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What It Is and How to Prepare

When your child’s school year is full of standardized tests and opportunities, you can easily become lost in the acronyms, results, and expectations. However, with the OLSAT approaching for our California area schools (March 9 & 10, 2016), it is wise to take a time out to learn about what the OLSAT measures and some ways to set your child up for success.

What Is the OLSAT?

The OLSAT, or Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, is a standardized test that can be administered to students in pre-kindergarten to senior year of high school. The OLSAT is a multiple choice exam that uses a series of questions to determine if a child is appropriate for gifted programs or classes. The OLSAT is rooted in your child’s ability to listen and to follow directions. During the exam, directions will be read one time by the teacher who is administering the test. As per the test instructions, the teacher will not repeat the instructions a second time.

How Can I Prepare Your Child for the OLSAT?

Testing can be stressful for students, no matter the age, if they are not set up for success by both teachers and parents. In order to give your child the confidence to do their best on the OLSAT, try a few of our favorite tips:

Talk About the Test Ahead of Time

It is okay to talk about the upcoming OLSAT with your child. Chances are, they are hearing about it a bit at school, and they may even be practicing with their teachers during class time. While you certainly don’t want the OLSAT to be the only topic of conversation at the dinner table, it is recommended to talk about what it is and to ask questions that may give you an insight into your child’s attitude towards the test. Are they feeling nervous? Excited? Indifferent?

Incorporate Practice Into Your Home Routine

Much of testing success is confidence, and confidence can only be gained by practice. There are plenty of OLSAT practice questions online, and you can incorporate a few minutes of practice with your child during the week. Remember, it shouldn’t feel like a chore and you should use discretion for your own child’s age and abilities.

Encourage Test Skills

When you are talking about the OLSAT, it is important not to stress the end result of the stress to your younger students. Instead, talk about good testing skills and practices such as taking your time, not rushing just because your neighbor gets done before you, and making your best guess based on what you know. You want your child to try their best every time.

Further, work with your child on listening and following directions. Remember, the test instructions will only be read once. During your time together, try to work with your child on following directions after hearing them only once. Work on multistep directions, starting with a few directives (“put on your shoes and meet me at the back door”) and increasing the steps as they get the hang of it (“put on your shoes, grab your backpack and lunchbox, and meet me at the back door”).

Set Them Up for Success on Testing Day

When the OLSAT testing days roll around, do your best to set your child up for success. Be sure he gets to bed on time and is well rested. Make a breakfast that will keep him full and fuel his brain during the day. Lay out his favorite outfit and high five him on the way out the door. Little things that you do in the morning can set the tone for a more pleasant testing experience for him.

Get Help from the Professionals

The OLSAT is just one way that school systems look for students who may be appropriate for gifted programs. If you think your child could use some extra challenge, or if your child has expressed that they are bored in regular classroom settings, give us a call! We would love to have the opportunity to meet with your child and complete an assessment and plan for him to work beyond his classroom assignments, whether or not he tests into the gifted program. The tutors we work with are ready to help students of all abilities, including those who enjoy a challenge.

Good luck on your OLSAT!