NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


Looking beyond the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests

Getting into a NYC gifted and talented program

It’s hard enough to juggle the everyday responsibilities that you have as a parent. But NYC parents are being faced with an added item on their to-do list: preparing for the Gifted and Talented test that could get their child into an advanced academic program available to NYC residents.

Many parents – probably too many – put this responsibility on the back-burner, distracted and consumed by what they perceive as more pressing concerns. There are a number of reasons for this. Some parents don’t understand the value of a gifted and talented program. This is especially true for parents who may have a good gen ed program next door, who believe that their children will receive an “adequate” education: what’s the point of stressing myself out for a program that might not make much of a difference, these parents wonder. I can tell you that this is a terrible mistake: even in the best public schools, the test scores and academic performance of kids in gifted and talented programs are dramatically better than those enrolled in the general program. Not to mention the opportunities that open up to children in gifted programs that simply aren’t available to other children.

Here’s a OLSAT Level A question they ask pre-K students: Point to the picture that shows this: David and Mark got very tired after they played ball.

Other parents are afraid that their child won’t make the cut, and are hesitant to dive in without a guarantee of success. This is an understandable impulse, and one that people make in all areas of life, including their career, personal goals, and even romantic relationships. But the old adage that “you can’t win if you don’t play” applies particularly well to gifted and talented programs, where only kids who take the test are even in the running to get a seat.

Finally, there are the parents who have every intention of preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests, but put it off until it’s too late. This happens even to the most dedicated parents, who often get caught up in their many other responsibilities and then panic as the test day nears. I have heard from countless parents in this boat – once a mother emailed me in a frenzy literally hours before the test, asking me what she could do to prepare her son. Unfortunately, at that point I told her the only thing she could do is to give him a solid breakfast and then do plenty of praying.

I know all of this sounds pretty bleak, but here’s the good news: it isn’t too late for your little one. Now’s the time to start gearing up for the NYC Gifted and Talented test in January.

Here’s the steps you need to take to ensure that your child is ready for test day – before it’s too late:

  • Sign up for a Testing Mom Fast Track membership today. You’ll get access to thousands of OLSAT and NNAT-2 practice questions instantly!  These practice questions will help your child get familiar not only with the material they’ll encounter on the exam, but with the process of sitting down for an extended period of time and working through challenging problems without getting frustrated.
  • Come up with some light, fun ways to get your child ready – so that they don’t get burned out or anxious using traditional practice questions all the time. Fortunately, your Testing Mom membership also gives you access to interactive online games that prepare your child for the test while they think they’re just having fun!
  • Don’t lose sight of your child’s academic performance. It’s important to prep for the test, but it’s equally important to make sure your child stays a step ahead in school.
  • Parents have given Testing Mom rave reviews!


Importance of preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests

Importance of entrance exams for the NYC Gifted and Talented program

I don’t have to tell you how important the exam for entrance in the NYC Gifted and Talented program is and how more important it is to prepare for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. These exams are no joke!  At this very moment, parents around New York City are frantically preparing their child for these tests, since every extra point on the OLSAT test score can make a difference between getting a citywide seat vs. a district wide The process of researching, registering for, preparing for, and then finally taking the Gifted and Talented test is one of the most stressful experiences a parent will ever have.  Especially when the child is a mere 4 years old! But, of course, the opportunities that come along with admission into a highly-competitive Gifted program make all the sleepless nights and gnashing of teeth well worth it.

Here’s another OLSAT practice test question: Do you see the children in the first box? Each child needs 2 pencils for school. Point to the box that shows how many pencils the children need altogether.

For many NYC moms and dads, the process of preparing for the G&T test is so intense, and so all-consuming, that when the exam is finally over, they’re left with a strange sense of emptiness. I’ve had more than one parent ask me, half-joking but still sounding concerned, “How will I spend all my time now?” Mind you, these were parents of young children, many of whom had full-time jobs or other commitments outside of their home.

Well, I know firsthand that as unpleasant as the process of preparing for the test can seem, it’s a bit of a letdown once the process is finally over. I went through it with my own daughter several years ago and that was the catalyst to start this blog to help parents (like you!) ease the stress of going through this treacherous process.

