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Gifted Test Too Difficult?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Rita Culross, Ph.D.

Q: My seven-year-old son is suspected to be gifted, but the test he was given, in my opinion, was geared more for fifth- or sixth-grade students. He was given problems with three-digit multiplication, and words that even I had to break down into syllables to pronounce. Was this test appropriate for a child his age?

A: A variety of tests may be given to determine a child's giftedness. In schools, the type of tests that are given are often selected to sample a range of behavior in the child. These may include tests to measure intelligence, achievement, creativity, leadership, or other abilities.

Some of these tests are structured to begin with easy items and increase in difficulty until the child is no longer able to answer a series of questions. The assessor may have been trying to test the limits of your son's knowledge. Probably, your son had demonstrated mastery of the knowledge expected of children his age or beyond. Gifted children often reveal that they have knowledge beyond their years, even before they have been taught the concepts or material.

I would encourage you to make an appointment with the school psychologist or other professional who administered your son's test and ask them to explain the nature of the test and how your son performed. That individual is in the best position to identify your son's strengths and weaknesses, discuss his overall performance, and address any concerns you might have.

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Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.


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