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Beginner’s Guide to Standardized and Aptitude Tests

If you have children in grade school, chances are you could use this beginner’s guide to standardized and aptitude tests. In this post, we’ll discuss what the most common ones are, their purpose, what can be found on them, and more. By the end of this post, you’ll be well aware of what tests your child may be exposed to and how to help them score well.

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What is a standardized test?

There are many tests and assessments that are considered standardized, but what they all have in common is the format in which they are administered. The two key characteristics of this type of test are:

  • All test takers answer the same questions in the same way, whether it be by multiple-choice, fill in the blank, true-false, etc.
  • They are scored in a standard (or consistent) manner, which makes comparing results and performance amongst students much easier.

These types of tests are often up for debate, but educators and test experts still consider them to be a fair and objective way for testing the academic and performance levels of students. Standardized tests have been used for many years in most school systems and for a variety of reasons:

  • to determine a young child’s readiness for kindergarten
  • identify students who need special-education services or specialized academic support
  • place students in different academic programs or course levels
  • award diplomas and other educational certificates

The most common standardized tests are: achievement tests, aptitude tests, college-admissions tests, international-comparison tests, and psychological tests (including IQ).

 

What are aptitude tests?

An aptitude test is an exam often used to determine an individual’s skill or ability to succeed in a given activity. Aptitude tests are created with the assumption that individuals have inherent strengths and weaknesses, and have a natural inclination toward success or failure in specific areas. These would be based on their innate characteristics.

The biggest thing to keep in mind about these types of tests  is they do not test knowledge or intelligence. It only tests a particular skill or propensity. Therefore, this would not be a test that students can study for.

An aptitude test may be given to individuals to help determine the kinds of careers that are a good match for their skills and interests. Similarly, you’ll often find that high school students are given an aptitude test when thinking about what would be an appropriate college major or whether college is the best choice for them.

 

What are diagnostic tests?

Another form of testing is known as diagnostic assessment. These are a form of pre-assessments that can be used by teachers to evaluate students’ strengths, weaknesses, knowledge and skills before their instruction. An identical assessment can typically be given post-instruction to identify if students have met a course’s required learning objectives.

The data from these types of tests are often used to help adjust the materials used and the instruction given to meet the needs of students. Different diagnostic assessments can test for a variety of subjects such as reading skills, phonemic awareness, math, and so on.

 

The 4 Most Popular Standardized Tests

CAT SURVEY

What is the CAT?

The California Achievement Test is a nationally normed standardized test that measures achievement in the areas of Reading, Language Arts, and Math.

It meets most states’ requirements for an annual assessment for homeschool and private school use. This is a Core Battery/Survey Edition and takes approximately 2½ hours to administer.

 

What does the CAT evaluate?

The CAT Evaluates:

  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension
  • Language Mechanics
  • Language Expression
  • Math Computation
  • Math Concepts and Applications

Preparing Your Students for the CAT

If you’d like to prepare your student for taking this test, it is recommended to use the Spectrum Test Practice Reproducible. The workbook includes comprehensive and “real” practice tests in reading, language arts and math. Each test simulates the actual testing experience by including directions, examples, test questions, and a separate answer sheet with “bubbles” to be filled in for the answers.

How to Administer and Complete the CAT

Administering and completion information is as follows:

  • Grades 4-12 (Levels 14-20) may be tested together.
  • Completion time is 2 ½ hours
  • Norming dates are:
    • September 1 – November 30: Fall Norms
    • December 1 – Last day of February: Midyear Norms
    • March 1 – August 31: Spring Norms

How to Order the CAT Survey

There are specific ordering instructions for this test:

  • An online account with Seton Testing is required to order standardized tests.
  • Only homeschooling families, homeschool groups, or private schools can order the CAT.
  • CAT orders usually ship within 1 business day unless you choose a testing week during check-out.
  • WHAT YOU GET: The price of a CAT covers the 30-day rental cost of the student test booklet, test administration directions, answer sheet, standard shipping to you, scoring, and posting the test results.
  • If you want a hard copy of the test report, you must request it after the PDF copy of the test report is uploaded to your account.

IOWA FORM E

What is the IOWA FORM E?

The IOWA Assessments are achievement tests that assess students’ skills in Reading, Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. The tests assess both foundational skills and higher-order thinking skills. The IOWA Assessments provide national and local comparisons.

