OLSAT FAQ: Answers to All Your OLSAT Questions
Have questions about the OLSAT? We have answers. Read on to learn about the validity and reliability of the test, methods of test preparation, test score interpretations, and everything else you need to know about the OLSAT. Feel free to post more questions in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
About the OLSAT
What's on the OLSAT?
Registering My Child
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About the OLSATQ: What is the OLSAT?
A: The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (or OLSAT) is a test administered to students from pre-K through 12th grade. The OLSAT measures and assesses cognitive abilities that relate to a student's academic success in school. Schools often use the OLSAT to identify gifted children for admission into gifted and talented programs. Learn more about the OLSAT and its history.
Q: Why is the OLSAT important?
A: The OLSAT is an important assessment on many different levels. First, it gives parents an idea of where their child stands academically in relation to other students in the same grade across the United States. This is critical as it may provide parents with information regarding academic areas where their child may be struggling. Additionally, the OLSAT is an important admissions factor among many gifted and talented programs. Children typically have to excel on tests such as the OLSAT in order to be accepted to a gifted program.
Q: Is the OLSAT a valid test?
A: The validity of a test refers to how well the test measures what it is supposed to measure. The validity of the OLSAT has been analyzed thoroughly, and studies confirm that the test is in fact valid. This means that the OLSAT accurately assesses a child's cognitive abilities that relate to a student’s academic success in school. This is discussed in Psychological Testing: An Introduction by George and Marla L. Domino, where they state that "the OLSAT appears to have suitable content validity, based on an evaluation of the test items, the test format, the directions, and other aspects."
Q: Is the OLSAT a reliable test?
A: The reliability of a test is defined as the degree to which an assessment tool produces stable and consistent results. The reliability of the OLSAT has been researched at length, and many studies have shown that the OLSAT is in fact a reliable test. In simpler terms, this means that if a student took the OLSAT multiple times, s/he would get roughly the same score each time. The OLSAT is widely considered to be a consistent measurement of cognitive abilities that relate to a student’s academic success in school, and is therefore often used as a standard test for entry into gifted and talented programs.
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OLSAT PreparationQ: How should I prepare my child for the OLSAT?
A: It is important that you prepare your child by first introducing him/her to the OLSAT, and familiarizing him/her with the format and content of the test. Ensuring that your child puts in the time to practice for the OLSAT is a very important factor in your child's success. However, figuring out exactly what and how to study for the OLSAT can be difficult, and with competition for spots in gifted programs at an all-time high, it is extremely important to be well-prepared for test day. At TestPrep-Online, we provide age-specific, tailor-made study packs with realistic practice tests, practice questions and study guides to ensure that your child is prepared for the OLSAT. For more tips on how to prepare for the OLSAT, click here.
Q: How can I motivate my child to study for the OLSAT?
A: Motivating your child to study for the OLSAT can be a tiring and difficult task. To help parents keep their children focused and engaged, we have included parent manuals in each of our study packs, which describe in detail several fun games and activities which strengthen the skills needed to excel on the OLSAT. Children also enjoy our test prep materials because of their easy-to-use, online format, as well as the child-friendly, colorful artwork included throughout the practice packs. Below is an example of one of the many games described in one of the parent manuals:
"Subtraction War: This game is a fun way to strengthen your 2nd grader's math skills. In Subtraction War, each player takes two cards from a deck of playing cards and subtracts the bigger number from the smaller number. If both players draw the same card, they draw more cards. The player with the largest difference wins, and takes the cards."
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What's on the OLSAT?Q: What do the different test levels mean?
A: Each age group has a corresponding test level. For example, 3rd graders generally take the Level D OLSAT. Note that each age group is not necessarily intended for a single grade level. For example, the OLSAT Level B corresponds to first grade students, but the OLSAT Level A is administered for both pre-K and kindergarten students, and the OLSAT Level G is given to all high school students grades 9-12. See the table below for each test level's corresponding age group.
|A||Pre-K and K|
Q: What types of question are on the OLSAT?
A: Each test is broken into two basic question types: verbal and nonverbal. Verbal questions include Arithmetic Reasoning, Following Directions, and Aural Reasoning test items. These questions require a child to listen carefully and follow directions. Nonverbal questions focus on identifying patterns, classification, and forming analogic relationships among different pictures and figures. Each test, other than the Level A for pre-K, includes an equal number of verbal and nonverbal questions. The pre-K test has fewer verbal questions than nonverbal (16 verbal, 24 nonverbal) to account for varying reading abilities among young children. Read more about all the different OLSAT question types.
