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What are CAT4 Tests?

“Cognitive Abilities Tests” are used to evaluate students in four areas; verbal, non-verbal, mathematical and spatial reasoning. Used as school entrance tests to assess potential and learning style. A predictive test which helps teachers place a student in a particular academic bracket (try a practice test by clicking here).

Knowledge of core subjects is important but the CAT4 battery of tests is able to provide a different perspective to a child’s learning ability. Knowing if a child is an auditory, kinesthetic, or visual learner helps teachers to focus on delivering education in the best way possible for each child. Also understanding a child’s ability to learn can also help set the pace of learning that is right for a student, and whether additional support or extra challenging work is needed.

The tasks involved in CAT4 tests are different to knowledge recall and take the form of “puzzles” which identify foundational abilities which can be applied to academic subjects. Non-Verbal Reasoning tests a child’s ability to think about shapes and patterns; Verbal Reasoning tests for the ability to understand text and connect concepts and words; Quantitative Reasoning is all about numbers and number patterns and provides insight into a child’s ability to identify numerical relationships; finally Spatial Ability uses shapes to help understand how well a child can generate and transform visual images. All these skills are foundational to curriculum subjects and real jobs, for example an architect will need to have excellent spatial awareness and quantitative reasoning skills while a historian or English teacher will need to have the ability to see patterns and score highly at verbal reasoning.

Architects use maps and require a high level of Spatial Awareness skills
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CAT4 was developed by and delivered by GL-Assessment and can only be purchased by a teacher from a school. The exam is based on years of research and is very similar to an IQ test for adults. The current edition took 5 years to create and was tested against thousands of students to validate its conclusions. It is an excellent tool at determining capability over having knowledge of a particular subject.

What do CAT 4 Tests Involve?

The CAT4 tests involve the following:

  1. Non-Verbal Reasoning – Thinking about shapes and patterns. Shapes and patterns are presented and the student is asked to determine what comes next, or what the patterns are within the shapes.
  2. Verbal Reasoning – Word patterns are presented with the student asked to determine which words belong, which don’t, and how they are connected.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning – Number patterns are shown and the student is expected to quickly work out the next value.
  4. Spatial Ability – Generating and transforming visual images by being presented with shapes and their transformation – the student is then asked to select the final shape.

The CAT4 is a well-known assessment in many schools across the UK and teachers use it to understand a child’s capability. Click here to find your school and get further details on the type of admission test they use.

What are CAT4 Results Used For?

After the CAT4 results have been received a breakdown of the student’s abilities in the 4 areas is determined. This can determine if the student is a good fit for the school or the academic level that the student is being proposed for. Generally the CAT4 test is not used in isolation except for admission tests. If a CAT4 is taken at school then the results iof more traditional assessments are also used – for school admission tests there are many schools which only use the CAT4 results to determine entry.

The profile of each student can be used to understand learning preferences and focus learning material to help improve educational approach. Also by placing students in academic sets of similar levels helps to ensure the pace of teachin is not too fast or too slow.

Can I Revise for CAT4 Test?

Teachers and schools will strongly advice against revising / practicing for CAT4 tests as this may affect the reliability of the scores. We understand this but at the same time if this is the first time your child is doing these type of “puzzle” questions on a computer then they will be at a serious disadvantage to someone who has done similar tests in the past.

The “cognitive load” can be significant and may mean that your child under performs significantly simply due to him or her never having experienced online testing of this sort before. Typically at school we all do knowledge based assessments but these types of “puzzle” questions testing our abilities are rarely conducted – especially not in a formal setting.

Of course – it is ethically incorrect to test yourselves on exactly the same questions but to run through a set of tests so the student appreciates the format and the online manner of delivery takes nothing away from the results themselves. Also due to the tests being timed its a good idea to be familiar with the format so valuable seconds are not wasted when doing the real CAT4 tests.

Will Parents Get the Results?

Teachers are provided guidelines on what information and how to share it with parents. The CAT4 Teacher Guide Pack provides further information in this regard but generally teachers are happy to share areas of improvement and the strengths of your child. At the end of the day the CAT4 is a diagnostic test used to determine how we can deliver education better and which areas a child needs to focus on to further develop their skills and become a more rounded individual.

GL Assessment CAT4 Introduction Video Below

Try a Practice CAT 4 Test

The practice tests on this site are not official tests but use a similar format that can be used to help your child become acquainted with format and medium used. If your child has never sat a computer exam before or answered similar visual / numerical / verbal reasoning questions then he or she will be at a significant disadvantage to other children that have.

To try an example of the format and types of questions that may come up click below.

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My Child is Dyslexic – Is CAT4 Testing Still Possible

This is a difficult question and generally depends on what the school hopes to gain from the test. Dyslexia can be mild and severe and everything in-between so its impossible to say 100% that the test will not be possible for a particular student.

Dyslexic children and their unique strengths; determined, uniquely smart, loved and intelligent, exceptional, brilliant and creative
Dyslexic Children Shine in Other Ways

Dyslexia can also create more pronounced abilities in certain areas – similar to autistic children – and these children may score much higher in non-verbal, mathematical and spatial reasoning but doing poorly on other tests. The tests may also help discover children who have mild forms of dyslexia who up until now have been undiscovered.

For severely dyslexic children it may not be appropriate to run the CAT4 exams – and a different test may be more appropriate- please see the GL Assessment website and converse with the learning support advisor at the school to understand what other tests can be administered.