CAT4 Test: The Complete Guide [2024]

The CAT4 Test (Cognitive Abilities Test) is a widely used assessment in the UK and Ireland that goes beyond traditional measures of verbal skills. CAT4 is a powerful diagnostic tool for baseline assessment or tracking pupil progress. It is also part of the entrance examination process for many selective schools.

Read on to discover detailed explanations and CAT4 Test practice questions and understand how this assessment can provide valuable insights into cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

Practice CAT4 Test Questions

Verbal Reasoning | Non-Verbal Reasoning | Quantative Reasoning | Spatial Reasoning

Dive into our exclusive Test Prep Packs tailored for CAT4 Levels C-D and CAT4 Levels E-F. Whether you're aiming for mastery or advancement, unlock your potential with comprehensive study materials designed to elevate your skills. Don't miss out—start your journey to success today!

What Is the CAT4 Test?

The CAT4 test assesses students’ 4 types of reasoning abilities: verbal, numerical, non-verbal, and spatial. These areas are crucial for understanding a child's learning potential and cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

Available in both paper and digital formats, the CAT4 test emphasises simplicity while maintaining rigour to ensure accurate and accessible assessment for students across age levels. The test is not based on any specific curriculum, so it is fair to all students.

CAT4 Test Practice Questions

CAT4 Test Verbal Reasoning Questions

The Verbal Reasoning battery of the CAT4 test assesses various aspects of language and verbal reasoning skills, including identifying ideas, conceptual linking, word knowledge, language development, and general knowledge. It consists of two types of questions:

  • Verbal Classification –a set of three related words is presented. The student needs to identify the word from a group of five that best fits with the first three words.
  • Verbal Analogies – two pairs of words are presented. The student needs to determine how the words relate to each other and then apply that same relationship to another pair.

CAT4 Verbal Classification - Sample Question

Find the correct word from the answer choices.

A. Sparrow  B. Penguin  C. Owl  D. Parrot  E. Emu

Answer & Explanation

C. Owl

The three birds – Eagle, Falcon and Hawk – are all birds of prey. The only bird of prey listed among the answer choices is the owl.

💡Expert Tips:

  • Identify the Common Feature: Consider the first three words' commonalities. They could be related by category, function, shape, size, etc.
  • Choose the Matching Word: Once you understand the common feature, look at the answer choices and select the word that fits with the first three.

CAT4 Verbal Analogies - Sample Question

Pencil → write : scissors → ?

A.  paper  B. cut  C. sharp  D.  glue  E. paint

Answer & Explanation:

B) cut

The first pair of words, "pencil" and "write," shows the relationship between an object and its primary function. A pencil is used to write. Similarly, the primary function of scissors is to "cut." Therefore, the correct answer is B) cut.

💡Expert Tips:

Understand the Relationship: Look at the first two words and determine their connection. The relationship could be one of opposites, synonyms, part-to-whole, function, or something else.

Apply the Relationship: Apply the same relationship to the third word to find the word from the answer choices that fit.

Cat4 Test Quantitative Reasoning Questions

The Quantitative Reasoning Battery of the CAT4 test assesses students’ numerical reasoning in topics like identifying numerical relationships, accuracy in simple arithmetic, understanding numerical sequences, and recognizing numerical patterns. It consists of two types of questions:

  • Number Analogies – pairs of related numbers are presented. The student needs to identify and apply their relationship to the next pair.
  • Number Series – a number series is presented. The student needs to identify the governing rule and choose the following number in the series.

CAT4 Number Analogies - Sample Question

[46 → 39]  [51 → 44]  [32 → ?]

A. 23  B. 20  C. 15  D. 8  E.7

Answer and explanation:

C) 15

The question follows a simple subtraction pattern.

  • In the first pair, 7 is subtracted from 46 to get to 39.
  • In the second pair, 7 is subtracted from 51 to 44.
  • Following this pattern, you should subtract 7 from 32 to find the missing number.
  • Therefore, the answer is C. 15 (32 - 7 = 15).

💡Expert Tip:

The key to solving these questions is identifying the relationship or pattern in the first and second pair of numbers and then applying the same relationship or pattern to the third pair to find the missing number.

CAT4 Number Series - Sample Question

17   20   16   19   15   18   14   17   ?

