Some grammar schools in the UK use a Cognitive Ability Test (CAT4) as part of their late transfer admission process. The main intake for Grammar Schools is for Year 7 entry. For later entry points, such as in Year 8 or in Year 9, a CAT test is often administered as part of the assessment process. CATs are designed to identify a student’s academic potential, rather than their ability to retain information. In this post, we cover everything you need to know about grammar school Cognitive Abilities Tests.
What are Grammar School CATs?
Cognitive Abilities Tests (CATs) are marked assessments that are normally taken annually, either at the beginning or the end of a school year. They’re typically used to monitor progress and to help schools decide which classes students should be placed in.
In some instances, grammar schools use CATs as part of their admissions process for Late Transfer Year 8 and Year 9 entry, sometimes alongside a face-to-face interview.
Although there are variations in Cognitive Abilities Tests, they generally assess pupils in four areas:
– Verbal Reasoning – problem solving with words
– Non-Verbal Reasoning – interpreting shapes and space
– Quantitative Reasoning – problem solving with numbers
– Spatial Reasoning – moving and visualising shapes and space
Why Do Some Grammar Schools Use CATs for Year 8 and Year 9 Entry?
CATs focus exclusively on various forms of reasoning. They provide an insight into what a child could achieve if provided with the correct learning environment and teaching methods. Using the CAT as an entrance test helps schools identify a student’s potential rather than their learned knowledge.
The tests are standardised and easy to administer online. They therefore provide schools with an effective means of assessing students for Late Transfer entry into later years.
How to Prepare for Grammar School CATs
At Pretest Plus, we believe that students are more likely to perform well if they know what to expect in the exam. We’d advise that parents help their child create a study schedule in the lead up to the exam that focuses on the four topic areas of the test.
A simple spreadsheet or a wall planner is all that’s needed to help structure a student’s revision. By allocating certain days to each of the four areas, parents can ensure that their child covers everything they’ll need to know. It’s important to try and leave enough flexibility in their schedule to account for unforeseen changes, or any topics that may need extra time allocated.
One of the best ways to prepare for a grammar school CAT4 is to focus on improving a child’s reading skills. Reading and understanding is an essential element of the verbal reasoning part of the exam as it tests a student’s vocabulary. Parents should encourage their child to read a range of texts in different styles, such as fiction books and newspaper articles.
Keeping a vocabulary book is also a good idea, so that students can record any new words they come across. By revising these words regularly, your child will have an increased range of vocabulary to draw on in the exam.
For some reading recommendations for the grammar school cognitive abilities test, take a look at our post A Reading List for the 11 Plus Exam – a lot of these texts are written at a similar vocabulary level to what may come up in a CAT test taken in Year 7 or Year 8.
Making study sessions as interactive as possible can help students to ‘think on their feet’. Spelling tests and word games can help put their knowledge into practice. Likewise, activities that involve shapes, patterns and mirrors can help improve spatial reasoning skills.
For more advice on how to prepare for the grammar school Cognitive Ability Test, check out our post Study Skills for the Cognitive Abilities Test in Primary School.
How Are Grammar School CATs Scored?
Cognitive Abilities Tests are age standardised, meaning that the student’s age is taken into account when marked.
Once the test has been marked schools look for variations across scores to see if younger students consistently score lower in any of the four areas and make necessary adjustments. While looking at the variations in scores, the school is also better able to identify pupils that may have a learning difficulty. Finally, a standardised score is provided for each topic area.
How Can Pretest Plus Help?
At Pretest Plus, we produce online practice tests and courses to help students prepare for grammar and independent school entrance exams. Our online Cognitive Ability Tests are designed to familiarise students with the online format, style and content of grammar schools CATs.
We believe that when a student feels prepared before a test, they’re more likely to perform well, so our tests and courses are designed to provide this experience.
One of the biggest challenges students face with grammar schools CATs is time management. For many Year 7 and Year 8 students, the CAT will be their first experience of answering questions under pressure in an online environment. Our tests help students improve their time management skills, giving them a feel for how long to spend on each question.
Our online practice tests provide specific explanations and answers for each question, so that students will become familiar with how to answer each of the types of questions they could be asked on the day. Average statistics are also provided so that parents can compare their child’s score in relation to others taking the test. Our practice tests and courses also provide valuable insights into a child’s current ability, highlighting any weak areas that may need improving before the exam.
For students preparing for Cognitive Ability Tests for Year 8 and Year 9 entry to Grammar School, we’d recommend the following resources:
You can learn more about our highly accurate online CAT4 practice tests by clicking on the links below. These CAT Practice Tests are available to take online immediately after purchase. Each module is marked automatically and is then available for review with answers and explanations provided for every question. We also provide comparative ranking statistics on a per module basis so you can quickly identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
CAT4 Practice Test 1
CAT4 Practice Test 2
CAT4 Practice Test 3
CAT4 Practice Test 4
The following online video courses cover everything your child needs to know for each section of the CAT4 assessment. Each course consists of a series of lessons that go through each question type in great detail, providing step-by-step explanations and techniques to help your child recognise the underlying patterns to look out for. They cover every possible question type that could come up in the CAT4 test.
CAT4 Quantitative Reasoning Video Course
CAT4 Non-Verbal Reasoning Video Course
CAT4 Spatial Reasoning Video Course
CAT4 Verbal Reasoning Video Course
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Please note that Pretest Plus is an independent publisher of practice tests and not affiliated with or endorsed by any other test publisher.
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