PS 166 Gifted and Talented | How to Get In!   

The Richard Rodgers School of Arts and Technology, more commonly known as “Richard Rodgers” or PS 166,” is a public school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The school serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade and is popular for its gifted and talented program. Students need to test in to join the gifted and talented student community at PS 166, and the school is well-known for its strong curriculum. Read on to see if PS 166 gifted and talented is a good fit.    

PS 166 | School Information 

  PS 166 serves approximately six hundred students in six different grades, and many well-known New York City alumni got their start there on 89th street. PS 166 was built in 1898, and everyone who visits the school is impressed by its beautiful architecture and details. The building was designated a landmark in the late 1990s and has gone through plenty of renovations, including the new top-notch playground outside, visual arts studios, and more.

The school itself is free to attend and accepts students on two tracks – the general education program and the gifted and talented program (based on results of the Gifted and Talented exam – more info below). PS 166 focuses on creating a caring and nurturing environment so students can grow and learn individually – this approach works well for both the general and gifted and talented tracks.

Aside from the typical kindergarten to fifth grade curriculum, the school, given its fame in arts and technology, also focuses on several key courses. Students at PS 166 will take art, dance, music, and technology during their time at the school. Through these courses (part of the “specials” program), students can develop additional skills beyond those found in typical classrooms.

For more information, visit the official school website.  

Richard Rodgers: PS 166| Admissions Overview

Admissions for General Education  

PS 166 admits students primarily in kindergarten and in later years to fill up empty seats. For General Education, families will need to submit the kindergarten application through the Department of Education. Note that PS 166 is a zoned school in District 3 – historically the school fills up with students from District 3 and does not admit others in the city. There are no testing requirements for kindergarten general admissions.

PS 166 Gifted and Talented Admissions

Because PS 166 also serves gifted and talented students, all students who would like to attend Richard Rodgers must test well in the Gifted and Talented Exam for NYC.


Families can request to test under this exam in November, with test dates throughout January and scores released in April.


If your child ranks in the 90th percentile or over on the test, she/he will be ‘technically’ eligible for a seat in the G&T Kindergarten program. However, just because your child has a rank in the 90th percentile does not mean that he or she has won a spot in PS 166. PsS166 is one of the most coveted district G&T programs in the city, and only kids who rank in the 99th percentile usually gain admission to the program.

In recent years, the program could not even accommodate all the kids that scored in the 99th percentile and who wanted a seat in the program. In these cases, many families either choose another school or place their child in the general education program and try to test in again to the gifted program in later years.

Students have a good chance of gaining entry to the program in the 1st-3rd grade, as many spots open up or are added in later grades. Although there are less spots available than in Kindergarten, often less kids are applying for each spot in the higher grades.

Sibling policy

Competition to enter the Kindergarten class is fierce in part due to the fact that many spots are taken by siblings of kids already in the program. Siblings only need to score in the 97th percentile and up to be offered a spot. Only after those ‘sibling’ seats are assigned are the new applicants without siblings offered a seat.

District 3 Preference

Similar to general education, the spots at PS 166 for gifted and talented students fill up with zoned District 3 children, so the school encourages only District 3 families to apply. Under the city gifted and talented program, preference is to District 3 students who achieve high scores on the Gifted and Talented exam.

Birthday Cut-off

Note that only children with birthdays in 2012 (any time during the year) may join the upcoming kindergarten class for the 2017-2018 school year. The school will have three general education and two gifted and talented kindergarten classes in the coming school year.

School Tours

Richard Rodgers hosts several tours throughout the year: December 2nd, December 16th, January 6th, and January 13th. All tours are by registration only, and only one parent may attend the tours given popular demand. At each of the tours, parents will get a brief overview of the school, a classroom tour, and a speech from the principal before breaking for a Q&A session.

The NYC Gifted and Talented Assessment

Under the NYC Gifted and Talented Assessment, students participate in two exams: the Otis Lennon School Ability Test, or OLSAT, and the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, or NNAT. By using a verbal and a nonverbal assessment, the Department of Education hopes to gain a more holistic view of a student’s performance and more fairly compare young children across the city.

The Otis Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT®) focuses on verbal comprehension and reasoning. Children should be able to follow directions, discover patterns, and follow relationships based on information they are told. More specifically, the exam will include determining if items are alike or different, recalling words or numbers, defining words, following directions or sequences, and solving arithmetic problems.

The Nagleiri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT®) covers four types of nonverbal problems. On the NNAT, children will see shapes and symbols throughout the assessment, which will test their ability to see patters and reason. Children do not need to speak English to ace the NNAT as it is based on shapes. On the exam, students will complete patters, recognize relationships and sequences among shapes, and show their spatial visualization abilities.

These two components are weighted equally, though the NNAT test is longer (48 questions) than the OLSAT (30 questions).

We have plenty of information on the Gifted and Talented assessment here. We also have sample questions from the NYC G&T test  to review, which is a great way for children to become familiar with the exam question types.

PS 166 Gifted and Talented | How to Prepare 

Under the gifted and talented admissions program for PS 166, students are accepted based on their G&T exam results – this means families should aim for a score in the 97th percentile of kids to earn their spot. At Origins Tutoring, we have multiple resources, including practice questions, test prep strategies, and overall family advice as students determine whether to take and how to prepare for the G&T exam. One good way to start preparing for the test is to make sure your child is familiar with the kinds of questions on the exam. Please click the button below to sample 25 free questions based on the exam.


In addition, you may want to review our our top test prep tips for the Gifted and Talented test here!

Families should remember that the G&T programs across the city are highly selective, and PS 166 is a popular Upper West Side choice. While the official minimum test score for district programs is a 90th percentile result, in practice many students meet this hurdle. It is more realistic to aim for higher and more competitive scores (a 99th percentile result) to have better admissions options. Our G&T overview will explain the G&T exam in detail and provide a timeline for testing and application info.  

How Can We Help?

At Origins Tutoring, we believe that preparation for PS 166 admissions assessments (specifically the NYC DOE Gifted and Talented Assessment), 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 NYC Gifted and Talented admissions 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 PS 166 gifted and talented admissions test.