It is Time to Prepare for the Gifted and Talented Exam!
Have you been worried about preparing your child for the Gifted and Talented exam? If so, you’re not alone. Taking the Gifted and Talented exam could lead to your child entering the extremely competitive Gifted and Talent New York City school program! It would only be natural that it would cause some anxiety. But fear not because students can prepare for this test and achieve greatness in just a couple of months!
Now, the first question I always hear is “What exactly is on this test? Will my child be solving math problems and answering reading questions?” To give you some insider info, I will tell you that the test has two parts: the NNAT test and the OLSAT test. The NNAT test is a nonverbal test, meaning students will not need to speak, they will simply need to point to the correct answer. The test assesses students on pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization. The OLSAT is a verbal test, assessing verbal comprehension and reasoning, as well as nonverbal assessing pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. Both tests are multiple choice. But what does that really mean? English please!
In terms you can understand, the pattern completion section requires your child to identify missing portions of a design to complete a figure. On the test, these figures are blue and gold in color. When practicing for this portion of the exam, it is best for students to practice with blue and gold colored figures so they will be familiar with what the test will look like. This is easy to design on your own using Microsoft Word. Commonly seen figures on the test are circles, squares, triangles, diamonds, hexagons, trapezoids, and arrows.
In the reasoning by analogy section, students will have to understand relationships between shapes and figures. For example, there will be different boxes filled with different shapes and the students must determine how the geometric figure changes in the row or column and thus, what picture should fill the final box. Next, in the serial reasoning section, students will need to complete different patterns in a matrix by choosing the missing element. Lastly, the spatial visualization section asks students to mentally manipulate 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional, and 4-dimensional figures.
Now that you know what your child has to do, how can you ensure that your child can successfully complete these tasks? In my experience, test preparation is most effective when you provide an authentic, hands-on experience. If you set up the environment to mirror the testing environment, students know what is expected and are less concerned with the stress of the unknown and more focused on correctly completing the questions.
When prepping a 5-year old and an 8-year old for this exam, I sat opposite them at a table and prepared a board where the students would see one question at a time. I then flipped the page by removing the previous question from view. I presented my students with the idea that they were Indiana Jones with the task of solving exciting puzzles. (This could work with any puzzle solving superhero!) Both of my students began getting antsy, fidgeting in their chairs, as sitting up straight in a chair is difficult for long periods of time. Continuous breaks work well. I would have the five year old answer five questions and then receive a two minute break. For the eight year-old, I had her complete ten questions and receive a two minute break. Find what break works best for your child! When the students were still having trouble focusing, I changed my method of teaching and utilized manipulatives such as blocks, dice, Legos, and other small toys and developed patterns with them for students to solve. This technique worked well because students were interested in the toys and manipulating them to create a correct pattern.
The OLSAT is a more straightforward exam, with questions the students might have seen before. In my experience, the NNAT requires more focus. For instance, a question may read: “these items go together in a certain way. One does not belong. Which one does not belong?” The test makers use particular phrases repeatedly on this exam such as the one I just provided for you. When prepping your child, it is important to use the particular phrases seen on the test, like “in a certain way” to again mirror the true test experience.
There are many resources out there for your child to get ready for the test so don’t fret, just prep!