NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing

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?

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!


Top 10 gifted and talented programs in NYC
December 20, 2017, 4:47 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags:

Subjective review of the top 10 gifted and talented programs in NYC

According to Insider Monkey, there’s an actual pecking order for NYC gifted and talented schools. This includes elementary through high school programs.  They did an analysis based upon information they found on DNA Info (now out of business), a company that preys off the fears of parents of kids taking the gifted and talented test (Test Prep Online) and Google Reviews (given by named and unnamed/anonymous sources). With that being said, please take this “top 10” list with a grain of salt and do your own primary and secondary research when selecting a gifted program for your talented tot!


  1. PS 10 – Magnet School Of Math Science & Design Tech Google rating: 4.9 out of 5; 511 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
  2. P.S. 77 Lower Lab School, Google rating: 4.8 out of 5;  1700 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10128
  3. Staten Island Technical High School Google rating: 4.6 out of 5; 485  Clawson St, Staten Island, NY 10306
  4. The Anderson School  Google rating: 4.6 out of 5; 100 W 77th St, New York, NY 10024
  5. Brooklyn School of Inquiry, Google rating: 4.4 out of 5; 50 Avenue P, Brooklyn, NY 11204
  6. NEST+m, Google rating: 4.3 out of 5; 111 Columbia St, New York, NY 10002
  7.  Stuyvesant High School, Google rating: 4.3 out of 5;  345 Chambers St, New York, NY 10282
  8. TAG Young Scholars School, Google rating: 4.2 out of 5; 240 E 109th St, New York, NY 10029
  9. The 30th Avenue School, Google rating: 4.2 out of 5;  28-37 29th St, Astoria, NY 11102
  10. Mark Twain Intermediate School 239, Google rating: 3.9 out of 5; 2401 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Gifted programs vs. general ed
November 17, 2017, 5:16 am
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags:

Is there a difference between a gifted program and general education?

Many gifted programs in New York City work at an accelerated pace. Unfortunately, in a general education program there may be slower learners and a lot of times the teachers are pressured to bring the slower learners up to speed. In a gifted program you rarely have that case because all of the kids are performing at or above grade level, so therefore the pace of the program can be very rapid and the teacher doesn’t feel like he or she is leaving kids behind because all of the kids are pretty much at the same pace.

I would also say in many instances, and you would need to check with your local school district depending on where you live, many of the teachers are certified in gifted education, which means they have a deeper knowledge of gifted every education and how it all works. Many of these teachers want to be gifted teachers so they have an excitement, not only for teaching, but also for teaching gifted or advanced students which adds index to layer of, I would say extra layer of credibility to the teachers who actually teach in many of the gifted programs. But you want to check your local school to see if the gifted teachers are certified or what type of extra education the teachers may have.

The next question is, “Shouldn’t I just let her,” I guess her child, “be a kid in a regular class without all that pressure?”

Well, I don’t think there’s a lot of extra pressure in a gifted classroom. I wouldn’t worry about that. If your child does qualify to be in the gifted program chances are they’ll be able to handle the level of work that’s in the program. What you want to do, certainly before you choose a gifted program, you want to go visit the schools, tour the programs, see if it feels like a good fit for your child, but it’s not like because they’re in a gifted program they’re going to be under a lot of pressure to perform that’s that different from being in a general ed classroom. It’s just that they’re going to be working at a different pace that is the pace they can handle and that they love to learn in.

I mean there’s nothing worse than when you have a gifted child in a general ed classroom whose very, very bored because they’re doing lessons that they already know and understand. Like if you’ve got a child who’s, let’s say a kid in first grade and she’s reading at a second or third grade level, and they’re just learning how to decipher and decode basic words that child’s going to be bored. It’s really more about getting your child in a class that’s at the right level for their intellectual capabilities. That’s what you’re looking for so if your child qualifies I wouldn’t worry about them feeling like they’re under a lot of pressure.


Folding laundry and preparing for the OLSAT test
November 6, 2017, 11:05 am
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags:

Did you know that something as simple as sorting laundry helps develop your tot’s higher order thinking?

Sorting laundry into different colors requires that your child arrange items into different categories, classify them into groups and compare what goes together and what doesn’t. These skills are very commonly assessed on OLSAT test that your child will take for admissions into the NYC Gifted and Talented Program.

When children use their minds to evaluate what they see, hear or read and then make decisions, reach conclusions or solve problems based on their analysis of that information, that child is using higher order thinking or cognitive skills. The OLSAT test evaluates how well children think in many different ways.

Here are three types of questions that assess a young child’s higher order thinking skills.

