NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing

It’s that time of year for NY State ELA and Math tests!
March 14, 2018, 1:59 pm
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Start preparing for the upcoming ELA and math tests for New York!

The common core state tests for New York State are just around the corner and if you’re a parent of a NYC 4th grader or 7th grader now is the time to panic! As you know, these tests are used for middle school and high school admissions for many selective schools within New York City. The state has released teachers guides to the upcoming common core testing (aka PARCC tests) that are available for everyone to review. Here are some highlights on how the test will be administered this year according to the guide:

  • For the ELA test
    • The 2018 Grades 3–8 English Language Arts Tests consist of two sessions that are administered over two days.
    • Students will be provided as much time as necessary to complete each test session.
    • On average, students in Grades 3–4 will likely need approximately 60–70 minutes of working time to complete each of the two test sessions. Students in Grades 5–8 will likely need approximately 80–90 minutes of working time to complete each of the two test sessions.
  • For the math test
    • The 2018 Grades 3–8 Mathematics Tests takes place over two days and consist of two sessions.
    • Students will be provided as much time as necessary to complete each test session. In other words, no time limit.
    • On average, students in Grade 3 will likely need approximately 55–65 minutes to complete Session 1 and 60–70 minutes to complete Session 2. Students in Grade 4 will likely need approximately 65–75 minutes to complete each of the two test sessions. Students in Grade 5 will likely need approximately 80–90 minutes to complete Session 1 and 70–80 minutes to complete Session 2. Students in Grades 6–8 will likely need approximately 80–90 minutes to complete Session 1 and 75–85 minutes to complete Session 2.

Looking for practice questions? Review what they have to offer at Testing Mom!

Helping your child combat test anxiety
March 1, 2018, 9:08 am
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Tips and tricks on helping your child overcome test taking anxiety

As the NYC Gifted and Talented Test drawers near tensions will run high in your household. Even if you look calm, cool and collected your child will pick up on your own nervousness as the time for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 comes near. Here are a few tips to help you and your child to manage the stressful process as it comes to the taking the big test.

Get prepared! There’s nothing like knowing what to expect to anything in life, especially when it comes to taking the test. Making sure your child is fully prepared will put your child in control of anxiety. That’s why your using resources available to like programs like Testing Mom.

Here are some things you’ll want to do for maximum performance on the test.

  • Exercise – make sure you get lots of outdoor time with your child in the weeks and months prior to test. This helps reduce stress by pumping endorphin in your child’s system. It increase the oxygen supply so your child will be able to perform his or her best on test day. Chose an activity that your child really likes within moderation. Playing at the park or walking around the neighborhood are great activities for your little one.
  • Diet – first and foremost, cut out all the junk food and save it for after the test. Your child’s body needs a balanced and nutrition diet for peak performance. Make sure your child eats plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with appropriate proteins. Research shows that foods that have high levels of lecithin (i.e. fish, beans) are known as “brain foods”. If you plan on changing your child’s diet to be more healthy make sure you do it weeks or months in advance of the test.
  • Rest – now is not the time to experiment with your child going to be at all hours of the night. Keep your child’s bed routine the same during the week and weekends for the month prior to the test. It’s extremely important that this schedule is strictly enforced since you don’t want your child to show up on test day grumpy from not getting enough sleep. If your child is more of a morning person then schedule your child’s test during the morning hours or if your child is an afternoon person then schedule the time after lunch.


Fast forward to test day
February 26, 2018, 5:53 pm
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Make sure your child aces the OLSAT and NNAT tests

Many months prior to the big test you’ve prepared your child and now you’re both ready! You’ve practice with flash cards, workbooks and sites like You’ve developed test taking strategies to teach your child to focus, listen and sit still for a whole hour! Now that deserves a big award! With all that being said, your child is much more prepared than the vast majority of kids taking the NYC G&T test so give yourself a big pat on the back. Now your child will walk into the test room with comfort and ready to succeed.  Here are some quick final preparations for the test day:

  • Getting to the test site
    • Make sure you’ve done a “dry run” if you are using public transportation or driving
    • Date of exam
    • Departure time from your home
    • How long will it take you to get to the exam site?
  • Night before the test
    • Clothes your child will wear
    • Proper ID for when you’re checking in
    • Make sure you bring a book or toy (non-electronic) for your child to play with in the waiting area.

You’re set!


