The Cognitive Ability Test fourth edition (known as CAT4) is designed to help schools understand students’ abilities and how to develop them. The CAT4 helps identify individual students’ strengths and weaknesses while also monitoring the performance of groups of students. It is administered throughout the UK and Ireland to students aged 6 to 17.

The CAT4 has four different parts: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, and Spatial Ability. It is designed to measure cognitive reasoning skills while demanding little reading comprehension and arithmetical skills, thus making the test less biased towards native speakers. The CAT4’s reliability was confirmed by Cronbach’s Alpha formula.

CAT4 has both paper-based and computer-based versions, which each take approximately two hours to complete. Every battery of questions has between 8 to 10 minutes to answer. Students are allowed to solve the questions in any order they’d like from the same battery but can only answer questions from one battery at a time.

## CAT4 Question Types

Here is some detailing about the type of questions covered in CAT4. The questions in the test are multiple-choice questions:

• Verbal Classification: These questions measure students’ ability recognizing a relation amongst words. They show a group of words with a certain connection and ask the student to choose a word from the answer choices that fit the group’s connection.
• Verbal Analogies: Questions of this sort present a couple of words with a relation between them and an additional word. The student is asked to find a word from the answer choices that could go with the presented word while holding the same relation that the presented couple of words share. Verbal analogy questions require finding a connection between two words and applying that relation to another pair of words.
• Number Analogies: Similar to Verbal Analogies, the student gets a pair of numbers, linked in some way, and a single number of another pairing. The idea here is spotting a rule in the relationship between the numbers in the pair and use a find a word from the answer choices that would share the same relationship with the single number given. The students are required to use arithmetic skills and figure out the connection between a pair of numbers.
• Number Series: These questions require from the students to figure out a mathematical connection shared between a series of numbers and choose from the answer choices a number that could appear in the end of the series and match that connection.
• Figure Classification: These kinds of questions use shapes, rather than words or numbers, to see how students work with a different kind of reasoning. Students are asked to choose a shape from the answer choices that will share a connection with three more given shapes.
• Figure Matrices: Very much like analogies, these questions involve pattern recognition. These questions present a matrix with four cells. Each cell contains a figure comprised of shapes. The two cells on the top row have a certain relation that the student needs to work out. The cells on the bottom row must have the same relation, but the left cell is empty. The student must choose from the answer choices the answer that could fill that empty cell and still share the relation needed.
• Figure Analysis: Figure Analysis questions are meant to measure how students handle “thinking with shapes”. The students must demonstrate skills of keeping an image in mind and manipulating it as the questions demands. These questions show a paper being folded in a certain way and then punched with holes. The students must choose from the answer choices the final product of the paper folding.
• Figure Recognition: The students are given a shape and five answer choices. They must choose in which answer choice the shape can be found. These questions involve understanding of shapes’ characteristics; Students must keep a shape in mind and use its angles and lengths in a precise way to solve them.

## CAT4 Test Ireland

CAT4 is Ireland’s most widely used  reasoning skills test for pupils in the ages seven and older. It was standardised for Ireland, in a new Irish version, for students ages ten and a half to approximately seventeen.

As is the case in the UK, the CAT4 gives teachers insight of groups and individual study needs, helps pinpoint underachievement and uncover gifted students. Furthermore, the CAT4 reports give teachers the opportunity to strategize their lessons, on the basis of students’ strengths and weaknesses identified on the test.

## Benefits of Taking the CAT4

Schools use the CAT4 to adjust the learning experience to student-group and individual needs. Teachers gain insight to subjects that students find difficult and can support them in the proper way. Moreover, CAT4 questions require reasoning skills other than relying on mathematical or strong verbal skills, thus allowing students with a language barrier or dyslexia do well.

CAT4, as the name suggests, is a cognitive test and as such measure skills that are also being tested in gifted children programs. The CAT4 informative reports helps teachers identify those gifted children and support their studying in an environment that will further foster their abilities.

An additional value the CAT4 has is identifying students who are having difficulties. Due to its unique structure, students who receive low scores in the CAT4 reports often do so for a reason. The reports allow the teachers to check if the child randomly guessed questions or if he/she has a difficulty with a certain subject.

## Practice for the CAT4

CAT4 has a unique question format and strict time limitation, making it seem daunting to many students. Practicing prior to the exam can help the student feel more comfortable and at ease with both CAT4’s testing format and its expectations.

Practicing with CAT4 sample questions and explanations allows students to familiarize themselves with the test and gives them the confidence needed to succeed. Properly preparing also has the advantage of recognizing strengths and weaknesses and functioning without stress under time constraints.

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