A. 12  B. 13  C. 14  D. 15  E. 16

Answer & Explanation:

B) 13

  • Pattern: Add 3, then subtract 4 (written as +3, -4). This repeats throughout the series.
  • Key observation: We know the last two numbers are 14 and 17. Since 17 is 3 more than 14 (+3), the next number should be 4 less than 17.
  • So, the answer is B.13

💡Expert Tips:

To answer these questions, you need to carefully analyse the given sequence of numbers and identify the pattern or rule governing their progression.

Once you identify the pattern or rule, apply it to the last number in the given series to determine the next number that should follow.

CAT4 Non-Verbal Reasoning Questions

The non-verbal reasoning battery of the CTA4 test assesses the ability to understand and analyse visual information and solve problems using visual reasoning, such as identifying patterns, relationships, and sequences in shapes and figures. It consists of two types of questions:

  • Figure Classification – 3 figures are presented. The student needs to identify the ruling pattern and choose the figure that follows the same rule.

CAT4 Figure Classification - Sample Question

Choose the figures that follow from the following pattern:

Answer & Explanation:

The answer is picture E.

What is the reasoning behind the answer?

We're looking for a picture with two specific shapes:

  • Outer shape: This shape has diagonal lines.
  • Inner shape: This shape is completely inside the outer shape and has one fewer side than the outer shape.

Why answer E is correct:

  • Picture E has exactly two shapes: an outer shape with diagonal lines and an inner shape with one fewer side.

Why other answers are incorrect:

  • Pictures A and D: In these pictures, the outer shape is white, and the inner shape is striped, which is the opposite of the required pattern.
  • Picture B: The inner shape in this picture has the same number of sides as the outer shape. We need an inner shape with one fewer side.
  • Picture C: This picture's outer shape (triangle) has one less side than the inner shape (parallelogram). We need the opposite - the inner shape to have one fewer side than the outer shape.

💡Expert Tip:

To answer figure classification questions, you need to identify the common pattern or similarity among the first three given figures and then select the answer that follows the same pattern. It's important to carefully analyse the figures and consider all possible characteristics or patterns they might share, such as shape, number of sides, shading, orientation, or any other visible feature. Sometimes, the pattern might involve a combination of multiple rules or characteristics.

CAT4 Figure Matrices - Sample Question

Choose the figures that follow from the following pattern:

Answer & Explanation:

The correct answer is E

Here's how to find the missing image in the series, explained in simple steps:

  • Focus on the white star: Ignore the black stars for now.
  • Look at the rows: See how the white star moves from left to right across each row
  • Look at the columns: Now, see how the white star moves up and down each column. In the top row, it's above the black stars. In the middle row, it's between the black stars.
  • The bottom row (where the missing image is) should be below the black stars (based on the pattern).
  • Combine row and column clues: The missing image is in the rightmost column (based on the row movement). The white star in that column should be below the black stars (based on the column movement).
  • Find the image with the white star below the black stars: There are 2 options - D and E.
  • The correct image is the one with the white star on the right. So, the correct answer is E.

💡Expert Tip:

To answer figure matrix questions, where you need to identify the missing figure that completes a pattern or relationship within a set of figures arranged in a matrix, you can carefully examine the given matrix of figures and look for patterns or relationships between the figures in each row and column. It's important to consider changes in size, shape, orientation, shading, or any other visible feature.

CAT4 Spatial Reasoning Questions

The Spatial Reasoning battery of the CAT4 test assesses the ability to visualise, manipulate, and reason about objects and their spatial relationships by creating complex mental images, retention, manipulation, and comparison. It consists of two types of questions:

  • Figure Analysis – images of paper folded multiple times and punched with holes are presented. The five answer choices show unfolded papers with punched holes. The student needs to choose the answer representing the final product of the folding shown in the images.
  • Figure Recognition – a single shape is presented, and the answer choices are five complex designs. The student needs to determine which answer choice contains the presented shape, matching its size and features.

CAT4 Figure Analysis - Sample Question

Answer and Explanation:

The answer D is correct.

  • First, the square paper was folded in half widthwise and then in half again lengthwise.
  • Then, three holes were cut out of the folded paper.
  • Since the paper was folded in half twice, the holes were cut through four layers of paper.
  • Therefore, when the paper is unfolded, it will have twelve holes: 3 x 4 = 12.
  • Since the paper was folded half widthwise and then again, half lengthwise, each quarter must mirror the quarters above or below it and the quarter to its left or right.
  • Answer choices A, C, and E include fewer than 12 holes, so that they can be eliminated. If you look closely at answer choice B, you can see that the quarters do not mirror each other in this way.
  • The correct answer is D.

