Polemics Academy has spent nearly all of 2018 curating content and creating practice exams for the Cognitive Abilities Test. Of all the gifted and talented tests we have studied, the CogAT is absolutely the most thorough assessment. One thing is for sure, the content of the CogAT gets easier with practice and understanding. Just hitting one practice exam prior to taking the test will greatly increase a student’s chances of getting into a gifted & talented program. We have iPhone, iPad & Android apps, kindle and print books, blog posts, and a video lecture series on Teachable for the CogAT. We cover a variety of learning methods to meet your needs.

Click Here to See Our CogAT Training Products by Grade

What is the CogAT?

The Cognitive abilities Test (CogAT) is a gifted and talented screening test that assesses a student’s reasoning and problem-solving abilities. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishes the test (see legal disclaimer). The CogAT serves as a pretty good measure of a student’s learning style, strengths and weaknesses.  Additionally, the Cognitive Abilities Test claims to help predict the future success of the student.  

Is there a CogAT Test Prep Near Me or is there a free online .pdf for CogAT Test Prep?

Polemics Academy has CogAT Practice Tests and Sample Question materials from Grades 1-8 including iPhone/iPad and Android Apps, Books with Practice Exams and Training Materials as well as a new series of video lectures.  You can browse our exam preparation materials by grade by clicking on this link:  CogAT Test Prep Materials by Grade.

A Fear Based Motivation

Here is an actual post about the CogAT from a mother on Reddit, “I’m concerned whether or not she’ll pass. …it’s a completely uncontrollable feeling that I’m trying to work through (and 100% not burden my daughter with, of course, she & I are just practicing for the test) but I sort of feel as though it will reflect as my failure if she does not pass.  This stress is compounded by the fact that we live in a very struggling community and this magnet school is the only school that guarantees her a good education.”

If this sounds like you and you’ve made it here, we have you covered.  This page will tell you all about the CogAT and at the end we’ll direct you to the best training you can provide for your student. 

What is on the CogAT Test?

The term battery describes each of the three sections in the CogAT.  Each battery contains three subsections for a total of nine sets of questions to be answered. 

Verbal Battery 

Verbal Analogies – Classic analogies such as “nail is to hammer” as “______ is to screwdriver”

Sentence Completion – Pick the best word to complete a sentence “The girl jumped off of the _____” 

Verbal Classification – Three presented words fit a certain classification and the student picks a word from a list that matches the classification. Example “Earth   Mars   Venus”

Quantitative Battery

Number Analogies – The student is shown how 2 numbers transform into 2 other numbers.  Then the student gets a third number and transforms the number in the same way. For example 2 -> 4 | 3 -> 5 | 4 -> ?

Number Puzzles – This is algebraic thinking.  7 + X = ? Where X = 7.  Often this will be presented with a shape in lieu of an algebra symbol.  7 + |Square| = ? Where |Square| = 7

Number Series – The student is presented a series of numbers and selects the next number in the series.  For example 2  4  6  8  ___ or the famous 1  2  3  5  8  ___

Non-Verbal Battery

Figure Matrices – The student is shown how one picture transforms into another. Then given a picture and asked to select the correct answer that performs that same transformation.  For example a red triangle transforms into a blue triangle.  The student is given a red circle and picks the answer showing what it will transform into.

Figure Classification – The student is shown three pictures that are related in some way then asked to pick a picture that is related in the same way as the other three were.  Example, each of the 3 pictures shown have a circle inside of a square and the Student picks a similar picture that shows a circle in a square.

Paper Folding – Remember how in grade school you folded a piece of paper in half and cut a half-heart shape on the fold-line and then unfolded the paper to see a heart shape?  Same thing here but more complicated.  This section is all about symmetry.

How is the CogAT administered?

Every question category mentioned above is a multiple-choice question.  Each battery will have a 30-45 minute timeline with an overall test completion taking between 2 and 3 hours.  The test is computer based or completed with paper and pencil.  Teachers and school counselors proctor the exam.

What is a CogAT Level and which CogAT Level will my child take?

