What is the CAT4 test?
Made by GL Assessment, it is one of the world’s most widely use cognitive ability tests. CAT stands for Cognitive Ability Test and it is used in schools to understand developed ability (i.e. where a child is now) and likely academic potential (i.e. where a child could be).
The CAT4 is used by some independent schools as a part of their admissions process, assessing a candidate’s verbal, non-verbal, mathematical, and spatial reasoning ability and academic potential. UK independent Prep Schools also use the CAT 4 tests as a data point (alongside qualitative and quantitative in-school data) to guide Senior School conversations with parents. This is because of its similarity to the existing Pre-Tests.
The fourth edition of CAT or CAT4 as it is more commonly known, took five years to develop, is based on extensive research, including the analysis of 25,000 UK students’ test data, and is one of the most common standardised assessment tools used in schools.
What does the CAT4 assess?
The CAT4 assesses four areas:
- Verbal Reasoning: the ability to reason with words representing objects or concepts
- Non-Verbal Reasoning: the ability to reason with shapes and patterns
- Quantitative Reasoning: the ability to identify numerical relationships
- Spatial Ability: the ability to reason with shapes to transform visual images
The test itself is composed of 8 short tests assessing the following subsections of the four areas above:
- Figure Classification (10 mins)
- Figure Matrices (10 mins)
- Verbal Classification (8 mins)
- Verbal Analogies (8 mins)
- Number Analogies (10 mins)
- Number Series (8 mins)
- Figure Analysis (9 mins)
- Figure Recognition (9 mins)
Can you sit the CAT4 at any age?
The CAT4 assessment is divided into 10 levels, each with tailored content to specific age group and academic stage:
Level A: Year 4 (ages 8–9)
Level B: Year 5 (ages 9–10)
Level C: Year 6 (ages 10–11)
Level D: Year 7 (ages 11–12)
Level E: Year 8 (ages 12–13)
Level F: Year 9 & 10 (ages 13–15)
Level G: Year 11 (ages 15+)
The most used levels in the UK are A to G, and for those students sitting a CAT 4 assessment as a part of an independent school admissions process, they are likely to sit the following levels:
11+ Entry: Level C & D
13+ Entry: Level E
14+ Entry: Level F
16+ Entry: Level G
What is a good CAT4 score?
CAT4 tests produce lots of data. For each of the four areas assessed the following data is shared:
- The number of questions answered
- A Standard Age Score (SAS)
- A National Percentile Rank (NPR)
- Stanines (ST)
A Mean Standard Age Score (SAS) is also provided. The average SAS is 100. Whilst a ‘good score’ is specific to the chid sitting the test, a score above 100 could be considered good on the basis of being above average.
In our experience, the top independent senior schools are often looking for Standard Age Scores in excess of 125 in Year 6.
CAT4 test sample questions
GL Assessment, the manufacturers of the CAT4, “strongly advise against any kind of practice ahead of a CAT4 test”. For this reason, there are no sample or example test. However, GL Assessment do give indication of the types of question students might face in each section of the test in their Teacher Guidance.
How to prepare for the CAT4?
Whilst each section of the CAT4 assessment includes introductory information with practice examples to help students become familiar with the style and format of the questions, students may wish to do this in advance of the test. In this instance, it is possible to achieve some degree of familiarisation via the variety of web-based tests and apps available, including:
As the majority of students sitting the CAT4 as a part of an independent school admissions process do so in Year 6 or 7 and as such the resources available online typically aimed at these year groups. However, students sitting the CAT4 as a part of the 16+ admissions process can still make use of these resources, as they will give good indication of the content assessed and types of questions asked.
Tutors for the 11 Plus and Pre-tests
Each year Keystone supports many students preparing for the 11 Plus. The 11 Plus tutors we represent are experienced in the intricacies of the 11 Plus exams and how they differ between schools' assessments. We would normally recommend that preparation begins around 12 – 18 months before the exams.
For more details on how Keystone can help with 11 Plus preparation, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via our request a tutor form.