What is a cognitive assessment?

Sometimes, families are asked by their child’s school to obtain a cognitive assessment.  A cognitive assessment looks at the intellectual skills that are required to support learning in the school environment.  It’s basically a fancy IQ test! There are several instances in which a cognitive assessment could be very useful, but there are also times when it’s not (at least, not on its own).  For example, if you have a suspicion that your child is either a very weak learner or is gifted, a cognitive assessment will provide solid, quantitiative information about your child’s general level of intelligence compared to the norm for their peers.  It can be vital for teachers to know this, especially if the child has been struggling with schoolwork and the reason is not known.  In addition, a cognitive assessment will usually be required to support a school funding application.  However, a cognitive assessment will provide very little information about specific learning problems with literacy and numeracy. If you need to know why your child is struggling to aquire reading and/ or numeracy skills, this requires a more comprehensive educational assessment, of which a cogntive assessment is only the first part.  While a cognitive assessment might take around an hour to ninety minutes to complete, a comprehensive battery of educational tests may take around four hours (or longer).  However, it will provide a great deal of information about your child’s ability level in terms of the fundamental skills required to become a successful student in a variety of academic areas.

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