OLSAT Test Prep Tips | OLSAT Test Prep 5th Grade

The OLSAT Level E 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 Level E test by using the following tips and strategies.

OLSAT Level E Test Prep Tip 1 | Know the Test

The 40-minute OLSAT Level E test consists of 72 questions. The content and required pacing on this test is very challenging for a fifth grader. A student will need to sustain focus throughout the test.  Because of this, it is important that your child is familiar with the format, nature and structure of the OLSAT Level E exam, and that he or she works on sample questions and takes practice tests in timed conditions.

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-E 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.

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.


Click the button below to download 10 free OLSAT practice questions for fifth graders and start practicing now!

OLSAT Level E Test Prep Tip 2 | Don’t Let Difficult Questions Undermine Confidence

Be prepared for difficult questions on the OLSAT Level E from the get go! The OLSAT Level E 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 Level E is made up of “easy” questions, which most fifth graders 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. She 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 she is still unable to figure out the answer, she should  make an educated guess and move on to the next question. 

OLSAT Level E 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, she can 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 Level E Test Prep Tip 4 | Never Leave An Answer Blank

On the OLSAT test, 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

The OLSAT Level E asks students to answer 72 questions in 40 minutes. This means a student has just over 30 seconds to answer 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 Level E is the most difficult to prep for as it requires a child to have a large vocabulary and 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. 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

You may have tried to re-create the exact test-taking atmosphere during practice exams. But when your child goes for the real thing she 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 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.

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 your child should be serious about succeeding on the OLSAT. But he should not lose sight of other important aspects of life.