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.

For examples of the 21 different types of verbal, nonverbal, figural and quantitative reasoning questions that students will encounter while taking the OLSAT, start practicing now with our 100 free practice questions below.

100 Free Practice Questions

In 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 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.

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 released fairly soon.

OLSAT Test Quick Facts

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

OLSAT Test Level and Grade Level – How They Relate

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. 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. 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. 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.

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)

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:

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.

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

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.