10 Top Tips for First Grade Gifted Program Test Preparation

First grade gifted program test preparation can seem overwhelming.  That is why we have compiled a list of ten helpful tips to help you comprehend the content of the tests, strategize preparation, and help your child succeed on test day.

1.      Use a Variety of Techniques when Preparing for Gifted Tests

While you can learn more about the basics of the main gifted tests your child will be taking in our other posts for example, on the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), the Naglieri Non-Verbal Ability Test (NNAT), or the Otis Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) ) initially, it’s important to grasp the concept that the tests are attempting to cover a wide array of skills, knowledge, and ability. It follows, then, that a good method of preparation will involve employing a variety of learning tools. Also, keep in mind that at the young age at which your child is preparing to take these exams, their own learning styles are still developing and changing. Varying your methods in test practice should help you land on what seems to work best with your child for first grade gifted program test preparation, and grant you useful information as they continue to learn in school. What works for one kid might not work for another, and what works to help your child learn listening skills might not help them learn logic.

2.      Familiarize Your Child with the Format and Sections of the Test

It might seem obvious, but it’s worthwhile to point out: if you’ve encountered a style of question before, it’s easier to process it the second, third, or fiftieth time.  And while it’s important to not unnecessarily heighten stress levels by focusing on the format of the test too much or over-emphasizing the importance of its structure, familiarity with certain kinds of questions and answers can certainly be helpful.  If a test-taker doesn’t have to spend time interpreting and processing how the question is operating or how their response should be communicated, they’ve got more time to use their skills, and not make simple, avoidable mistakes.  On the other hand, you should always encourage your child to pay careful attention to instructions: they don’t want to fall into a pattern and guess incorrectly because they remember a similar, but slightly different, question from practice.               

3.      Use Manners to Your Advantage

Another potential obstacle to success on G&T exams is something that doesn’t have much to do with educational ability at all – shyness, or social anxiety. If your child is going to be tested in part by an adult they don’t know, as some tests require, their uneasiness interacting with a new person might overwhelm them and hamper their actual talents.  A good solution is to practice regular politeness. Having an easy code of manners to fall back on is the best tool to coping with discomfort in a new situation.

4.      Stay Energetic and Use Movement

Studies show that movement is crucial to learning in several ways, and could be especially helpful for first grade gifted program test preparation. Integrating the body into comprehension of directions, sides, opposites, and parallels can help young children internalize complex information that feeds into an understanding of logic, analogy, and math all at once. Moving physically while learning helps students stay focused by funneling their energy instead of bottling it up. And moving while learning is proven to aid retention of new knowledge. Try playing games that use the body to practice some of those skills, like variations on rock paper scissors, dance games, or call and response games, and remember to encourage your learner to take brain breaks that involve fun outbursts of physical energy.

5.      Pay Special Attention to Patterns, Analogies and Spatial Reasoning

These are the conceptual ideas measured on many of the gifted tests, and in particular one of the most-widely used tests, the NNAT. This test is a non-verbal test that doesn’t rely on language or cultural-specific images to provide an equitable test to students from all linguistic, economic, and cultural backgrounds. However, for students who have high-functioning verbal abilities but who struggle more with visual reasoning, these questions might prove unnecessarily confusing at first. Feel out how your child seems to respond, and if they struggle with these types of questions, familiarity and practice might prove to be very helpful.

Even if you aren’t paying for test prep courses, you can find lots of NNAT question examples on our website, where you can get a sense of the type of questions on the test. You can also download NNAT practice questions for free by clicking the button below:

You can also download NNAT practice questions for free by clicking the button below:

Download NNAT Practice Questions

 Community sites also have forums where other parents and teachers have shared their own ideas for flashcards, questions, or games to help prepare.    

6.      Use Daily Life and Real World Examples  

First grade gifted program test preparation doesn’t only mean sitting down with workbooks after school! After taking note of the concepts your kid is working on building, find ways to bring up spatial, logical, or pattern-centered questions naturally as you go about your day. Have them point things out when you’re driving or shopping, ask them questions about themselves and things they see in the world around them. Look for any way to apply the conceptual questions to tangible reality. This method of learning and application should have even farther reaching consequences than solid test performance, and help stimulate a life-long love of learning.

7.      Stay Positive!

You may at times feel like far too much of the future is determined by seemingly obtuse tests administered at absurdly young ages.  But don’t let this get you down, or transfer onto your student.  Never underestimate the power of earnest positive reinforcement.  Stay enthusiastic, heap on the excited praise, and try your best not to let frustration or worry seep into your reactions to your young learner.  Reward them for effort, for attempts, and for any growth and progress! 

8.      Take Your Time: Don’t Rush or Cram

If you’re going to pursue first grade gifted program test preparation, don’t try and cram in a bunch of new information right before testing weeks begin.  Many test preparation courses have an 8 week framework, and even if you’re just going to work on your own, follow that advice. Go slowly, spread it out, and don’t rush practice or push sessions to go on too long!

9.      To Prep or Not To Prep? 

Some school districts don’t necessarily recommend test preparation for kindergarteners or first graders, and instead suggest that parents relax, let their child do as they will, and focus on getting good rest, healthy meals, and a good attitude about learning. However many parents disagree with this ‘laissez-faire’ attitude, and believe it is necessary and appropriate to take time to familiarize their child with the terrain so that s/he is not surprised on test day by a format and question types that s/he has never seen before.

10.   Let Interest Lead Study

This tip really goes for all learning, whether part of first grade gifted program test preparation or elsewhere: let your child’s interests lead you.  Empower their desires, curiosity, and pleasure and you won’t have to stress nearly as much about maintaining focus and motivation.  What’s more, you won’t have to feel worried about pushing them too hard or developing negative associations with arithmetic or reading that could cause problems in the future.  When it comes down to it, if a gifted program is best for your child, they’ll probably test into it all on their own.  And if they would do better in regular classes, there’s nothing wrong with that, either. 

What’s Next?

If you think you need more information and guidance about any of the tests mentioned in this article, check out our ultimate guides on the CogAT, the NNAT and the the OLSAT.

On these pages, you can also find links to samples of every question type on these tests, which will support your child’s first grade gifted program test preparation.

How Can We Help?

At Origins Tutoring, we believe that test preparation does not have to be daunting and exasperating; instead, it can represent an important opportunity along a student’s path to learning mastery. Indeed, the perspectives and abilities acquired during preparation can last a lifetime.

Our two-track approach to mastering content and improving test-taking skills means that students will not only thoroughly understand the fundamental concepts and skills tested by the first grade gifted tests, but they will also excel in using essential techniques to improve attitude, endurance and focus.

Our students hone their independent thinking skills while developing a resilient mindset so they can perform on test day in a powerful, resourceful, creative and calm manner. Each student in our program receives the undivided attention and expertise of a dynamic and experienced coach who provides the framework to support each student on his unique path to becoming a master learner.

Please contact us now for a complimentary consultation to discuss how we can help your child with his or her first grade gifted program test preparation.