FAQs

Educational evaluation and testing services for Irish schools

CAT4 FAQs

  • If I read out the CAT Verbal Battery questions to students, will this invalidate the test?
  • How reliant is CAT on the quality of the administrator explaining and supervising the test?
  • Can I spread the administration of CAT4 across a cohort over the same academic year?
  • Will a combined CAT3 and CAT4 report be available, i.e. if some students take CAT3 and some take CAT4, can you produce a combined report?
  • I have the Group report for teachers for my Year 7 cohort but I need to generate further versions by Tutor Group. How do I do this and is there a charge?
  • Are all of the questions in CAT4 completely new or are some taken from CAT3?
  • I understand that it is important to assess spatial ability but what is the difference between non-verbal and spatial ability which has been introduced as a separate best in CAT4?
  • Can I administer just one or two batteries?
  • Can the CAT4 batteries be taken in any order?
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    If I read out the CAT Verbal Battery questions to students, will this invalidate the test?

    If you read out the test questions in the Verbal Battery then you cannot use the Standard Age Scores, because this was not how the test was administered to the standardisation sample.

    If you have concerns about a student who may find the Verbal Reasoning Battery too challenging, then you should assess the student in two stages:

    First, administer all four CAT batteries in the standard way. If a student has specific language difficulties, then this should be revealed in the profile of his or her scores across the four batteries. We might expect the Verbal score to be significantly lower than either the Quantitative, Non-verbal or Spatial score. (Significant in this context means a difference of 10 or more Standard Age Score points.) If this is the case, then you have independent evidence to confirm the student's difficulties in reasoning with words as compared to numbers, patterns or spatial concepts.

    Second, to isolate a specific problem with reading, you could read some of the verbal questions to the student. If their response to these questions is markedly better than on the first occasion this might isolate reading as the problem. This would suggest that the student's 'true' reasoning score is obscured by reading difficulties. In CAT4 it is recommended that students with a stanine score of 3 or below on the Verbal tests should be administered a reading test as a follow up.

     

    How reliant is CAT on the quality of the administrator explaining and supervising the test?

    It is important that the administrator follows the text set out in the administration instructions very closely. Each sub-test starts with example and practice questions; the administrator must use these to ensure that students are familiar with the test layout and question formats before they start the test. CAT is a timed test and it is vital that a stopwatch or watch or clock with a second is used to ensure the correct amount of time is given for each sub-test: for example, ten minutes for the Figure Matrices test means exactly 10 minutes, not 9.5 minutes or 10.5 minutes. Providing the administration instructions are followed accurately by the administrator, the influence of the particular administrator should be minimal.

    If the digital edition is being taken, the administration instructions are given through the voiceover and the timer is part of the test so there is no need for the administrator to present the question types or time the test. However, it is still important that the administrator ensures that the testing environment is appropriate and answers any queries as necessary.

     

    Can I spread the administration of CAT4 across a cohort over the same academic year?

    No. It’s advisable for the same cohort to take CAT4 as close together as possible and at least within the same term. This ensures that student results can be compared with one another with confidence and teachers and administrators can obtain as accurate results as possible.

     

    Will a combined CAT3 and CAT4 report be available, i.e. if some students take CAT3 and some take CAT4, can you produce a combined report?

    Due to the different structures of CAT3 and CAT4, customers are unable to select a joint CAT3/CAT4 report.

    It is worth noting that part of the standardisation process involved a detailed correlation between CAT3 and CAT4 and results indicate that scores are stable. As such, customers should be reassured that the scores are comparable.

     

    I have the Group report for teachers for my Year 7 cohort but I need to generate further versions by Tutor Group. How do I do this and is there a charge?

    If you need to re-run the Group report for teachers in order to produce a series of reports for small groups of students such as tutor groups or you need to add in late arrivals, there is no charge.

     

    Are all of the questions in CAT4 completely new or are some taken from CAT3?

    The majority of questions in CAT4 are brand new but some of the still-relevant questions from CAT3 have been included in the new edition. There is less overlap of questions between levels of CAT4; a student taking Level B in Year 5/P6 and Level D in Year 7/S1 will take unique tests.

    Please note that all of the questions were standardised in the UK and all of the resulting data is therefore new.

     

    I understand that it is important to assess spatial ability but what is the difference between non-verbal and spatial ability which has been introduced as a separate best in CAT4?

    In CAT3 the Non-verbal Battery included two tests of non-verbal reasoning and one test of spatial ability. The score therefore was not ‘pure’ and included two separate ways of reasoning which, at an early stage in the development of CAT4, it was decided needed to be reported separately.

    Solving non-verbal problems involves verbal and visual skills. Students who think best with words will use an internal ‘voice’ to think through the answer to a non-verbal problem with visualisation skills playing a more minor part. They will of course look at the series of shapes and patterns but are more likely to verbalise what they see as a way of giving their answer. Conversely, students whose visuo-spatial skills are stronger will use mental images to arrive at their answer.

    Success in non-verbal tasks is often based on a combination of verbal and spatial thinking and is, therefore, a good measure of general ability.

    Solving spatial problems almost entirely depends on visualising a shape, which may be quite complex, imagining it transformed in some way and deciding the outcome of this transformation. The Figure Analysis test in CAT4 is a very good example of this. Verbal skills play very little part in this process. Spatial thinkers may be characterised as seeing the ‘bigger picture’ so will very quickly be able to come up with the answer even though they may not be able to explain in words how they reach their conclusion!

     

    Can I administer just one or two batteries?

    No. The CAT4 standardisation was conducted on the completion of four batteries and the reports will therefore provide the most accurate data when all four batteries are taken.

    The exception to this guidance is when it is considered inappropriate to administer the verbal tests to students for whom English is an additional language.

    If you’re looking for a stand-alone Verbal or Non-verbal assessment, GL Assessment offers a number of alternatives which you should consider. Tests in our reasoning series may be used with students from age 5.

     

    Can the CAT4 batteries be taken in any order?

    No. The batteries must be taken in the order in which they were standardised. This is how they are presented in both the paper and digital editions of CAT4. The sequence is:

    • Non-verbal Reasoning
    • Verbal Reasoning
    • Quantitative Reasoning
    • Spatial Ability

    It is recommended that when administering the paper tests, two or three sessions should be scheduled and a break taken between each battery.

     

    The digital tests are in a set order and administered in three parts:

    • Part 1 – Non-verbal Reasoning
    • Part 2 – Verbal Reasoning and the first Quantitative test
    • Part 3 – the second Quantitative test and Spatial Ability