In addition to meeting state testing requirements, Iowa Assessments can provide information that may be used to improve instruction and student learning.

 

What does the IOWA FORM E evaluate?

For grades K-8 (Levels 5-14), the following is tested:

  • Reading (Levels 5-14)
  • Language (Levels 5-8)
  • Math (Levels 5-14)
  • Vocabulary (Levels 5-14)
  • Spelling (Levels 7-14)
  • Word Analysis (Levels 5-9)
  • Listening (Levels 5-9)
  • Social Studies (Levels 7-14)
  • Science (Levels 7-14).

It is also worth mentioning that the questions are read aloud by the teacher for these grades and levels.

For grades 9-12 (Levels 15-18), the following is tested:

  • Vocabulary
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Written Expression
  • Math
  • Computation
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Preparing Your Students for the IOWA FORM E

There are two primary resources recommended for helping your student prepare for this test.

Scoring High on the Iowa

This test prep program is one of the most comprehensive available for the IOWA Tests of Basic Skills. With both a Student Edition of approximately 140 pages for extensive study, and a Teacher’s Edition of nearly 180 pages, the program gives your student the self-confidence they need.

IOWA Practice Tests (Grades K-12)

 

These short practice tests (about 7-18 pages) for the Iowa Assessments™ have been designed to help students grades K-12 become familiar with the types of tasks they will encounter on the Iowa Assessments Form E.

How to Administer the IOWA FORM E

IOWA Form E tests are not timed in Levels 5-8. It is timed for Levels 9-18 and takes from two and one-half hours to five hours of actual working time for the students to complete, depending upon the grade level and the test taken.

 

Each section for the IOWA Form E is no longer than 35 minutes. No more than two or three tests should be given in one day. The tests should be spread out over 3 to 4 days. Click here to see what is tested at each level and the completion time for each section.

Other administering applications are:

  • Bachelor’s Degree preferred; not required
  • Paper booklet test
  • Test Agreement Signed Annually
  • Home & private schools only
  • For students 4 yrs. 11 mos. to 21 yrs. 7 mos.
  • 14-day rental period

State Restrictions: IOWA tests are not available for customer use in the state of Iowa.

How to Order the IOWA FORM E

When ordering this test:

  • Place your order 3 weeks to 5 months BEFORE your desired test date.
  • July 1-February 28 ONLY: To test sooner than 3 weeks out, do the following: After selecting the earliest test week, in the comments box just above the “Place Order” button, say: “SEND IMMEDIATELY.” Then your order should ship within 1 business day.
  • March 1-June 30: IOWA, CogAT, & TerraNova/CAT 6 orders placed over the phone or online cannot be moved up and will ship about 10 days before your beginning test week. This applies to walk-in customers also.
  • WHAT YOU GET: The price of an IOWA E test covers the 14-day rental cost of the student test booklet, test administration directions, answer sheet, standard shipping to you, scoring, and posting the test results.

TERRANOVA 2/CAT 6

What is the TERRANOVA 2/CAT 6?

The TerraNova 2, also known as the CAT 6, is a nationally-recognized, norm-referenced test that meets most states’ annual testing requirements. The TerraNova/CAT 6 replaces the CAT 5. It provides a series of tests that are easy to administer, stimulating to take, and most importantly extremely accurate in their assessment of student achievement. TerraNova 2/CAT 6 tests can be rented by homeschoolers and private & public schools (on school letterhead).

What does the TERRANOVA 2/CAT 6 evaluate?

This test evaluates the following:

  • Reading
  • Word Analysis
  • Vocabulary
  • Language
    • Usage
    • Mechanics
    • Spelling
  • Mathematics
    • Computation
    • Problem Solving and Concepts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Preparing Your Students for the TERRANOVA 2/CAT 6

To prepare your students for this test, it is recommended to use the practice test. These short practice tests (6-8 pages with about 2-5 questions per subject area), published by the TerraNova 2/CAT 6 publisher, will give students an idea of what to expect on test day and increase their confidence in taking the test.

A few practice questions (about 2-5) are given in each of the subject areas, the answers to which are provided in the Practice Test Directions for Administration booklet. Directions for Administration read like a script. Students mark their answers in bubbles like on an actual test. Practice Tests are untimed but can be completed in 40 minutes.

For the most effective use, the Practice Test should be administered one to two days before the test date. These practice tests are especially recommended for students testing for the first time. They are also good for when students transition from marking answers in the booklets to filling out a separate answer document (starting with the TerraNova/CAT 6 Level 14 (Grade 4)). Practice tests are available in kits or as individual student practice tests.

