NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


Preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests

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 TestingMom.com 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?



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!

 



Fostering high-order thinking for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests
November 30, 2017, 6:07 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: , ,

High-order thinking needed for the NYC Gifted and Talented Test

The definition of cognition states that it is “the mental faculty or process by which knowledge is acquired.”  When a child combines aspects of cognitive skills to evaluate what he sees, hears, and reads, and then makes decisions, reaches conclusions, or solves problems based on analysis of information, he is using “higher-order thinking.”  Kids naturally use these skills, often getting it wrong, but only because they are just beginning to understand the laws and rules governing the world.  For example, they might surmise that since you grew tomatoes from seeds, why couldn’t you plant a steak bone and grow a cow?

This “higher-order thinking” was explained and is still relevant today by Russian author Korney Chukovsky in his 1928 book, From Two to Five.  He demonstrated through observations that children’s higher-order thinking process takes shape in this way:

  • Observing and asking questions – watching and listening begins their exploration.
  • Sorting, classifying, and comparing for conceptual thinking – children then sort the information that has been gathered into groups and classifications.
  • Reasoning – they now start to make sense of concepts or form opinions. (I always liked the story of the little boy who witnessed his grandma remove her dentures who said, “Wow, now take out your eyes, Granny!”.….out of the mouths [and minds] of babes!)
  • Hypothesizing – they can now use reasoning skills to predict what might happen next.
  • Problem Solving – children will eventually realize with experience that situations can be changed. And, using creative thinking, they can generate ideas, look for alternatives and try to see beyond the obvious to solve a problem (cheers to Thomas Edison!)
  • Critical Thinking – the child will now consider different sides of an issue or a possible solution, while weighing the pros and cons and forming an opinion.
  • Decision Making – after examining and evaluating all sides of an issue or the options on the table, he makes the best choice he can.

And, it’s been proven that children who grow up using higher-order thinking become more creative, flexible and persistent because they know how to generate, critique and choose from an assortment of ideas and don’t become flustered when they hit a dead end, because they know how to seek out alternatives.

As a parent, you can foster your child’s higher-order thinking skills by doing the following as you prepare for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests for entry into the NYC Gifted and Talented Program:

  • Promote questions: Yes, I said it….keep the barrage of questions coming, no matter how painful they may be!  And, offer up answers that will encourage his desire to explore deeper, engage in conversation on the topic and expand the discussion.
  • Don’t Solve Problems for your child: If you solve your child’s problem for him, you’re taking away an opportunity for her to use her own problem-solving skills.  Plus, if a child is constantly directed on how to do things, she will look to you for the answers rather than try for herself.
  • Encourage experimentation: Teach your child that there is rarely one correct way to solve a problem and praise and applaud her even if it doesn’t work.
  • Teach adaptability: If, after using problem-solving, your child’s decision didn’t work, simply show your child that you can go back, reevaluate and try something else.  This ability to roll with change is critical to succeeding in our dynamic, ever-changing world.
  • Let go of control: This is the hard one, but it’s known that parents who constantly exert control over their children squash their creative spirits. So, next time there’s a mud pie bake off, BACK OFF and let the baking begin, because this is where your child gets to experiment, explore, think and try out her ideas.  The value of play is the play itself, not what is produced, although a Fruit Loop mud pie is enticing!


Common OLSAT test mistakes
August 30, 2017, 11:13 am
Filed under: OLSAT Test, OLSAT test prep | Tags: ,

Here are 5 other common mistakes young children make when taking the OLSAT test

These mistakes cost children dearly in terms of points deducted from their score:

  1. They choose the most obvious answer just to get the question over with.
  2. They rush through the test like it’s a race.
  3. They lose their focus.
  4. They don’t listen to the instructions.
  5. They don’t point clearly to answers, or they make bubbling errors.
  • You can fix it.

    • The bad news is that all children make these mistakes when they take tests for the first time, and they continue to make these mistakes for years if they aren’t taught how to avoid them.  The good news is that when you are practicing with your child, you will see your own child making these mistakes and you can gently correct them, and show them how not to make that mistake moving forward. This will help increase their test score dramatically.
  • Common Mistake Guide and Training.

    • When you sign-up as a member of Testing Mom, you will have access to a proprietary guide they prepared for you that illustrates the most common mistakes kids make on the OLSAT, along with instructions to you on how to correct each type of mistake that your child will make during practice for the test.

Here’s a fun video with an OLSAT question to ask your little one:

Once you’re alert to these common mistakes and you see your child make one during practice (and you will), just gently correct them (Training available on Testing Mom guides you in what to do).  Doing this will greatly improve your child’s OLSAT score, and it will take no extra study time!



OLSAT test scores

Why does a child take a test like the OLSAT and score poorly?

When a child doesn’t score well on the OLSAT test a mom or dad often thinks, “Well, I guess he just didn’t know the material or prep enough,” or “I suppose she lacks in the skills they were testing!”

They couldn’t be more wrong. 

On tests like these, only half of your child’s score depends on her knowing the material or having the skills that are being tested.  The other half of the score depends on your child having good test-taking skills. 

Let me show you what I mean using a practice OLSAT Aural Reasoning question at about the kindergarten grade level.  [Read the question just once and see if you can answer it before you continue reading about it.]

Ask your child: Look at the shapes below. Circle means “strawberry.” Square means “chocolate.” Triangle means “butterscotch.” Choose the box that says “chocolate, chocolate, butterscotch.” *

To answer this OLSAT practice question, you first need to:

  1. Understand what you’re being asked to do.

    First your child has to understand what’s she’s even being asked here.  You’re being asked a question.  Each box represents a possible answer choice – 3 are wrong and only 1 is right.  You’re looking for the one that is right (not the one with the shapes she likes best).  When practicing with your child, teach her to understand the concept of a test question.

  2. Listen to the question.

    1. With OLSAT Verbal questions, your child has to listen to what is being asked.  The question can only be read once.  If he zones out and misses even one or two words in the question, he will have to guess at an answer.
  3. Consider all answer choices. 

    Your child has to take the time and have the focusing skills to analyze the answer choices.  Which one was chocolate? Was that the square or the circle? Your child might remember chocolate was the square and jump at the first square she sees – in the first box (wrong!).  When preparing your child, make sure they look at and consider every answer choice.

  4. How to make a smart guess.

    When a child can’t figure out a question, they often skip it (getting 0 points – bad idea!).  Or they’ll guess between all 4 choices (and likely guess wrong!).  In this case, two shapes have to be the same (“chocolate, chocolate”) and one has to be different (“butterscotch”).  We can immediately eliminate the 3rd and 4th choices because neither has two shapes the same and one different.  So if your child has to choose, choose between the 1st and 2nd   He’ll have a better chance of guessing right.  Teach him how to do this.

*By the way, the answer to the OLSAT sample question above is 2 – chocolate (square), chocolate (square), butterscotch (triangle).

If you think preparing your child is too hard to do it yourself then I always recommend finding a good tutor to help you out. I like the folks over at FasTracKids. They have locations in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. They can do a G&T assessment to let you know your child’s strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to both the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. Tell them I sent you!



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.