respected publisher of educational materials.

The test assesses a pupil’s natural aptitude and intelligence, particularly their reasoning ability, logical thinking and abstract thinking.

Educational institutions and schools often use the OLSAT to identify more able children than their peers and those who may be deemed gifted.

This knowledge can help educators provide the proper support and input to nurture and guide gifted children to reach their potential.

Suppose a child shows signs of being extremely intelligent. In that case, the OLSAT can be used as a screening tool to determine whether they should gain a place in a talented school program.

The OLSAT is made up of different test levels, depending upon the age of the child.

Children must take the right level test for their age, as results are generated by comparing the scores across a peer group.

The OLSAT levels are:

Kindergarten: Level A

OLSAT Level A is aimed at children in Pre-K or Kindergarten. At this level, tests are administered one-on-one, so the instructions, examples and questions can be read aloud by the administrator – although each item can be read only once. Results are compared to others within a three-month age bracket as development moves fast.

Pre-K students need to answer 40 questions, 16 verbal and 24 non-verbal, with a total time of 77 minutes.

Kindergarten students have 60 questions to answer, 30 verbal and 30 non-verbal, again with a time limit of 77 minutes.

The subjects in this assessment are:

  • Following Directions
  • Aural Reasoning
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Picture Classification
  • Picture Analogies
  • Picture Series
  • Figural Classification
  • Figural Analogies
  • Pattern Matrix
  • Figural Series

First Grade: Level B

Aimed at six-year-old children in Grade 1, at this level all the information is read out by the test administrator as reading levels vary through this age group.

There are 30 verbal and 30 non-verbal questions in this assessment for a total of 60, to be answered in 77 minutes.

Subjects are:

  • Following Directions
  • Aural Reasoning
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Picture Classification
  • Picture Analogies
  • Figural Analogies
  • Figural Classification
  • Picture Matrix
  • Figure Series

Second Grade: Level C

As children in Grade 2 are usually around seven years old, they are often capable of reading well. This means that half of the information in the assessment is read aloud, while the other half is completed independently.

There are 60 questions in the test, 30 verbal and 30 non-verbal.

Subjects in this assessment are:

  • Following Directions
  • Aural Reasoning
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Picture Classification
  • Picture Analogies
  • Figural Classification
  • Figural Analogies
  • Pattern Matrix
  • Figural Series

Third Grade: Level D

At this stage, the eight-year-old students in Grade 3 can read the questions themselves, and this means that they complete the questions independently.

Students have 50 minutes to answer 64 questions, 32 verbal and 32 non-verbal.

The subjects of the assessment are:

  • Antonyms
  • Sentence Completion
  • Sentence Arrangement
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Logical Selection
  • Word and Letter Matrix
  • Verbal Analogies
  • Verbal Classification
  • Figural Classification
  • Figural Analogies
  • Pattern Matrix
  • Figural Series
  • Number Series
  • Numeric Inference
  • Number Matrix

Fourth & Fifth Grades: Level E

For students looking to apply for specialized middle schools, the OLSAT Level E is suitable for students in Grades 4-5 (aged 9-10).

A 60-minute time limit is set, and there are 72 questions split equally between verbal and non-verbal subjects.

Questions include:

  • Antonyms
  • Sentence Completion
  • Sentence Arrangement
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Logical Selection
  • Word and Letter Matrix
  • Verbal Analogies
  • Verbal Classification
  • Inference
  • Figural Analogies
  • Pattern Matrix
  • Figural Series
  • Number Series
  • Numeric Inference
  • Number Matrix

Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Grades: Level F

This assessment takes 60 minutes, with 36 verbal and 36 non-verbal questions to be asked. This is aimed at students aged between 11-13, in Grade 6-8.

The content of this assessment includes:

  • Antonyms
  • Sentence Completion
  • Sentence Arrangement
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Logical Selection
  • Word and Letter Matrix
  • Verbal Analogies
  • Verbal Classification
  • Inference
  • Figural Analogies
  • Pattern Matrix
  • Figural Series
  • Number Series
  • Numeric Inference
  • Number Matrix

If you want 12 month access to all the practice resources for this test, our partner TestPrep-Online.com offers a Family Membership.

Family Membership gives you access to all the TestPrep-Online resources for the next 12 months. You will also get two separate accounts, which can be very helpful if you have two children preparing for their tests.

