OLSAT® Test Preparation

What is the OLSAT® Test (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test)

The OLSAT® (The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test) is a group-administered aptitude test for grades K-12 used to estimate students’ reasoning and problem solving skills. Unlike assessment tests which measure what a student has already learned, aptitude tests are designed to measure intellectual ability, focusing on analytic and problem solving skills rather than specific knowledge.

Watch our video to learn more about Mercer Publishing’s OLSAT® Test Preparation.

What is on the OLSAT Test (Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test)?

The OLSAT test uses between 9 and 15 question types to test children in four main categories (verbal, nonverbal, figural reasoning, and quantitative reasoning). The number of questions on the OLSAT test ranges from 40-72 depending on grade level. Question types on each test are determined by grade level and can be classified into the 4 content sections described above. With administration time, the OLSAT test takes between 1-1¼ hours to complete.

What is on the OLSAT test? (OLSAT question types by grade level)

For a more in-depth description of the OLSAT test, utilize our Frequently Asked Questions page to answer any questions you may still have.

How to Prepare for the OLSAT Test (Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test)

The best way to prepare for the OLSAT test is by exposing your child to the exam format and the types of questions they will see on the day of the test. Mercer Publishing's OLSAT practice test books each contain two full-length practice exams with same number of questions and format as the actual exam, and come with answers and explanations. By using Mercer Publishing's practice tests, children are able to practice using the same types of questions and format they will see the day of the test. This helps to lesson test anxiety and will diagnose any problems children are having that require additional practice. We also have downloadable versions of our books which are available for Mac and PC users for instant access.

To see what typical questions look like, view our free OLSAT Sample Questions here.

OLSAT FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

The Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test (OLSAT) is divided into 7 test levels designed to test students with 10-15 question types in 5 areas of ability. Below is a breakdown of question types by grade level.

OLSAT Test chart of the question types at each grade level

The number of questions on the OLSAT exam depends on the grade level. Administration time may vary, depending on how long the proctor takes to administer the test, but usually ranges between 60-75 minutes for the test. The table in the below details the number of questions by level. See the table below for the full details on the different lengths of each test.

OLSAT Test chart of the number of questions at each grade level

GATE, TAG (Talented and Gifted), PRISM, GT or G/T, Academically Gifted Program, Extended Learning Program, and many others...

These programs often have the lowest student-to-teacher ratios, the best teachers, and additional funding that regular classrooms do not receive.

In order to get your child into your school's best programs, your child will likely need to pass one or more of the gifted program entry exams. There are several exams usually given for these programs and these exams can be divided into two types:

  • Achievement Tests, which are a measure of things that your child would have learned in school - such as reading, math and, in some cases, science and social studies.
  • Aptitude Tests, which are a measure of intellectual ability, focusing on analytic and problem solving skills rather than specific knowledge.

Aptitude Tests aim to evaluate your child's intelligence and only those children who receive the highest scores are selected for the best programs. The questions on aptitude tests are not things they have learned in school and are types questions that they have probably never seen before exam day. If they don't understand the types of questions or if the directions are not well explained on exam day, your child will not do well on these exams and will not have access to the best teachers and best programs.

Many parents have been frustrated that their children's scores on these exams do not reflect their intelligence and many kids have missed out on these programs by only a point or two on the exams, year after year. Our practice tests have changed that.

Mercer Publishing is the publisher of the original full-length practice test for the three most common aptitude tests - the Cognitive Abilities Test® (CogAT®) and Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test® (NNAT®) and Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test®(OLSAT®).

The OLSAT test uses a Total Age-Based Percentile Score to measure a child's performance on the test. This score is calculated by assessing how many questions a student answered correctly and then weights that score against other students of the same age. I child that is 6 months younger than another student will only be assessed against other students his or her age.

Once this calculation has been done, a student's test results will report a percentile ranking of how they did on a scale of 0-100% against all the other students in their age group. Each student will receive Age-based and Grade-based percentile rankings for the entire test as well as sub test rankings in both verbal and non-verbal question types.

Students will usually need to perform in the top 95 percentile to be identified for a schools Talented and Gifted programs.

We recommend a couple of strategies that have helped get students who may be struggling to get to a 95 percentile ranking on their practice tests.

One of the most important aspects of practicing for an abilities test is to go over the questions that a child has missed or guessed on during the practice test. It is very important that a child understand what the question is asking and the logic that is being used to come up with the correct answer. These questions are similar to the actual test and use logic that a child will need to understand before they take the actual test.

Some children can also be challenged by moving up a grade level to practice questions that will be harder than what they may see at their grade level.

If a child has problems in a specific area such as non-verbal questions, we normally recommend our Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT3) practice tests which are practice tests with similar questions to the nonverbal sections of the OLSAT.

For students needing more help on the verbal sections of the test we recommend our Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) practice exam which each have 60 additional verbal questions to practice. The CogAT also contains both nonverbal and quantitative sections that are helpful in preparation for the OLSAT exam.

If additional help is needed, please don't hesitate to contact us to see if their are some additional resources we can recommend for your specific situation.

Sample questions for the OLSAT Exam Grades 3-12

The OLSAT exam covers the following 5 subject areas: Verbal, Verbal Reasoning, Nonverbal, Figural Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. There are 23 different OLSAT question types within these 5 subject areas. The question types are dependent on which grade level your child will take. Below are a sample of some of the questions on the test.

For a more in-depth description of the OLSAT exam, utilize our Frequently Asked Questions page to answer any questions you may still have.

Number Series

Sample question:

OLSAT Number Series Sample Question

Number Matrix

Sample question:

OLSAT Number Matrix Sample Question

Pattern Matrix

Sample question:

OLSAT Pattern Matrix Sample Question

Figural Analogies

Sample question:

OLSAT Figural Analogies Sample Question

Verbal Analogies

Sample question:

OLSAT Verbal Analogies Sample Question

Word/Letter Matrix

Sample question:

OLSAT Word/Letter Matrix Sample Question

Sentence Completion

Sample question:

OLSAT Sentence Completion Sample Question

Verbal Classification

Sample question:

OLSAT Verbal Classification Sample Question

To begin preparing your child for success, click on the relevant grade level to view our selection of grade-specific practice tests and materials.