Are you smart enough for kindergarten?

Are You Smart Enough to Get Into Private Kindergarten? asks Some of New York City’s most elite private schools will require four-year-olds to take a new, harder admissions test.

ERB‘s Admission Assessment for Beginning Learners  (AABL) costs $65, rather than $568 for the old test, because the new test doesn’t require a trained examiner. Kids take it on an iPad. But “experts believe many parents will shell out even more on classes and books to prepare their toddlers.”

“The AABL is supposed to identify a child’s ability and achievement,” said Emily Glickman, president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting. Achievement for preschoolers? That’s “totally new,” she says.

Here are five sample questions from the test. All seem to be measuring intelligence rather than knowledge. I got 100 percent — but one answer (see below) was a 50-50 guess. I still don’t know why my answer was correct. If I’d seen this when I was four . . .

Which completes the pattern?

About Joanne


  1. Because the the shaded half is to the right, right?

  2. Linda Seebach says:

    Raven’s progressive matrices are among the most g-loaded of IQ tests, but this seems pretty steep for four-year-olds.
    There are two criteria for the answer; match fill starting from top left (= right side black) and match shape starting from top right (= shape square). Not obvious. I’m still stumped by the first question.

  3. Because every row has one of the three shapes, and each one of the three fill patterns. The fill pattern for the half filled in shapes is clear left, filled right.

    As a four year old, I would not have seen the three sets in the drawing,would have assumed one big set of nine and checked the diagonals for pattern matching too.

    I am stumped on number one also. Four sets of two, but don’t see the rule.

  4. SuperSub says:

    I think in the first question the second row of flags are used as distractors… the R/W background is flipping as you progress across the flags and the yellow symbols repeat twice consecutively.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      That would be weird. So weird I don’t think it can possibly be right. I’ve never seen a test like this that had deliberate noise.

      Yet even knowing the right answer, I can’t make heads or tails of the first question. So maybe SuperSub is right.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      I’VE GOT IT!

      The second row aren’t distractors. They’re the OPTIONS FROM WHICH YOU GET TO CHOOSE.

  5. I think that first question was poorly translated from the iPad to the web. On the iPad, you wouldn’t be clicking a radio button, you would be touching the target. When they brought it to the web, they added the choices as radio buttons below the picture, forgetting that the picture also contains the choices.

  6. I got the last q wrong because I overthought the situation – after she puts all the items in her cart, she won’t magically be at the checkout, so she has to wheel her cart there before she can place the items on the conveyor belt. Stupid question – it would have been better to just stick with the pix and put them in logical order; less chance of confusion that way.

    • Lee, I did the exact same thing. Next, she had to go to the front of the store before she could scan her items. I though the cart represented that step, but I guess it just represented putting the items in the cart?

      • Yes, it appears so. I went back and forth between the cart and the conveyor belt; ultimately going with the cart because of the question’s emphasis on “next,” and clearly “items in the cart” comes before “items on the conveyor belt,” given that the cart is in use.

    • Ann in L.A. says:

      It’s also stupid because she seems to gather all her items first, meaning she is capable of carrying them without a cart. Then, puts them in the cart.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      I don’t know… it doesn’t seem that confusing. You look to see which sentence comes after the one that is referenced, and then you look to see which picture best represents that sentence.

      • Okay, Mr. Lopez, the next step is that she goes to the front. Which image would you pick for that?

        In hindsight, going to the front is not depicted and scanning is the next step shown but look at the directions again.

        • Michael E. Lopez says:

          I wasn’t saying that a reasonable person couldn’t misunderstand the question; reasonable people screw things up all the time. I was just saying that the question wasn’t really that confusing, objectively speaking.

          But since you’ve decided to try to hash this out, NDC, and have asked me a pointed and personally addressed question, I’ll oblige you. Per your instructions, I’ve looked again at the directions.

          You say that the next step is that she goes to the front. But that’s not the case. What she did next was:

          “She went to the front AND had the cashier scan each item.”


          “She went to the front, THEN had the cashier scan each item.”

          So there wouldn’t need to be a separate picture for “Go to the front” because it’s not a separate step, it’s part of a single step, the pretty obviously correct picture for which is the one of the items on the conveyor belt on their way to the scanner.

          There are also, if you notice, exactly four pictures presented for four steps that are recited in the passage. The pictures are even presented in the same order as the sentences.

          Could the question be clearer? I suppose; almost any question *could* be clearer. I’m usually the first person to call shenanigans on bad test questions (see here: ). But the checkout picture question really didn’t strike me as anything really confusing or even poorly designed.

          So having read the directions again, and to answer your question, I wouldn’t pick a picture for “she goes to the front.”

  7. cranberry says:

    The grocery store question relies as well on real-world experience, which is appropriate when testing four year olds. It’s a situation they should have experienced, although I suppose the children of the hyper-wealthy may not set foot in stores. THAT would be interesting–a test culturally biased against families with housekeepers!

    I presume children will be prepped to read Raven’s Matrices. Knowledge of a few rules would make such items much easier, thus, of course, making it less valid.

    However, I think the best part of the changes is restricting access by other adults to test items. From the ERB page, the test is taken once, on an iPad. That means (presumably) there won’t be paper copies of the test floating around. If they take steps to preserve test security, it should produce a fairer test. The (limited number of) examiners arrive with the iPads, sign in to the website to administer the test, then leave. And unlike a verbal test, the administration is more equitable, as it eliminates differences between test administrators.

  8. I’m happy you got the question right, but you’ve artificially imposed some non-existent rules to justify your answer.

    The question doesn’t mention that you can only have one step per sentence, and that’s not actually a rule in English. You can express two steps with compound predicates.

    In reality, which the question requires some experience with to pick the picture of the conveyor belt as leading to a scanner, you have to go to the front before you can scan your items, even if the question uses a coordinating conjunction rather than an adverb to express the two steps. We can do that in English without using markers of time when it’s pretty clear what has to happen first.

    I’m willing to accept that choosing a picture of an apparently stationary cart isn’t a good representation of going to the front, so I’m willing to accept that it’s not the the answer, but your reasoning about going to the front being excluded as an answer to what did she do next is wacky.

    What do you suppose the question is trying to tease out by requiring you to recognize that going to the front is not represented among the answer choices?