How to Interpret CogAT Scores

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The Cognitive Abilities Test, also known as the CogAT or CAT, is an exam administered to K-12 students to assess their abilities in three areas considered important in determining future academic success: verbal, nonverbal and quantitative reasoning. This test is most commonly used by schools to determine placement for gifted and talented programs. CogAT scores are reported in terms of percentiles and stanines rather than IQ, which is a better way of assessing where a student stands in relation to his peers. The score report lists four percentiles -- one for each section, and one for all three combined -- ranging from 1 to 100, as well as four stanines, which are normalized standard score scales, ranging from 1 to 9, with 5 being the average.

Review the Percentiles

    Locate the number indicating the percentile in which your child was placed for verbal reasoning. For example, if your score report says that he was placed in the 98th percentile for verbal reasoning, it means your child outperformed 98 percent of his peers and is in the top 2 percent for his age group.

    Locate the number indicating the percentile in which your child was placed for the nonverbal reasoning.

    Locate the number indicating the percentile in which your child was placed for the quantitative reasoning.

    Locate the number indicating the composite percentile for all three sections. This number combines all three scores and indicates where your child stands in comparison to other students who took the test. Thus, a composite percentile score of 98 indicates that, overall, your child did better on all three sections combined than 98 percent of other students in her age group.

Review the Stanines

    Locate the number indicating your child's stanine for verbal reasoning. For example, a stanine of 9 corresponds to a percentile range of 96 to 99; a stanine of 8 corresponds to a percentile range of 89 to 95, and so on. A stanine above 5 means that your child scored above average on that section.

    Locate the number indicating your child's stanine for nonverbal reasoning.

    Locate the number indicating your child's stanine for quantitative reasoning.

    Tips

    • Generally, percentiles are a more descriptive way of understanding how your child did on the exam because they show how he ranked against his entire group of peers. Stanines are more confusing but correspond directly to the percentile score.

      A bar graph of the student's scores also appears on the score report and is a good way to visualize the numbers.

      Additional information about your child's profile can be found at the Riverside Publishing website by typing in your child's profile code.

    Warnings

    • It is important to understand that the CogAT, like many IQ and cognitive tests administered to children, is an imperfect assessment measure that can vary greatly depending on a variety of external factors. Thus, while these scores can be important in deciding placement, they should not be taken as the sole measurement of your child's abilities and skills.

References

About the Author

Based in New York City, Irina Paley has been writing education-related articles since 1999. Her articles have appeared in "AACE" and "Comparative Education." Paley received a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Columbia University in 2002, and a Master of Arts degree in instructional technology from Teacher's College in 2005. She is currently working toward a PhD in cognitive psychology.

Photo Credits

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