Some Thoughts From Think Tonight:
Our business is built around providing quality enrichment material for smart children. Since these types of materials teach the skills that are often tested for to determine whether or not children will be accepted into gifted and talented programs and competitive entry programs we found ourselves in the test prep business.
Two types of tests are commonly used for gifted and talented screening. Achievement tests attempt to measure what you know. Does your child know their math facts? Can they read? Ability tests, in contrast, attempt to measure what your child is capable of. What is their potential as a problem solver and learner?
With achievement testing it's been common to use practice tests for review and familiarization. What is being tested is known.
With ability testing the norm has been for the tests to be "protected." The questions
are confidential and there is limited public information about the
content of the questions.
In recent years the situation has changed. When we started our
business we were able to honestly tell customers that there were no practice tests on the market for the commonly used ability tests. This has changed in recent years.
WPPSI-IV, WISC-IV, CogAT, NNAT, OLSAT and others remain protected tests, and there are potential problems if
your child has been prepared specifically for the testing but, driven by
the incredible competitiveness in New York City to get into both public
Gifted and Talented programs and private schools, tutoring companies
started to publish test specific workbooks. These vary from rubbish
with obvious English grammar and logic errors, little relationship to
the test they claim to help you prepare for and low quality
presentation, to exceptionally well produced products which map closely
to the test. Aristotle Circle is at the top end of these companies.
found ourselves spending a lot of time on the phone explaining to
parents that "Yes, there are test specific workbooks," but "No, we do
not carry them," and then explaining why. To save ourselves that time we started carrying Aristotle Circle's practice tests and workbooks.
We invite you to read the
following comments from reviewers and make your own decision. These comments are more applicable to the full scale IQ tests - WPPSI/ERB, WISC and Stanford-Binet than to group administered screening tests like the OLSAT or NNAT. In the former case a tester who thinks that a child has had targeted preparation may refuse to proceed with testing or make a note in the report. Targeted preparation is discouraged for group administered multiple choice tests. It is expressly against the test protocol for individually administered IQ tests.
want to "prepare" your child in a way that doesn't raise
ethical concerns we offer many product suggestions. Browse within our Directory of Tests or click on the name of the test you are interested in the navigation menu to the left of this page.
External Reviewer's Comments
DON'T DO IT- Will invalidate results
this book for my daughter as she was curious and a little anxious about
the test. We looked through it for about twenty minutes and then put it
away, but then during the test administration she mentioned to the
tester that she had practiced for it, and the tester noticed she seemed
familiar with the instructions. You are not supposed to prepare for the
test, so the tester was obligated to put the fact that my daughter had
been prepped in her report to the private school to which we were
applying, which invalidated her results. It was embarrassing, expensive
(she had to take another comparable test later) and counterproductive
(can't help but think it prejudices our application and she didn't do as
well on the different test.)
There's a lot of criticism in the
reviews about giving your child an unfair advantage, but I didn't see
anything about invalidating the results. I should have done more
research. So unless you're interested in warning your child he/she has
to lie about practicing, I would avoid this. I wish I had.
use of these booklets is unethical and invalidates the test results.
This is not the equivalent of prepping for the SAT- this is the
equivalent of climbing into your child's teacher's window and copying
tomorrow's test, then changing a couple of words to make a "study
guide." The tests are designed to expose the child to new concepts, so
are completely invalid if the child is already familiar with the format.
If you are using the test to find out about your child's abilities,
then you have wasted your money. If you are using the test to gain
admission to a school, this is cheating, which is not a good lesson to
teach your child about how to get ahead in life. Psychologists and
schools are aware that these test prep kits exist and are on the lookout
for signs that a child has been prepped. As a psychologist, I know that
the widespread use of these test prep kits forces the test makers to
repeatedly revise their tests. They pass this cost along to the
psychologists, who must then pass it along to the children that we test.
These are important tests with important uses and are not children's
This book is a sad commentary on the modern education system
start off, I am a psychologist who administers IQ tests to children. I
understand why parents want to prep their children for IQ tests. NYC
parents enroll their children at the best preschools while they are
still in the womb, then prep them for every test along the way
(including IQ tests) to gain admission to the "best" schools and ivy
league colleges. This, then, assures them of a good job on Wall Street. I
understand that the public school system in NYC is so awful that
parents go to great lengths to keep their children out of it. It's sad
that this appears to be the only route to "success" in NYC.
hope that parents understand a few important things before prepping
their children for IQ tests. First, you are not increasing your child's
level of "intelligence," you are merely prepping them for a test. Sure,
their score may go up, but it doesn't mean that they are smarter. The
"99th percentile" was established using children who had never seen the
test before. Those are TRULY genius children. If your child needs weeks
of prep to reach the 99th percentile, they are not a genius.
creating unrealistic expectations is not the best path to success.
Sure, challenging a child is great. But accept your child for who they
are, and they will love you for it. Please don't create an environment
where love is contingent upon unreasonable expectations. When you prep
your non-gifted child into the "gifted" program, don't be surprised when
they are unable to keep up with the work. YOU created a situation in
which they were unable to succeed.
What are you really measuring?
As a licensed school psychologist I can tell you that If you prepare to
take the WISC-IV using study materials then you will no longer be
assessing intelligence. The purpose of the WISC is to measure
adaptation to novelty and if you prepare you are compromising the
integrity of the test.
Ethically, you are not allowed to prepare for the WISC since it is not an achievement test. It's cheating.