This is a confusing part so read close!  Sometimes a school will administer a different test level to a student depending on their situation.  A Student going into the second grade may take a first grade exam to see where they are.  A Student in the second grade may take a second grade exam or they may take a third grade exam with an objective to see who is really gifted and talented. It depends.  (It always depends doesn’t it…)  To make matters more confusing the CogAT tests are not labeled ‘for kindergarten’ or ‘for grade 2’ they have levels 5 through 18. Some grades have even more than one level. When you see ‘form’ such as ‘form 7’ that is kind of like saying ‘edition’ like this is the 7thedition of the test (fun fact, the CogAT originated in the 1950’s) 

Here is a list of CogAT Test Level to Grade Level:

Kindergarten | Level 5/6 

Grade 1 | Level 7

Grade 2 | Level 8

Grade 3 | Level 9

Grade 4 | Level 10

Grade 5 | Level 11

Grade 6 | Level 12

Grade 7-8 | | Level 13/14

Grade 9-10 | Level 15/16

Grade 11-12 | Level 17/18

Note we included the high school levels here just to complete the chart. Our materials focus on CogAT Practice exams at the grade school and middle school level.  Most of your gifted & talented screening will happen early in the academic career.  

CogAT test prep for your child’s CogAT level

Let’s talk about that test prep!  We think this is among the most interesting topics when it comes to the CogAT. Many schools will have parents in for an orientation night near the beginning of the school year.  They will lay it on you and say ‘we are going to give the students the CogAT this year’ and then they may say ‘please do not study for this exam’.  What?! Yes absolutely they may say this.  Their reasons are very sound: Even a little bit of studying will give one student an advantage over another student who hasn’t studied.  

When the school is determining who is going in the gifted & talented program are they going to get the gifted & talented or are they going to get the kids who studied for the test?  Are we gaming the system here?  Yes.  Maybe. But isn’t that real life?  We believe go-getters deserve gifted & talented level education.  

What the school doesn’t want to see, and we agree, is a student who (through parental willpower) hustles through the CogAT with practice exams, nails the real exam and earns a seat in a gifted & talented program only to later fall apart when they can’t keep up with the workload.

No matter your situation if you are mentor to a student about to take the CogAT you should take advantage of our materials or they will be disadvantaged by peers who did study for the test. Know that CogAT scores are calculated based off of other kids taking the test.  Its Stanine (Standard Nine) type scoring which resembles a bell curve type scoring methodology.  This means the student grade or score will rise and lower based on how well the other students did in comparison.  It’s not a matter of ‘answer 90% of the questions right and you’ll get into the gifted program’ its more like ‘answer questions better than 90% of your peers and you’ll get into the gifted program’

How is the CogAT scored and 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 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 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 –

Qis for quantitative (math), Nis for Non-verbal (the figurative logic type picture questions) and Vis 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 Rankfor 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.


Where is the CogAT given?

The Cognitive Abilities Test is most commonly given at school and is administered by teaching staff or school counselors.  The school orders the tests from Mercer Publishing and gives the test in accordance with the school’s academic needs.  

Who takes CogAT test?

The CogAT Test is taken by students of K-12 in any school that is using the test to measure the student’s current ability in Verbal, Non-Verbal, and Quantitative categories.  It is a screening tool to select students for Gifted & Talented programs and used by teachers on how to best serve the educational needs of the classroom.  

Why take CogAT test?

Most parents want their child to take the CogAT in order to qualify for a Gifted & Talented program at a school.  A big benefit of the CogAT is the assessment of the student’s current ability.  The CogAT determines any strengths and weaknesses the student may have… this in turn helps inform creation of lesson plan materials. 

What is the difference between CogAT Form 7 and Form 8?

In the CogAT world saying Form is like saying ‘Edition’ or ‘Version’ Form 7 was the older version (Form 6 was before that), Form 8 is the new version. Not to worry here though, the test materials, question batteries are still the same type.  You still have your 3 batteries and three subsections as described above.  The Form 8 booklet is more teacher friendly with an expanded use case for how teachers can use results from the test in their own classroom.  To make it even less scary, the publishers have said they use a presses called “equating” to make sure that scores from the Form 7 equate to the scores from the Form 8.  A student taking either test should have (generally) the same score.

Are CogAT tests timed?

Yes.  Depending on the grade level the student gets 30 to 45 minutes per battery of questions. Super important to know what the student will get at least 30 seconds per question and at most (in the lower grades) 2 minutes per question.

Are CogAT scores IQ scores?

No.  The CogAT measures a student’s ability.  That’s why we love the CogAT, it can be trained and your results can be improved if you just take a practice test before hand and get some good tips and advice.  The IQ test consists of a number of tasks to measure short-term memory, analytical thinking, mathematical ability and spatial recognition. The IQ test doesn’t measure information that you should have learned or your ability to reason through a problem.

My Child took the CogAT and did not score high enough for Gifted & Talented.  What now?

