What is the Gifted Program and How to Get In

what is the gifted program? WHO GETS IN?

what is the gifted program? WHO GETS IN?

If your child excels academically, learns quickly, and sometimes feels unchallenged in school, you may want to look into enrolling your child in a gifted program. Most schools offer advanced or gifted classes, but some cities have entire programs designed specifically for gifted children, including Virginia Beach, Dallas, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. We also have additional advice on how to find gifted programs for your child.

What is the gifted program? These programs deliver a “rigorous, specialized, and accelerated” curriculum to advanced learners. Students learn with similarly gifted peers from teachers trained to meet the unique needs of gifted learners.

Why Enroll in the Gifted Program?

How To Get In To A Gifted Program

Now we’ve answered the question, “What is the gifted program?” But how does your child gain admittance to such a program? For most gifted programs, your child will need to take an entrance exam designed to measure innate intelligence. These exams focus on measuring logical reasoning and abstract thinking skills, and they are often used as IQ tests as well. In most cases, your child will be accessed using the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT), Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT), the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), or a combination of more than one of these tests. Let’s explore the basics of each of these exams.

Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test

There are four types of questions on the NNAT: pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization. See our sample questions to learn more about what your child will see on the NNAT.

Very minimal use of language and written directions is required for the NNAT, and speaking is not necessary. The test is designed to provide an unbiased assessment of a child’s intelligence regardless of socioeconomic status, first language, educational background, or color vision impairment. All objects on the test appear exclusively in blue and yellow.

The NNAT takes only about 30 minutes to complete and asks 48 questions. This test is designed for students ages 5 to 17, but it is sometimes administered to younger children by a trained childcare professional in a one-on-one setting.

The Otis Lennon School Ability Test can be administered to ages pre-K through 18 and is used extensively to assess children for gifted programs around the United States. Except for pre-school children, students take the OLSAT in a group setting.

The OLSAT tests skills such as verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning, pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning, and quantitative reasoning, measuring both verbal and nonverbal abilities. The content, structure, and time limit of the test varies according to grade level. Some questions on the OLSAT are read aloud to students, and these questions cannot be repeated. Focus and listening skills are therefore extremely important for successful performance on this exam.

To learn more about the OLSAT, check out our in-depth article on the test.

The CogAT is a group-administered test designed for K-12 students. It has a verbal section, quantitative section, and non-verbal section meant to measure learned reasoning and problem-solving skills.

The verbal section tests a child’s ability to understand and remember words, as well as make logical inferences and judgements based on them. Questions include analogies and sentence completion.

The quantitative section measures the student’s ability to understand basic number concepts and relationships between numbers. Your child will likely be asked questions involving number sequences, number analogies, and number puzzles.

The non-verbal component of the test focuses on reasoning utilizing images and geometric shapes. Figure classification and figure matrices will be tested.

The test is scored using national age and grade norms to compare your child to other students of the same age and grade.

There are ten separate levels of the CogAt, depending on age, and the test will include between 118 and 176 questions based on what level is administered to your child. Students are generally granted between 30-45 minutes per section, so the overall administration of the test should take two to three hours. However, some schools may not require your child to take all sections of the CogAT.

What is the Gifted Program? | Test Preparation

Now that we have provided information on what to expect from the gifted program and summarized the types of assessment tests your child will likely have to take to be a competitive candidate for admission to the gifted program, you’re probably wondering how to prepare your child for tests designed to measure inherent abilities.

Once you’ve discovered what test(s) your child will be taking, you should spend a few days each week practicing sample questions. When your child misses questions, discuss the right answer and how to correctly find it. Pay attention to your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and continue occasionally practicing areas of strength while focusing more intensely on areas of weakness.

Begin with untimed practice sessions as your child builds skills and confidence, and then try to more closely replicate actual test conditions. Have your child take at least a couple of full length practice tests to build stamina and focus.

It’s crucial to ensure that your child feels confident and does not develop test anxiety, so don’t overemphasize the test or put added pressure on your child. Help familiarize your child with the content of the test and feel confident that they can succeed, along with providing assurances that you will continue to believe in and support your child no matter the outcome.

How Can We Help?

At Origins Tutoring, we believe that preparation for Gifted and Talented tests do 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 provide a foundation that can last throughout a student’s school life.

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 Gifted and Talented tests, 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 the NYC Gifted and Talented test.

What's Next?

Hopefully we’ve now answered all of your questions about gifted programs, from “What is the gifted program?” to “How can I help my child get into a gifted program?” Download Gifted and Talented practice questions (click the button below) so your child can start becoming familiar with the questions on the test.


Now it is time to discover gifted programs in your state, research information about what test(s) your child will be required to take for admittance, and get started on preparing your child for a wonderful and challenging opportunity!