Our CPS Gifted/Classical Testing Experience (Pre-Kindergarten)

July 24, 2008 at 5:07 pm 15 comments

Before the Gifted/Classical testing, I’d scoured the message boards and interrogated other parents about what might be on the test.  Apparently that is the best kept secret in the city.  Something is done to keep these kids from talking.  Something nice and subtle, yet supremely effective.  All I could gather was that the gifted test measures logical thinking and the classical test measures reading and writing readiness.  Word on the street is that the longer your kid is in the room, the better they performed.  The testing center told me the maximum time could reach 55 minutes for both tests.  In the meantime I’ve heard a rumor that the testers mess with the minds of nutty parents like me and keep the kids in there a long time just coloring and stuff after the test is over.  (What kind of weird educational mental torture is that?!  Give me the water treatment, but don’t mess with the gifted testing you sadists.)


The day of his test, my son had preschool in the morning.  I picked up after lunch with a buffet of snacks and what I’m sure was a fake overly-pleasant attitude.  My number one fear was that with him being an introverted child who is tentative in new situations, he would not walk into the testing room without me.  Ultimately, I didn’t care all that much.  I wasn’t that into getting a spot in a Gifted/Classical school, I just wanted some validation that my kid was halfway intelligent and that I hadn’t done something in his 4.5 short years to mess up his brain.  But since we were weighing the option of staying in private school I couldn’t help but see 9 years of decent free education dangling out there like a carrot on a stick.


We arrived early (for once in my life) and were lucky enough to be taken right away.  (woo hoo, that means other kids finished the test early… gives us a better chance!)  All I can say is that whoever selects the testers has done an amazing job.  A woman took my son away from me and he went so willingly it made me question whether his Stranger Safety video had made any kind of impact at all.  Off he went, happy as could be with nary a look back at me. (Buddy, look out! If she tries to get you to leave the building, make a run for it!)  I immediately consulted my watch so I could start my neurotic timing of the test.


Twenty minutes passed and they brought him out to the lobby.

“Ohhhhhhhh,” I said in my fake happy voice, “Done already?!”  I’m sure the testing lady could see the palpable disappointment on my face and she pegged me as “one of those” parents.

“He needed to take a bathroom break” said the tester.

“YESSSSSS!”  No, I didn’t actually say that – just thought it.

Clearly he had been coached not to speak to me.  He passed by and waved as a man took him over to the bathroom.

Back to the test he went for another 15 minutes.  So 25 in total.  Eh.  Oh well.


As we walked back out to the car I waited a good 5 minutes before starting my lighthearted questioning.   What was on the test?  Silence.  Did they ask you to read?  No.  To write? No.  To tell a story about a picture? No.  Which things were bigger or smaller than others? No.  What order pictures would go in to form a story? No.  Well, what did you do in there all that time?  I can’t remember.   God, they’d gotten to him.  He wasn’t talking.


On the drive on the way home he told me the following tidbit:

Him: “I had a dud pencil so I couldn’t write down any of the answers.”

Me: (Hyperventaliting internally, yet maintaining outward calm.  Trying not to sound utterly horrified.)  “You mean the pencil wouldn’t write? (Wait, 4 year olds can barely even write!? They had to write down their answers?!)

Him: No, it wouldn’t write at all.

Me: Did you tell the lady?

Him: Nah.

Me: Hmmmm. And she didn’t notice it wasn’t working?

Him.  No.


Could this be real?  Should I turn the car around and go back for another chance?  Demand a good pencil?  Could he have made this all up?  I don’t think he even knows what a dud pencil is!  There is no WAY that most of the test involved pencils!  Is there?


That night I relayed the conversation to his Dad.

Me: ….so he said the lady didn’t notice the “dud” pencil at all.

Dad: That was the test.

Me: Wuh?

Dad: That was the test. (Dramatic pause…) To see what a kid would do if they’re given a dud pencil during a test.

Me:.  Noooooooo.  They wouldn’t! 

Me: Would they?

Me:  My God.  That would be so weird and manipulative.  No.  No no no.  I cannot believe that. They seemed so nice.


And so – we were left with no idea about what was on those tests or how it went.  Or if a pencil was involved.  Or if it was a dud.

Eventually I found out one single thing that had allegedly been part of the test.  It involved writing a 2-letter word.  The other 24 minutes remain a mystery.



Entry filed under: Regional Gifted Program. Tags: .

