NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


Avoid the summer slide
June 23, 2017, 12:25 pm
Filed under: nnat test, OLSAT Test | Tags: ,

As I’m sure you’ve heard the “summer slide” is no joke. This is where your child can lose up to 3 to 4 months of learning during the summer months unless learning activities take place. Along with preparing your child for the upcoming NYC G&T with practice questions for OLSAT and NNAT2 tests here are a few activities you and your child can do to keep the activities fresh, fun and educational during the long break from school to avoid the summer slide!

  • Outdoor play date: If the weather is cooperating, take your child and her friends outside for a game of hide-and-seek or tag. Or plan a scavenger hunt for plants and animals that can be found in your backyard or a nearby park. This is a great way to get your kids some physical activity and sunshine, while also letting them run around and just be kids!
  • Trip to the zoo: Take your child and his friend to the local zoo. The wide array of animals — many of which your child probably hasn’t seen before — will be sure to start a conversation. And of course, a trip to the zoo is a great educational opportunity, since it teaches your child about a broad variety of animals living in different habitats. If you don’t have a zoo within reach, look for aquariums or petting zoos — these can be just as fun and educational!
  • Baking or cooking: If your child likes to eat (and whose doesn’t?), what better way to spend an afternoon than baking or cooking together? Have your child and his friend help you read a recipe, measure out ingredients, or mix a batter. By helping you in the kitchen, your child will learn about measurements — how many tablespoons are in a cup, for example — and focusing on the task at hand will improve his attention span. This also presents a great opportunity to remind your child and his friend that they should never be in the kitchen by themselves, especially when sharp objects are around or the oven is on.
  • Reading marathon: Reading to children is a time-honored activity. And while many parents choose to read to their child at bedtime, why not mix it up and read a book to your child when she has a friend over? Let each child pick a book, then sit down and read each one aloud. Take time to show the pictures to each child, and make sure to enunciate the words to help expand your child’s vocabulary. If the children are old enough, have them sound out the words and then repeat them back. This will be invaluable in building their reading comprehension.
  • Homemade band: Round up all the instruments (or quasi-instruments) that you have in your house — xylophones, keyboards, recorders, whatever! — and put them all in the same room. Then have your child and her friend hunt for items that could be used as instruments — for example, a pot and a metal spoon to be used as a drum. Have the children bring those “instruments” into the same room, and jam out together! You can join the kids, or just sit back and watch as they perform for you.

A child can lose up to 4 months of learning during the summer break and thus that’s where the name “summer slide” comes from!

If you’re looking for a program this summer to avoid the summer slide, my friends over at FasTracKids still have space available for their summer programs. Their locations:

  • Brooklyn
  • Manhattan
  • Staten Island
  • Queens

You can sign-up for the all summer long program or do week by week. It’s up to you!



Preparing for the OLSAT test
June 20, 2017, 2:09 pm
Filed under: OLSAT Test | Tags: ,

A story of properly preparing for the OLSAT test

I first met Sally a few years ago, when she was getting ready to apply her child to their local Gifted and Talented program. Sally wanted her son Brett to make it into the program, not only because he’s naturally bright and curious, but because her default school isn’t anything to write home about. Don’t get me wrong: Brett’s school was better than most, but Sally could tell that he wasn’t engaged by the material, and many days he came home with a bored, apathetic look on his face.

Sally knew the gifted program was competitive, so she began preparing about six months out since she heard that the OLSAT test was being given. Based upon her research she knew this wasn’t about ABC’s and 123’s. I know what you’re thinking: six months isn’t a whole lot of time. That’s true, and many parents do start preparing their child for the OLSAT much sooner. That said, six months is plenty of time to get your child ready for the OLSAT test if you develop a schedule and take the right actions.

That’s where Sally fell short.

It isn’t that Sally failed to develop a plan to practice and prep on a daily basis. On that front, she had it down: she decided early on that she would practice every weekday with Brett, and that she would work not only on his test-taking skills but also his attention span. This was especially important given that Brett was a mere six years old and the OLSAT test would require him to sit still for at least half an hour. Sally decided to start by practicing for five minutes a day, then move up to 10, and eventually get Brett to focus on test prep materials for a full 45 minutes.

It isn’t that Sally was opposed to the idea of preparing for the test. That’s an objection I get from parents a lot, whether it’s because they’re afraid their child will be “caught” preparing for the test, or because they think the whole concept of getting your child ready for one of the most important tests of their life is “cheating.” Of course, your personal views on the merit of test prep or even of testing in general are essentially irrelevant: standardized testing isn’t going away – if anything, it’s becoming more common. Your choice is either to work within the system to make sure your child gains every possible advantage, or risk having them left behind in favor of kids whose parents were more proactive. It’s up to you.

No, Sally’s problem is that she spent the entire time she worked with Brett using a single workbook consisting of about 100 questions. Don’t get me wrong: this was a top-flight workbook with a good variety of questions, and would make a great addition to any parent’s preparation package. The problem is that, within a week of getting started, Brett had practically memorized not only the questions but the order in which they appeared. That meant that, as the weeks went by and Brett got “better” at answering the questions, he was actually just robotically spouting the answers in exactly the order he’d seen them before.

