NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


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?”



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!



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!