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What is the CogAT and Why Do We Take It?

Third-grade West Des Moines Community Schools students started taking the Cognitive Abilities Test, or CogAT, on Sept. 14, 2015. Sixth-grade students will take the test starting Sept. 28. We wanted to answer some common questions about the CogAT and help families feel more prepared to support their students during testing.

What Is the CogAT Test?

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a group of ability tests that are used together to assess students’ abilities in reasoning and problem-solving using verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal (spatial) symbols. It was authored in 2001 by David F. Lohman and Elizabeth P. Hagen. The WDMCS currently uses CogAT Form 7.

How Can I Help My Child Prepare?

We talked to Dr. Kristine Milburn, the WDMCS ELP Professional Development/Curriculum Facilitator, about how students and families can prepare for the CogAT. Some things to remember:

  • The CogAT is a cognitive abilities test designed to test aptitude, or natural ability. There is no need to do extra preparation. Some teachers may provide practice tests in class the week before, and no other studying or preparation is necessary.
  • Make sure your child is well-rested and eats a good breakfast the day of the test.
  • If your child seems nervous about taking the CogAT, or testing in general, encourage confidence and provide some relaxation techniques they can use during the test. Go over these tips for dealing with test-stress from pbskids.org and the Jackson Public Schools with your child. The tips are student-friendly, and easy to understand and implement on test day.

How Do We Use the Results?

The test is primarily used to assess students’ reasoning abilities linked to academic success. When administered with The Iowa Tests, the CogAT can also provide predicted achievement scores. The data gathered from the tests inform instructional practices that best meet the needs of each student and expand educational opportunities for all students. Educators can use the Ability Profile Score to make important decisions about placing students in different learning programs such as the Extended Learning Program.

To learn more about teaching and learning in the WDMCS district, visit our ‘Academics’ pages.