For many Dallas private schools, CATS testing is one part of the admissions testing process. The CATS evaluation gives schools information about a students’ level of intellectual functioning. The second part of admissions testing occurs at the Saturday morning visit. Here, students undergo testing that provides information about either developmental readiness (K-1st grade and under) or academic achievement in mathematics and English (1st grade +).
In my last post about the CATS testing, I explained that prepping for this cognitive test is inappropriate and will lead to disqualification from the admissions process. In reality, you can’t prep a child for a cognitive test; you can only expose a child to the test materials and encourage her to memorize the answers.
Now, achievement test preparation is a different story. Prepping for achievement testing involves reviewing concepts that have already been taught in the classroom and then having students do practice problems to reinforce their learning. In this context, it’s a little like doing extra homework, just limited to math and English. Admissions directors do not frown upon this type of preparation, in moderation. However, as with the CATS, attempting to gain access to the actual test and prepare a child for it will be grounds for disqualification.
But do you need to prep your child? I don’t necessarily think so. What I suggest is that together with your child, you choose some books she’s interested in that are above her reading level. Read to her in the evenings. Explain unfamiliar words to her when you come across them. And periodically ask questions about the material, What’s happening in the story right now?’ ‘Why did Sally choose to do this or that?’
In terms of math, look at your child’s graded work that comes home. How is your child doing? If you’re concerned, check in with her teacher and get a progress report to see if she’s at grade level. If she’s struggling, you have some choices. You can get some extra help for her or purchase a workbook either at grade level or possibly a grade ahead to review concepts. Target, Lakeshore Learning Company, and Amazon, etc. will all have something appropriate. If your child is taking the ISEE, the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) offers a free student guide to familiarize her with the testing format and provide some practice questions. If you are so inclined, work on those types of skills. But there is no need to go overboard. If your child is doing well, I wouldn’t worry about preparation. Again, trust that the process will work, and your child will end up in a school that’s right for her. If you need help selecting schools that will be a good match for your child, don’t hesitate to contact me.
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