How to Administer the TERRANOVA 2/CAT 6

Administration directions are:

  • K–3 (Levels 10-13) must be administered separately by grade.
  • Grades 4–5 (Levels 14–15) may be administered together.
  • Grades 6–8 (Levels 16–18) may be administered together.
  • Grades 9–12 (Levels 19–21/22) may be administered together.

The complete battery completion times are:

  • Grade K (Level 10): 2 hours
  • Grades 1–3 (Levels 11-13): 3 — 5½ total hours over 2 to 3 days
  • Grades 4–12 (Levels 14–21/22): 4½-5½ total hours over 3 days

The survey/plus battery completion times are:

  • Grades 2–3 (Levels 12–13): 2½ – 4 total hours over 2 days
  • Grades 4–12 (Levels 14–21/22): 4½ total hours over 2 days

Note: These are approximate times. If you opt to do just the core portions of the test (Reading, Language, and Math), administration time will be substantially decreased.

 

TerraNova/CAT 6 tests scored between the following dates will be scored with the following norming data:

  • September 1 – November 30: Fall Norms
  • December 1 – Last day of February: Midyear Norms
  • March 1 – August 31: Spring Norms

 

Other administration requirements include:

  • No Degree Required
  • Paper booklet test
  • Signed Test Agreement Form
  • Can be rented by homeschools, private schools and public schools
  • 21-day rental period

 

This test is unavailable in: Georgia (all grades), North Dakota (grades 2-12), Wisconsin (grades 3, 4, 7-12), and Washington, DC (grades 3-10).

How to Order the TERRANOVA 2/CAT 6

When ordering this test, keep the following in mind:

  • Place your order 3 weeks to 5 months BEFORE your desired test date.
  • July 1-February 28 ONLY: To test sooner than 3 weeks out, do the following: After selecting the earliest test week, in the comments box just above the “Place Order” button, say: “SEND IMMEDIATELY.” Then your order should ship within 1 business day.
  • March 1-June 30: IOWA, CogAT, & TerraNova/CAT 6 orders placed over the phone or online cannot be moved up and will ship about 10 days before your beginning test week. This applies to walk-in customers also.
  • WHAT YOU GET: The price of a TerraNova test covers the 21-day rental cost of the student test booklet, test administration directions, answer sheet, standard shipping to you, scoring, and posting the test results.

STANFORD 10 ONLINE

What is the STANFORD 10 ONLINE?

The Stanford 10 Online Achievement Test (SAT 10) is the ONLINE version of the Stanford 10. This nationally normed, standardized achievement test is done online at your computer during a scheduled week you select at check-out up to 5 months in advance.

 

The Stanford Online is an untimed, multiple-choice assessment that follows an easy-hard-easy question format where items are arranged to facilitate student engagement and test completion. No degree required. Seton is the Test Administrator.

What does the STANFORD 10 ONLINE evaluate?

This test evaluates the following:

  • Word Study Skills (grades 3, 4, & Fall of grade 5 only)
  • Reading Skills/Comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Mathematics
  • Language
  • Spelling
  • Social Studies
  • Science

 

You can view a scope and sequence here.

Preparing Your Student for the STANFORD 10 ONLINE

Stanford Practice Tests are available for grades 3–12. These short practice tests (13-14 pages with about 2-5 questions per subject area), published by the Pearson publisher, will give students an idea of what to expect on test day and increase their confidence in taking the test.

Each of the practice test subject areas contain a few practice questions (about 2-5) designed to get students familiar with the kinds of questions (not actual questions) found on the test. The answers are in the Practice Test Directions for Administering booklet.

How to Administer the STANFORD 10 ONLINE

Seton administers the Complete Battery and Abbreviated Battery of the Stanford Online weekly over a 2-day period on specified days from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST according to the following schedule:

  • Complete Battery — Part 1 Monday, Part 2 Tuesday
  • Abbreviated Battery — Part 1 Wednesday, Part 2 Thursday

The Complete Battery is a 2-day test with approximately 2.5 hours of testing each day. The Abbreviated Battery is a 2-day test with approximately 1.5 hours of testing each day.

  • Complete Battery — Approximately 4.5 – 5.5 total hours over 2 days.
  • Abbreviated Battery — Approximately 2.75 – 3.5 total hours over 2 days.

