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OLSAT® Test (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test®)

The OLSAT Test (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test), developed by Pearson Education, is a multiple-choice intelligence test comprised of verbal, nonverbal, pictures, figures, and quantitative reasoning questions to measure overall student ability – and often eligibility for gifted and talented programs. Given to students entering kindergarten all the way up through high school, many U.S. schools use the OLSAT to efficiently determine eligibility for gifted and talented programs since a psychologist is not required. The overall test focuses on how well a student comprehends and uses reasoning in a wide variety of applications and is comprised of 21 different types of verbal and nonverbal questions designed to assess performance across a wide variety of reasoning skill sets.

Full Name Otis-Lennon School Ability Test
Publisher Pearson Education
Creators Arthur Otis, Ph.D. and Roger Lennon, Ph.D.
Latest Version OLSAT-8
Age Range K – 12
Test Format Online or paper-and-pencil; group-administered
No. of Questions 40 (Kinder) / 60 – 72 (1st Grade and higher)
Amount of Time 60 – 75 minutes
Question Types Verbal, Nonverbal, Figural, Quantitative

In very young children, the OLSAT is useful in determining advanced placement as well as in identifying potential areas for improvement. For older students, the test is primarily used to determine whether an individual is progressing through school at the same intellectual rate as their peers. Since the OLSAT can be administered in groups and doesn’t require a psychologist, it is a very cost-effective way for administrators to identify gifted students. However, the test’s critics assert that for higher grade levels and extremely gifted children, the test is less accurate than more costly IQ tests like Stanford Binet and the WISC.

OLSAT Test Otis-Lennon School Ability Test

The most current version of the OLSAT given to students is the 8th edition. Publishing of the OLSAT’s 1st edition occurred all the way back in 1979 and every few years since then, an updated edition would follow. However, the 8th edition has been the most current edition for a long while and as such, the 9th edition is expected to be releasing fairly soon.

OLSAT Test Level and Grade Level – How They Relate

Kindergarten students are tested with Level A, first graders are tested with Level B, second graders are tested with Level C, third graders get Level D, fourth and fifth graders get level E, sixth to eighth grade take level F, and students from ninth through twelfth grade get Level G. Levels A, B, and C are read aloud to students. The level A test, the OLSAT test’s lowest level, is designed to assess school abilities of kindergartners but it assesses areas that are not universally taught. For example, the OLSAT does not assess reading and math abilities. Some educators use the level A test to assess preschoolers, but, for three-year-olds and four year olds, require only 40 of the 60 test questions. For five-year-olds, all 60 test questions are given. A child’s age is also a very important factor when it comes to scoring as OLSAT scores are measured against peers in age groups of 3-month bands. Children born October 1st through January 1st are compared with other children taking the OLSAT within the same age range. More information on the specific OLSAT Test Level that your child will be taking can be found at these links:

Format of the OLSAT Test

Between testing and administration, it takes 50-60 minutes for a student to complete the test and it may take a little longer when the teacher reads questions to students at the lower levels. For younger children (like preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders) the test is often given one-on-one. Older children typically take the OLSAT in a group setting. The test itself is given in black and white, but many of TestingMom.com’s OLSAT practice questions are shown in color to make the test preparation process more interesting and fun for children.

Grade OLSAT Test Level
Kindergarten OLSAT Level A (40 Questions)
1st Grade OLSAT Level B (60 Questions)
2nd Grade OLSAT Level C (60 Questions)
3rd Grade OLSAT Level D (64 Questions)
4th – 5th Grade OLSAT Level E (72 Questions)
6th – 8th Grade OLSAT Level F (72 Questions)
9th – 12th Grade OLSAT Level G (72 Questions)
OLSAT Test Otis-Lennon School Ability Test Question 1
OLSAT Test Otis-Lennon School Ability Test Question 2

TestingMom.com Pro-tip: Incorrect answers are not penalized on the OLSAT test, so guessing on questions on the OLSAT test will not hurt a student’s score for the test. Guessing incorrectly on the OLSAT test will yield the same score as leaving the question blank. The OLSAT test is structured so that difficult questions are immediately followed by easier ones and vice-a-versa. This prevents students from being discouraged by tough OLSAT test questions towards the end of test sections. The total score of the OLSAT test is called the School Ability Index (SAI) and is comprised of a verbal and nonverbal score.

Verbal and Nonverbal Skills Assessed by the OLSAT Test

  • Verbal Comprehension – Following directions, identifying antonyms, sentence arrangement & completion.
  • Verbal Reasoning – Logical selection, verbal analogies, verbal classification, and inferences.
  • Pictorial Reasoning – Picture classification, picture analogies, and picture series.
  • Figural Reasoning – Figural classification, figural analogies, and figure series.
  • Quantitative Reasoning – Number series, numeric inference, and number matrices.