Ninth to Twelfth Grades: Level G

This assessment is designed to challenge students aged 14-16 years old and is usually administered in 9th-12th Grades.

As with some of the other assessments, there are 72 questions in total, split between verbal and non-verbal topics, to be answered in an hour.

Question types include:

  • Antonyms
  • Sentence Completion
  • Sentence Arrangement
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Logical Selection
  • Word and Letter Matrix
  • Verbal Analogies
  • Verbal Classification
  • Inference
  • Figural Analogies
  • Pattern Matrix
  • Figural Series
  • Number Series
  • Numeric Inference
  • Number Matrix

The OLSAT is used throughout the United States, especially in cities including New York and California.

As the test is very challenging, only children performing at the highest level in all areas are nominated for assessment.

If a child excels in one area, they are not necessarily suitable candidates for the OLSAT.

If you think your child might benefit from taking the test, speak to their classroom teacher for advice.

Alternatively, your child can sit an online practice test to gauge their performance before entering them for the actual OLSAT test.

What to Expect on the OLSAT Test

The OLSAT consists of two parts: verbal and non-verbal.

Many organizations use verbal and non-verbal assessments to generate a final score.

However, some use only one if they choose to focus on a specific area.

Verbal

The verbal component of the OLSAT assesses verbal comprehension skills and verbal reasoning skills.

We can break these topics down further into:

Verbal comprehension

  • Following directions – Levels A to C
  • Antonyms – Levels D to G
  • Sentence completion (see example question below) – Levels D to G
  • Sentence arrangement – Levels D to G

Verbal Reasoning

  • Aural reasoning – Levels A to C
  • Arithmetic reasoning – Levels A to C
  • Logical selection – Levels D to G
  • Word/letter matrix – Levels D to G
  • Verbal analogies – Levels D to G
  • Verbal classification – Levels D to G
  • Inference – Levels E to G

Non-Verbal

The non-verbal aspect of the OLSAT test assesses pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning and quantitative reasoning.

These topics can be further broken down into:

Pictorial Reasoning

  • Picture classification – Levels A to C
  • Picture analogies – Levels A to C
  • Picture series (see example question below) – Level A

Figural Reasoning

  • Figural classification – Levels A to D
  • Figural analogies – Levels A to G
  • Pattern matrix – Levels A to G
  • Figural series – Levels A to G

Quantitative Reasoning

  • Number Series – Levels D to G
  • Numeric Inference – Levels D to G
  • Number Matrix – Levels D to G

OLSAT tests for the younger age groups (levels A, B and C) are read aloud.

Questions consist of verbal reasoning assessments, picture format and following directions.

Children of this young age are only required to answer 40 questions, children in grades 1 to 3 answer 60 to 64 questions, and children of grade 4 and above answer the full test of 72 questions.

The time allowance for the tests starts at 77 minutes for the youngest children, reducing to 60 minutes for older children.

Each test can be broken down into verbal and non-verbal parts as follows:

  • Level A (pre-kindergarten) – 16 verbal, 24 non-verbal
  • Levels B (Kindergarten) to C – 30 verbal, 30 non-verbal
  • Level D – 32 verbal, 32 non-verbal
  • Levels E to G – 36 verbal, 36 non-verbal

The tests can be taken in pen and paper format or online digital format and are administered on a 1:1 basis for younger children.

In contrast, older children sit in a group setting with their peers.

How Is the OLSAT Scored?

The OLSAT is marked using a Total Age-Based Percentile Score which compares the number of questions the student answered correctly to those whose peers also answered correctly.

The results from all students are used to find an average and place each student relative to the others.

Your child’s result is presented in different ways.

First, it is given as a plain number score, reporting how many questions they answered correctly and breaking down into the scores for each segment of the test.

It will also be presented in percentage format and is delivered as an overall result for the test.

Their score is also given in relation to the School Ability Index (SAI), which sets the average mean at 100 and the maximum score at 150.

Any child who scores 132 or more is in the top 2% of their peer group.

A score of 116 to 132 represents the next 14% of the age group, and 64% of children in a set age group will achieve a score of 84 to 116.

Incorrect answers are not penalized on the test, so children are often encouraged to guess if they do not know the answer.

Example OLSAT Questions

Sentence Completion

This type of question is self-explanatory – the child must simply select the correct word to complete the sentence.

Select the word that completes the sentence:

As well as enjoying riding her bicycle, Eva also ______ roller skating.

a) Dreads
b) Hesitated
c) Loves
d) Dislikes

Picture Series

The picture series question presents a series of pictures to the child, who must then select which picture comes next from the possible answers.