 

The Stanford Online is untimed, but the tests for each of the session codes need to be finished by 5pm Eastern Standard Time each day of testing. No, you can pause the test and take breaks during the day as long as you finish the testing for each of the session codes by 5pm Eastern Standard Time each day of testing.

How to Order the STANFORD 10 ONLINE

Seton requests that you order 3 weeks to 5 months in advance of your desired testing week since they need to know ahead of time how many licenses to purchase for each person testing during a given week.

However, Stanford 10 Online orders can be moved up to an earlier test date all year-round. If you are requesting an earlier test date than is allowed at check out, you will need to utilize the comments box to indicate the dates you actually want to test.

Stanford test dates can be moved up until Thursday 5:00 PM the week before for the next week at no additional charge. After 5pm on Thursday, Stanford orders placed for the next week or Monday morning orders placed for the same testing week cost an additional $25 per student.

Top 2 Aptitude Tests.

COGNITIVE ABILITIES TEST™ (COGAT)

What is the COGAT TEST?

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a group-administered K–12 assessment published by Riverside Insights. It is intended to estimate students’ learned reasoning and problem-solving abilities through a battery of verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal test items. The test assesses students’ acquired reasoning abilities while also predicting achievement scores when administered with the co-normed Iowa Tests.

With this particular test, teachers can tailor instruction to match how students learn, consider students for enrichment programs that pique their interest and challenge their thinking, and uncover gaps between student achievement and ability.

What does the COGAT TEST evaluate?

The COGAT TEST evaluates the following areas:

  • Verbal Analogies
  • Sentence Completion
  • Verbal Classification
  • Number Analogies
  • Number Puzzles
  • Number Series
  • Figure Matrices
  • Paper Folding
  • Figure Classification

Preparing Your Student for the COGAT TEST

It is recommended to use the Building Thinking Skills (Grades 2-12) workbook to prepare for this test. This engaging series develops critical thinking skills necessary for success in reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and standardized tests in Grades 2-12+. The Building Thinking Skills® series is the bestselling thinking skills program in the world! The engaging, highly-effective activities are developmentally sequenced.

Each skill (for example, classifying) is presented first in the semi-concrete figural-spatial form. These processes help students develop superior thinking and communication skills that lead to deeper content learning in all subjects.

How to Administer the COGAT TEST

Your child’s age will determine which of the 14 different levels they will take. Each of the tests are consistent with the following characteristics:

  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Administration can be with paper-and-pencil or online
  • Testing groups do not exceed 20 students
  • The 3 parts are typically given together
  • The test is usually given by a teacher or counselor

Lower test levels are given a longer time and decrease as the levels increase. Grade 2 (Level 8) is given the longest amount of time – 122 minutes.

How to Order the COGAT Test

You can purchase directly from the publisher with easy order options:

  • Log in to your account.
  • Find your desired test and products.
  • Choose to purchase your cart or create a quote.

COGAT FORM 7 can be purchased here.

ALGEBRA PLACEMENT TEST

What is the ALGEBRA PLACEMENT TEST?

The Algebra 1 Placement Exam is a timed test administered online. It is designed to provide an accurate measure of Algebra 1 readiness in Grand Prairie schools. Research supports the claim that by mastering skills and concepts taught in the 8th grade, you will be better prepared to succeed on this placement exam and in the Algebra 1 course during the next school year. As a result of these findings, the Algebra 1 Placement Exam will be based on critical 8 th grade concepts.

What does the ALGEBRA PLACEMENT TEST evaluate?

This test evaluates:

  • Number and Operation
  • Patterns, Functions, and Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability

Preparing Your Student for the ALGEBRA PLACEMENT TEST

You can download an exam study guide here. Saxon offers a printable placement test here. Both of these can be used to prepare your student for the exam.

Purchasing & Administering the ALGEBRA PLACEMENT TEST

This seems to be a test that you can find online (using a trusted source like listed above), download, print, and administer on your home if you’re a homeschooler. If your child is in public and/or private school, they will most likely be able to administer one. It is also ideal for colleges to give these tests to new students to help with knowing which math classes to take.

Final Thoughts

This comprehensive guide has been put together to help you navigate the variety of standardized and placement tests that your students can take. While they each serve their own purpose, you’ll want to make sure your child takes the appropriate one. Be sure to use the following resources should you have further questions: