Cognitive Abilities Test

Paul Main

What are the benefits of bringing cognitive abilities testing to your school?

What is a Cognitive Abilities Test?

Many colleges and schools use the cognitive abilities test (CAT) to explore pupil progress and to make important decisions about provision for their learners. Within the UK, many secondary schools use them as a gauge for general intelligence. Although they do provide teachers with extra judgement, they have often been criticised as offering a crude measure of ability. Utilised in the right way, they can help school systems provide support for those that face educational barriers.

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) is a standardized assessment tool used to measure intelligence quotient (IQ). The CAT measures four different areas of cognition: verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.

There are two versions of the CAT: the paper-and-pencil version and the computerized version. Both versions use similar questions, although some questions may be slightly different.

The CAT is also used to help parents understand their children's strengths and weaknesses. Parents often find out that their child does poorly in school because he or she lacks certain skills. However, the results of cognitive abilities tests are not always that simple, there is usually a multitude of reasons why a child is not making as much progress as their peers.

  • Cognitive ability tests were first developed in the late 19th century.
  • It is used to measure a person's general mental abilities or aptitudes.
  • These standardized tests also known as CAT can predict general intelligence. Similar to IQ tests, they use verbal, arithmetic, mechanical, spatial, and logical questions to gauge your capacity for problem-solving and logical thought.
  • Employers also choose cognitive tests because of the wide variety of aptitudes they cover, which may provide a thorough overview of each candidate's strengths and limitations and show if they possess the necessary skills to succeed in the position.

What is cognition?

Cognition refers to our ability to understand things we learn. We use this cognitive ability every day when we're trying to remember names, solve math problems, or figure out directions. Cognition is the brain's ability to process all the information it receives from the senses. The brain is the body's thought-processing centre and can be regarded as the engine room for learning. Cognition includes intellectual activities such as:

  • Thinking
  • Learning
  • Decision-making power
  • Apply Judgement
  • Understanding
  • Discussion

Background on Cognitive ability tests

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) was created by Dr. Robert Sternberg at Stanford University. The CAT is used worldwide to measure intelligence. Dr. Sternberg originally designed the CAT to help him understand his own students' strengths and weaknesses. He wanted to know whether he should offer extra credit points for tests taken outside class, or give them lower grades.

He found that his students who took the CAT scored significantly better than those who didn't take the critical thinking test. This led him to believe that the CAT was a valid tool for measuring intelligence. Since then, the CAT has been used to measure intelligence in many different countries and cultures. Today, it's considered the most widely accepted IQ test in the world.

  • These cognitive assessment tests were first developed in the late 19th century to measure a person's general mental abilities or aptitudes.
  • Cognitive tests check for problems with mental function (the way the brain processes thoughts).
  • Testing includes answering simple questions and taking a short test.
  • This test is also known as a cognitive screening test or cognitive assessment.
  • It covers skills that include thinking, from problem-solving to spatial awareness.
  • Cognitive ability tests are used to measure general intelligence.
  • These test measures multiple aspects of intelligence instead of focusing on only one ability of an individual.


Types of questions asked in Cognitive Ability Test:

The cognitive test consists of a variety of questions from various fields. There is a variety of questions in this question to assess an individual intelligence. Most questions asked are of the following types:

Example: A car dealership has £600,000 to spend and wants to buy equal numbers of the Taber and Ursa cars. What is the largest number of each type of car that can be ordered?(A) 27 (B) 48 (C) 19 (D) 21 (E) 22

Example: The passage suggests that two-child families will dramatically increase, as sibling-free adults reach child-bearing age. (A) True (B) False (C) Cannot say

  • Logical Reasoning

Example: Pens cost more than pencils.
Pens cost less than erasers.
Erasers cost more than pencils and pens. If the first two states A)True (B)False (C)Uncertain

  • Mechanical Reasoning

Example: Convex mirrors are used for rear-view mirrors of vehicles. What is the advantage of using a convex mirror instead of a flat mirror? A. It provides a clearer reflection B.It has a more accurate reflection C.The wider angle of view reduces blind spotsD.It is easier to clean a convex mirrorE.A convex mirror provides no advantage

Example: Which of the given shapes is the same 3D shape but in a different position?

