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Many private schools use the ECAA (Early Childhood Admissions Assessment) administered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) as part of their entry assessments.
The ECAA provides the following description: "A child-friendly assessment administered by professionals trained in assessment, utilizing ERB adapted versions of the WPPSI-IV, WISC-V, and a portion of the ERB developed CTP."
For parents remembering their own experiences with standardized testing and wanting their children to have the best experience we can't emphasize enough that the WISC (and ECAA) is a completely different type of test to the pen and paper multiple-choice tests that most of us remember. The WISC/ECAA is administered one on one with a professional who is expected to make sure that your child understands the instructions and what is expected of them. Learning the "tricks" of questions isn't relevant for the WISC and becoming familiar with the format, while it might increase test scores, violates the test protocol and may lead to your child's score being invalid.
The ECAA uses some of the sub-tests from the WISC. The sub-tests included are both Verbal (word based) and Non-Verbal (symbol or numeral or picture based)
For students entering grades 3-4 there is also a reading comprehension section.
- Block Design
- Matrix Reasoning
- Figure Weights
- Visual Puzzles
- Picture Span
We highly recommend including Building Thinking Skills Level 2 in your preparation (and to anticipate yes this is the correct level even if your child is only in Grade 3 - gifted children have cognitive abilities above those of the average and the grade level designation on this book is for typically developing children). This book works systematically through core verbal and figural reasoning skills. The information presented in Building Thinking Skills is relevant to all the sub-tests.
For similarities you might like to work more on analogies. Reasoning using analogy is a powerful skill and it relies on understanding similarities and differences. The Think Analogies series is great for this. If your family speaks a language other than English we recommend lots and lots of work with verbal analogies. More suggestions can be found in our Analogies section.
For vocabulary many able children at this age are reading fluently and voraciously. They may not need targeted work on vocabulary. They might enjoy it though. Vocabulary cartoons is a series which uses mnemonics and fun cartoons to help children learn words. Word Roots teaches the Latin and Greek core of the English language provided skills for decoding unfamiliar words.
For Information and for Comprehension we like Nifty Fifty. It's fun and it will get you talking about words and objects. For a child who is uncomfortable guessing or hypothesizing when they aren't positive that they know the correct answer you might find it useful to work with books like Red Herring Mysteries and What Would You Do? Red Herrings requires inferential reasoning - going out past the information provided. What Would You Do? raises ethical questions and while this isn't an aspect of testing at all using it can raise comfort in answering questions presented orally and continuing to think rather than stop when the answer isn't immediately obvious. For advanced children Now You Know is a great series for questioning and expanding knowledge.
For Block Design Color Cubes is a classic children's toy with blocks divided in colors in the same way that the WISC blocks are. Playing at making patterns with these blocks (there are enough blocks that you could make a pattern and have your child copy it and vice-versa) will expose a child to the same skills used in the Block Design section of the WISC.
For matrix reasoning, in addition to Building Thinking Skills, Visual Discrimination is a great choice. We also like Look, Listen, Think. Don't stop with the Grade 4-5 level. If your child can do these then move on to the Grade 6-7 book.
Coding is about processing speed. Children are presented with a page of shapes and have to identify and mark shapes as in the third image shown here. Books like I Spy and Where's Waldo can build rapid identification of specific figures (these books are much more visually challenging than required). Speed is a different thing. You can do things like pull out a newspaper and ask your child to put and "x" through every letter "e" in a headline and a squiggle through every "y" etc. There are many ways to create similar challenges. For a child who uses the computer a lot you might like to practice drawing different shapes within shapes. We like the Greatest Dot-to-Dot for "non-work" way to build rapid visual identification in conjunction with marking. These are not traditional dot-to-dots and use much more than numerals.
Figure weights is a math activity using a balance scale. We have Balance Benders. Depending on your child's math prowess you might like to begin with the Beginning level before moving on to Level 1.
For Visual Puzzles we once again recommend Building Thinking Skills and Visual Discrimination.
Picture Span utilizes visual memory. A child is shown a picture and then asked to identify it within a group of pictures. You can play games like this with cards - variants of the classic "memory" If you have concerns about your child's ability visual discrimination Visual Perceptual Skill Building is a great book. Most children won't need it.
Finally for the Reading Comprehension component Reading Detective is a great choice.
This might seem like a lot but the appropriate comparison is to a tutoring service who will guild your children through building essential skills rather than a test prep book that will give them a few questions to check on knowledge that they already have.
To close we reiterate that Building Thinking Skills is a great place to start and we'd suggest that first with additional titles from those below depending on your child's interest and ability.