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OLSAT Scores: Understand Test Results

OLSAT scores are calculated using your child’s percentile rank within his or her current age group among other students being tested this year. Most gifted and talented programs require applicants to score within the top 1-3% to become eligible for admission (among a host of other factors, like total number of available seats), so you’ll want to look for a score in the 97th – 99th percentile range if that’s why your child is taking the OLSAT test.

Three Steps to Calculate a Child’s Unique OLSAT Scores:

  • Raw Score. The raw score is the sum total of correctly answered questions. For example, a raw score of 50 indicates that your child answered 50/60 correctly. Each of the verbal and nonverbal sections have a maximum score of 30 points apiece, so your child’s score will be broken down both by subsection and overall raw score (out of 60).
  • School Ability Index (SAI). The School Ability Index (SAI) score is determined by comparing raw scores amongst children within the same age group. The highest possible SAI score is 150, while an average score is around 100.
  • Percentile Rank. Your child’s overall percentile rank is determined by comparing their SAI score against other students within that same age group. If your child ranks in the 97th percentile, he or she scored as well as or higher than 97% of students tested in the same age bracket.

Please note that due to the complexity of calculating OLSAT test scores for each student, it may take up to two months to receive a detailed score report showing your child’s individual results in the mail.

Current Events involving OLSAT Scoring

What happened recently, you ask? Simple: NYC Gifted and Talented scores came out. As you know, Testing Mom caters to parents all over the country and indeed all over the world, so chances are you aren’t among the parents in NYC wringing their hands over their child’s recently-released OLSAT test and NNAT-2 test scores. But my hunch is that no matter where you live, you’ll be able to relate to what these parents are going through just by the fact that you are a parent who cares about your child’s educational well-being.

Many NYC parents happily wrote in to share the good news and their gratitude that their child scored in the 99th percentile on the OLSAT test, qualifying them for a seat in a citywide G&T program. To those parents, I say, “Congrats and good job!”

On the other side of the fence, we were also bombarded with calls and emails from frantic, disheartened and upset parents who were shocked at their children’s low OLSAT test scores. We at Testing Mom spent the year educating parents about the test, handing out advice, and giving parents thousands of practice questions along with the best way to prep for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. unfortunately, the same thing happens every year. Without fail, there are two types of parent: those who are elated and those who are crushed.

Worst of all, it seems like this year we heard from many more parents who were disappointed in their children’s OLSAT verbal test scores, and despairing that their children now have infinitely fewer opportunities available to them than they have in the past. These are parents who less than a week ago thought their children had the world in their hands, and who were convinced that, as parents, they had done everything they could. But I guess the real question is: did they?

So, in an attempt to help these parents discover what went wrong, while educating the rest of us, I want to share with you one of the many emails we received from disappointed parents this week. Here’s a nightmare story from a mom written to me (who we’ll call Stephanie). She fears that she’s not the only one who has experienced the heartbreak she describes:

Dear Testing Mom,

I apologize for the long-winded email, but I believe a big mistake has been made on our son’s G&T test scores and thought you would like to know in case your other customers have experienced the same. This could be another DOE (Department of Education) test score debacle in the works!

Currently our son is in second grade in a district gifted and talented program in Brooklyn. He took the G&T test this year (third year we used your materials – the past two years he placed in the 98th percentile).

I received our son’s tests scores from an email sent by the DOE and I strongly believe there may be a huge error. He scored only in the 96th percentile (89th percentile OLSAT verbal and 99th percentile NNAT-2  non-verbal), so why do I believe it is a big error? Many reasons – for the past two years he placed in the 98th percentile with very high scores in both sections (we diligently used your materials for test prep each time including this year, and his performance is stellar in school – he is one of the top students in his class).

However, I also believe this score could be a mistake because his school administered the test to him before he was actually scheduled to take it. The date he was supposed to take it was on a snow day. When I heard the school was going to be closed, I contacted the test coordinator to reschedule it, only to find out that they had already given him the test!

You can imagine how incredibly upset we were that they gave him the test early on an unannounced day without telling us! The school test administrator assured us that “he took the test well.” However, when I asked my son about it, he said that he rushed through the test so as not to miss the “really cool science experiment his class was doing.” He did not expect both the NNAT-2 test and OLSAT test that day, so did not even know how important it was to concentrate and do his best.

The school administrator admitted their error both verbally and in an email. At that point, they said the only thing they could offer us was for him to retake on another day and with a different test. We were incredibly upset about this, but given the feedback our son had given us about the first test (that he did not focus too well), we felt we had no choice but to have him retake the test.

Now we have no idea what the second test he was given was like – could the verbal part have been a very different format from the other tests? Could they have meant to type 98 and not an 89 on his score? So much is unknown that it is hard to decipher whether this is an error on their scoring part or an error on the school’s part. Yet, we find it very strange that he only got an 89 on verbal, which is incongruent with the last two years of his performance on the test, as well as his stellar performance in 2nd grade work.

I have the emails in writing from the school admitting that they screwed up. They practically begged me not to report them to the DOE – we wanted to go forth in peace, but now it looks like we will have to take other measures to have this investigated. It is sad that one test can determine a child’s fate.


Click here for our comprehensive information page on the OLSAT.


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4 Responses

Importance of preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests | NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing

[…] parents around New York City are frantically preparing their child for these tests, since every extra point on the OLSAT test score can make a difference between getting a citywide seat vs. a district wide The process of […]

Common OLSAT test mistakes | NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing

[…] can gently correct them, and show them how not to make that mistake moving forward. This will help increase their test score […]

Preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests | NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing

[…] score. There are many pitfalls and obstacles that can stand in the way of your child getting a top score on the OLSAT and NNAT-2 […]


What I have a concern is that these tests are scored in comparison to other children in the same age group??
What happens when your child was held back one year because the birthday did not fall before
September. In our case the Birthday is in the first week of Pctober which means the child is almost fully one year older than any children in the same grade.
This would mean that it will be compared to all the children in agrade higher than the current grade level. What do you recommend in this case???

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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