  1. The child has to decide which picture doesn’t belong. Four of the insects have wings, so they go together. The snail can’t fly so it doesn’t belong and that’s our answer.
  2. In another type of question, the child has to decide which of these figural images doesn’t belong. This type of question can be very tricky. Here all the small black boxes are set in corners except for the middle picture. That’s our answer because it doesn’t belong.
  3. Other OLSAT questions require a different kind of sorting. The child must choose one picture on top that goes with one picture on the bottom. The pig goes with the cow because they’re both farm animals.

Sorting laundry is just one of the ways you can teach your child the skill of classifying in everyday life. You can start today with Testing Mom preparing your child for the New York City Gifted and Talented exam.


Back story on my situation
October 30, 2017, 11:43 am
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program

How I began writing about the NYC G&T program

I think, and just to give you a little backstory on my situation, my daughter is now in middle school. I can’t believe it. She’s in 7th grade. She was accepted into the New York City Gifted and Talented Program at the ripe old age of four going on five, going into Kindergarten. She took the G&T test here in New York when she was in Pre-K. She started the kindergarten program at a gifted school PS 33 Chelsea Prep. It just really accelerated her learning. It really put her in an environment where she could thrive. It put her in an environment where children were working at her same pace and her same level. Therefore, the class could move at a much faster pace through the curriculum and through the material that the teacher presented.

Also, one of the bigger benefits that I found was just the experiential component that really allowed her to thrive and to grow intellectually, and also socially as well within a gifted program. A good example of that is when she was in fourth grade. They did a whole study in the classroom over the Constitution, what the Constitution means, all the history behind the Constitution. They studied that for about two or three weeks. Then after that series of studies they all took a field trip down to Philadelphia, which is a little over an hour train ride from New York City to Philadelphia. Actually, I had the honor of attending that as well as a chaperone.

We did a whole tour of Philadelphia, Constitution Hall, Liberty Bell. I think we even saw Betsy Ross’ home. We learned a lot about Benjamin Franklin as well. Those were some of the benefits that I saw, was really taking what was learned in the classroom and actually putting it into a real life experiential experience.

One of the questions I get as far as these gifted programs are “Well, does the child develop, are they going to have social skills?” It’s like, yes. It’s like a regular classroom in that context. They’re just not drilling the kids day after day. It’s a very stimulating environment where all the kids thrive. They do socialization.

I’ve gotten this question too:” “I don’t want to steal my child’s childhood away from him or her.” That is never the case. If your child thrives in an environment and really loves to learn, they’re really going to excel at one of these programs. That’s why I strongly encourage if your child is eligible to test, please, please get them tested. I can tell you, I did not grow up in New York City. I grew up in Oklahoma and there was no gifted program. We went to the school that was down the street in our neighborhood. When I moved to New York City I felt a little strange testing my four year old daughter, but I can tell you that was the best decision that we ever made.

If you’re contemplating that, just make sure that you really keep the long term picture in mind. I can tell you that decision that my wife and I made back in 2009 set my daughter up for he excellent education that she’s currently getting in middle school. Then next year she gets to take the specialized high school exam here in New York City, which is very competitive as well. I can tell you, that decision we made when she was four years old is a direct impact of where she is today. You as a parent, you have to really think long term as you’re really planning your child’s education out. Getting in the program is just the first part.

A father tells all about TAG city wide gifted program
October 20, 2017, 8:34 am
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags:

Moise, a father of a kindergartner, recently spoke to a group of parents about his experienced with the NYC G&T program

His story:

“I was just in your seat last year and I remember having another parent be here and just give the value of just a third party who’s not affiliated, and impartial, give their opinion on the process. My son currently just started kindergarten at TAG Young Scholars, which is a citywide school. Yeah, I just actually came back from curriculum night, I don’t have a pink backpack but he forgot his lunchbox, so the green Ninja Turtle lunchbox, just to overdue what Michael. Yeah, so I guess to talk about my experience, if you’re here, you’re in the right place. I mean, you made the biggest step you could possibly make in terms of helping your son get the best possible education they can get. I just want to reassure you, pat you on the back, you guys are amazing.”

“The next thing is why. My story is when my son was one, my wife, she was working at the time and she decided to go into teaching, she got a job. He had to go to daycare. I was working on Wall Street. I figured, hey, I could just call random day cares and get him in, next week or two weeks. I went on Google and I searched “best daycare in New York City” and called the first one I could find. I was like, “Yeah, I’d like to sign up my kid, I want to take a tour.” It was like, “Oh, you want to sign him up for next year?” I was like, “No, I want to sign him up for next week.” “No, parents who come to our daycare apply for a year in advance.” When I hung up the phone I got like this crushing feeling in my stomach and I remember saying to myself, “I will never, because of my ineptitude, will my son not have an opportunity to have the best.”

