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The Gifted and Talented Exam is divided into two sections: the nonverbal NNAT2 and the verbal OLSAT.

The OLSAT is divided into two sections: Verbal Comprehension (composed of Aural Reasoning and Arithmetic Reasoning) and Verbal Reasoning (Following Directions).

In the following, we’ll talk about the Arithmetic Reasoning problems, what material will be covered, and how you can prepare at home without stress.

Let’s start with an example question:

Sarah brought the 10 cupcakes at the beginning of the row to school to celebrate her birthday! Her classmates ended up eating half of her cupcakes. In the next part of the row, mark the picture that shows how many cupcakes Sarah has left.

For the arithmetic reasoning section, students are expected to have a solid understanding of quantity comparisons (lesser vs greater), as well as be comfortable with the addition and subtraction of the numbers 1-12.They should also be able to identify what half of a quantity looks like, and understand the concept of equal quantities.

The best way to teach Arithmetic Reasoning will vary from child to child, but the method below almost always works to teach the kind of visual arithmetic that will be on this exam.

When most kids first learn math, they are taught to memorize 1+2=3, and so on. But many of those kids don’t understand what the math expression represents- that numbers can represent amounts of objects, and those numbers can change when we alter the amount of objects.

To help them understand this, I’ve found consistent success in helping them use their fingers to add extra objects, or to cover objects that are being subtracted. For 1st grade entry and older, they can use a pencil to cross out subtracted objects or draw in added ones.

In order to make a game out of addition and subtraction, I use number/picture flash cards like these.

I have the student draw a card, and I make up a story about how the number of objects is going to change. Then, I encourage them to use their fingers to find the new number of objects. I’ll tell them to “pretend your fingers are the extra items” or “use your fingers to hide the objects that went away.”

Example: Subtraction

Here, we’re working on subtraction. I’m directing my student to cover up a number of items with her fingers, and to count the remaining ones. Initially, she covers up the objects too quickly, and ends up with the wrong number. I gently encourage her to count how many she covered, so she ends up with the correct number subtracted.

Example: Addition

I use a similar method to help my students visualize addition. I often start by having them add physical objects, such as bingo chips, to the original picture we started with. As they get closer to the test, I’ll transition them into using their fingers to count out the extra objects instead of using bingo chips. After all, they won’t have bingo chips on the exam!

From the flash cards, it’s easy to transition them to the paper questions. There is a fairly consistent format with the math questions, where the original number of items is shown to the left of the answer choices. Have them subtract/add from the original picture, count the new number of objects, and then find the matching number in the answer choices.

Some kids loose focus between finding the number and actually pointing to the correct answer. So it’s important to encourage them to follow through, rewarding with verbal praise and possibly stickers once they do.