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

What is the OLSAT 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

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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3 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.