Did you know that there are two different New York City Gifted and Talented programs?
Citywide programs are exactly what they sound like! These are programs that anyone from anywhere in the city can apply to. The important fact to remember is that there are only five of these schools in NYC, and they include: NEST+m, Anderson School, TAG, Brooklyn School of Inquiry, and The 30th Avenue School.
The second option for New York City Gifted and Talented programs are district programs. You are entitled to apply to Gifted and Talented schools within your district - but remember - you are not guaranteed a seat. Students applying to district schools must receive a score above 90 to apply, and even then seats are chosen through a lottery system based on the scores of other children in the district.
There are some key differences between citywide and district programs, being that there is no set Gifted and Talented curriculum in New York City. Citywide programs are accelerated. They take the standard curriculum and teach it a year in advance. District programs are not accelerated, but they are enriched; this means that teachers have the freedom to “enrich” the curriculum. This means that each G+T school’s program will likely translate into a different education experience, as so much of the program revolves around the specifications of any given teacher.
How does your child qualify for the NYC Gifted and Talented program?
Your child must take the New York City Gifted and Talented test and apply to a program. Each student’s score is placed against that of all of the other students in their age group, to provide them with a percentile score. This being the case, it is important for your child to take the test within the best possible testing window for their age. Alina Adams, the New York Times acclaimed author of Getting into NYC Kindergarten, has created a calculator to help you figure out what day is the best for your child to take the test. Access it here.
So when do you start preparing for the test?
The process starts early! Parents must submit a RFT (Request for Testing Form) when it is released by the Department of Education in October, prior to the test being administered over the month of January.
Typically, tutoring services such as Bright Kids recommend beginning test preparation for the Gifted and Talented in an informal environment about a year in advance of the test. This means beginning at-home or in our tutoring centers, bolstering foundational skills such as patterns, series, letter recognition, and basic math concepts. Bright Kids offers one-on-one tutoring to support these foundational skills in our Foundations Skill Builder program. Test-specific worksheets and formal tutoring should begin around August/September with our G&T Bootcamp. Sessions can then be held consistently once a week to ensure every aspect of the test is covered in time for the January testing period.
What to do If you didn't get into your top pick?
If your child did not get into your first choice school, don’t give up! If you have been wait listed you may want to consider calling other New York City Gifted and Talented programs. Some programs do not fill up as quickly as others, so if you had originally only aimed for citywide programs, it’s time to widen the net to district programs. If the Gifted and Talented is really important to you and your family, you may want to consider a school that was not initially on your list.
What does the test consist of?
The New York City Gifted and Talented exam is currently split up into two portions. The NNAT (nonverbal) portion includes a variety of visual puzzles that make up the first part of the test. The NNAT is what students will be see first, and will be expected to answer 48 questions. The second part of the exam is the OLSAT (verbal) portion and requires students to listen very carefully to 30 questions and select answers from a multiple choice rubric, based on the prompt they were read.
The Test day!
An often underestimated aspect of preparing for the exam is the actual test day and test taking experience. There are so many variables that your child will be exposed to on the day that they may never have been through before - there can sometimes be a long wait until your child is seen, they will be expected to go into a room alone with a stranger, and concentrate with few breaks for around an hour.
One of the unique aspects of Bright Kids is that our teachers help your child prepare for the actual test day with a mock test. This is an invaluable experience for your student, as this simulation of test day allows them to practice their stamina and content knowledge. If your child is comfortable with this process then they are likely to feel more comfortable and prepared when test day comes. The mock test also allows for parents to gauge what level students are working at. Our team can then customize future sessions based on your child's individualized test results in order to target areas of weakness, and continue to reinforce concepts that your child has already mastered.
Enjoy the Process
Another important tip- take it slow! Make it fun! A year preparing for an exam with a four year old can be stressful. Therefore, it is crucial that preparing for the Gifted and Talented program remains a fun learning process. While at-home reinforcement can be beneficial, it is important not to overwhelm your kids with intense study, as you do not want them to burn out before the big day! Brief 10-15 minute at-home reinforcement a few times a week is more than enough. Our tutors can also help make recommendations based on your child's needs. Preparing for the test can be a fun family interactive experience if approached interactively and positively.
If you have more questions about the New York City Gifted and Talented test, reach out to our fantastic team at Bright Kids! Watch the corresponding Raising Your NYC Bright Kids episode: http://bit.ly/2pYP3mH