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California Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

What is the California GATE Program?

The California Department of Education administers the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program, which provides funding for local educational agencies to develop unique education opportunities for high-achieving and underachieving students. Each school district’s governing board determines their own criteria for GATE program participation. (Note: If a student transfers school districts, they may need to requalify for the new school district, as they are not automatically accepted.)

Eligibility and Identification

Eligibility for the GATE program is typically determined through a two-step process: nomination and assessment. Students can be nominated by teachers, parents, or even their peers based on their exhibited superior cognitive abilities, creativity, leadership skills, or exceptional talent in visual and performing arts. Once nominated, students are assessed to determine their suitability for the program. The assessment process often includes standardized testing, review of academic achievement, teacher recommendations, and other measures of potential or demonstrated ability.

Program Offerings

GATE program offerings vary by school district but often include various types of differentiated instruction tailored to the needs of gifted students. This can involve in-depth study, complex problem-solving, and the exploration of subjects from multiple perspectives.

GATE programs may include cluster grouping (where a small group of GATE students is placed in a regular classroom), special day classes (entirely made up of GATE students), pull-out programs (where GATE students leave their regular classrooms for a certain period to receive specialized instruction), or magnet schools focused on specific areas of interest.

In addition to differentiated instruction, GATE programs often provide opportunities for intellectual peer interaction, which is crucial for gifted students who might otherwise feel isolated in a regular classroom.

Benefits and Goals

The primary goal of the GATE program is to provide gifted students with the opportunity to reach their full academic potential. This involves challenging students with advanced material and tasks that require higher-order thinking skills.

Another essential aspect of the GATE program is social and emotional support. Gifted students often face unique social and emotional challenges, including asynchronous development, heightened sensitivity, and a sense of isolation. The GATE program aims to help students navigate these challenges through counseling services and the development of social-emotional competencies.

Concerns and Criticisms

While the GATE program has many benefits, it is not without its criticisms. Some parents and educators worry that it can create a sense of elitism and further widen the achievement gap between different groups of students. Additionally, the identification process for the GATE program has been criticized for potentially favoring certain groups of students over others due to cultural or socioeconomic biases in testing and nominations.

The California GATE program is a robust initiative aimed at providing academically gifted students with the resources, challenges, and support they need to excel. The program offers a differentiated curriculum, opportunities for intellectual interaction with peers, and social-emotional support to help gifted students navigate their unique challenges. However, as with any educational program, it’s essential to continually evaluate and adjust the GATE program to ensure it’s meeting the needs of all students equitably.

Despite some criticism, the GATE program remains an essential tool in California’s educational system, designed to foster the intellectual, creative, and personal growth of gifted students. It underscores the state’s commitment to providing an appropriate and quality education for every student, tailored to their individual strengths and needs.

California Assessment of Student Performance & Progress (CAASPP)

100 Free Gifted Practice Questions

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The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) is a system of assessments designed to measure student achievement and progress towards meeting the academic standards set by the State of California. These standards outline what students should know and be able to do in each grade level and subject area.

CAASPP assessments are primarily based on the California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics, and the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for Science. These standards were developed to ensure that students across the state, and indeed the country, receive a similar level of education, preparing them for college and career readiness.

Key components of the CAASPP include:

Smarter Balanced Assessments: These are computer-adaptive tests administered in grades 3-8 and 11 for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. They adjust the difficulty of questions based on the student’s response to previous questions, providing a more accurate measure of student ability.

California Science Test (CAST): This is an online test based on the California Next Generation Science Standards, administered in grades 5 and 8, and once in high school.

California Alternate Assessments (CAAs): These assessments are for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take the standard assessments even with accommodations. CAAs are administered in the same grades and subjects as the Smarter Balanced Assessments and CAST.

English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC): This is used to measure the progress of English learner students in acquiring the skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking in English.

The CAASPP provides valuable data to teachers, schools, and districts about students’ progress and readiness for college and careers. The test results are used to identify areas of strength and improvement in teaching and learning, and to provide extra support for students who may need it. However, like any standardized test, the CAASPP is just one measure of a student’s academic performance.