Popular commercial Cognitive ability testing tools

  1. CCAT - Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test - (primarily US)
  2. WPT - Wonderlic Personnel Test - (primarily US)
  3. PLI - Predictive Index Learning Indicator
  4. RCAT - Revelian Cognitive Ability Test - (primarily Australia)
  5. MMAT - McQuaig Mental Agility Test
  6. Cubiks Logics
  7. GIA - Thomas International General Intelligence Assessment

Cognitive abilities test examples
Cognitive abilities test examples

Benefits of using Cognitive Ability Tests

Secondary schools, independent schools and primary schools use tests such as CAT4 to provide more suitable provision for the learners.

  • Besides the assessment of intelligence and aptitude, it also gives insight into your ability and helps you to boost your skills.
  • Very reliable.
  • Verbal reasoning and numerical tests show high relevance in a wide range of occupations.
  • Effectiveness increases as activity complexity increases.
  • A combination of proficiency tests is more effective than individual tests alone.
  • It helps in identifying high performers

How is cognitive ability measured?

To assess a person's overall intelligence, cognitive ability tests ask questions from different areas, such as:

Raven's Progressive Matrices(RPM):

  • RPM is a nonverbal test commonly used to estimate fluid intelligence.
  • Measures general intelligence and abstract thinking.
  • Scores are correlated with a wide range of intelligence tests.

Kauffman brief intelligence test:

The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test consists of two subtests,(A)Vocabulary and(B)Matrix

  • And it measures verbal and nonverbal intelligence from age 4 to her 90s.
  • It has been developed especially for screening purposes in all age groups.

Short-term memory test:

  • This type of test is used for the assessment of short-term memory.
  • No mental manipulation is required.
  • Unlike other cognitive tests, these tests are not suitable to measure the job performance of an individual.

Information processing test:

  • A cognitive ability test that measures how well you process visual and auditory information.
  • Information processing tests are often customized for specific roles.

Language comprehension Test:

  • Language comprehension tests are used for the assessment of the ability that how an individual to scan a passage of information and to determine his skills that how he extracts useful and important information
  • This is a form of verbal reasoning ability and can be combined (or not) with other proficiency tests such as B. Logical reasoning, knowledge of English, verbal application, numerical reasoning, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, etc.

Numerical ability

  • Numerical proficiency tests assess the ability of an individual to utilize mathematical operations and rule mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in specific situations.
  • Questions related to integers, decimals, and common fractions are asked in the numerical ability test.

Verbal cognitive ability test:

  • Verbal intelligence is the ability to evaluate information and use verbal reasoning to solve problems.
  • This may involve reading and listening to words, speaking, and even writing.
  • Verbal cognitive skills testing may involve listening to and remembering spoken information.
  • Solve language-based problems of a literary or logical nature or understand the meaning of passages of text.

Nonverbal cognitive skills:

  • Non-verbal intelligence better represents thinking and problem-solving skills that do not require the production and understanding of language by language.
  • It is used in types of tests that require manipulation of visual information or problem-solving, with varying amounts of internalized, abstract, or conceptual thinking to complete the task.
  • Tests of nonverbal cognitive skills include pattern recognition of shapes, identification of sequences of color patterns, as well as measuring a test taker's ability to handle new concepts and ideas.

Cognitive abilities and subject attainment
Cognitive abilities and subject attainment

How is cognitive ability tested?

  • Cognitive ability is usually measured with a short multiple-choice test. Tests can consist of logic puzzles, math problems, or reading comprehension questions.
  • Cognitive ability tests can be formatted to test a single ability (such as counting) or as a general intelligence test covering all categories of intelligence.
  • The questions themselves aren't that difficult, but tests usually have built-in time limits that require candidates to think quickly.
  • Most cognitive ability tests only take 10-30 minutes.
  • The fast pace of the test simulates the real world where you have to make quick, logical decisions.
  • Cognitive test scores results are in the form of scores or percentiles.
  • For example, you can choose to accept only test takers who get at least 20 out of 25 questions correct.

