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AABL® Test (Admissions Assessment for Beginning Learners®)

What is the AABL?

The AABL (Admissions Assessment for Beginning Learners) is an iPad-administered exam given to children ages 4 through 6 for screening and admissions into gifted and talented programs. The AABL uses fun graphics to cover verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, early literacy and mathematics. The AABL has been in development since 2011 and has been extensively field-tested during that time.

The AABL Test assesses a child’s verbal and quantitative reasoning, early literacy, and mathematics skills and compares them to other children taking the test at the same level throughout the United States. It is an important tool because it gives parents, teachers, and administrators the opportunity to learn what a child’s academic needs are and how best to address them. To see examples of the types of questions asked on the AABL, check out our 100 free questions below.

100 Free Practice Questions

The iPad interface uses vibrant graphics to present engaging activities that provide an enjoyable testing environment for your child. Professionals administer the AABL through the iPad, but first give applicants a tutorial on how to use the iPad to respond to test items.

The AABL Test (Admission Assessment for Beginning Learners) was developed with the help of national and local experts in the field of early childhood development and gifted education. The test assesses constructs that are deeply grounded in theory and research to identify a child’s ability and achievement levels. The AABL is a child–friendly assessment that provides insight into a child’s ability in Reasoning and Achievement. It was designed to help schools assess a child’s strengths as compared to other children applying to the same grade. As with any assessment, a child’s AABL scores are only one piece of the overall admission process. A child can only take the AABL once within a six-month period. If the AABL is administered to a child twice over a six-month period, ERB does not report the results of the second test or refund the testing fee. All children must be a minimum of four years of age at the time of testing.

Skill Assessment on the AABL Test

The AABL measures a child’s quantitative reasoning and mathematical skills. These skills include:

  • computational skills (counting, adding, subtracting)
  • higher order mathematical thinking (patterning, sequencing, ordering, classifying, comparing)
  • math reasoning (solving mathematical problems, understanding concepts of relativity, directionality, time, measurement)

The AABL also assesses student abilities in verbal reasoning. This is a child’s ability to tune in, understand, and reason using language they hear or pictures they see. As students get older, this would be their reasoning skills to solve problems or answer questions related to what they read.

Finally, the AABL Test assesses a child’s skills in the area of early literacy. This covers a myriad of individual abilities, including:

  • A good vocabulary
  • Ability to identify numbers, letters, shapes
  • Knowledge of letter sounds
  • Can recognize and use rhyme and alliteration (Peter Piper picked a peck…)
  • Can break words into syllables
  • Understands that words are made of discrete sounds and can work with these sounds (phonological awareness)
  • Has print awareness – knows books are read from left to right, top to bottom, squiggles on page represent letters that make sounds that combine to make words, etc.
  • Can retell a story that was read to him
  • Knows that stories have a beginning, middle and end
  • Can make up stories based on pictures in a book

The AABL test, developed by the ERB (Educational Records Bureau), is the admission assessment of choice for a select group of independent schools throughout the country. Along with the ERB, the AABL was developed with a team of experts from its member schools as part of their admission process. The AABL test aligns with national standards including those of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Common Core, and the New York State PreK and Kindergarten standards. The assessment is administered on an iPad and is intended for children who are a minimum of 4 years of age seeking admission to PreK through Grade 1.

  • Children applying to PreK will take the test in a 1:1* setting.
  • Children applying to Kindergarten will take the test in a 5:1* setting.
  • Children applying to First Grade will take the test in a 6:1* setting.

This new test is administered by the ERB (Educational Records Bureau), although schools can arrange to become test sites, so it may be given at your child’s preschool. A professional administers the test to students one-on-one or in small groups. The students take this test on an iPad. Even though the kids get to do a few practice questions on the tablet before they begin the actual test, we would recommend that your child have experience using an iPad before taking this test. It can only be taken once in a given admission’s season. This means if your child takes it when applying to one school, those results will be shared with other schools.

Unlike the ERB, which was an IQ Test measuring intellectual ability, this is also a kindergarten readiness test covering “verbal and quantitative reasoning, early literacy, and mathematics.” It will have both a Reasoning and an Achievement/kindergarten readiness component. If your child will be taking this test, you’ll want to be sure that he or she is fluent in these abilities.

Here is what each component will cover:

Section Breakdown for the AABL Test

Here is the breakdown of the AABL, which will give you a good guideline for test prep.

Reasoning and Achievement, with each section encompassing two subsections:

Reasoning includes Verbal and Quantitative

Reasoning and Achievement includes Early Literacy and Mathematics.

Verbal Reasoning

  • Verbal Reasoning assesses a child’s ability to reason and solve problems that are presented in pictures and are not dependent upon written text.
  • Analyze relationships between two different ideas presented in pictures by identifying their shared characteristics.
  • Make comparisons and group various objects based on their common properties.
  • Extract explicit information to infer and interpret situations
  • Use deductive reasoning.

The three major concepts within the Verbal Reasoning domain include Verbal Analogies, Verbal Classification, and Verbal Inference/Deductive Reasoning.

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning assesses a child’s ability to use numbers and numerical concepts in order to solve problems. Questions may require children to recognize and apply a numerical operation, infer or deduce what a particular problem entails, compare and contrast quantities, as well as analyze, compare, or predict conclusions.

  • Recognize and apply addition, subtraction, or another numerical concept.
  • Infer or deduce solutions to novel problems.
  • Compare and contrast quantities.
  • Identify shapes and patterns.

The major concepts within the Quantitative Reasoning domain include Analogies, Patterns and Series, and Quantitative Inference/Deductive Reasoning.

Early Literacy

  • Early Literacy contains the major concepts of Phonological & Phonemic Awareness, Phonics & Word Identification, Reading Comprehension, and Writing Conventions. These major concepts are further divided into specific sub-concepts that target skills within the major concepts.
  • Blend phonemes into words and recognize phonemes in isolation.
  • Manipulate phonemes.
  • Rhyme and letter–sound knowledge.
  • Decode words.
  • Read words and sentences.

For example, Phonological and Phonemic awareness include the sub-concepts of Rhyming, Blending, Phonemic Isolation, and Phonemic Manipulation.

Mathematics

  • Mathematics contains three major concepts Number Sense, Geometry & Measurement, and Operations, which are also divided into sub-concepts.
  • Recognize and name numbers.
  • Count and skip count.
  • Determine ordinal position.
  • Add and subtract.
  • Identify basic shapes.
  • Recognize common measurement tools.

For example, Number Sense includes the six sub-concepts of Number Identification, Number Comparison, Number Order, Ordinal Terms, Quantity Comparison, and Quantity Identification.