Do you have prep for the GATE Test?

There are many tests used for GATE (Gifted and Talented Enrichment) programs in California. Regrettably, we do not know the specific test for many districts, so we do recommend you reach out to your district to get information regarding the test used. If they will not provide the test name, they may describe the test. Please get back to us with the information they do provide so we can guide you accurately.

Each spring, students in grades 3 – 8, 10 & 11 take a CAASPP test. The CAASPP Program looks at how well schools and students are performing. Students take tests in math (grades 3-8 and 11), reading(grades 3-8 and 11) and science (grades 5,8, and 10).

  • Math: Grades 3 – 8, 11 Smarter Balance, on-line test
  • Reading: Grades 3 – 8, 11 Smarter Balance, on-line test
  • Science: Grades 5, 8 & 10 CST Science, paper-pencil test

The CAASPP Program includes four tests: the Smarter Balance Math & Reading Test, the CST Science Test, the California Alternate Assessment, and the Standards-based Tests in Spanish.

The CAASPP assessments allow students to demonstrate analytical writing, critical thinking, and problem solving skills along with their knowledge of facts in ELA, mathematics, and science.

Grades 3 – 5

Grades 6 – 8 

High School

California LEA’s testing coordinators are currently administering the following tests:

ELA (English/ Language Arts) and Math (3rd – 11th grades):

  • Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments
  • California Alternate Assessments (CAAs)

Science (5th, 8th, 9-12th):

  • California Science Tests (CST)
  • CAA for Science

Skill Assessment

Categories for Gifted and Talented identification may include one or more of the following:

  • Intellectual – extraordinary or potential for extraordinary intellectual development. In the intellectual category, students who demonstrate exceptional cognitive abilities or the potential for extraordinary intellectual development are identified. These students often possess advanced reasoning and problem-solving skills, a vast knowledge base, and the ability to comprehend complex concepts quickly. They may exhibit a strong curiosity, keen observation, and the ability to make connections across disciplines. Such students often perform exceptionally well on intelligence tests, and are able to thrive in accelerated or enriched educational programs.
  • Creative – perceives unusual relationships among aspects of the pupil’s environment and among ideas, overcomes obstacles to thinking and doing, & produces unique solutions to problems. Creative students excel in producing innovative and original ideas, solutions, or products. They possess a unique perspective on the world, and can make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. These students are often adaptable, able to think outside the box, and can overcome challenges in creative ways. They may excel in brainstorming, divergent thinking, and problem-solving tasks. In the classroom, they may demonstrate a preference for open-ended assignments that allow them to explore their creativity.
  • Specific Academic – functions at highly advanced academic levels in particular subject areas. Students who exhibit exceptional skills or knowledge in specific academic subjects are identified in this category. They may excel in areas such as mathematics, science, language arts, or social studies, and typically achieve high scores on subject-specific assessments. These students may also demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject matter and the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information within their area of expertise.
  • Leadership Ability – displays the characteristic behaviors necessary for extraordinary leadership. In the leadership ability category, students are recognized for their exceptional leadership skills, such as effective communication, the ability to motivate and inspire others, decision-making, and conflict resolution. These students often possess strong interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and a clear vision for the future. They may take on leadership roles in the classroom, extracurricular activities, or within their communities, and are able to work collaboratively to achieve common goals.
  • High Achievement – produces advanced ideas and products and/or attains exceptionally high scores on achievement tests. High-achieving students consistently perform at an advanced level across multiple subject areas. They may excel in both academic and creative pursuits, producing high-quality work and demonstrating a deep understanding of various topics. These students typically attain exceptionally high scores on standardized achievement tests and other measures of academic performance, distinguishing themselves as top performers in their educational settings.
  • Performing and Visual arts talent – originates, performs, produces, or responds at extraordinarily high levels in the arts. Students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the performing or visual arts are identified in this category. These individuals display a high level of skill and passion in areas such as music, dance, theater, or visual arts (e.g., painting, drawing, sculpture). They may create, perform, or respond to artistic works with an extraordinary level of creativity, technical skill, or emotional depth. Their artistic abilities often set them apart from their peers and may lead to opportunities for specialized training or recognition in their chosen artistic field.
  • Any other criterion that meets the standards set forth by the State Board of Education

