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Study Skills for the Cognitive Abilities Test in Primary School

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The Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) in primary school can have quite an impact on your child’s academic future, so an effective approach to studying for the exam is essential. In this post, we outline the key study skills that can help give your child the competitive edge in the test.

Getting Organised for the CAT4

For your child to perform at their best in the exam, they’ll need to prepare ahead of the test date. Being organised is one of the most important CAT study skills you can help your child with from the very beginning.


Every successful exam result starts with a plan. Help your child get organised by creating a study schedule with them. The schedule doesn’t need to be complicated, in fact, a simple Excel spreadsheet, or a wall planner is all you really need to get started.


Mark out the days and times that your child will study and include the topics that they’ll cover. You should try to ensure that every element of the exam is covered before exam date and leave enough flexibility in the schedule to account for unforeseen changes.


As your child’s studying progresses, you can adjust their schedule to focus on their weaker areas ahead of the test.

Building Up Useful Resources

If your child’s current approach to studying involves simply reading over notes, then they may benefit from having access to a library of useful resources, specifically aimed at the CAT. Although revising notes can improve your child’s topic knowledge, this approach on its own may be too passive for your child to really get to grips with their understanding of the topic.


CAT practice tests and courses are particularly useful for the Non-Verbal and Spatial Reasoning elements of the exam as these include question types your child may not have seen before. The CAT will likely be one of the first exams that your child takes under test conditions, so it’s important that they are well versed in exam technique.


At Pretest Plus, we have online practice tests and courses for the CAT that will help your child become more familiar with the types of questions that they may be asked. We believe that the more familiar a child is with the individual elements of the CAT exam, the more confident they’ll feel and the better they’ll perform.


Our CAT resources are designed to familiarise students with the general format, style and content of the exam. Each of our tests last for 90 minutes and you and your child will be able to review feedback and read detailed explanations of each answer afterwards.


Practice Tests

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 – Level A – Practice Test 1

CAT4 – Level A – Practice Test 2

CAT4 – Level A – Practice Test 3

CAT4 – Level A – Practice Test 4

CAT4 – Level A – Practice Test 5



CAT4 – Level B – Practice Test 1

CAT4 – Level B – Practice Test 2

CAT4 – Level B – Practice Test 3

CAT4 – Level B – Practice Test 4

CAT4 – Level B – Practice Test 5


Video Courses

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 Course

CAT4 Non-Verbal Reasoning Course

CAT4 Spatial Reasoning Course

CAT4 Verbal Reasoning Course


Reading for the Primary School CAT4

Being a confident reader is an essential study skill to focus on for the Verbal Reasoning part of the CAT, which tests a student’s breadth of vocabulary. As a parent, try to encourage your child to read a range of texts, particularly books that they wouldn’t normally pick up. The more genres they read, the more they’ll come across different vocabulary, which will be particularly useful when it comes to answering verbal reasoning questions.


Encourage your child to keep a ‘vocabulary book’ where they record any new words that they come across and don’t immediately understand. By revising these new words regularly, your child will have a new range of vocabulary that may help them in the exam.


Knowing what books to read in preparation for the CAT can often be difficult for parents to gauge. At Pretest Plus, we’d suggest that you encourage your child to read books that they’ll find slightly more challenging than normal. By stepping outside their reading comfort zone a little, they’ll progress their reading skills quicker.


It may be an idea to look at reading lists for the 11 Plus exam for a selection of texts that may be more challenging. Our sister site, Exam Papers Plus, has a very useful 11 Plus reading list that your child can choose from here.

Making Learning Interactive


Just as having access to effective CAT resources can improve your child’s study skills, making use of different learning activities can also help. Learning activities are particularly useful for the Verbal Reasoning part of the exam.


Planning interactive study sessions that make use of spelling tests and word games can help encourage your child to ‘think on their feet’ and put their knowledge into practice.


Engaging in activities that involve shapes, mirrors and patterns is also a good study skill to focus on, particularly for the spatial reasoning element of the test. Games like Lego, for example, are a great way for your child to learn how shapes and patterns can correspond with one another.


By adopting a proactive approach to studying for the CAT, you’ll be able to monitor your child’s progress more effectively as you can compare their performance in their practice tests and activities as their study plan progresses.


Please note that Pretest Plus is an independent publisher of practice tests and not affiliated with or endorsed by publishers of the CAT or any other pretest publisher.


Related posts:

Year 7 CATs: Everything Parents Need to Know

How to Improve CAT Scores


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