Getting your child to take the OLSAT and NNAT tests!

Preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests
February 15, 2018, 3:26 pm
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Taking any test can be tough, especially if you’re 4 years old

First, the bad news. Preparing a young child for the NYC Gifted and Talented Test takes works, lots of work! And if you want your child to get admitted to a citywide or district gifted program, your child must receive a qualifying score. There are many pitfalls and obstacles that can stand in the way of your child getting a top score on the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests:

  • Being unfamiliar with the types of questions on the test
  • Test anxiety and not being able sit still for an hour with a stranger
  • Leaving preparing your child for the test to the last minute
  • Not preparing at all
  • Not knowing basic test taking skills like process of elimination and guessing

One of things most parents experience is test anxiety even though they aren’t the ones taking the test! You want to make sure you don’t transfer your anxiety onto your child. You want to make sure your child is prepared and that will help eliminate the anxiety for both you and your child.

Here are a few tips to help eliminate test anxiety:

  • Teach your child to breathe slowly during test and stretch if they need to.
  • Tell your child it’s ok to ask the test proctor (teacher) to take a break to use the restroom during the test.
  • Make sure you visit the testing facility PRIOR to test day so your child is familiar with the school and you can tell your child you’ll be returning to speak to a teacher “who wants to know everything a 4 year old knows!”

Once you’re in the final stretch with test day is within 30 days make sure you make a 30-day plan to really get your child prepared for the test.

  • Do a mock exam from sites like where you can get a good gauge of where your child is at in knowing the concepts on the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests
  • Do not change your child’s schedule and make sure you keep a solid routine with diet, bedtime and anything to keep the schedule normal. Now is not the time to go on vacation, change your child’s diet (unless it’s unhealthy) or change bedtime or wake time in the morning.

Huge mistake parents make
February 2, 2018, 3:19 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: ,

Not planning to prep for the OLSAT or NNAT? Huge mistake.

Everyone makes mistakes, right? It’s a big part of what makes us human and being parents. If we were all perfect, life would be a lot more boring (but also a lot easier!).

Unfortunately, as parents, the mistakes we make in raising our children can affect our kids’ quality of life for years to come.  So many parents have told me about the devastating effects of technology.  These are typically parents who let their kids fritter away watching Disney TV non-stop, and playing mindless video games, without so much as glancing at skill-building materials that help keep them fresh on the subjects they learn in school.

Another common story I hear is from parents who failed to adequately prepare their children for the NYC Gifted and Talented or private school entrance exam. Many parents assume that these tests will be super easy and includes simple questions, especially if their children are only 4 or 5 years old. Boy, are these parents wrong; dead wrong. I can’t tell you how many parents have told me after the fact to tell me something along the lines of, “I just assumed the test would cover basic colors and shapes. That’s why it didn’t even occur to me to prepare for the test ahead of time.” Unfortunately, these parents didn’t find programs like Testing Mom before the big test. Many other parents, knowing that their child is extremely bright or possibly even gifted, are confident that they’ll do fine on the test no matter how hard it is. This is yet another big mistake I see time and time again. What these parents don’t realize is that there are a limited amount of seats in NYC for the gifted program and even missing a few questions on the test can cause their child to not qualify for a program when all the other kids score higher. For parents who don’t take preparation seriously, it can be a devastating blow when they get the OLSAT and NNAT-2 test scores back and find out that their child scored well below the level they would need to make it into an advanced program.

Perhaps the most common mistake I see from parents – and one that can actually be the most devastating – isn’t so much a mistake as it is an attitude toward testing and education in general. Many parents have a negative connotation of preparation and of the process that lets their children get into gifted and talented programs. The vast majority of the time, these parents’ attitudes are understandable and many times even commendable. Basically, these parents want to leave their child’s education to “chance” and hope for the best. Typically, these parents are worried that by preparing their kids for a test, they’ll be “taking away their childhood” or even considered “cheating,” since these parents think the test is designed to measure children on an even playing field. What I tell these parents is that, regardless of their personal view on testing and education, testing is here to stay – and so is test prep. Countless other parents across the city are making sure that their children are ready for test day and beyond, by working with their child on a daily basis to make sure they have the skills they need to not only keep up, but soar ahead of their classmates.

