What CogAT Score is Considered Gifted?

Alright, your child has taken the CogAT, after waiting forever you finally see the score and maybe you get a page of technical explanations that looks like it was written by top engineers who long ago forgot how to speak English. Or maybe you are here because you just want to know what CogAT score makes your student gifted. Either way it’s not a simple answer and we have to build up some terminology to interpret something that looks like this:


Within a few minutes we’ll have you interpreting your scores with relative ease. First a citation to our key reference is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who develop the CogAT test check them out in the further reading at the end of our post here.

Let’s just start from left to right on this theoretical CoGAT score: 8C(Q+)

The Stanine

The first digit (8 in our example) is called a Stanine. The Stanine (STAndard NINE) is a method of scaling test scores on a nine-point standard scale with a mean of five and a standard deviation of two. To say it in English it’s a score from 1-9 with 9 being the best. Check this Wikipedia on the stanine if you are a stats nerd.

The Profile

The second digit/letter (C in our example) is called the Profile. The Profile comes in one of 4 flavors

“A” The scores performed in all three CogAT tests areas were relatively the same level.

“B” The score in one of three areas was significantly different from the other two. This could represent a strength or a weakness.

“C” The score in two of three areas were significantly different from each other. This represents a high contrast such as scoring low on the Verbal portion and high on the Non-verbal portion.

“E” Is for extreme, this means the student had a great contrast between two of the three areas.

Explaining Q, N and V | + and –

Q is for quantitative (math), N is for Non-verbal (the figurative logic type picture questions) and V is for Verbal (the language arts type questions).

+ means you have a strength

– means you have a weakness

In our example a Q+ means a strength in Quantitative.

You may have no strengths or weakness identified 9A(), you may have a strength or a weakness identified such as 7B(Q+) Quantitative Strength or 7B(V-) Verbal Weakness and you may have a contrasting strength and weakness 7C(N+Q-) Non-verbal strength/Quantitative weakness.

You should also have received a National Percentile Rank for each of the three batteries. This one gets over complicated a lot, the gist is that the student scored better than everyone under the percentile number. For example a National Percentile Score of 95% means the student scored better than 95% of the students in that grade who took the test. Conversely we can say 95% of students scored lower than your student for that battery and for that grade.

For further reading check out:

Why We Love the CoGAT

For reference check out the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt CogAT Score Application