Admission Tests Preparation

CogAT Scores Explained

Learn about how the CogAT is scored and how to interpret your scores. Understand your child's score profile and learn what it means for their chances at getting into a gifted program.
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How Are CogAT Scores Calculated?

The CogAT score is calculated in a number of steps:

  • Raw Score. The raw score is calculated first by tallying the total number of questions correctly answered. Students do not lose points for answering questions incorrectly.
  • Universal Scale Score (USS). The raw score is then converted to a Universal Scale Score, which is a normalized standard score. There are separate USS scores for each of the three batteries. The Composite USS is determined by averaging these three scores.
  • Standard Age Score (SAS). The Standard Age Score is a normalized age score for all Universal Scale Scores. It has a mean of 100, a standard deviation of 16, and a maximum score of 160.
  • Percentile Rank (PR). This score is used to compare students to other students in their age and grade. A percentile rank of 80 means that a student scored better than 80% of students who took the test. A percentile rank of 50 is considered average.
  • Stanine (S). A stanine is a very broad, simplified score that ranges from 1-9, with 9 being the highest possible score. This score is also normalized for both age and grade groups.

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Score Profiles

These scores are then used in conjunction to determine a student's score profile. Score profiles provide a comprehensive view of a student's overall performance on the CogAT, as well as individual strengths and weaknesses. A sample score profile looks like this:

4C(Q+ N-)

A score profile consists of two basic parts: the middle stanine score, and the score type. Each of the three batteries (Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal) receives an individual stanine score. The middle stanine score is attained by finding the middle score among the three battery stanine scores. If a student earned a 3, 4 and 5 on the three batteries, then their middle stanine score would be 4. The middle stanine score is the number given in the score profile. In the above example, it is 4.

Following the middle stanine score is the score type. There are four score types: A, B, C and E.
  • A: This score type is given to a student whose scores are roughly the same on all three batteries.
  • B: This score type is given to a student who scores much higher or lower in one section, when compared to the other two. This means they have a relative strength or weakness in one area.
  • C: C stands for "Contrast." This score type is given to a student who shows great variation in their scores, and exhibits both a relative strength and a relative weakness.
  • E: E stands for "Extreme." This score type is given to a student who shows an extreme B or C pattern. For example, if they have a B type pattern, they would show one relative strength or weakness. It would be an E pattern if this strength or weakness is extreme.

Depending on the score type, there may be one or two letters in parentheses included in the score profile. These indicate relative strengths and weaknesses. Since an "A" score type means there are no relative strengths or weaknesses, a sample "A"profile with a middle stanine score of 4 would simply be "4A."

A "B" score type has one relative strength or weakness, and this is signified with one letter in parentheses, representing which battery was the strength or weakness, followed by a "+" or "-". For example, if a student's middle stanine was 5, and they showed a relative strength on the Verbal Battery, his score would read: 5B(V+).

A "C" score type has both a relative strength and relative weakness, and thus has two letters in parentheses, one with a "+", and one with a "-". A student with a middle stanine score of 7, a relative strength on the Nonverbal Battery, and a relative weakness on the Quantitative battery, would have a score profile of 7C(N+ Q-).

An "E" score type is simply an extreme version of "B" and "C" score types. Therefore, they would be formatted the same way. A student with a middle stanine score of 6, an extreme relative strength on the Verbal Battery, and an extreme relative weakness on the Nonverbal battery, would have a score profile of 6E(V+ N-).

In general, stanine scores provide a very general but clear picture of a student's overall abilities. Stanine scores are generally grouped in the following fashion:

9: Very High
7-8: Above Average
4-6: Average
2-3: Below Average
1: Very Low

In general, the middle stanine score is more informative for A score types, where the three individual battery scores are close together, than they are for B, C, and E type scores, where there is great variation between batteries.

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How to Prepare for the CogAT

The CogAT is a difficult test. With increasingly high levels of competition for gifted programs, it is important that your child is ready for test day. At TestPrep-Online, we offer comprehensive, age-specific study packs to ensure that your child is ready. These packs include practice tests, as well as additional sample questions. Start your test prep for the CogAT today. Check out our CogAT 3rd grade and CogAT 4th grade test prep materials.

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