“That began my quest in trying to figure out every possible thing about the educational system and I guess I became a mini expert. Through that process I found out that there was a gifted and talented program. The first thing I want to tell you is that you will hear a lot of misinformation about gifted and talented programs but Karen Quinn and her program will provide you the absolute best and correct information out there. Her website is full of, it’s inexhaustible resources. I mean, interviews with professionals and psychologists and she’s always putting stuff out there. This is the best money you could spend in terms of signing up for her website and the one year membership, totally a no-brainer.”

“We also have the game, as well, which is very helpful because at some point your kid might just get tired of doing the questions. The game helps to disarm the environment and help to not focus on the questions. Kids learn best through play, so if you make it fun and you turn it into a game, it really, really helps a lot. A big plug for the game as well.”

“I guess I would say that when one of the parents that were speaking, when I was in your shoes, they mentioned about not just prepping for the tests in terms of knowledge but prepping for the test psychologically as you mentioned. In terms of visiting the school and getting your son familiar with strangers, one of the tips that I heard … Actually, let me tell you this, she gave out a tip sheet on what to do and I just followed everything to the T. Like what Michael said about, “You’re going to a school next week, we’re visiting the school and you’re going to meet someone and they’re just going to ask you questions.”

“I told him he’s going to play brain games, I didn’t tell him about the test. That was actually a tip from Karen Quinn, don’t mention the word test because that could make them have anxiety. When we were at the test, I actually saw kids being dragged in by the instructor, they were screaming and crying and that’s just not the best way to get started on a test. You’re already anxious so I was really grateful to that, I kind of … You could hear the parents, like, “Yo, come on, you better do your best”, like kind of pressuring the kid. I think that what I did is I didn’t even let him know that it was a test and I helped to say, “Oh, this is just like the brain games we do at home.”

“Also you may be overwhelmed. I worked on Wall Street, I was extremely busy. I didn’t really have time to spend hours prepping him but the website is really good because you can print out the questions and you can do them, like, you’re at Trader Joe’s, you start to get familiar with the prep questions and you kind of make up … Like you see your kid get something wrong, like say it’s a math question, you can kind of make up those questions in a different environment to help them answer those questions sort of while you’re about your daily shopping or your daily routine.”

“A little bit every day is much better than a lot in one sitting. You guys have ample time to sort of do like five minutes a day and then I increased his sort of ability to do more by doing 10 minutes a day and then I tried to go crazy and do 20 minutes a day and we had one of those tantrums we talked about. I felt like giving up and I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is not going to work.” Then I emailed Karen and she came back to me, like, almost right away which is unheard of, like, customer service in terms of trying to give me the right information to get to ready to go.”

“She said I had five minutes but I didn’t check the time I started. I just want to let you guys know that this program is awesome and Karen Quinn is phenomenal and I will endorse her till death do we part. Because if it wasn’t for her, I’m pretty sure my kid … I mean, it’s 99. It only takes one question or he could’ve been one question away from getting a 97 which wouldn’t qualify him for a citywide school.”

“It’s to the point where like, we’re doing a test question and one of the questions was, “Which one’s fewer?” Now, he knows which one’s less, but typically in our home we don’t use the word fewer, so just because he knows the answer doesn’t mean he’s going to get it right because he doesn’t understand the vocabulary fewer. He can’t ask the teacher what does fewer mean, you have to sort of kind of tell, you have to sort of practice with the question. The questions that they give you help you to prepare your kid with the vocabulary. That whole week, I was always talking about, I used fewer like crazy because . He’s going to get that one right.”

“This is a great program, like I said many times, and I think I’m going to stop now. If you guys have any questions, I’ll be here at the end and I’ll be glad to help you answer it. There is a really big difference between these schools and the general schools, it’s night and day, it’s a totally different environment. Kids learn so much from each other. My wife is also a teacher so I can also attest to the fact that there’s a lot of pressure on teachers to sort of meet certain numbers and so on and so forth, so they really, really focus on the lower half of those kids.”

“When you’re in a gifted and talented school like mine, I just came back from curriculum night at the school and everything’s differentiated. They take your kid at whatever level they’re at and they tailor the educational process for them. If your kid comes in not reading versus your kid comes in reading, then your kid may be at a level D and at the end of the year they’ll be at level E, F or G, versus a kid who’s not reading might be at a level D at the end of the year. In another school, your kid might totally be ignored because they’re so gifted and they’re so smart, and the teacher’s only focused on getting those kids who are not, to the next level. Good luck on your tests and have a good night.”