What is the NNAT? A Complete Explanation of the Test



The NNAT, or Naglieri Nonverbal Aptitude test, is an exam often utilized to determine whether a child qualifies for admission to a gifted program.

This test uses simple shapes and colors to measure your child’s general ability. By not relying on lingual skills, the NNAT helps school’s gifted and talented programs, such as Chicago’s Gifted Programs,the NYC Gifted and Talented program, Virginia Beach and Houston’s Vanguard Program to recognize bright students who don’t have English as a first language.

The NNAT is commonly paired with the OLSAT by various school districts, including in New York City.

So, what exactly is the NNAT? How is it scored? How should you prepare for it?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the NNAT? An Overview

The NNAT measures general ability by assessing children in two specific areas: nonverbal reasoning and problem solving. Both items are thought to be key indicators of long-term academic success. Administered by testing giant Pearson, the test is given to students between the ages of 4 and 17.

The NNAT has been divided into seven levels, each denoted by a letter, based on the test takers age and grade level.

 Naglieri nonverbal ability test: levels

Naglieri nonverbal ability test: levels

No matter what level of the test is used, this exam has 48 questions and a thirty-minute time limit. To complete all questions, your child must answer roughly two per minute.

First developed by famed psychologist Jack Naglieri, the NNAT was first administered in 2008. Since then, the test has undergone one significant revision. Soon it will undergo a second. Starting in 2018, the NNAT2 will be replaced with the NNAT3. The newest version of the test makes vast improvements to security and user-friendliness.

NNAT Question Types

Anyone asking “What is the NNAT test” is probably most concerned with what kind of question their child will see. There are four specific question types on the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test: pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization. For younger students, questions regarding spatial reasoning and visualization have been removed.

Pattern Completion: Students are provided an incomplete design and must extend the image to determine the correct answer.

 example of a pattern completion question

example of a pattern completion question

Reasoning by Analogy: The student will be asked to determine the analogous relationships between various shapes to complete a given pattern.

 example of a reasoning by analogy question

example of a reasoning by analogy question

Serial Reasoning: Students are given multiple ways to complete a given column. To pick the correct answer, the child must determine how objects change across rows and columns.

  EXAMPLE OF A serial reasoning   QUESTION

EXAMPLE OF A serial reasoning QUESTION

Spatial Visualization: Test takers must visualize how objects will look when transformed, combined, or rotated.

  EXAMPLE OF A spatial visualization   QUESTION

EXAMPLE OF A spatial visualization QUESTION

Interpreting NNAT scores

 nnat score report

nnat score report

Interpreting an NNAT score isn’t easy. The results page offers three separate numbers to help improve your understanding of a student’s general abilities. This can be confusing. Two of these three scores compare your child’s abilities against others in their age or grade group. For many students, comparisons based on age produce more accurate results.

The first of three figures provided is the raw score. This is simply a tally of the number of questions your child answered correctly. This figure will then be used to calculate the student’s Naglieri Ability Index (NAI). Once the NAI has been calculated, it will be compared to other students to produce your child’s percentile ranking. This last figure is the one most commonly used by gifted programs.

When combined, these scores provide a comprehensive profile of your child’s abilities.

How to Prepare Your Child for the NNAT

Although we’ve now cleared up your confusion on what exactly the NNAT test is, we’ve barely touched on how to prepare for it. As the test is meant to measure innate ability, which cannot be taught, many parents are confused about how best to improve their child’s score. Instead of teaching them how to reason, preparations involve teaching testing structure, testing concepts, and testing strategies. Working through NNAT sample questions will help your child become more comfortable confident come testing day.

Start test practice without time limits. Allow your child a chance to truly understand and digest what is being asked of them. Once they begin to consistently perform well, you can move on to more accurately mirror testing conditions. To give your child an idea of the speed required, it’s recommended that you work through a few full-length practice tests.

If you would like your child to start practicing now, please download free NNAT questions by clicking the button below.

Do everything you can to avoid making your child nervous as exam time approaches. Instead, you should work to build your child’s confidence via encouragement and practice. Test anxiety can negatively impact the exam taker’s performance. Avoid it. Remind your child, regardless of the results, that you will always love and be proud of them.

We hope we’ve answered your question, “What is the NNAT test”. If you have additional questions, we’ve previously prepared a more in-depth guide to the NNAT.