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At particular times of the year when results come out we get asked a similar question over and over again.

The question is something like this:

We just got our child's test results back and to our surprise they did really poorly. His teacher thinks he's one of the best students in this class and he did really well on the state standardized testing. What does it mean?

The answer is something like this:

GATE Testing doesn’t provide a definitive measure of how smart a child is. If your child does well in school and you think he’s smart then the problem is more likely with the test than with him. Parents have a pretty good idea of whether or not their child is gifted. If your child has been tested using the WPPSI or WISC- IV or Stanford-Binet the score from that testing is more accurate than the score you get from a group administered multiple-choice test. Even these full-scale IQ tests can give results that aren't representative of your child's ability.

Perhaps the questions were so different from what she’s come across before that it took her a while to work out what she was supposed to do. Perhaps she didn’t understand some of the instructions. Perhaps this was your child's first multiple choice test and the novelty of the testing situation and what she was required to do meant she put less effort than she could into working out the correct answers (our youngest son come home from his first testing experience and told us how difficult it had been to color inside the circles).

For young children who are fluent readers it can be difficult to concentrate on questions delivered orally for the length of time necessary. Most tests used in Pre K - Gr 2 are read to the children. The question sheet the children see has pictures, figures and/or numbers. Children shade a bubble under the picture they choose as correct to indicate their answer. Sometimes fluent readers do much better in Gr 3 when they can read the questions themselves and manage their own time during testing.

Perhaps your child over analyzed the questions and chose answers that they could justify as being correct but that weren't the correct answer. Very bright children who are familiar with a variety of word meanings can have difficulty answering some simple questions because they read more into the questions than is intended. Bicultural and/or bilingual children can see connections that are different from what other children see.

Perhaps your child has difficulty switching gears. If they were tested on a lot of different types of thinking skills perhaps they just got worn out.

Often the follow-up question is What Can I Do?

Building Thinking Skills is a good place to start for verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Let your child work through that and you'll quickly get a sense of whether or not there are areas that they don't understand.

If you're looking for a little more than that browse the suggestions below. These suggestions are a little different than what you'll find reading our suggestions by grade level for the various test(s) your child was given. We're assuming below that you've identified a particular area of weakness in your child's reasoning abilities and that you want to focus in on that. For that reason we've got a longer list of titles below that we suggest for general preparation. If your child has an area of relative weakness you'll want to attack it from different directions to give your child the best opportunity of being able to demonstrate their true potential in all areas of reasoning. If possible you'll want to choose something that your child will enjoy (or at least not dislike) doing.

The links below will take you to titles in a series. Take your best guess at the appropriate level and browse the sample pages - click on "more info" at the end of the brief product description then on the "sample pages" tab. You might like to print some of them out for your child to try.

If you've got questions contact us and we'll do our best to help.

For listening skills we recommend (relevant up to Gr 2)
  • Can You Find Me?
  • Dr. Dooriddles
  • Mind Benders Warm Up

For verbal reasoning we recommend:
  • Building Thinking Skills (second half of book)
  • Language Smarts (up to Gr 2)
  • Think Analogies and Thinkanalogy Puzzles (Gr 2 and up)
  • Vocabulary Smarts (up to Gr 4)
  • Word Roots (Gr 3 and up)

For non-verbal reasoning we recommend:
  • LUK Learning System (up to Gr 1)
  • Visual Perceptual Skill Building (up to Gr 2 but used remedially for all ages)
  • Building Thinking Skills (first half of book)
  • SET (all ages)
  • Visual Mind Benders (also logic) (Gr 3 and up)

For quantitative reasoning we recommend:
  • LUK Learning System (up to Gr 1)
  • Mathematical Reasoning (all ages)
  • Scratch Your Brain
  • Cranium Crackers
  • Math Analogies
  • Math Detective

For logic we recommend:
  • Mind Benders
  • Cranium Crackers

For increased flexibility in thinking (practising changing gears)
  • Red Herring Mysteries
  • Creative Thinking Puzzlers (Dr. Funster)
  • Think-a-Minutes (Dr. Funster)
  • Cranium Crackers (has both math and language exercises)

For test taking skills we recommend:Spectrum Test Preparation
  • Spectrum Test Practice
  • Gruber's Essential Guide to Test Taking
  • Learning on Purpose
CogAT® and Cognitive Abilities Test® are registered trademarks of Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company). Riverside Publishing does not endorse any of the information provided here.

NNAT® and Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test®, Otis-Lennon School Ability Test® and OLSAT®, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children®, WISC®, and WPPSI™are registered trademarks of NCS Pearson. The recommendations made here are those of thinktonight and are not endorsed by NCS Pearson.

The recommended products have not been reviewed by, nor are they endorsed, sponsored or approved by either the author or publisher of the tests. While the contents of these books will help prepare students to master most of the skills tested, they do not reflect the actual test items on any given test.