CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) Level D
The recommendations below are for the typical gifted child taking CogAT Level D in sixth grade. If your child has areas of particular strength or weakness then you may wish to adjust up or down a level. If you'd like recommendations for your situation please email or phone with some information about your child and I'd be happy to make suggestions.
For most able sixth graders children Building Thinking Skills Level 3 Figural, Building Thinking Skills Level 3 Verbal and Scratch Your Brain and/or Challenge Math will be the place to start. Add other titles depending on your child's relative strengths and weaknesses in the different areas of testing, what they'd enjoy doing and what you've got time for. For each of the titles below you can get more information including a look inside at sample pages by clicking on "more info" after the brief product description.
The CogAT is a test of reasoning skills. It’s not like a spelling or a math test where if you know the words or the facts you can get 100% and there is little advantage is learning more difficult words or practicing more difficult math problems. There is no defined curriculum for the CogAT. An average child in sixth grade would not be expected to be able to answer the most difficult questions on the CogAT. That's why the list below includes titles that are notionally for higher grades. A child who has prepared at this higher level is more likely to be able to answer the most difficult questions on the test.
If your child is reading at at least a seventh grade reading level then Building Thinking Skills Level 3 is our number one recommendation. This is comprises two books at a Gr 7-12 level covering verbal and nonverbal reasoning. If your child is not reading at a seventh grade level then start with Building Thinking Skills Level 2.
For the quantitative battery Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis is our recommendation. This is a complete compressed math curriculum. It has more math than you need but it teaches the type of reasoning that the test is looking for. Book 2 is for Gr 4-8. Don’t expect your child to be ready to do everything in this book. Remember that is the reasoning behind the problems which is important, not the computation.
Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis has a separate instructor/answer guide. You won’t need this for the answers but it has all the discussion points. For the CogAT it is this reasoning that is important and for busy parents it’s nice to have discussion points and vocabulary laid out.
An alternative to Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis is Math Blockout. Math Blockout teaches algebraic analysis which is one of the subtests on the quantitative battery. It is a very simple program providing practice with equation building.
Think Ahead Games is another option for students who prefer software. As with Math Blockout the skill coverage is relevant but limited. Students find a path through a grid by matching game board pieces by color or size. Among the skills built are sequencing, classifying and recognizing patterns. These are all tested for in the nonverbal subtests of the CogAT.
Another extra is Think Analogies (book) or Thinkanalogy Puzles (software). Verbal Analogies are covered in Building Thinking Skills. Think Analogies explains how different types of analogies work in detail and provides more examples. This is particularly important for children who do not have American English as their first language. They may miss some subtleties in verbal analogies without additional practice.
We always recommend Mind Benders for any multi-choice test. These are deductive logic puzzles. This is the skill you use in multi-choice testing to eliminate (a) and (b) as impossible even though you don’t know the answer thereby improving the chance of guessing correctly. They are also great for practicing the type of reading required for multi-choice testing where every word matters. Many able children skim read. For testing they need to practice slowing down and taking account of every word. A3 would be a good place to start but we have titles above and below this in difficulty. There are 14 titles in the Mind Benders series.
Finally we've included two traditional test preparation titles in the list below. If your child hasn't had a lot of experience taking standardized tests it can be helpful to expose them to this prior to testing. Spectrum Test Prep is a traditional test preparation book written for parents. Spectrum Test Practice contains additional practice tests. Spectrum Test Prep has less background information (like get a good night sleep and eat breakfast) and more practice tests. The format of the practice tests in the Test Prep title is more that of real tests including bubble sheets. Remember that these are traditional test preparation books. The questions test areas like reading comprehension and mathematics skills. They were not written for the CogAT.