Without thorough preparation, school tests can be a stressful time – for parents, as well as children. As a parent, the chances are you’ve already guided your child through their primary school tests. Now they are in secondary school and you face a new challenge: Year 7 CATs.
In this article, we guide parents through the process of CATs, why they are used and how you can support and prepare your children for success in these tests.
What Are CATs?
Cognitive Abilities Tests (CATs) are marked assessments used by schools to assess pupils’ overall intelligence, developed abilities and likely academic potential. A number of secondary schools use CATs to assess Year 7 pupils’ potential within the first few weeks of their first term. A child’s performance in the CAT is used to judge progress over the academic year and enables schools to make decisions on which class they should be placed in.
CATs generally assess pupils in four areas:
– Verbal Reasoning – Thinking and problem solving with words
– Non-Verbal Reasoning – Thinking and problem solving with shapes and space
– Quantitative Reasoning – Thinking and problem solving with numbers
– Spatial Reasoning – Visualising, picturing and moving shapes around
Why do Schools Use CATs?
In primary school, pupils are tested in English, maths and science, through Key Stage 2 (KS2) Year 6 SATs. However, some secondary schools feel that pupils can be overly-trained for the tests and prefer to get their own measure of a child’s developed abilities.
CATs help schools to identify a student’s academic abilities, unlike KS2 SATs, which only test for knowledge. Year 7 CATs can also help schools to pick up on any learning or behavioural difficulties. CATs give schools an insight into what a child could achieve with the correct learning environment while at secondary school, meaning children are more likely to be placed in a class that’s suited to their learning pace.
How Can I Prepare My Child for CATs?
CATs are designed to be taken with little preparation, as they aim to assess a child’s current abilities and potential. Nevertheless, at Pretest Plus, we believe that a little familiarisation can help children feel confident and perform to the best of their abilities. Our online practice CAT tests and courses are designed to familiarise students with the general format, style and content of the CAT test.
Once each of our 90-minute practice tests is completed, both students and parents will have the opportunity to review answers and read detailed solutions for each question. The tests also offer age-specific result statistics.
The online video courses cover everything your child needs to know for each section of the CAT 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.
How Are CAT Results Presented?
Results for CATs are given in Standardised Age Scores (SAS), which take into account the pupil’s age. The average SAS is 100; once these scores are gathered, they are used to calculate the level pupils are currently at and can also be used to predict GCSE results.
Schools will look for significant variation between scores in the four key areas of Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning; such differences could indicate a child is struggling in a specific area due to a learning difficulty. If this is the case, the child will be placed in a class accordingly and given additional support where needed.
What Happens if My Child Gets Bad Results?
You may feel disappointed if your child’s results don’t live up to expectations, but one set of poor results doesn’t mean your child is destined to perform badly in the future. If they did their best, tell them you are proud of the effort they put in and reassure them a bad test result will not ruin their life.
As a parent, you can give your child your unwavering support, make learning fun to ensure that they don’t lose enthusiasm for school and instill a belief that hard work will pay off.
We recommend boosting your child’s confidence in the run-up to Year 7 CATs with our online practice tests and courses:
CAT4 – Level D – Practice Test 1
CAT4 – Level D – Practice Test 2
CAT4 – Level D – Practice Test 3
CAT4 – Level D – Practice Test 4
CAT4 – Level D – Practice Test 5
CAT4 Quantitative Reasoning Video Course
CAT4 Non-Verbal Reasoning Video Course
CAT4 Verbal Reasoning Video Course
CAT4 Spatial Reasoning Video Course
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.
How to Improve CAT Scores