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The SCAT Test

The SCAT Test

Updated July 27, 2022

By Hayley Ashworth
Hayley Ashworth

What Is the SCAT Test?

The School and College Ability Test (SCAT) is an aptitude test created to identify 2nd to 12th graders eligible for gifted programs.

It is run by the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY), a world leader in giving talented children the tools and resources to reach their potential.

The test is an 'above grade level' assessment that measures verbal and quantitative reasoning abilities.

In 1996, CTY made the test fully computerized and available at Prometric testing centers.

What to Expect on the SCAT Test

The SCAT test comes in three levels:

  • Elementary – For 2nd and 3rd graders
  • Intermediate – For 4th and 5th graders
  • Advanced – 6th, 7th and 8th graders

Each level contains a verbal reasoning section and quantitative reasoning.

As it is an 'above grade level' test, which means that the questions are designed to suit students one or two grades higher than your child's.

For example, if your child is in the 4th grade, they will take the intermediate test, which has questions suitable for 6th graders.

Regardless of the level, both sections have 55 multiple-choice questions and a 22-minute time limit. There is an optional 10-minute break between the sections, should your child need some time.

SCAT Test Levels in Detail

SCAT Elementary Level

At this level, 2nd and 3rd-grade students are set questions aimed at 4th–6th graders.

There are 55 questions in total in this assessment, and all are multiple-choice. Out of the 55 questions, five are what are known as ‘experimental’ – these do not count towards the final score.

The test is set in two sections, both lasting 22 minutes. The first section relates to verbal questions and the second for quantitative, with the opportunity for a short (10 minute) break between each part.

The score on this assessment is compared to the scores achieved by 4th–6th graders.

SCAT Intermediate Level

Gifted children in the 4th or 5th grade are offered the Intermediate Level SCAT, which asks questions suitable for students in 6th–8th grade. 4th-grade children are directly compared to this in 6th grade, while 5th-grade students are measured against those in the 8th grade.

There are 55 total questions, separated into two sections – verbal and quantitative. There is a 22-minute time limit for each section and the option for a 10-minute break between them.

To keep the test relevant and up to date, five of the questions in the assessment are ‘experimental’ – this means they do not count towards the final score, but the student will not know which ones these are.

SCAT Advanced Level

The most challenging version of the SCAT is the Advanced Level, which is administered to students in 6th–8th Grade. This is based on the average performance of 9th–12th grade students.

In this assessment, there are two sections – like in previous tests. The first lasts 22 minutes and consists of verbal questions, and the second also lasts 22 minutes but asks quantitative questions.

There are 55 questions in total, but only 50 count towards the final score.

SCAT Question Types

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal section of the SCAT test measures your child's aptitude for understanding the meanings of words through a series of analogies.

To successfully pass, your child will need to choose a set of words that best completes an analogy.

For some questions, there may be more than one possible answer. Your child needs to be able to decide which one suits best.

The skills assessed are:

  • Vocabulary
  • Analogies
  • Verbal reasoning

Example Questions

These questions start with two words that match in some way. Below them are four other pairs labeled a), b), c), d).

Which pair goes together in the same way as the first pair?

Elementary Level

Example Question

1. HAT : HEAD

a) Shoe : Foot
b) Nose : Face
c) Hood : Coat
d) Bobble : Wrist

Intermediate Level

Example Question

2. TIGER : ROAR

a) Seagull : Soar
b) Frog : Leap
c) Monkey : Swing
d) Dog : Bark

Advanced Level

Example Question

3. PHOTOGRAPH : PORTRAIT

a) Fiction : Non-fiction
b) Comedy : Parody
c) Likeness : Caricature
d) President : Nation

Quantitative Reasoning

This section measures your child's understanding of number operations. Your child will be required to compare two quantities and decide which is greater.

They will not be allowed a calculator.

The skills assessed are:

  • Number operations
  • Math facts
  • Calculations
  • Mathematical comparison
  • Mathematical reasoning

Example Questions

Every question has two columns: A and B.

You need to decide if one column is bigger than the other or if they are both the same.

Choose a) if Column A is bigger
Choose b) if Column B is bigger
Choose c) if they are the same value

Elementary Level

Column A Column B
11+14 15+12
Example Question

Which is bigger?

Intermediate Level

Column A Column B
The number of days in March 29
Example Question

Which is bigger?

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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.

Advanced Level

Column A Column B
The greatest even number less than 30 The least even number greater than 26
Example Question

Which is bigger?

How Is the SCAT Test Scored?

The SCAT test is scored in three different ways:

Raw Score

This score is calculated by adding together all those correctly answered out of the 50 scored questions.

For example, 30/50.

Scaled Score

This score is a conversion of the raw score. It allows the administrators to compare the scores of those taking each test.

It ranges from 400 to 514, depending on the test version.

A full breakdown of the possible scaled scores is below:

Verbal Quantitative
Elementary 400 – 471 412 – 477
Intermediate 405 – 487 417 – 506
Advanced 410 – 496 424 – 514

SCAT Percentile

The percentile score is what allows administrators to see your child's score compared to those in the higher grades.