Let’s face it, it’s up to YOU to make sure these scenarios don’t play out for your son or daughter. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to make the same mistakes other parents before you have made. Only you have the power to make sure your child is afforded every opportunity for a stellar education – but you have to put in the effort, and you have to start now. Learn from the mistakes of those parents who have gone before you who didn’t prepare their child for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests.  If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Tips and Tricks to Raising Your Child’s IQ

By age 5, most children in America will have been given some kind of intelligence test

Whether it is for private school admissions, NYC gifted and talented qualification, or public school placement in slow, average or accelerated learning groups most kids will be given some sort of intelligence test. IQ tests cover the 7-abilities children need to thrive in the classroom: language, information, memory, math, spatial, thinking and fine-motor skills.  Here are some of my tips for building these abilities from Karen Quinn, the Testing Mom.

Tips and Tricks on helping raise your child’s IQ!


1.  Talk to your child about anything and everything all the time.  This will strengthen her language skills. Children raised in high-language households have IQ scores that are 38-points higher than kids brought up in low language homes.


2.  Read concept books such as Richard Scarry’s Best First Book Ever or DK Publishing’s My First Word Book to your child.  Children tested for kindergarten are expected to know colors, shapes, seasons, fruit, farm animals – all the basicinformation kids are exposed to through picture books, preschool, and life itself.  If your child knows everything covered in these books, she’ll be ready.


3.  Challenge your child’s memory.  After you read your child a book, ask him to tell you the story back in his own words. Make patterns using Fruit Loops or colored beads, cover them up, and see if he can recreate them. These activities will build your child’s verbal and visual memory.


4.  Inject math concepts into your conversations.  “Dinner will be ready in five minutes.”  “Do you want a whole cookie or a half a cookie?”  “Look how cute your toes are.  Let’s count them.” “You have three M&Ms. I’ll give you two more.  Now you’ll have five.” You can even bring up math when reading picture books.  “Look at that funny octopus.  How many legs does he have?”


5.  Give your child blocks, puzzles, Lincoln Logs, Legos or Duplos to play with.  These will bolster his spatial skills.  You can also look for spatial challenges in Highlights Magazine, which always features hidden pictures inside other pictures, or read a Where’s Waldo book and let your child find Waldo.


6.  Let your child solve problems. When the ball rolls behind the console, ask him to come up with ways to retrieve it.  When he can’t get dressed in time for school, let him think of ideas to get ready faster. Give him a voice in making simple choices so he’ll become a decision-maker.  Children who are allowed to think for themselves at home develop solid cognitive skills.


7.  Keep craft supplies handy and let your child create on rainy days. Colored paper, crayons, scissors, glue, glitter, paint, markets, brushes, Q-tips, Play-Doh – working with these materials strengthens fine-motor skills, which are simply your child’s ability to control her hands and fingers.

Debunking myths of the NYC Gifted and Talented Program

Well folks, the DOE is debunking all the rumors and innuendos floating around the city about the NYC Gifted and Talented Program. We’re here to set the record straight by debunking myths of the NYC Gifted and Talented Program.

  • There are two type of G&T programs in NYC. TRUE!
    • District G&T programs give an admissions priority to applicants who live in their district. These programs are located within district elementary schools. Citywide G&T programs give no admissions priority based on district of residence and all students in these schools attend the G&T program.
  • Students must take both the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests to participate in the NYC gifted program. TRUE!
    • If your child attends public kindergarten through second grade, they will take the G&T Test at school during the school day. If your child attends pre-K or non-public school, they can take the G&T Test on one of several weekend dates. Submit the RFT online and early for the best chance to get your preferred test date and location.
  • Students must score a 90th percentile combined score on the NNAT-2 test and OLSAT test to get a G&T application. TRUE!
    • A student who scores 90 or higher can apply for District G&T programs. A student who scores 97 or higher can apply for District and Citywide G&T programs. Make sure you check out free practice questions from programs like Testing Mom! 
  • There is NO guarantee that a student will get a G&T offer letter, regardless of their score. TRUE!
    • G&T programs are so high in demand and usually there are more eligible students than there are seats available. Even at a 99th percentile there are no guarantees.
  • G&T programs give an admissions priority to students with siblings currently enrolled in their programs. TRUE!
    • If your child applies to a G&T program at a school that their sibling attends, they have greater priority to attend that program than applicants without siblings at the school.
  • Only current pre-K through second grade students can participate in the admissions process for the Gifted and Talented Program TRUE!