What’s with all North Side gifted programs? The Great School Bus Mystery

15 Comments Add your own

  • […] can read about my own experience having my son tested before Kindergarten here: https://cpsobsessed.com/2008/07/24/our-giftedclassical-testing-experience/ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A real problem that has been in the works for […]

  • 2. rran  |  November 8, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Well, what were the results? I took my daugter on yesterday for testing and I figured it wasn’t successful because she was done so quickly and the other children were still testing. Her time in testing was about 30 minutes.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  November 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Are you asking about my son’s actual results? He came in at what I would probably call a borderline score. 96th percentile (I don’t think they give percentiles any more for the gifted testing, just classical.) He got into a less-popular RGC which we turned down, but lucked out when a new program opened and a lot of the top kids had already accepted spots elsewhere.
    From what I’ve learned since then, I really don’t think the time in the room is any indicator of test success. Kids do the tasks at totally different rates and answer differently and speak at different rates. I’ve think if you have a really smart kid who is in there for 45+ minutes it’s probably a good sign, or a kid who is out in 10 min, probably not good. But other than that, you just have to wait and see (not the answer you were hoping for, I bet!)

  • 4. akanji  |  November 13, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I just posted on another page, but will write here too. We had our 4 year old tested today. 30 minutes total. All he could do was give silly answers when we asked him what was on it!

  • 5. rran  |  April 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Well, I received her scores a while ago: RGC 122 and Classical 126. So far we have recieved only letters with waiting list numbers. She is number 9 on the general waiting list at Turner Drew. However, she was drawn in the lottery for Namaste Charter School, but I don’t know much about this school. She was not selected for Jackson, while she is on the waiting list for Lenart and Vanderpoel. She may remain in private school for yet another year.

  • 6. Just Another Mom  |  March 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for making me laugh out loud with your narration of the testing experience and thanks also for reminding me (not that I ever completely forget) that some things do not change… at least not in two years 🙂
    Our experience with the gifted/classical testing was pretty much the same and while it is extremely frustrating as well as partly hilarious when it is happening, it became now an endearing memory of the first test my child ever had. I’m sure there will be many more.

  • 7. char  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    OMG! You are too funny I was LOL!

  • 8. Yvette Munoz  |  June 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    I am so glad I found this! You ladies are too funny! I am currently going to enroll my daughter in a nearby private preschool, with the hopes of one day going to a gifted program at CPS. Either way thanks!

  • 9. Molly  |  October 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Ha, this reminds me of My Husband and I interrogating our son afterwards. I don’t remember how long he stayed in the room, but I think it was about 30 mins. As far as we know he had to be quite while he did a maze, he was allowed to play with playdough (it was pink) and he sat in a orange chair. he said he did not have to spell. when you said the testers mess with the minds of parents by letting their kids Color while the parents wait, makes we wonder now why my kid was playing with playdough!

  • 10. ProudPapa  |  February 21, 2012 at 10:44 am

    My 4 y/o son just took the gifted testing. He went happily with the lady who came to test him. He was in for about 20 minutes. Came out really happy. He seemed to do great. Once we were in the car I asked him what sort of questions he had to answer on the test. The clearest answers I got out of him were he had to do a maze (he loves mazes) and had to match colored patterns of one shape to similar colored patterns of another shape. He loves matching patterns as well so if he had questions such as these and others like them he hopefully did alright. Tick-tock-tick-tock til mid-March now. Fingers crossed.

  • 11. Don't Panic  |  February 21, 2012 at 11:11 am

    My son took it for Kindergarten 8-9 years ago. I remember he was in there such a short amount of time, we thought for sure he didn’t do very well. But he did and we received a spot. Best of luck to you and your son.

  • 12. Hyde Park Mom  |  December 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    For the Kindergarten RGC testing, it’s a guessing game as to which test is administered. My son took it when he was 4 years old, took 20 min, and it was one on one at IIT.I think it was Stanford Binet or thw WPPI.Does anyone think it is still that same process for the kindergarteners, where its still one on one, or do you think its OLSAT now? OLSAT is multiple choice and is normalized, Stanford Binet isnt.

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  December 26, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I just found this on a CPS document from 2008: (so it may have evolved since then.)

    What is the nature of the tests?
    The tests are carefully chosen by CPS because they are highly standardized instruments tailors to he particular ages and academic potential of the students tested. Before such tests are ever put into general se, they go trough years of rigorous, extensive, and nationwide statistical validation and field testing on an enormous number of students. Therefore, we are not allowed to disclose the names of the tests or any specific questions on them. (CPSO — I’m not really following the logic on why that means they can’t disclose it, but good try!) Nevertheless, be assured that the tests are geared to the particular ages (which is why our knowing the birth date is so important) and developmental levels of the children. For the PreK children, each question is read aloud. The printing of letters or words may be included, where appropriate. For K-3 children, as they become older, the test materials advance more from pictures to words. By 3rd grade, there are sections of the test that the children are expected to be able to read to themselves and answer the questions.

  • 14. Hana L.  |  September 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    I took the gifted test a few years ago. All we did was one at a time, doo random puzzles. At the time I wasnt too social so I obviuosly didnt talk much. The tester said it was time for her to go and for me to remind her to come back with me the day after. I never did a puzzle with her again. It is extremely frusturating.

  • 15. watches  |  September 23, 2014 at 10:03 am


    Our CPS Gifted/Classical Testing Experience (Pre-Kindergarten) | CPS Obsessed

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