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GATE Testing Questions

Frequently Asked GATE Testing Questions

Q:  What is the criteria for GATE testing at CUSD?

A:  To view CUSD's GATE Testing Requirements, go to the identification tab area* Middle school students will no longer be tested as we transition to a performance-based program and performance criteria for placement in accelerated courses.

 Q: What is the NNAT Test?

A: The NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test ®) is a non-verbal assessment of general cognitive ability without reliance on language or motor skills. It measures reasoning and problem solving progressive matrices with shapes and designs that are not unique to any cultural group. CUSD offers the NNAT to students who meet the NNAT testing criteria.  (See the CUSD GATE website for testing criteria.)

 Q: Does my child need to take the NNAT if he/she is an identified GATE student?

 A: No.  Once the CUSD GATE office identifies your child as a GATE student, he/she does NOT need to take the NNAT.  If you are uncertain of your child's GATE identification, your school's academic advisor or office manager can verify this for you by checking in the Aeries Student Information System or your child's cumulative records.

 Q: My child attends a private school. May I pay for CUSD to administer the NNAT to my child?

 A: No. CUSD offers GATE testing to students who attend one of our public schools and meet our testing criteria. Unfortunately, the District is not able to offer the NNAT to private school students due to the recent legislation relative to student fees, Assembly Bill 1575, which went into effect on January 1, 2013.

Many private schools in the area administer the NNAT or a different cognitive abilities test to their students during their spring testing. Please check with your private school to see if this assessment is or can be offered to your child. Private school students in grades 3-5 who took the NNAT at their private school may send a copy of their test report to be reviewed by the GATE office for GATE identification after the student is enrolled in a CUSD school.

  • NNAT test reports must be faxed to the GATE office at (949)489-0467, mailed to the CUSD GATE Office at 33122 Valle Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, or scanned/emailed to:
  • Along with the NNAT report, please include a cover letter with the following information:
    • Parent’s name, address, and phone number
    • Student’s name, grade level, birthday, and CUSD school's name

 Q: Can my child be identified as a CUSD GATE student based on an intelligence quotient (IQ) test administered by a private psychologist?

 A: No. In light of the recent passage of Assembly Bill 1575 clarifying language on student fees, CUSD will only be offering free NNAT testing for students who qualify based upon the District's screening criteria. No additional GATE testing options will be available, including IQ testing.

 Q:  How long is the NNAT test?


  • 3rd grade students have 30 minutes to answer the 48 multiple choice questions on the NNAT.

 NNAT: Test administrators spend approximately 20 minutes in advance organizing and preparing students for the test. Proctors go through sample questions with the students and answer any questions prior to the start of the test. All administrators read the same standardized test instructions, which are provided by the test publisher.

  Please note: The NNAT is a timed test.  Students should attempt to complete all of the problems and get as many correct as they can.  If students get stuck on a problem they should skip the problem and go on to the next one.  If students finish the test before the testing time is over, they may go back to work on any problems skipped or go over the ones they have completed.

 Q:  Are there workbooks or study guides for the NNAT?

A:  Since the NNAT is an abilities test and not an achievement test, it is not necessary for students to prepare for the test. CUSD does not provide workbooks or study guides to prepare for the test.

 Q:  What can I do to help my child do well on the NNAT?

A: Please assist your child’s performance by ensuring that he/she is well rested and relaxed prior to the test administration.  Emphasize that this is an opportunity to find out more about how he/she learns rather than viewing it as a pass/fail situation.

Q: My child does extremely well in school, but scored below the cut point for GATE identification on the NNAT test. Please explain how this can happen.  

A: The NNAT is an abilities test which measures critical and abstract thinking. CUSD offers the NNAT to all third graders. Students can be high-achievers, without showing signs of giftedness. For example, in the classroom high-achieving, students often learn in a linear fashion, while the gifted student thinks divergently and rapidly. High achievers often participate and ask a lot of questions and the teacher provides the answers. The gifted child often asks questions about abstract ideas and concepts that may not have easy answers. You may want to explain to your child that the NNAT is a very different type of test than the tests he/she has taken in the past. Teachers use the information so that they have a better understanding of how your child learns. Identification is one of the most difficult issues in gifted education and it often takes more than one year to identify students for the program. 

 Q: When will we receive the test results?

A: If students qualify for GATE, CUSD will mail an acceptance notification to your home address on file.