NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


Signs of a gifted child
August 13, 2017, 11:06 am
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program, OLSAT Test | Tags: ,

Do you think your child might be gifted? If so, keep reading!

We all think our child is the brightest kid on the planet (and we’re all convinced that we’re right!). Especially if you’re a parent in New York City! And we tend to have thousands of anecdotes to prove our child’s academic fortitude. You’ve probably known since the day he or she was born that your child was smart. But how can you know whether your child is “gifted” in the sense that NYC gifted and talented schools and teachers use the word?

Educational psychologists perform questionnaires and interviews of children and parents in an effort to determine whether a child is gifted. During this process, psychologists look for a number of attributes or markers that tend to point to an advanced child. In addition to taking tests like the Stanford-Binet and OLSAT they ask parents fill out a survey to self-assess their child’s giftedness.

Over 80% of parents who think their child is gifted are correct!

Here are some of the attributes that gifted children tend to have. (Don’t worry, gifted children don’t necessarily possess all of these traits, although they tend to have many of them.)

  •  Creative talent:

    If your child displays above-average aptitude for art or music, it could be a sign that he’s gifted.

  • Attention to detail:

    If your child is able to remember and understand the intricacies of academic concepts – or even things she encounters in her everyday life – it points to the possibility that she’s gifted.

  • Good with complexity:

    Gifted children often show a keen understanding of intricate concepts and are able to work through multi-step problems.

  • High verbal ability:

    Gifted children tend to have an advanced vocabulary and the ability to use it at a high level.

  • Emotional sensitivity:

    If your child is able to understand and perceive others’ emotions or feelings, it could be a sign that he’s gifted.

  • Good sense of humor:  

    Gifted children tend to be wittier than their general education counterparts.

  • Works independently:

    Many gifted children don’t mind working independently of others to solve problems; many even teach themselves to read before their counterparts learn it in school!

  • Reaches milestones earlier than other children:

    Among other things, gifted children tend to walk, talk, and read earlier than their general education counterparts.

  • Good memory:

    If your child seems like an encyclopedia, constantly retaining and reciting information that she’s learned, it could suggest that she’s gifted.

  • Likes collections:

    Many gifted children like to collect certain things that have something in common (baseball cards, model cars, etc.).

  • Has older friends:

    Sometimes, gifted children prefer the company of older children or even adults, as they find them easier to talk with and relate to.

  • Has good attention span:

    A long attention span and determination to finish the job is a marker of a gifted child.

Does this sound like your child?

Whether the answer is yes or no, don’t worry. The best way to increase your child’s academic performance and creative processes is to engage his brain on a regular basis with doing practice questions from the OLSAT ande NNAT-2 tests. Don’t rely on school and homework to keep his brain limber and his creative juices flowing; work with him after school and on weekends to expand his mind beyond the “four R’s” of traditional school. Brain teasers, online interactive test prep, and even conversations about complex topics or phenomena (for example, pointing out all the geometric shapes that occur in everyday life) can be tremendously helpful in advancing your child’s mental acuity.

 



OLSAT test verbal and non-verbal skills
August 8, 2017, 9:54 am
Filed under: OLSAT Test, testing mom | Tags: , ,

The OLSAT test assesses both verbal and nonverbal skills.

Here is how it breaks down. Keep in mind, for the NYC G&T test they only test for the verbal portion of the test not the nonverbal piece. The nonverbal portion of the G&T test is calculated via the NNAT-2 test.

  • Verbal Comprehension

    • Following directions,
    • Antonyms,
    • Sentence arrangement,
    • Sentence completion
  • Verbal Reasoning

    • Logical selection,
    • Verbal analogies, V
    • Verbal classification,
    • Inference
  • Pictorial Reasoning

    • Picture classification
    • Picture analogies
    • Picture series
  • Figural Reasoning

    • Figural classification,
    • Figural analogies,
    • Figure series
  • Quantitative Reasoning (for Levels E, F and G) –

    • Number series,
    • Numeric inference,
    • Number matrix

The OLSAT test is for students in Grades K-12

Even though in NYC it’s only administered for pre-K to 2nd grade students for the gifted and talented test the exam is given across the country through high school.

Pre-K and kindergarten students are tested with Level A, first graders are tested with Level B, second graders are tested with Level C, third graders get Level D, fourth and fifth graders get level E, and students from sixth to eighth grade take level F.  High school students will take level G.   Levels A and B are read aloud to students, as is part of Level C.  Between testing and administration, it takes 50 minutes to an hour for a student to take the OLSAT test.  At the 3rd grade level and above, students get 40 minutes to take the test.  It may take a little longer when the teacher reads questions to students at the lower levels.  The chart on the right shows the different skills assessed at different grade levels.

Be sure to watch the short video for more information on the OLSAT test:

 



Help your child with OLSAT practice questions

Let your child work through tough problems on their own

While it can be difficult to see our children struggle with practice questions for the OLSAT test for the NYC gifted and talented program, it’s important to let them work through it on their own. Many times, when our child doesn’t know what the answer, we just go ahead and tell him the answer. While our intentions are good – we’re trying to relieve our child’s frustration (and, often, save ourselves some time) – we are actually doing our child a great disservice. By simply giving him or her the answer, we’ve taken away an opportunity for him to use his or her problem-solving skills to figure it out on his own.

Make sure your child practices problem solving skills so he or she will do well on the OLSAT test. It’s a tough test, especially for a 4-year-old!

Luckily, it’s easy to reverse the pattern we just described.

Here’s a problem-solving model you can use whenever your child gets stuck on an OLSAT practice test:

  1. Instead of directing your child to do something, sit her down and ask her to come up with different solutions. This encourages her to be creative and flexible in her thinking.
  2. Talk over all the possibilities, and choose two the best answers hat seem fair to all parties.
  3. Put each idea on its own piece of paper and evaluate the pros and cons of each.
  4. After looking at all the possible answers for the verbal or non-verbal question, ask each child his/her opinion on which is best – and why. If your children don’t agree – it’s bound to happen! – don’t panic. Instead, ask questions to get them thinking. This will help them make a decision that everyone can be satisfied with.

Ask your child this tough OLSAT test question: Annie looked up at the sky and could not believe what she saw! There were exactly as many hot air balloons flying as she had fingers on her hand. Point to the box that shows what she saw.

It’s also helpful to tell your child about instances where you’ve had to solve a perplexing problem, and show her that it’s okay to make a mistake. For example, you might tell your child, “Oh dear, I left the popcorn in the microwave too long, and now it’s all burned. That’s OK – I’ll make another bag, and this time I’ll keep a closer eye on it!” This shows her both that everyone makes mistakes, and that using creative thinking can help you rectify those mistakes.

Using this model when your child confronts a novel problem or situation will help build his problem-solving skills for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests – so that by the time he’s finished with school, he’s well-versed in assessing complex problems and coming up with the best solution. This independence will fuel your child’s success, and ensure that he will never be at a total loss when confronted with a new challenge!



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:



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

Summer slide is no joke

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!

Summer programs in New York City

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!