That’s why I want to give you some suggestions for what to do after the OLSAT test is over. If you’re in the thick of preparing for the exam now, it’s important to maintain your focus and put all your energy into ensuring that your child receives a top score. (I trust that you’re already doing that and have been for some time!). But rest assured that, once the test is over, plenty of work remains to be done. Here are just a few things you’d be wise to focus on when your child walks out of the testing room:

  • Improve your child’s math skills

    • Even for children who are naturally good at math, it’s crucial that you work with materials outside your child’s normal homework assignments to give them an edge over their classmates.
  • Encourage your child to read more

    • What parent doesn’t melt at the sight of their son or daughter sitting quietly with a book (or, these days, a Kindle)? But many kids don’t like to read – or have learning delays that make the process frustrating and demoralizing. Make sure you use programs help your child develop the basic reading skills they need, and make reading so fun your child will never want to stop!
  • Explore the world

  • Get ready for the Common Core State Standards:

    • Yes, the OLSAT test may be over but that means the NY State Test (aka the Common Core tests) are around the corner starting in third grade. Now is not the time to rest upon your laurels.
  • Teach your child about the value of a dollar

    • Given how few schools teach children how to budget and handle money, is it any wonder that so many people are so bad at money management? Get your child started down the right path early counting money. TD Bank used to have a fun change machine called Penny Arcade but unfortunately, they removed these machines last year. Check with your local bank to see what fun activities they have to engage your child with financial literacy.

Make sure your child will maintain an edge once the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests is over – and that once they make it into that coveted NYC gifted and talented program, they start out ahead of their peers.



Guidance for parents preparing kids for the OLSAT test

How preparing for the OLSAT scored this child a seat at citywide G&T program!

A story from one NYC mom

I just have to get this off of my chest:  if my sister-in-law shares one more story about every “lady” (and I use that term loosely) and their weekly escapades on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” I might go bonkers.  Doesn’t she have more important things do to with her valuable time than to watch these chicks cat fight and pull out each other’s weaves?  Seriously, I’ve seen enough Jerry Springer to last me a lifetime (and I’ve made my penance for that)…please, forgive me, for I have sinned!

I mean, can’t we talk about something more intellectually stimulating than who wore the faux leopard-print dress? I simply could care less. On the other hand, if you want to tell me about the new philanthropic idea you’ve come up with to help the children in India, I’m all ears – start talking! That’s why today I’m here to talk about things that make a difference (and I promise you, there will be no talk about Kenya’s new eyelash extensions – spare me the agony!)

My goal of this blog has always been to offer guidance to New York City parents who find themselves alone and confused on the heretofore unfamiliar road known as OLSAT and NNAT-2 test prep – and to prepare and expose children to the concepts necessary for their entry into the NYC gifted and talented program. All of the other extras that come along with your membership are just my gift to children everywhere to make sure they have the knowledge and power that they all rightfully deserve.

Try this OLSAT practice question: Point to the picture that shows this: Cindy has dived off the board but she has not yet hit the water.

But, don’t take it from me, here’s what this Park Slope – Brooklyn mom recently emailed me:

“We began preparing our daughter for the OLSAT test 8 months ago. The task to prepare for the test seemed overwhelming and confusing. We were even more discouraged when the schools we wanted to apply to told us there is no preparation possible for the test. Then we came across TestingMom.com and it offered us a clear and focused path to building the underlying skills our child needed for the test. The resources and various material on TestingMom.com, were instrumental in our daughter scoring in the 99th percentile and getting a citywide seat at BSI – Brooklyn School of Inquiry.”

When I read such inspiring emails from dedicated parents I get thrilled to know there are so many engaged parents in NYC who want the best education for their kids!

Think about it: would you put your four-year-old on a 10-speed bicycle without first teaching them how to pedal a small bike with training wheels? Would you throw your five-year-old into the pool and tell them to swim without first teaching them the basics of water safety? I certainly hope not!  So why on earth would any halfway-conscientious parent send their child into a life-changing test like the OLSAT and NNAT-2 with no exposure to the topics involved or the questions asked – it’s like putting your child on a mountain bike without a helmet, or in the pool without a lifeguard: they’re going to get banged up during the process, and quite possibly mentally scarred as well. No parent should want their young child to embark on such a brutal – and ultimately doomed – endeavor.

Classification is a big component of the OLSAT test.

Here’s a good video on how to teach your child about classificationl



Admissions into the gifted and talented program

The only requirement is acing the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests

It’s no secret that the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests used to screen kids for admission to NYC G&T program are hard. As more and more parents decide that they want their child to receive the best education possible, more are applying their children to these advanced programs – and so the tests are getting increasingly difficult and competitive. This past January over 2,000 more pre-K students took the G&T test for kindergarten admissions with very few additional seats added. This meant over 35% of the kids who qualified for a G&T seat didn’t get a spot because there weren’t enough seats available!

Ask your little one this sample OLSAT test question: Look at the space ship in the first box. Do you see the round windows on the red part of the space ship? If the space ship carried the same number of space babies to earth as thenumber of round windows you can count, point to the box that shows how many space babies the space ship carried to earth.