Best practices support using more than one factor to identify GATE students. Achievement, intelligence quotient (IQ), ability, and other test scores; motivation; parent/guardian, student, and teacher recommendations; classroom observations; and portfolio assessment are some of the possible factors a district may use to identify GATE students. The two charts below show possible tests in each district and a profile for each student, showing you the many factors that can be considered under the state guidelines

Academic AchievementLevel
California Achievement Test (CAT 6)K-12
California Test of Basic Skills (CTBS/4)K-12
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)K-8
Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT)K-12
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)10-11
Stanford Achievement TestK-12
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)7-12
Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement (WJ)K-12
Academic Achievement/SpanishLevel/Age
Spanish Assessment of Basic Education (SABE)1-8
Intellectual AptitudeLevel/Age
Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)K-12
Inview-A Measure of Cognitive Abilities2-12
Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children IIAge 3-18
Naglieri Non Verbal Intelligence Test (NNAT)K-12
Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test, Sixth (OLSAT)K-12
Raven Colored and Progressive MatricesK-12
Stanford-BinetAge 2-Adult
Slosson Full-Range Intelligence TestAge 5-Adult
Structure of Intellect (SOI)K-3
Test of Cognitive SkillsK-12
Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (TONI)K-12
Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test (UNIT)K-12
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children IVAge 6-16
Woodcock-Johnson III Cognitive Ability (WJ III)Pre-12
Intellectual Aptitude/SpanishLevel/Age
Cognitive Abilities Test/SpanishK-12
Wechsler Intelligence Scale IV/SpanishAge 6-16
Woodcock-Munoz, Bateria –R/SpanishAge 2-90
Structure of Intellect, Spanish (SOI, Spanish)K-3
Observation ScalesLevel/Age
Renzuli/Hartman Scale for Rating
Behavior Characteristics of Superior Students
Silverman, Characteristics of Giftedness ScaleK-12
100 Free Gifted Practice Questions

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10 Responses

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How do I purchase for gate test exams for 2nd grade? And what do I need to purchase?


I want to see what can we develope our kid skills once using this site.

Hi Linh –

We’re happy to help! Please reach out to our Parent Success Team at or by calling us at 877-609-6203.

All the best,



Hello, would like to try practice questions .



My daughter is in 2nd grade and I have registered her for California GATE this year.
I would like to register so she can practice for next few weeks online in the forMat of her exam.

Please advise what are the different package options I can have?

I would like to see what would be best options for us here as the exam is usually end of Jan to first week of Feb.


Hi Manisha –

With a membership to TestingMom, you have full access to our website. We offer a monthly, quarterly and yearly subscription as well as a Lifetime Membership that would be great for your young daughter! You can purchase the membership on our Buy Now page!

All the best,



My child goes to a charter school that does not GATE test.
Are your tests just for practice or could be used to qualify for GATE at our local school.

If you don’t administer tests officially, are there any places in San Diego or online offering Private Gate testing, because San Diego unified will not test a child unless they are enrolled in a San Diego Unified school?

Our practice questions mimic actual test questions you’ll find on dozens of standardized tests to identify Gifted and Talented children. We do not proctor exams; we recommend you google ‘test centers near me’ and contact them to see if they proctor the exam you need.
GATE is a general term that stands for “Gifted And Talented Exam.” A GATE test can actually refer to any number of tests or even a combination of tests so you’ll want to call your school to determine what kind of test they use (they don’t usually give out the actual name of what is used).
If your child’s school will have any public information sessions to talk about the G&T program, we highly recommend that you attend.  They will often talk about testing required for qualification for the program.  Even when they don’t share the name of the test, very often they will describe it.  You can always write to and let us know how the test was described to you.  With that information, we can guide you in what types of activities your child can do to prepare.

See if supports your child’s test by your school district. If you don't see your child's school district listed, check with us! We have practice for other tests as well.

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