Polemics Academy always cheers for those with drive to keep going.  We like to say that there are Gifted & talented kids but there are also motivated kids who have staying power and belong among the gifted.  If a Gifted & Talented program is your goal, then you should see about re-taking the test next year.  Imperfect humans govern schools with imperfect policies. Request an exception to policy, spend this year focusing on improving your student’s cognitive abilities (we have training materials) and try again next year.   

How does the CogAT compare to other ability tests?


The Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test (OLSAT) is used for Gifted & Talented screening, often paired with the NNAT (NNAT2 or NNAT3).  The OLSAT marks achievement or abilities growth from one year to the next.  Unlike the CogAT the student may take the OLSAT multiple years.  The CogAT by comparison is typically only used for identifying Gifted & Talented students.


The Naglieri Non-Verbal Assessment Test or NNAT (NNAT2 or NNAT3) is a much shorter test than the CogAT.  Composed of four sections of visual type questions it is over and done in 30 minutes. The NNAT questions are very similar to the Visual portion of the CogAT but have none of the quantitative or Verbal parts.  NNAT questions have four colors (black, white, blue, and yellow) to help with color challenged students.  The Non-Verbal nature of the NNAT helps non-native English-speaking students gain acceptance into Gifted & Talented programs.  In New York students take the NNAT and OLSAT together.  

CogAT and Iowa Test of Basic Skills (Iowa Assessments)

The Iowa Test is an Assessment Test.  An assessment test measures a student’s readiness or proficiency in a subject.  Like other standardized tests, this one is used to make sure a student is at a certain level before continuing onto the next level or figuring out where a new student is if not previously tested.  We mention the Iowa Test here since the Iowa test is sometimes used to determine Gifted & Talented students.  Unlike the CogAT, the Iowa Test is really looking at academics in general including language arts, math, science and social studies.  

Training for the CogAT

This page has been a great wall of text on everything about the CogAT.  Now let’s talk about your student who will be taking the CogAT and what you can do to best prepare him or her.  The Polemics Academy provides professional training for students taking the CogAT.  Search our materials by grade and platform.  The iPhone and iPad apps are the most popular, for the best training experience we suggest taking a look at the video training courses we are posting on 

The best thing you can do to prepare your child for the CogAT is to familiarize them with the format of the questions and the content in each battery. A single practice exam will put your student well ahead of anyone who hasn’t seen the material.  Remember this is a timed test and in many cases students only get 30 seconds per question.

In our training material we highly recommend focusing on the Figure Matrices and Figure Classification sections.  These two sections are so far different from other things your student has seen in school that it can cause them to miss getting that coveted Gifted & Talented seat.  These two sections, more than any other, can be studied, practiced and all of the tricks neatly categorized.  The teachable lesson for second grade will do it if you have the time.  We have about 2 hours of video lecture for this section. 

Other CogAT Blog Posts

Why We Love the CogAT

CogAT Score vs. IQ

What CogAT Score is Considered Gifted

Universal Rules for Visual Exams

CogAT Training Materials

CogAT Trainer Pro

Our latest product is the CoGat Trainer Pro. It features Grades K through 8. Updated for 2022 with frequent updates expected.

CogAT Trainer Pro App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Trainer Pro App for Android


CogAT Kindergarten App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Kindergarten Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Kindergarten Training Guide for Print on Amazon

First Grade

CogAT Grade 1 Training App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Grade 1 Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Grade 1 Training Guide for Print on Amazon

Second Grade

Teachable Video Lecture Course CogAT Grade 2 Test Prep

CogAT Grade 2 Training App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Grade 2 Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Grade 2 Training Guide for Print on Amazon

Third Grade

CogAT Grade 3 Training App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Grade 3 Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Grade 3 Training Guide for Print on Amazon

Fourth Grade

CogAT Grade 4 Training App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Grade 4 Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Grade 4 Training Guide for Print on Amazon

Fifth Grade

CogAT Grade 5 Training App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Grade 5 Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Grade 5 Training Guide for Print on Amazon

Sixth Grade

CogAT Grade 6 Training App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Grade 6 Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Grade 6 Training Guide for Print on Amazon

Seventh & Eighth Grade

CogAT Grade 7 & 8 Training App for iPhone and iPad

CogAT Grade 7 & 8 Training Guide for Kindle on Amazon

CogAT Grade 7 & 8 Training Guide for Print on Amazon

Disclaimer: The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT or COGAT) ® is a registered trademark of Riverside Publishing. Riverside publishing is a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company nor Riverside Publishing have sponsored or endorsed this book in any way. For questions please contact us at