Q: How many questions are on the test? How much time is given to complete the test?
A: The number of questions on the OLSAT varies based on the OLSAT test level, while the time limit remains consistent. The number of questions ranges from 40 to 72, and the time limit ranges from 60-77 minutes. See the table below for the full details on the different lengths of each test.
|Questions ||Time Limit |
|A (Pre-K)||16 ||24||40 ||77 min.|
|A (K)||30 ||30||60 ||77 min.|
|B||30 ||30||60 ||77 min.|
|C||30 ||30||60 ||72 min.|
|D||32||32||64 ||50 min.|
|E||36||36||72 ||60 min.|
|F||36||36||72 ||60 min.|
|G||36||36||72 ||60 min.|
Q: On some parts of the OLSAT, instructions that are not written on the exam are read aloud to the students. Can the instructions be repeated?
A: No. The test proctor reads the instructions only once. The OLSAT rules are very strict, and prevent proctors from repeating the instructions to test takers. Students must learn to pay attention closely to the instructions as they cannot be repeated.
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OLSAT ScoringQ: How is the OLSAT scored?
A: Students earn points for each question they answer correctly, but do not lose points for skipping or incorrectly answering a question. When the test is graded, a child is first given a raw score, which provides the number of questions answered correctly out of the total number of questions (e.g., 46/60). Once the raw score is calculated, it is then converted to a School Ability Index (SAI) score. The SAI score is determined by comparing the raw scores of other children in the same age group. It is a normalized score, with an average of 100, a standard deviation of 16, and a maximum score of 150. This SAI score is then used to find which percentile a student falls into. Students who score about two standard deviations above the mean (a score of 132) generally fall into the top 2-3%, or the 97th-98th percentile.
The score report is sent about two months after your child takes the test. The score report will detail all of the different aspect of your child’s scores mentioned above. Read more about OLSAT scores.
Q: What score does my child need to get accepted to a gifted and talented program?
A: Using the SAI score, a gifted child generally falls about two standard deviations above the mean. Given that the mean SAI score is 100 and the standard deviation is 16, this usually means a child would need a score at or above 132. However, gifted and talented programs may vary in what scores they accept. Some programs base their requirements on percentile ranking, taking only children in the top 1-3%, meaning your child would need to score in the 97th percentile or higher to earn admittance.
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Registering My ChildQ: How do I register my child to take the OLSAT?
A: There is no single, common test day for the OLSAT. Find out when your child’s school district administers the test. Psychologists are also qualified to administer the OLSAT.
Q: Should I send my child to a gifted and talented school?
A: The short answer is to do whatever is best for your child. If your child is happy and intellectually stimulated in a non-gifted program, then perhaps a gifted program is not for him/her. However, gifted programs do have their advantages. Gifted students tend to benefit greatly from gifted programs, which are specifically designed for children who learn at a higher level and at a faster pace. Additionally, gifted children often benefit from being surrounded by other gifted children. Gifted children can have different academic, social, and emotional needs, so putting him/her in the best possible environment is the best way to optimize their educational experience. This can make a huge difference in a child's education. If you think your child is gifted (or if you are unsure), having him/her tested could be the first step toward a more fulfilling education.
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Related TestsQ: What is the difference between the OLSAT and the OLMAT?
A: The Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test (or OLMAT) was the precursor to the modern OLSAT. Developed in 1969, the OLMAT was created to assess mental ability, much in the same way the OLSAT does today. The OLMAT has essentially been replaced by the OLSAT, and is no longer in use today. Read more about the history of the OLSAT.
Q: What is the difference between the OLSAT and the NNAT?
A: The OLSAT and NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test) are two different tests that attempt to evaluate very similar things. While the OLSAT has 21 different question types within two main sub-types (verbal and nonverbal), the NNAT has a much simpler format, consisting entirely of nonverbal questions with only four question types. The NNAT is similar to the OLSAT in that they are both used often as requirements for gifted programs. Schools vary on which test they use, so be sure to check if your child's school administers the OLSAT or NNAT. In some cases, such as the New York City Gifted and Talented Test, both the NNAT and OLSAT are used in conjunction. If you are interested in preparing your child for the NNAT, click here to learn more about the test.
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