For example, if your child is in the 2nd grade, they will be ranked in comparison to those in the 4th grade.

There are no penalties for answering incorrectly.

What Is a Good SCAT Score?

To be accepted onto a CTY program, your child will need to score the following or higher:

Grade Verbal Quantitative
2 435 430
3 440 435
4 450 440
5 465 445
6 470 450
The SCAT Test
The SCAT Test

How Do I Prepare for the SCAT Test?

Taking a test or exam at any age can be daunting. When helping young children prepare for a test that will have such a bearing on their future, it can sometimes become overwhelming, especially when your child doesn't appear to be responding.

The following tips are designed to help you and your child prepare for the SCAT test in a fun and practical way.

Verbal Reasoning

Work on Vocabulary and Knowledge Skills

As the verbal reasoning test uses analogies to assess your child's aptitude, you need to help them develop their understanding of what words mean.

During everyday conversations, teach your child the connections between words. For example, if you see some ducks waddling together, talk to your child about other animals, their collective term, the sounds they make and how they move.

With human interactions, explain why someone might give up a seat for an elderly person or hold the door open if someone is carrying a lot of items.

Work on Nouns and Adjectives

Teach your child that when the television is on, you watch it; when the radio is on, you listen to it.

Helping them understand these connections will help them make the right connections in the test.

Put the Analogies Into Sentences

When working through practice SCAT tests, have your child put the analogies into a sentence.

For example:

George Washington : One-dollar bill
Hat : Head
Water : Glass
Earth : Sun

George Washington is on the one-dollar bill
The hat goes on my head
The water is in the glass
The earth goes around the sun

Doing this will help your child find the common theme in the question.

Quantitative Reasoning

Master Mathematical Operations

Have your child work through everyday math scenarios with you, such as:

If Dad has three eggs with his dinner, Mom has two, you have one, and your big brother also has three, how many eggs do we need altogether?

When shopping for groceries, put your child in charge of the list and have them calculate how many of each ingredient you need.

Invest in Games

Making learning fun is the best way to keep children interested. Buy or create games that test their quantitative reasoning.

Once the game is over, sit with them and discuss the problems they faced. This will help you understand where your child might be struggling and allow you to reinforce the learning outcomes.

General Preparation: Step by Step

Step 1. Read the Information Pack

Every student receives an information booklet when they register for the test. It details all elements of the SCAT test, with the most up-to-date information.

Understanding this will help you to better prepare your child or children for the SCAT test.

Step 2. Make a Schedule

Create a schedule to ensure you and your child have enough time to prepare. When creating this schedule, mark in play and relaxing time and keep the study sessions for study only.

Trying to multitask teaching, learning and other responsibilities will only stress everyone.

Step 3. Start at Your Child's Current Level

In the first couple of weeks of SCAT test prep, have your child work through topics they are already comfortable with.

This helps build their confidence and allows them to make natural connections to the next levels.

Step 4. Practice Often and Under Timed Conditions

Have your child complete as many practice papers as possible, eventually building to timed practices.

If your child doesn't understand how quickly they need to work through the questions, they will not get a good score.

Build up their speed throughout the study schedule so they can complete a practice paper within 22 minutes at least two weeks before the test date.

You should also have them complete example tests on a computer to know what they need to do on the test day – your child should be comfortable using a mouse and keyboard.

Step 5. Schedule the Test for Later in the Year

As the assessment content is 'above grade level', try to have your child sit the SCAT test towards the end of the academic year.

This allows them more time to prepare and learn additional skills.

Step 6. Decide Which Topics Need More Work

Your child will probably be better in some areas than others. Speak to your child's teachers to better understand what areas you should dedicate more time to and prioritize them in your study schedule.

However, don't neglect the other topics. All topics should be adequately practiced.

Step 7. Don't Overdo It

Yes, this test is important for your child's development, but it should not jeopardize their health.

Ensure your child is getting enough sleep and exercise, and they are eating healthy and drinking lots of water.

This is often easier said than done, but developing these good habits helps brain development and information retention.

Ideally, your child should not feel the pressure of this test. Making your child feel stressed will only result in them performing poorly or developing anxiety.

Explain to them how the SCAT test will help them in the future, but make the learning fun.

On the Day

Use the Break

Your child is allowed a 10-minute break after the first test.

Encourage them to take it to visit the restroom, have a healthy snack, a sip of water and a rest from the test environment.

This will allow them to clear their head and prepare for the second section.

Answer All the Questions

As there are no penalties for incorrect answers, explain to your child that they should answer all the questions.

During preparation, teach them to eliminate the obviously wrong answers and make an educated guess from the remaining options.

Final Thoughts

As parents, you understand how the choices you make in your youth can have an impact on your future.

Wanting to give your child the best of everything is a natural feeling.

When preparing your child for the gifted and talented tests, remember to be encouraging and understanding.

Build your child's confidence by starting with the subjects they already know and be patient if they struggle.

Make the experience fun and rewarding, and they will deliver their best result.