The OLSAT Test
The OLSAT Test

Look at the pictures. As you move along the boxes, the picture changes slightly.

To continue the pattern, which picture belongs in the empty box?

Antonyms

An antonym question is designed to assess a child’s vocabulary knowledge, grasp of the English language and grammar rules.

The opposite of 'hostile' is:

a) Friendly
b) Aggressive
c) Patient
d) Accepting

The OLSAT Test
The OLSAT Test

Kindergarten Example Question

Although the questions asked of the very young children cover the same areas of ability, they take a slightly different format, as they are asked aloud by a teacher.

Here are some examples:

The OLSAT Test
The OLSAT Test

(Spoken out loud by a teacher) "Which of these pictures shows a letter inside a triangle?"

How to Prepare for the OLSAT Test

The OLSAT is a challenging and high-level assessment, and adequate preparation is vital.

There are ways you can support your child to get ready for their OLSAT test to relieve pressure and to help them perform at their best on the day.

Sit Past Papers and Take Practice Exams

Online test papers and practice questions are a vital part of the preparation for the OLSAT.

Practice papers are available online in both paid and free versions.

Sitting a practice test replicates actual test conditions, such as time constraints and typical question examples, to give the child a taste of how it feels to sit the actual test.

Practice tests also provide a score so you can identify any areas of weakness to study further before taking the real test.

For more relaxed and fun practice, individual example questions can be found online, often in the format of interactive games and activities.

Answering questions presented in different ways provides more opportunity for practice without any added pressure.

Focus Equally on All the Sections

Children could be inclined to miss out questions they struggle answering.

Encourage your child to spend time on all sections, even those that they might find difficult.

Leaving out challenging questions or neglecting to give your child the time and attention they require can result in them losing marks and the final score not reflecting their true ability.

Guess if You Do Not Know the Answer

The official advice from Pearson is that children should not guess if they do not know the answer, as this skews the results.

However, as mentioned above, the OLSAT does not penalize for incorrect answers; therefore, you might choose to advise your child that it is always better to guess than to leave the answer blank.

Make sure your child understands the approach they will take on this before they head into their test.

Learn the Formats of the Questions

It can be overwhelming for your child to open a test paper and try to understand questions they have never seen before.

If your child knows what to expect of the questions in the OLSAT, they will not be caught off guard.

Seeing a familiar format of question and answer can help the child feel more confident and prepared and avoid panic during the test.

Teach Your Child to Use Process of Elimination

A good technique for answering multiple-choice questions is process of elimination.

Teaching your child this approach can help them work out the answers during the test, strategically and logically.

Once the student has eliminated all the answers they know to be incorrect, they can then guess from the remaining possible answers.

Practice Against the Clock

Each test comes with a time allowance; therefore, if your child has practiced working within this time, they will find it easier to pace themselves in the actual test.

Very young children may not be aware of the time, and their teacher reading the questions will manage the time.

However, knowing how long to spend on each question and when to progress to the next section can be very helpful for older children.

Encourage Younger Children to Practice Listening and Concentration

Younger children will have the test questions read aloud by a teacher.

It is important to note that the question will only be read once. The teacher cannot repeat it, even if the child did not hear it properly.

Ensure that your child knows this and has practiced sitting nicely and listening carefully.

Make Sure Your Child Is Mentally and Physically Fit

The OLSAT is demanding for any child; therefore, ensuring the basics are covered can help give your child a head start on focusing and performing well on the day.

Adequate preparation will help keep them calm.

In the lead-up to the test, make sure your child gets plenty of rest and good quality sleep.

Ensure they are eating healthy and nutritious foods, and are well hydrated.

Final Thoughts

The OLSAT is used across the United States to identify children suitable for gifted programs.

The test comprises various psychometric assessments and intelligence tests designed to challenge even the brightest of children.

Parents who suspect their child might be eligible for gifted and talented support can discuss the OLSAT test with their child’s classroom teacher.

Children can prepare for the test in several ways:

  • Taking online practice tests
  • Ensuring good nutrition and hydration
  • Getting enough sleep before the day of the test
  • Learning about the process of elimination to help answer multiple-choice questions.

The OLSAT can be taken at any age; therefore, parents are advised to wait until they feel their child is ready and prepared, even if that means waiting for a few years.