Gifted and Talented Test for Pre-K: What Every Parent Needs to Know

getting into the gifted and talented program can be challenging but the rewards are many

getting into the gifted and talented program can be challenging but the rewards are many

The Gifted and Talented test is the only factor that determines entry into NYC’s fiercely competitive Gifted and Talented program. Although students entering kindergarten through third grade are eligible for admittance, the Gifted & Talented test for pre-k is the biggest entry point.

Although it may seem early to test your child, entering the Gifted and Talented program in kindergarten can help your child acclimate to and benefit from a more challenging curriculum early. Additionally, your child will have more opportunities to take and pass the test if you start with the earliest possible attempt.

To gain admittance to the Gifted and Talented program, your child will need to score in the 90th percentile. To qualify for the prime positions in a citywide Gifted and Talented program, a score in the 97th percentile is necessary. However, there are simply not enough seats in the program for all of the qualified children in NYC, so typically only children in the 99th percentile gain placement. Even some of these students are turned away.

Regardless, don’t let the competition deter you from having your child take the test. We’ve got all of the information you need to know about the Gifted and Talented test for pre-k!

About the Test

The test is divided into two sections pulled from two widely-used assessments, the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT). The NNAT will test your child’s nonverbal skills, while the OLSAT will focus on her verbal abilities. The NNAT is administered first, followed by the OLSAT.

The NNAT asks questions related to pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization. This test is designed to be as unbiased as possible regarding educational background, socioeconomic status, and potential color vision impairment. All objects on the test appear in blue and yellow.

The portion of the OLSAT used on the Gifted and Talented test for pre-k focuses on verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning, arithmetic reasoning, and following directions.

We have more information available about both the Naglieri Nonverbal Abilty Test (NNAT) and the Otis Lennon Ability Test (OLSAT), including sample questions.

Administration of the Test

The Gifted and Talented test for pre-k is administered a bit differently than for other grade levels. Pre-K tests take place on weekends at designated school sites. All materials are provided, so there is no need to bring pencils or paper. The test is untimed, but you should expect it to last 1-2 hours.

For children entering kindergarten, the test is administered one-on-one by trained early childhood educators. Pre-K students do not have to bubble in answer choices; they are instructed to indicate correct answers by pointing.

Questions are read aloud, but they can be read only once and cannot be repeated. At the beginning of each section, test administrators will explain directions to your child before reading the questions.

Preparing for the Test

For children who are entering kindergarten, it is important not to overemphasize the test. In fact, many experts recommend not even using the word “test” with children of this age. Instead, focus on incorporating test concepts into your everyday life.

What exactly are the test concepts? Let’s take a look at the different types of questions your child will encounter on the test.


Pattern Completion- Children identify patterns and supply the missing pieces.

Reasoning by Analogy- Students are asked to recognize relationships among geometric shapes.

Serial Reasoning- Your child will be asked to recognize sequences involving shapes.

Spatial Visualization- Questions focus on the ability to imagine how two or more objects would look if combined.


Verbal Comprehension- Your child will manipulate or respond to information by following verbal directions.

Verbal Reasoning- These questions measure the ability to find patterns or relationships and to verbally solve problems, such as aural reasoning and arithmetic reasoning. These can include basic word problems related to math concepts.

To practice these skills, teach your child the basics about subjects like patterns, shapes, and counting. Discuss concepts like more and less. Have your child look for patterns and describe how items are positioned relative to one another. Ask your child to imagine what an object or shape would look like if turned sideways, flipped upside down, or combined with another object. At the grocery store, pick up two apples and ask your child questions like, “If we put one apple back, how many apples will we have?”

You can also practice test-taking skills such as focus and stamina with activities like memory games or puzzles.

Although you should not excessively drill your pre-K child, you can still work on practice questions. Simply make the process fun or more like a game, and be sure not to make your child feel pressured or anxious.

It is also important to teach your child the basic process of responding to questions on the Gifted and Talented test for pre-k, because many young children will simply point to the picture they like the most on multiple choice questions. To succeed, your child will need to understand that there is one correct answer to the question being asked.

You’ll also want to practice having your child respond to questions that are read aloud, since the test examiner will only read each question once. Zoning out or not concentrating enough to hear and comprehend the questions can be extremely detrimental to your child’s score.

Remember that if your child does not qualify for the Gifted and Talented program this time, she will have more opportunities in the future. You can even view your child’s test after scores have been released, although you can only look for ten minutes and may not take any notes. Still, glancing through your child’s correct and incorrect responses can help you determine strengths and weaknesses that can inform your test preparation in the future.


At Origins Tutoring, we believe that preparation for the NYC Gifted and Talented test 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 NYC 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 call 917.287.7927 now for a complimentary consultation to discuss how we can help your child achieve his or her personal best on the NYC Gifted and Talented test.

What's Next?

Learn as much as you can about the Gifted and Talented test, and familiarize your child with the key concepts without creating stress or anxiety.

Download Gifted and Talented practice questions (click the button below) so your child can start becoming familiar with the test. 

Now that you know the basics of the Gifted and Talented test for pre-k, you’re ready to start preparing your child and increasing her chances of admittance!