As a result, Brett never really developed the skills he needed to ace the test. When test day rolled around, Brett was presented with questions he’d never seen before – and he didn’t know how to work through them to reach the right answer.

Because Brett had at least been exposed to the concepts tested on the exam, he did better than most kids, earning a score in the 96th percentile. But this wasn’t enough to get him a spot in the gifted program, and he was sent back to general education for another year. Sally was devastated, and didn’t know what to do. In her mind, she had done everything possible to prepare Brett for the test, and it still hadn’t been enough. She quickly became convinced that Brett was doomed to spend the rest of his life in his average school, receiving a middling education and losing the opportunities that a top-notch program would have afforded him.

Fortunately, Sally ended up emailing me, and I pointed out the central mistake of her OLSAT test-prep strategy – and how to fix it. You see, Sally was fortunate in that she had the opportunity to have Brett tested again the following year (some schools and school districts only offer your child one real shot to get into an advanced program, so you have to get it right the first time). I told Sally to imagine the difference that she could make if she exposed Brett not to 100 questions, presented in the same order every time, but thousands of different questions in a number of different formats: worksheets, online games, and a mobile app. Being exposed to so many different materials would give Brett the ability to develop the skills he needed to get a top score, and would have the added benefit of helping his grades in school!

Sally vowed that she would never again confine Brett to a strategy consisting solely of workbooks. She took my advice and signed-up for Testing Mom. She worked with Brett again, this time using Testing Mom practice questions, online games, and partner programs to get him ready for test day.

I’m happy to report that Sally and Brett’s story has a happy ending: on his second try, Brett scored in the 99th percentile on the test, and is now thriving in the NEST+M city wide gifted and talented program since Sally helped him prepare with OLSAT sample questions and practice tests. The best part of all? You don’t have to make the same mistake Sally did. Get your child off on the right foot the first time around. It’s quite possibly the best decision you’ll ever make as a parent.



Parents frazzled by gifted and talented testing

Many parents don’t know how to handle OLSAT test and NNAT-2 test prep

Many parents, already frazzled when their child begins school in the fall, receive a shock when they learn that their child is eligible to test for the NYC Gifted and Talented program. These G&T programs are invaluable to your child’s education and available in all 5 boroughs across the city. As parents have realized over the years, once their child was is admitted into a G&T program it determined their entire educational trajectory.

However, these initial notes usually do not contain much information on the program or the testing process. The test for NYC gifted and talented admission administered to students does not varies from district to district.

Many times, a citywide or district wide school will simply give a test date (for kids already attending the public school) and leave the rest up to the parents. Thankfully, in NYC the names of the tests (OLSAT test and NNAT-2 test)are given to parents and are able to start preparing months (and in some cases years!) in advance. It is extremely important to get a jump on test prep as soon as you receive word that your child will be tested. These programs are highly competitive and your child may miss out on the program by not testing into the top 99th percentile on the combined OLSAT and NNAT-2. That does not leave much room for error.

How do you discover which test your child will be given to apply to the G&T program? As soon as you receive the note or email that your child can apply to the G&T program , start by looking on NYC Dept. of Ed website.

Gifted and Talented programs are becoming more and more competitive in New York City. Last year, there were over 2,000 more pre-K students who took the test (16,500) compared to 14,500 the previous year.  Some parents have gone through the process with one child already and have a head start on you if this is your first time through the system. The best way to help your child is to find out immediately which test they will be taking, and start preparing them for that test immediately.

If you do not prepare your child, they will be blindsided by the format of the test, especially if your child is testing to get into gifted kindergarten. This kind of stressful testing situation is what can create test anxiety in your children. Think about if you were 4 years old and asked question after question for an hour, not having been exposed to the format before or even understanding why you were there in the first place. That is a very confusing situation and greatly increases the chances that your child will receive a low score.

Good luck with your Gifted and Talented adventure!



NYC gifted and talented test results released

The NYC gifted and talented test results released!

It looks like overall the scores were consistent with previous years although 35% of the students who took the test and qualified did not receive placement. This is due to the shear volume of kids who take the test and make a qualifying score and the limited amount of seats for the gifted and talented program for district wide and city wide programs. Here’s a quick rundown of how it panned out:

  • Over 2,000 pre-K students this year took the G&T test compared to last year for a total of 16,580 4-year-olds. Last year, 14,500 took the test.
  • District 2 has the smartest kids (if you go by the scores). This is the district in Manhattan that spans from downtown through Battery Park City, Tribeca, mid-town up through the Upper East Side. Must be something in the water that these kids always seem to score above and beyond the rest of the districts in the city. Over 45% of the kids taking the test in district two qualified for the gifted program. Once word is out the property values will skyrocket even higher!
  • This year, 7,442 students applied for a seat, compared to 8,220 students last year
  • 65.0 percent of applying kindergartners (2,366 students) received an offer for a seat, a decrease from 69.5 percent (2,507 students) last year
  • In total, 54.0 percent of applicants (4,018 students) received an offer, up from 53.4 percent of applicants (4,392 students) last year. The total amount of seats available is around 2,400 between all the district wide and citywide programs in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Bronx.
  • Many parents have questions how the test is scored. Learn more about how they score the OLSAT and NNAT-2 test for the NYC gifted and talented program.