Guide to Otis Lennon School Ability Test Scores

The Otis Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) evaluates a student’s cognitive abilities, particularly those that impact academic performance such as verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning, pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The test measures both verbal and nonverbal abilities and is often used to evaluate students for admission to gifted programs.

The OLSAT provides you with detailed scoring information that can help you determine the best academic program for your child’s abilities, as well as evaluate your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Of course, this information isn’t useful unless you understand Otis Lennon School Ability Test scores. Here we’ll explore how OLSAT scores are calculated and when you’ll receive them, plus what constitutes a “good” score and how to achieve it.

How Otis Lennon School Ability Test Scores Are Calculated

Raw Score

Your child’s raw score is calculated by simply tallying the number of questions answered correctly. Since the number of questions on the test varies according to age group, the highest possible score depends on your child’s age and the test that your child was given. You will receive an overall raw score, in addition to a raw score for both the verbal and nonverbal section. This allows you to note the relative strengths and weaknesses of your child.

School Ability Index (SAI)

The School Ability Index compares your child’s score to the scores of other children within the same age group. It is perhaps the most frequently discussed score in terms of admission to gifted programs.

An age group’s average raw score is set to an SAI of 100. This means that if your child has an SAI of 100, her score is average in comparison to other students in her age group. The maximum SAI possible is a 150, and the standard deviation is 16.

Percentile Rank

The SAI is then used to determine your child’s overall percentile rank, which again compares your child to students in the same age group. If your child scores in the 90th percentile, she scored as well or higher than 90% of children her age.

What is a “Good” OLSAT Score?

Although the definition of a “good” OLSAT score depends on context, here we will consider “good” to mean a score that is high enough to qualify for admission to a gifted program. In that case, a gifted child typically falls two standard deviations above the mean.

On the OLSAT, remember that the School Ability Index (SAI) sets the average, or mean, as 100. The Standard Deviation is 16, so your child will likely need an SAI of at least 132 to be considered for admission to a gifted program, although this number may be slightly lower in some districts. This translates to a score in the top 1-3%, or above the 97th percentile. It is always best to contact the district or school for specific information about qualifying scores to be sure, as there is some variation.

Keep in mind that a score of 130, for example, does not mean that your child missed a score of 132 by just two questions. An SAI difference of one point represents several missed questions.

The majority of children who take the OLSAT (68%) tend to score an SAI of 84-116. Far fewer (14%) achieve an SAI of 116-132, and only slightly more than 2% of students typically earn an SAI of 132 or higher. This means that scoring high enough to qualify for a gifted program, while certainly possible, is a challenging task.

How to Get a Good OLSAT Score

Now you know how to interpret Otis Lennon School Ability Test scores, but how can your child earn one of the top scores needed to qualify for admission to a gifted program?

Since most of the questions on the OLSAT will be different from questions your child encounters at school, it is very important to practice with sample test questions. This will help your child become familiar with the format and content of the test, in addition to helping her build confidence. We have more information about the OLSAT, including sample questions, to help you get started. Initially, allow your child to practice with no time constraints. As your child becomes more adept at answering test questions, begin timing her to more accurately mirror testing conditions.

It is also advisable to have your child work through a few full-length sample tests in order to build stamina and focus. This will also give your child a better idea of how to use her time on the day of the actual test. To prepare your child for the verbal section, it’s helpful to have her read a certain amount of time or pages each day. You can also build vocabulary using flash cards with common roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Discuss antonyms, synonyms, and other word relationships with your child in everyday life. To get ready for the nonverbal section, you might consider purchasing workbooks dealing with logic puzzles and patterns. You can also discuss basic math concepts like less, more, and equal. Practice identifying relationships between numbers, figures, and images.

Lastly, teach your child general test-taking strategies, such as the following:

Use process of elimination by crossing out obviously wrong answers.

Don’t spend too much time on any one question. Make an educated guess and move on to avoid wasting valuable time.

Write in the test booklet as much as needed. This can include crossing out wrong answers, circling or underlining key words, and drawing or mapping out questions in order to solve them.

If you start to get nervous or overwhelmed, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are capable and prepared. Remember that you don’t have to know every answer.

When do OLSAT Scores Come Out?

You will typically receive your child’s OLSAT scores in the mail about two months after she has taken the test. Around this time, you will likely also find out if your child has been accepted to your local gifted program. Depending on the district, you may receive notice that your child is a finalist for admission to the gifted program and more information is required from you, your child, or your child’s teachers before a final decision can be reached.

Now that you know all about Otis Lennon School Ability Test scores, start preparing your child to achieve a high score and gain admittance to a gifted program that’s right for her.