Gifted and Talented NYC Test Prep: 6 Keys to Success

always make test preparation fun!

always make test preparation fun!

If you want a challenging curriculum for your gifted child without paying private school prices, you may be interested in New York City’s Gifted and Talented program.

However, seating in the program is limited, and the competition is intense. Admission to the program is based solely on the results of an admissions test. To qualify, your child will need to score in at least the 90th percentile. Due to limited space in the program, however, not every qualified child can be admitted.

So how can you give your child the best possible Gifted and Talented NYC test prep to ensure they have an edge over the competition? Here are our six keys to success.

1. Get to know the test.

First, you should learn as much about the admissions test as possible. Become an expert on the test so you can help your child feel confident and prepared come testing day.

The test is divided into two sections pulled from two widely-used assessments, each worth 50% of your child’s score. One section (the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, or NNAT2) focuses on nonverbal skills, while the other (the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, or OLSAT) emphasizes verbal skills. The test contains 78 questions and takes about one hour to complete.

The NNAT2 tests problem-solving and reasoning abilities with nonlinguistic test questions, meaning your child will answer questions about figures, shapes, symbols, and patterns. Each question offers five answer choices. To avoid potential issues with color vision impairment, all objects on the test are printed in blue and yellow.

There are four types of questions on the NNAT: pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization. Check out our additional resources for more information on the NNAT, including sample questions.

On the other hand, the OLSAT measures aural reasoning, arithmetic reasoning, and the ability to follow directions. Some OLSAT questions are read aloud to students, and these questions can be read aloud only once. Find out more about the OLSAT and even view sample questions by exploring our additional information.

Of course, these are just the basics. We have more information available if you want to learn everything you need to know about the NYC Gifted and Talented test.

2. Practice as much as possible.

The best way to prepare your child for the admissions test is to practice the question types she will encounter. The questions on the NNAT2 and OLSAT are quite different from the questions your child likely answers at school, so it is important to help your child gain familiarity with this type of content.

You want to start practicing early so that your child can build confidence and feel fully prepared. Cramming is not an effective study method and will make your child feel rushed and anxious. The amount of time you should spend practicing each day depends on your child’s age and attention span. 15-30 minutes daily is probably reasonable for a young child, but an older child may be capable of additional practice.

Initially, allow your child to familiarize herself with the test without imposing time constraints. As her confidence and skills grow, begin timing the test. You’ll want your child to complete at least a couple of full-length practice tests to build focus and stamina. Additionally, ask some questions verbally to practice auditory processing and retention for the OLSAT portion of the test.

Try to make practice sessions fun and limit tension or anxiety. Consider tracking progress with a sticker chart depending on your child’s age, or reward your child with favorite activities or treats. It’s okay to skip a couple of practice days if your child seems to need a break. If sessions are boring, stressful, or overly difficult, your child will come to dread the test, which will certainly not be helpful.

Here are some sample questions to get you started.

3. Analyze missed questions

Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” To get the most out of your Gifted and Talented NYC test prep, make sure your child is not simply missing questions and moving on, but instead taking the time to figure out why these questions were missed and what she can do differently in the future.

For each missed question, also discuss the correct answer with your child. Talk about how to get the correct answer, what mistakes were made that caused your child to answer incorrectly, and how to improve in the future. This is the key to ensuring that your practice sessions are truly effective and helpful.

4. Evaluate strengths and weaknesses

Over time, you will likely to begin to notice patterns in what types of questions your child is missing. Once you have noticed which areas seem to be particularly difficult for your child, you can begin focusing more on these areas of weakness in your practice sessions.

Do not entirely stop practicing questions that your child excels in, but begin including more of the questions that cause your child difficulty. Eventually, you should see improvement along with growing confidence from your child.

5. Build confidence

Building confidence is a sometimes overlooked key to successful Gifted & Talented NYC test prep. Text anxiety can be a major obstacle for young children. No matter how prepared your child is, if she feels extremely nervous or pressured while taking the test, she is unlikely to perform her best.

Frequent practice is one way to build your child’s confidence. The more familiar the various test items become, the more certainty your child will have that she can succeed. You also need to praise and encourage your child as much as possible. Even if a practice session goes poorly, do not be critical or harsh.

Also, even if you feel anxious about the big test, don’t convey this anxiety to your child. Tell her you will still love her and think she’s brilliant no matter the results of the test, but that you know she’s going to do a great job.

Some parents provide their children with a “lucky” talisman to hold in their pockets on the day of the test. It may seem silly, but this can give comfort to a young child when you are not there to provide it.

If your child is not only well-prepared, but also confident on the day of the test, she will likely have an edge on the competition.

6. Follow classic testing advice

In addition to teaching your child how to answer the types of questions that will appear on the exam, you should also teach general test-taking tips, such as process of elimination. You can also instruct your child to skip questions that are difficult and come back to them later, in order to avoid wasting excessive time on a question that she may not answer correctly anyway.

On the night before the test, make sure your child gets plenty of rest. 

Have your child eat a protein-rich breakfast (e.g: eggs, nuts, yogurt, oatmeal, or sugar-free muesli) in the morning and ensure ample time to get ready. The last thing you want is to have your child rushing and frazzled just before test time.

If you follow these six keys to successful Gifted and Talented NYC test prep, your child should be well-prepared and ready to out-test the competition!

How Can We Help?

At Origins Tutoring, we believe that preparation for the NYC DOE Gifted and Talented Assessment 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 throughout a student’s school career and beyond.

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 Gifted and Talented test, 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 get started with a customized NYC Gifted and Talented test prep program.