What parents want to know about the COGAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)

What parents want to know about the COGAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)

What is the CogAT?

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is one of the widely used group-administered ability tests used by schools to assess students and select for gifted and talented programs.  It was first developed and published in 1954 as the Lorge-Thorndike Intelligence Test.  It has undergone revision throughout the years, and is administered in its current version: CogAT (Form 7).

The CogAT’s purpose is to measure a student’s general reasoning abilities, focusing on reasoning and problem-solving using verbal, quantitative and nonverbal/spatial symbols.   These reasoning abilities are thought to reflect the “overall efficiency of cognitive processes and strategies that enable individuals to learn new tasks and solve problems, especially in the absence of direct instruction.”  (CogAT Form 6, A Short Guide for Teachers, Riverside Publishing).

The assessment measures ‘developed’ rather than ‘innate’ abilities.  The development of these abilities begins a birth and continues through early adulthood, and are influenced by experiences – both in and out of school.

Who publishes the CogAT?

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is now published by Riverside Publishing, a part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 How is the CogAT used?

Schools use the CogAT to measure students’ cognitive abilities, and with the new Form 7, the test purports to measure learning styles as well.   Dr. David Lohman, an abilities researcher, has been instrumental in introducing a variety of enhancements to the test, most notable of which, are new test items which are said to have improved the fairness of the test for non-English language speakers.

The publisher lists three main uses for the Cognitive Abilities Test:

  1. To provide instructors with the information they need to adapt instruction to the individual needs of the student.
  2. To provide a measure of cognitive development not represented by grades or other measures of school achievement.
  3. To identify students whose academic achievement is either lower or higher than would be expected based on their CogAT scores.

When parents visit our site, most often it is because the CogAT is being utilized as a entrance exam for gifted programs available at their child’s school.   It is at this point that parents begin a learning process which encompasses understanding selection for gifted programs, cognitive abilities testing versus achievement testing, and test preparation resources.

What is the CogAT designed to measure?

Not unlike the OLSAT – Otis Lennon School Abilities Test – the CogAT measures within major groupings, or domains, of cognitive abilities.  These three domains are: verbal battery, quantitative battery, and nonverbal battery.

Includes three subtests: Picture (Verbal) Analogies, Picture (Verbal) Classification, and Sentence Completion. The Picture version of the problems are administered to children grades K-2, with the Verbal form of the problems administered in grades 3-12.  
Consists of three subtests: Figure Matrices, Paper Folding, and Figure Classification.
This battery consists of the three subtests of: Number Analogies, Number Puzzles, and Number Series.

Click on the image below to view sample problems from the batteries:


How is the CogAT administered?

The CogAT is administered by both paper and pencil forms, as well as online.  It is often given in conjunction with achievement testing, often the Iowa Assessments, formerly known as the ITBS or Iowa Test of Basic Skills.    The CogAT test, at the youngest level has a maximum time of 118 minutes, divided into 8 sessions.  The highest level is administered in eight sections with a maximum time of 176 minutes.

Who can buy the CogAT?

Purchasing of this test is available only to schools through their designated test administrator.

What other resources are available for use in practicing for the CogAT?

Stay tuned for more postings highlighting options for parents and tutors to work the skills tested on this assessment.

We still recommend the Building Thinking Skills series for preparation and building of core cognitive skills.  Use this link to get access to all resources that we recommend for use by parents and tutors related to the CogAT.

What other questions do you have about the Cognitive Abilities Test?



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