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  5. What is CAT4? 【Exam Outline & Test Guide】

What is CAT4? 【Exam Outline & Test Guide】

Credit: GL Assessment

CAT4, the full name of which is Cognitive Ability Test Version 4., is a test for pupils aged 6-17 years, developed and provided by GL Assessment (UK). This internet-based examination is widely used not only in the UK but also in many other countries around the world as an entrance test for international schools (especially those offering the British programme of education). Discover here what it is all about and how to prepare for it.

CAT4 in a nutshell

The Cognitive Abilities Test ver.4 (CAT4) is a diagnostic assessment that is designed to help students and their teachers understand how they learn and what their academic potential might be. It assesses how students think in areas that are known to make a difference to learning.

Test Overview

CAT4 assesses a student’s ability to think across four different reasoning batteries, each of which contains two tests:

  • Verbal reasoning – thinking with words
  • Quantitative reasoning – thinking with numbers
  • Non-Verbal reasoning – thinking with shapes
  • Spatial reasoning – thinking with shapes and space

The test is taken online and the questions are, of course, in English. The test is divided into three main parts, each consisting of two or three sections. Before each section of the test begins, explanations and examples are provided. The test, including explanations and examples for each section, lasts approximately two hours (with a break between each part). You can reduce the time by answering at a faster pace or by proceeding without taking breaks. The time allocation for each section is as follows:

Image: GL Assessment

A timer appears on-screen and counts down from the time allocated to each test. This cannot be overridden as the tests in CAT4 are strictly timed. If a student does not reach the end of the test in the given time, the test will time out and the student will be moved to the next section or will exit the test.

The questions have some similarities to IQ tests where imagination and guessing power are required. For example, in a verbal section, you will be presented with three similar words and you will have to choose a word that is related to those three words. There are a large number of questions, so it is important not to worry too much if you do not understand a question, but to maintain a good pace to solve.

Can students practice for CAT4?

It should be emphasised that this is an assessment of ability and not attainment, so no pre-learning or preparation is necessary. We strongly advise against any kind of practice ahead of a CAT4 test as this may alter the reliability of test scores. The point of CAT4 is that it is not a test of learnt knowledge and it needs to be as unaffected as possible by any external factors, such as practice. We recommend the examinee to think of it as an eye test; if you practice ahead of an eye test and memorise the card, your diagnosis will be incorrect and valuable information will be missed.

While many tests focus on a child’s attainment in core subjects, CAT4 is designed to give schools a much broader, more rounded view of each child, their potential and how they learn. Results help teachers decide about the pace of learning that is right for a student and whether additional support or challenge is needed.