The OLSAT (Otis Lennon School Ability Test) does not just test your child’s knowledge and skills in specific verbal and non-verbal areas, but also her test-taking skills. If your child knows the material on which she will be tested and is familiar with test-taking techniques and strategies, it will certainly improve her chances of doing well on the exam.
Discover how you can help your child prepare for the OLSAT test by using the following OLSAT test prep tips and strategies.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 1 | KNOW THE TEST
The content and required pacing on this test is challenging for all ages. A student will need to sustain focus throughout the test. Because of this, it is important that your child is familiar with the level (A-G), format, nature and structure of the OLSAT exam, and that he or she works on sample questions and takes practice tests in timed conditions.
There are seven test levels (A-G). Each level corresponds to a grade or several grades.The chart below gives more info on all the age groups/grades that correspond to a particular test level:
|A||Pre-K and K|
Please note that, in terms of admission into most gifted programs, each level is associated with the grade that the child is in currently, and not the grade the child WILL be entering after the test is taken.
See the table below for the kinds of questions you will find at each level.
See the table below for the number of questions you will find at each level of the OLSAT, plus approximate testing time.
As a general test preparation strategy, 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.
In order to succeed on the OLSAT test, a student must keep her wits under pressure and learn to use time wisely. That's why we recommend that students take several timed practice tests. This helps a student build stamina and gain confidence, as well as ensures that a student does not waste time on test day panicking about the unknown!
A practice test also helps a student get used to reading each question carefully but quickly, and figuring 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.
For younger children, practice tests help them get used to listening carefully to the question, which can only be read aloud once by the instructor/administrator. (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 you have limited time to prepare, spend most energy reviewing areas where your child is encountering problems.
FREE OLSAT PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Click the button below to download 10 free OLSAT practice questions and start practicing now!
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 2 | DON’T LET DIFFICULT QUESTIONS UNDERMINE CONFIDENCE
Be prepared for difficult questions on the OLSAT from the get go! The OLSAT is not given in an ‘adaptive’ format -- where each subsequent question increases in difficulty.
The make-up of the exam is as follows; about half of the OLSAT is made up of “easy” questions, which most of the children taking the test will answer correctly. More than a third of the questions will be of medium difficulty, and students who receive close to a ‘mean’ score will also answer these correctly. In general, a student’s strategy should be to avoid thoughtless mistakes and to solve these questions relatively quickly.
About 18% of questions are difficult for most students. These questions separate the students who will be admitted to gifted and talented programs from average students.
So what to do when stumped with a tough question?
First, a student needs to stay calm and focused. He can spend some extra time (but not too much!) on the challenging question (knowing that there are easier questions ahead which can be answered faster).
If he is still unable to figure out the answer, he should make an educated guess and move on to the next question.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 3 | USE PROCESS OF ELIMINATION
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.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 4 | NEVER LEAVE AN ANSWER BLANK
On the OLSAT, no points are deducted for wrong answers. Therefore, when all else fails, educated guessing should be used as a strategy. When a student finishes the test and has time to spare, he should review the answer sheet to ensure EVERY question has a marked answer.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 5 | USE TIME WISELY
This tip is mainly for older children, taking Level B and above. Students should know how many questions are on the test, and allocate a certain amount of time to each question. On test day, a student should always be aware of the time. Scanning ahead and seeing how many questions remain in the test will help him or her gauge how much time to allocate for each question.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 6 | DEVELOP FIGURAL REASONING SKILLS
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.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 7 | IMPROVE VOCABULARY AND READING COMPREHENSION
The verbal section on the OLSAT is the most difficult to prep for as it requires a child to have a large vocabulary and, in the case of older students, excellent reading comprehension.
This is built up over time by reading widely and analyzing what is read. If your child is preparing well enough in advance, he can spend time on building vocabulary using flashcards or, even better, learning and reviewing roots, prefixes and suffixes of words.
Younger children need to be fluent in visual vocabulary. Take trips to the zoo, farm, store, aquarium, library to help your child learn about and see vocabulary in context. For more ideas on how to help younger children build vocabulary, check our article that contains supplemental 'test-prep' activities that help promote a wide vocabulary and build critical thinking skills in kids.
A student can use other test-taking strategies to improve his score on the verbal section (including those described in this article) even if his vocabulary is not strong. However, strengthening vocabulary is still a fairly easy way to do better on the test.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 8 | IGNORE ALL DISTRACTIONS
Try to re-create the exact test-taking atmosphere during practice exams so that kids can get used to focusing for a long period of time. Younger kids need to build stamina so they can sit through a 40 minute to an hour-long test with an administrator. (Younger students get frequent breaks, but they still need to sustain focus for a lengthy period of time).
Your older child will be in a room with many other kids, maybe even someone with a cold who is sneezing or coughing. Tell her to ignore it all and concentrate on her test.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 9 | MANAGE TEST DAY JITTERS
Avoid squeezing in a last-minute review. Instead, encourage your child (2nd grade and above) to visualize his success and plan a reward for after the test is over. Encourage your child to think positive when there’s a frustrating question. Freezing up and thinking all kinds of negative ideas will only kill confidence during the exam.
Instead, teach your child to use positive self-talk, including “I’ve studied this,” “I can do this,” and “I can figure this problem out.” If your child finds himself getting anxious, tell him to help himself relax by taking long, deep breaths.
Tell your younger child that he is going to show a teacher what kids his age can do. Don’t say the test is a game, but also don’t create anxiety by focusing on acing a ‘high-stakes’ test.
OLSAT TEST PREP TIP 10 | KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
Yes, the test for entry into a gifted and talented program is an important exam, but it needs to be put in context. Tell your child that even if he does poorly on the exam, it is not the end of the world. His family won’t stop loving him. He won’t be less of a person. Perspective is important to performance. Of course you want your child to be serious about succeeding on the OLSAT. But he should not lose sight of other important aspects of life.
How Can We Help?
At Origins Tutoring, we believe that OLSAT 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 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 OLSAT, 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 achieve his or her personal best on the OLSAT.
This article has given you information on OLSAT test prep.