OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test®)
What is the OLSAT?
The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) is a multiple-choice K-12 assessment that measures reasoning skills with several different types of verbal, non-verbal, figural and quantitative reasoning questions. Schools commonly administer the OLSAT for admissions into gifted and talented programs.
What is on the OLSAT Test?
The OLSAT consists of 2 main verbal and nonverbal sections. The verbal sections contains verbal comprehension and verbal reasoning questions while the nonverbal section contains different types of pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning and quantitative reasoning questions. The verbal and nonverbal sections can also be administered in standalone fashion depending on what the school or district is looking for. For example, the New York City gifted program administers the verbal section of the OLSAT while relying on the NNAT for their nonverbal scores.
For examples of the 21 different types of verbal and nonverbal questions that students will be expected to answer while taking the OLSAT, start practicing now with our 100 free practice questions below.
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What type of materials do you offer for the OLSAT?
We have printable and interactive questions and games for children in Pre-K – 8th grade.
If my child doesn’t know an answer, should she guess?
The official guideline from the publisher is that students should not guess if they do not know the answer – that random guessing compromises the validity of the scores. However, the OLSAT score is calculated based on the number of right answers and the student is not penalized for incorrect answers. As a parent looking for a high score, it is better for your child to answer all questions than leave an answer blank.
OLSAT Test Quick Facts
|Full Name||Otis-Lennon School Ability|
|Creators||Arthur Otis, Ph. D. and Roger Lennon, Ph. D.|
|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|
Which level of the OLSAT will my child take?
Depending on the student’s grade placement, they will be assigned to a specific OLSAT test level. 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.
|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)|
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. More specifically, 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, even though 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 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.
OLSAT test prep for your child’s OLSAT level
OLSAT test prep begins with familiarizing your child with the test-taking process. It is also important to have your child work with OLSAT practice questions that are similar to what they would encounter during the test. Sample questions for each OLSAT level can be found below.
- OLSAT Kindergarten Practice Questions (Level A)
- OLSAT 1st Grade Practice Questions (Level B)
- OLSAT 2nd Grade Practice Questions (Level C)
- OLSAT 3rd Grade Practice Questions (Level D)
- OLSAT 4th – 5th Grade Practice Questions (Level E)
- OLSAT 6th – 8th Grade Practice Questions (Level F)
To get answers to the most common questions we receive from parents, check out our OLSAT Parent FAQ.
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Format of the OLSAT Test
Between testing and administration, it takes 50-60 minutes for a student to complete the test. 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 presented in a one-on-one setting while 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.
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. Guessing incorrectly 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 similarities 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:
|Kinder (A)||1st (B)||2nd (C)||3rd (D)||4th – 5th (E)||6th – 8th (F)||9th – 12th (G)|
|Word/ Letter Matrix||✓||✓||✓||✓|
Where is the OLSAT given?
The OLSAT is given across the United States with metropolitan areas having the highest concentration of parents looking to prepare their children for the test. It is very commonly used in California’s GATE programs. New York city and many other metropolitan areas in the northeast and southeast United States also administer the OLSAT for gifted program admission.
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.
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.
- To solve this, think of a rule that describes the relationship between the 3 items on top.
- Apply that rule to the missing figure on the bottom.
- 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?
- 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.
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
How is the OLSAT Scored?
The OLSAT test uses a Total Age-Based Percentile Score to measure a child’s performance on the test. This score is calculated by assessing how many questions a student answered correctly and then weighs that score against other students of the same age. A child who is 6 months younger than another student will only be assessed against other students his or her age. Once this calculation has been done, a student’s test results will report a percentile ranking of how they did on a scale of 0-100% against all the other students in their age group. Each student will receive Age-based and Grade-based percentile rankings for the entire test as well as sub test rankings in both verbal and non-verbal question types.
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. Clarity is key.
For even more test-taking tips—plus parent resources to help you understand the OLSAT testing process—join TestingMom.com. You’ll also get access to our Parent Success Team, who are standing by to answer your questions about prepping your child to score higher on the OLSAT.
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Looking for more resources to help your child approach the OLSAT with confidence? TestingMom.com can help with:
- Hundreds of OLSAT practice questions for every grade level that cover all 21 question types.
- A customizable program based on your child’s grade level and upcoming tests, so you can target your child’s prep for maximum improvement.
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- A Parent Success Team to help you if you need a little advice or if you get stuck.
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