9 Key NYC Gifted and Talented Test Prep Tips

So how can you give your child the best possible NYC Gifted and Talented test prep to ensure they have an edge over the competition?

Read our top nine NYC Gifted and Talented test prep tips, which include critical test-taking tips to use on test day itself to improve performance, and longer-term strategies to improve your child's chances of doing well on both the non-verbal and verbal sections of the G&T test.

These strategies will help your child get ready for the NYC Gifted and Talented test. 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.


The content and required pacing on this test is challenging for all ages. Because of this, it is important that you become familiar with the format, content and structure of the G&T exam, and that your child works through sample questions and takes practice tests in timed conditions.

For example, the OLSAT® (Otis Lennon School Ability Test) part of the G&T test measures verbal skills such as aural reasoning, arithmetic reasoning, and the ability to follow directions. Some of these questions are read aloud to students, but it's essential to know that these questions can be read aloud only once. This means your child must learn to pay rapt attention when the instructor is speaking!

On the NNAT® (Naglieri Non-Verbal Ability Test) aspect of the test, it’s important to learn that the “nonverbal” description of the test indicates the kind of questions on the test, -- not the kind of thinking needed to solve them. In fact, kids who do well on the test often use verbal strategies (talking themselves through the problem in their head) to reason through the question.


Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” To get the most out of your 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.

We recommend that you first review each question type with your child and ask him or her to solve practice questions without a time restriction. Then, spend time analyzing the answers and explanations (both incorrect and correct) for each question.

For each missed question, ask your child to explain how she or he arrived at an answer. This will help you spot any gaps or inconsistencies in her reasoning. If s/he describes the process correctly, the explanation will reinforce the concept. This dynamic, interactive process is the key to ensuring that your practice sessions are truly effective and helpful.


We also recommend that students take several timed practice tests. This helps a student build stamina and gain confidence, as well as ensures that a student perseveres through tough questions and does not waste time on test day panicking about the unknown. For younger children, taking a practice exam in test-like conditions will also help them get used to listening carefully to the question, which is asked only once.(Young students get frequent breaks, but they still need to maintain their attention on challenging problems for a lengthy period of time).

A practice test also helps 1st-2nd grade test-takers figure out the best and fastest way to transfer answers and mark the bubbles in the answer sheet. For example, practicing the simple technique of shading the bubbles quickly and efficiently can help a student gain a minute or two during the test. Note that Pre-K and Kindergarten only need to point at the answer; they do not need to mark bubbles.

Use the scores on the practice tests to identify subject areas or question types where your child is struggling. If the time you have to prepare is limited, spend most energy and time focusing on and reviewing the areas where your child is encountering problems.


On the nonverbal section, the object is to use clues to find specific patterns and relationships, and then to apply that relationship or pattern to the answer options to identify the correct one among five choices. This includes finding similarities and differences between items or sets of geometric figures, predicting the next step in a progression of geometric shapes, or supplying a missing element in a matrix.

In order to improve at this aspect of the test, we suggest students spend time doing activities such as puzzles, Sudoku, chess and/or Rubik’s cube, all of which help develop a child’s ability to identify and interpret patterns.


The verbal section on the G&T test is the most difficult to prep for as it requires a child to have a large vocabulary. Since young children need to be fluent in visual vocabulary to do well on the test, take them on trips to the zoo, farm, store, aquarium, library to encourage learning about concepts and seeing vocabulary in context. For more ideas on how to help younger children build vocabulary, check our article that contains supplemental 'test-prep' activities to help promote a wide vocabulary and build critical thinking skills in kids.


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

Frequent practice is one of the best ways 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 avoid squeezing in a last-minute review as this can be counterproductive. If your child has been preparing in the weeks or months before the test, there’s nothing crucial she will learn between the night before the test and exam day. Slow and steady is the name of the game in this race!

Even if you feel anxious about the big test, don’t convey this worry to your child! On test day, don’t dismiss the test or say the test is a game, but also try not to create anxiety by focusing on the ‘high-stakes’ involved. Instead, tell your child that s/he will be showing a teacher what kids his or her age can do.


If a student is stumped by a question, she can use the process of elimination. Firstly, eliminate obviously wrong answers in order to narrow down the answer choices. If still in doubt after using this technique, make an educated guess. Process of elimination is a key technique that helps improve the probability of selecting the correct response even if a student is not sure about how to answer a question.


On the G&T test, no points are deducted for wrong answers. Therefore, when all else fails, educated guessing should be used as a strategy.


Proper nutrition is essential for proper mental performance. Start fueling your child’s body for test day as soon as possible. Make meals with lots of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs. Limit junk food. Provide lots of fruit and vegetables.

The day before the test, aim to give your child meals mainly composed of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals. These foods (complex carbs) will fill her up with the energy she needs for the test Also remember to use the day before, and test day to fuel up with healthy proteins and fats, including lean meats, fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts, eggs, etc., which are all great brain foods. And of course, a good night's sleep is essential for a powerful performance on test day, so try to get your little one to bed early the night before the test.

We hope these tips are valuable to you. If a gifted program could be a good fit for your child, it makes sense to prepare for the admissions test, whether with a tutor or through self-study.

So how can we help?

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 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 to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss how we can help your child get started on a customized NYC gifted and talented test prep program.