The OLSAT includes sections such as detecting likenesses and differences, recalling words and numbers, defining words, following directions, classifying, establishing sequence, solving arithmetic problems, and completing analogies. The intent of the OLSAT is to assess thinking skills and provide an understanding of a student’s relative strengths and weaknesses in performing a variety of reasoning tasks. The test is designed to get a measure of your child’s ability level. It’s important for parents to practice OLSAT test prep questions if the child has never been exposed to the concepts on the OLSAT. The chart below shows the different skills assessed by grade level:

Grade (Test Level) Kinder (A) 1st (B) 2nd (C) 3rd (D) 4th – 5th (E) 6th – 8th (F) 9th – 12th (G)
Verbal Comprehension
Following Directions
Sentence Completion
Sentence Arrangement
Verbal Reasoning
Aural Reasoning
Arithmetic Reasoning
Logical Selection
Word / Letter Matrix
Verbal Analogies
Verbal Classification
Pictorial Reasoning
Picture Classification
Picture Analogies
Picture Series
Figural Reasoning
Figural Classification
Figural Analogies
Pattern Matrix
Figural Series
Quantitative Reasoning
Number Series
Numeric Inference
Number Matrix

Tips for Solving OLSAT Analogy Questions

The pictures in the first part of the row are related in a particular way. In the next part of the row, find the one picture that belongs in the empty box.

OLSAT Sample Practice Question 2

On top, the 2nd picture is a combination of the bottom and middle shapes in the first picture, and the 3rd picture is a combination of the middle and top shapes in the first picture. So on the bottom, the middle and top shapes combined in the same way would be the 1st answer choice.

1.  Think of a rule that describes the relationship between the 3 items on top.

2.  Apply that rule to the missing figure on the bottom.

3.  Test the rule with each answer choice – if you choose it, will the items on top be related to each other in the same way as the items on the bottom?

4.  If more than one choice fits the rule, then look for a more precise and specific rule that describes the relationship between items on top.

5.  Figural Analogies: as figural analogies become harder, tell your child that there will be more than one type of change within a given figure matrix analogy puzzle.

Here are the most common types:
a.  figures remain the same
b.  figures change shade or color
c.  pieces are added to or removed from the figure
d.  figures change in size
e.  figures move or rotate
f.  figures become mirror images of each other
g. figures figures divide in half or double

Tips for Solving OLSAT Classification Questions

1.  These are similar to analogy questions, except that you should think of the reason why the items on top belong together in one group. What is the same about all of them that they belong together as a unit?

2.  Test that reasoning (above in #1) with each answer choice – if you choose it, will all 4 items belong together in a group for the reason you identified?

3.  If more than 1 item or if no item fits with the items on top for the reason you identified, look at the items on top again and re-think why they belong together in a group.

Other tips for OLSAT test prep

1.  Listen. For Sentence Completion questions, where the teacher will read the question prompt, remind your child to listen carefully- the question cannot be read twice.

2.  Look at every answer choice. Consider every answer choice one at a time; then pick the best one. Sometimes, more than one answer will seem right. Other times, no answer seems ideal. Pick the best answer of the possibilities offered.

3.  Always guess. If you aren’t sure, eliminate answers that are definitely wrong and then take your best guess. There is no penalty for guessing.

4.  Practice filling in bubbles (for children K and above. Pre-K only need to point to answer). Be sure to practice filling in bubbles completely and using the bubble sheet.

OLSAT® (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test®, Eighth Edition) is a registered trademark of Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliate(s), or their licensors. TestingMom.com is not affiliated with nor related to Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliates (“Pearson”). Pearson does not sponsor or endorse any TestingMom.com product, nor have TestingMom.com products or services been reviewed, certified, or approved by Pearson. Trademarks referring to specific test providers are used by TestingMom.com for nominative purposes only and such trademarks are solely the property of their respective owners.

Tell Us Your Experiences

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7 Responses

Meem says:

My child will be taking the OLSAT for entrance into 9th grade. Will that be OLSAT level F or G? I asked the school, and they said that they do not release that information.

wu.nuckles says:

is Level E testing for current 4th and 5th student and entering 5th and 6th grade?

TestingMom.com says:

Yes, OLSAT Level E would be given for entering the following grade. If in 4th grade, it will be given for entering 5th grade program. If in 5th grade, it will be for entering 6th grade.

Tamara says:


My son is going to grad 4. I would like to buy a book(Question and answer) to prepare him for OLSAT exam.
can you recommend one.

Thank you

maha says:


My son is going to grad 4. I would like to buy a book(Question and answer) to prepare him for OLSAT exam.
can you recommend one.

Thank you

perry says:

My daughter is going to grad 4. I would like to buy a book(Question and answer) to prepare him for OLSAT exam.
can you recommend one.

Thank you

Marcus Bruner says:

Hi Perry! First, I would recommend a membership to TestingMom.com. We offer an extensive collection of practice questions and answers for the OLSAT test for all grades from Pre-K through the 8th! In addition, we have interactive games and questions to use in order to prepare for the OLSAT.

If you are still looking for a book after that, we do offer OLSAT workbooks through our TestingMom.com Store.