As a result, it’s no longer enough just to throw your child into the testing room and hope that they pass. Even the smartest kids – if they don’t prepare – are now being outgunned by kids who might not be as inherently bright, but whose parents spend months or even years planning, meticulously, for the testing and admissions process.

A mom from Queens tells her G&T story

Well, recently I spoke to a mother (from Queens) of a very bright boy who, for a long time, thought she knew better than those of us who have been through the testing process before. I had spoken to this mom, who we’ll call Debbie, before, and explained to her how crucial it is to at least familiarize her son Jordan with the material he would face on the test. Plus, I reminded her that most children her son’s age haven’t ever been in a testing situation before, so they need to be mentally prepared for the process of sitting for half an hour or more, locked in a room with a usually stone-faced test proctor who isn’t allowed to give any feedback – positive or negative.

Debbie listened politely, but I could tell she wasn’t hearing what I was saying: she had already made up her mind, and wouldn’t be doing any prep work with her son. You know the type – right?

“Jordan is so smart,” Debbie told me more than once. “He always gets A’s on his tests in school, so why should this test be any different?”

“Besides,” Debbie told me, “I’ve always felt that these tests are meant to measure kids’ intelligence, so preparing with them is essentially ‘cheating’: either the kid is smart or he isn’t.”

Debbie kept in touch with me as OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests day drew closer, letting me know how well Jordan was doing in school and how confident she was that he would ace the test. I wished her luck and held out hope that Jordan would pass the test and make it into their local gifted program – but I knew that the odds were against him, given Debbie’s steadfast refusal to do anything to prepare him for the exam.

Sure enough, Jordan went into the test unprepared. When the OLSAT test scores came in, Jordan had done well – surprisingly well, in fact: he’d earned a score in the 95th percentile, very impressive for a child who hadn’t done any kind of preparatory work. But it wasn’t quite good enough to get Jordan into the program his mother was sure he was destined for: just to be considered for a seat at a citywide program like NEST+m or Anderson, Jordan needed to score in the 99th percentile.

Debbie was devastated. She was sure that Jordan would skate into the program, and she was convinced that “unworthy” kids had taken his spot. Disappointment turned to bitterness, and Debbie soured on the idea of ever applying Jordan to another gifted program. Her exact words: “I’m done. I’ll never let my child take another one of these OLSAT tests again.”

I knew this was a mistake as well. I told Debbie over and over: Jordan had a good shot of passing the gifted test the following year – if she took my advice and prepared him for it this time. For months, Debbie refused to budge: Jordan would never take that test again.

I refused to take no for an answer, though, since I was as convinced as Debbie that Jordan had too much potential to be stuck in a general education program. I kept on Debbie: try again next year. If you do take concrete steps to get Jordan ready, he’ll do fine.

Thankfully, after months of despair and hand-wringing, Debbie came to her senses and decided to apply Jordan to the gifted program again. Within a week, she signed up for a Testing Mom for the OLSAT practice questions  and began working with Jordan. They started out slow, getting Jordan used to the format of the questions and the process of sitting still and focusing on the material. As time went on, Debbie extended the practice time and increased the difficulty of the questions they worked with. By the time test day rolled around again, Jordan was accustomed to sitting and focusing for nearly an hour and answering questions designed for kids at least two grade levels above his own.

Before long, scores came out again and this time the news was unequivocally good: Jordan scored in the 99th percentile, qualifying him for the citywide gifted program and guess what? He made it into NEST+M one of the most sought after G&T programs in NYC!



Summer slide and preparing for the NYC Gifted Test

Summer is in full swing!

I’ve spoken before about the need to keep your child’s academic skills and test prep for the NYC gifted and talented test up to speed over the summer, but today I want to talk about how to keep your child’s practical skills sharp so that, when it is time to return to school, she won’t feel nervous or overwhelmed. Here are a few ways to help keep your child from falling into a rut and fall victim to the summer slide!

  • Keep a summer routine:

    Even though your child may not be getting up as early as he would during the school year, make sure he gets plenty of rest and wakes up at the same time each day. Further, keep a schedule that is fairly consistent from day to day — meals, sports, and any other regular activity should take place around the same time each day. If your child is going to a day or sleepaway camp, the routine of that experience will also help him mentally prepare for school.

  • Make time for social interaction:

    It can be easy for kids to isolate during the summer months. Family vacations, solitary games and activities, and lazy days by the pool lack the constant social interaction that kids get in school. So make sure to sign your child up for a summer camp or organized sport where she’ll have the opportunity to interact with other children her age, or at least make regular play-dates with her closest friends. This will help your child enter school confident and eager to spend time with the other children in her class.

