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What is the CAT 4?

CAT 4 stands for Cognitive Abilities Test (Edition 4). This is a set of tests popular with schools in the UK for analysing a child’s knowledge and learning potential.

Who has to take the CAT 4?

Although not used specifically for school admissions in the UK, several international schools in Hong Kong do use it as a part of their admissions process. Children aged 6 to 17+ may find the need to sit the CAT 4. The CAT 4 is made by GL Assessment.

What is in the CAT 4?

The test includes a range of question types designed to test a candidate’s verbal, non-verbal, mathematical, and spatial reasoning. It is not tied to a particular syllabus or curriculum, and questions are rarely similar to those seen in school exams, so students may find them harder to understand and answer. However, this is part of the reason for the test – to assess the child’s problem solving ability and get an indication of overall intelligence.

What is the structure of the CAT 4?

The CAT 4 is divided into a number of parts and sections, broken down below:

  • Part 1:
  • Figure Classification
  • Figure Matrices
  • Part 2:
  • Verbal classification
  • Verbal analogies
  • Number analogies
  • Part 3:
  • Number series
  • Figure recognition
  • Figure analysis

For each part, the candidate is usually allowed 45 minutes to answer as many questions as they can.

Is non-verbal reasoning just maths?

Non-verbal reasoning is NOT the same as maths. Mathematical ability is measured in the CAT 4 by ‘number analogies’ and ‘number series’. Non-verbal reasoning is to do with shapes and pictorial information.

What are spatial reasoning and non-verbal reasoning?

Spatial reasoning is the ability to understand and infer information about objects in three dimensions. Therefore, testing spatial reasoning is a way of trying to measure intelligence aside from the usual academic syllabus.
In the CAT 4, the sections on ‘figure recognition’ and ‘figure analysis’ comprise the spatial reasoning part of the test.
Non-verbal reasoning is slightly different: it is the ability to understand information and solve problems based purely on visual information (usually pictures of shapes), rather than numbers or words. In CAT 4, the ‘figure classification’ and ‘figure matrices’ are the non-verbal aspect of the test.
Non-verbal reasoning and spatial reasoning are very similar and easily confused, the main difference is that spatial reasoning involves the candidate mentally manipulating the object in question to predict how it might transform, and has a greater focus on 3D.

Can spatial and non-verbal ability be improved?

Because the CAT 4 is not drawn from a particular curriculum, nor does it feature normal academic questions, improving your score can be difficult. For spatial and non-verbal reasoning, familiarity with shapes and geometric concepts may be helpful for the candidate. Aside from that, mock tests, having the questions explained to the candidate and having lots of practice on relevant question types can help a candidate to improve.

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