What cognitive ability tests measure

  • Retained attention
  • Response suppression
  • Cognitive regulation & versatility
  • The pace of information analysis
  • Multiple simultaneous foci
  • Functional memory
  • Categorization
  • Pattern identification

Cognitive abilities test pattern recognition
Cognitive abilities test pattern recognition

Is a Cognitive test similar to an IQ test?

Culturally, the term "IQ" is often used to refer to a person's general intelligence, a test of their ability to understand concepts and solve problems.

  • In a general sense, the cognitive and IQ test are the same.
  • However, the term "IQ" (Intelligence Quotient) specifically refers to scores on cognitive ability tests compared to the general population.
  • Previously, this was calculated as a percentage of other candidates of the same age.
  • So we can conclude that IQ is a way to analyze and assess the results of cognitive ability tests that measure a test taker's intelligence.

Can a student study for the Cognitive Ability Test?

Preparing for a cognitive test is a little trickier. It can be more complicated than just memorizing equations or facts, but it can be done with a little practice.

  • It is not an easy test that one can pass without preparation.
  • You should need to follow a proper study plan to build up better score.
  • You should also be aware of the types of questions asked in the Cognitive Ability Test
  • With our Cognitive test sources, you can never access the actual material of the test.


If we can't practice a cognitive ability test how can we promote success? These ideas might help your students better prepare for cognitive testing:

  • Practice with a range of test 
  • Create a study plan
  • Know your strength and weakness
  • Keep an eye on the time
  • Prepare yourself under exam conditions
  • Learn about the test you are taking.

How much time will I have to complete my Cognitive ability test?

  • Time limits for ability tests vary depending on the test type, level, and the number of questions.
  • The instructions for an ability test will clearly state the time limit for the test along with the total number of questions.
  • Once you select the ‘Start test’ button, the test and timer will then begin.

Enhance cognition with the thinking framework
Enhance cognition with the thinking framework

What is CAT4?

This type of test has proven to be the most popular in British schools, is designed to highlight the skills and attitudes of children beyond basic classroom attainment. Unlike a subject based summative assessment, these types of military assessment tests provide Schools with a well-rounded view of the pupil.

  • The Cognitive Ability Test 4th Edition (CAT4) is a series of tests.
  • The school can use CAT4 for the assessment of the skills of the students and their academic abilities.
  • Results from CAT4 can be used to inform individual and group teaching, for target setting and monitoring the performance of groups of students.
  • CAT4 measures your ability to reason with and manipulate others material types.
  • CAT4 contains four batteries of tests to evaluate.
  • Together, these four batteries provide users with a comprehensive understanding of the core abilities related to learning by assessing a student’s capabilities when dealing with each type of processing.

The CAT4 batteries assess:

  • reasoning with words
  • reasoning with numbers
  • reasoning with shapes and designs and
  • thinking with and mentally manipulating precise shapes.
  • A child's language abilities could be plain to see in the classroom, but it only tells part of the tale. By evaluating the other primary forms of reasoning ability known to affect learning and accomplishment, CAT4 identifies hidden potential and gives you a complete picture of the whole kid.
  • The most popular reasoning test in the UK and Ireland
  • You may accurately compare your children to national standards thanks to its standardization of 25,000 students and results verification every year.
  • Contains reliable indicators for national assessments and tests, such as the Key Stage 2 SATs, GCSEs, A levels, and the Leaving Certificate, as well as indicators for various UK areas.
  • measures geographic, mathematical, verbal, and nonverbal thinking.

Why schools and teachers should use CAT

  • Schools should use Cognitive ability tests to hire perfect teaching staff.
  • This test also helps you not only judge the abilities of teachers but also to make them better at teaching.
  • Also, cognitive ability test helps the teacher to assess the student's relative cognitive strengths.

It helps teachers in the:

  • Identifying how a child learns best.
  • Pinpointing the learner's strengths and needs. 
  • Working with parents to learn children's abilities.
  • Shifting the focus from problems.