  • Enjoy leisure reading:

    As you remember from your time in college, grad school, or even high school, an intense academic schedule leaves little time for so-called “pleasure reading.” Today’s NYC students face a similar problem, especially if they are enrolled in the gifted and talented program. So take advantage of the summer months by reading together at the beach on Coney Island — or, if your child is old enough to read to himself, by giving him time every day to do so. Go to the main NYC Library on 34th street to join their summer reading challenge. Or a bookstore and let your child pick out a few books that he wants to read. Giving your child his choice of books will reinforce that reading is fun – and will leave him excited to tackle all the “non-pleasure” reading he’ll have to face in the fall.

  • Don’t stress “back-to-school” too early:

    While it’s a good idea for you, as a parent, to always have the coming school year in the back of your mind, it’s not necessary for you to harp on the OLSAT test prep too early in the summer. Asking an occasional question like, “What are you most looking forward to next year?” is fine, and will help your child approach the year with an open mind and positive attitude. But try to avoid too many school references until two weeks before the new year starts, so that your child feels she’s had a real vacation over the summer.

Use the above tips to give your child a fulfilling and productive time off from school while avoiding the ‘summer slide’ — and get her ready to the fall when the time comes!

Now’s the time to start thinking about developing the core test skills for your child.

Watch this video to learn how:



Gifted testing flash cards for OLSAT test prep available

Testing Mom launched their new Gifted Testing Flashcards to prepare for OLSAT test

Are you looking for something fun, fast and flashy to prepare for the NYC gifted and talented test? Look no further! The folks over at Testing Mom have launched their new Gifted Testing Flashcards available on Amazon (free delivery with Prime!).  These cards help your child learn the concepts and word that he or she must know to do well on the OLSAT test for the NYC gifted and talented program. Think of these are pre-prep to the actual prep of the practice questions. You need to make sure your child knows these concepts and words prior to doing any type of practice tests with him or her.

Here’s the breakdown of what you get with these flashcards:

  • 72 cards in the box
  • Over 175 concepts taught to your child
  • Your child will learn concepts like top-middle-bottom, up-down, next-beside-near and tons more!
  • These are geared for pre-K, kindergarten, first 2nd grade students.

These featured the Testing Mom Space Babies that allow your child to have fun and learn at the same time! They will want to play and engage while learning these concepts. It’s also a great way to bond with your child while preparing for the OLSAT test. Learning these sections of the test:

  • Ability to follow directions
  • Aural reasoning
  • Listening skills
  • Verbal skills
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Language and vocabulary

Here are a few of the many benefits of using the flashcards:

  • Reduces screen time.
  • Engages both you and your child.
  • They are re-usable and you can mix it up.
  • Great family time before bed or first thing in the morning!
  • Awesome for long trips in the car or on the plane.
  • Get grandma and grandpa involved with prepping. Have them play the cards with your child (fun for all!)
  • Not only helps with testing, it helps with school success! Helps your child make more A’s!

Gifted Testing Flashcards to practice for OLSAT and other popular verbal tests for gifted and talented programs.

These cards will help parents prepare their kids for the New York City Gifted and Talented test verbal section. It’s for these grades:

  • OLSAT verbal test level A
    • for Pre-K and Kindergarten entry
  • OLSAT verbal test level B
    • For first grade students entering second grade

 



What’s the Stanford-Binet Vocabulary test?

Many NYC parents confused about the vocabulary section of the Stanford-Binet

For vocabulary items on the Stanford-Binet test, children are first asked to say the names of pictures they are shown. These are the types of questions asked of a child when applying for Hunter College Elementary Gifted Program in NYC.  In these vocabulary questions the pictures are of items that would be familiar to a child of the age being tested.  Then, children are asked to define words that children that the psychologist reads aloud.  These are words that young children should know by the time they are tested. Keep in mind, this test is only given in English.  The test proctor starts with simple words like “banana,” “toy,” “dog”) and become increasingly more difficult and abstract with words like “fear”, “calm”. If your child misses five questions in a row, the tester moves on to the next subtest. Otherwise, your child will continually be asked questions with more and more difficulty.

Younger children are asked to name a picture they are shown.  You can see an example of this on the right side of the page.  “What is this?”  “A bicycle” or “bike” would be the right answer.

Stanford-Binet practice question: Parent ask, “What is this?”

Children are then asked to define words.  “Tell me in words, what does ‘antique’ mean?”  Your child will be given additional credit if he or she gives a more elaborate and sophisticated response.  For example, if your daughter answers this question with “old,” she might get 1 point.  If she answers it with, “Antique is a very old piece of furniture, like those from the colonial era,” she would get 2 points.  If your son gives a limited response to this type of question, the psychologist will encourage him to say more.  You should do the same while practicing for the Stanford-Binet test and every day conversation.  “What other items are antiques?”  “Have you ever seen an antique? Tell me about it?”