💡Expert Tip:

To answer figure analysis questions involving paper folding and hole punching, you need to visualise the folding process and keep track of how the holes will appear when the paper is unfolded.

CAT4 Figure Recognition - Sample Question

Answer and Explanation:

The answer E is correct.

To solve this problem, let's break down the process step by step:

Understand the Shape:

The given shape looks like a rectangle with a triangle attached on top, but the triangle's baseline is missing.

Examine Answer Choices: Look for shapes that could match this description.

Eliminate Incorrect Choices:

  • Choice A: This option lacks a vertical line in the middle, so it's out.
  • Choice B: This shape has no diagonal lines so that it can be eliminated.
  • Choice C: This shape has a line through the middle, but does not reach the top of the triangle as needed, so it can be eliminated.

Identify the Correct Choice:

Choice E: This is the only remaining option. It matches the description with a diagonal line sloping to the left.

The purpose of the Figure Recognition test is to assess a student's visualisation skills, specifically their ability to:

  • Create a Firm Mental Image: Students need to visualise the target shape accurately in their minds.
  • Retain the Mental Image: They must hold onto this mental image while examining the complex designs.
  • Compare Angles and Lengths: They need to compare the angles and lengths of the lines in the designs to see if any design contains the exact same outline as the target shape, including each side in full.

💡Expert Tip:

To answer figure recognition questions, you need to identify a target shape hidden within one of several given designs. It's essential to scan each design meticulously, considering different orientations and positions where the target shape might be hidden.

CAT4 Scores

Deciphering these CAT4 scores and making sense of the reports that accompany them can be overwhelming. So here is a breakdown of what you need to know.

When students complete the CAT4 test, their performance is recorded as raw scores, indicating the number of questions they answered correctly. These raw scores are then interpreted using three types of normative scores to provide meaningful comparisons and insights. These normative scores are the Standard Age Scores (SAS), National Percentile Rank (NPR), and stanines (ST).

1. Standard Age Scores (SAS)

  • The Standard Age Scores (SAS) are standardised scores that compare a student's performance to the average performance of students in the same age group. The average SAS for each age group is set at 100, with a standard deviation of 15.


  • Average Range: A score between 85 and 115 is considered average, representing about 68% of the students.
  • Below Average: A score between 70 and 84 is below average.
  • Above Average: A score between 116 and 130 is above average.
  • Extremes: Scores below 70 or above 130 are less common, representing about 5% of the students.

Example: A student with an SAS of 100 is performing at the average level for their age group. If two students of different ages both score 100, they are performing equally well relative to their respective age groups.

2. National Percentile Rank (NPR)

  • The National Percentile Rank (NPR) indicates the percentage of students in the same age group who scored the same as or below a particular student's score.


  • High Percentile: A high NPR indicates better performance. For example, an NPR of 84 means the student scored as well as or better than 84% of students their age, with only 16% scoring higher.
  • Low Percentile: Conversely, an NPR of 16 means the student scored better than only 16% of their peers, with 84% scoring higher.

Example: If a student has an NPR of 90, it means they outperformed 90% of their peers in the same age group.

3. Stanines (ST)

  • Stanines are a simplified way to report test scores, dividing the range of scores into nine bands, or stanines. This scale helps make scores easier to understand and compare.


  • Stanine 1: Lowest scores (bottom 4%).
  • Stanine 2-3: Below average scores.
  • Stanine 4-6: Average scores.
  • Stanine 7-8: Above average scores.
  • Stanine 9: Highest scores (top 4%).

Example: A student with a stanine score of 5 is in the middle range, performing as expected for their age group. A student with a stanine score of 9 is in the top 4% of their peers.

CAT4 Test Levels

The CAT4 test is structured into several levels, each designed to assess the cognitive abilities of students across different age groups and academic years. Here is a detailed breakdown of the CAT4 test levels:

CAT4 test Levels and Corresponding Age Groups

Age Range (years:months) CAT4 Level Year (UK) Grade (US)
6:00 – 7:11 X 2 1st
7:01 – 8:11 Y 3 2nd
6:06 – 8:11 Pre-A 3 3rd
7:06 – 9:11 A 4 4th
8:06 – 10:11 B 5 5th
9:06 – 11:11 C 6 6th
10:06 – 12:11 D 7 7th
11:06 – 13:11 E 8 8th & 9th
12:06 – 15:11 F 9 & 10 10th+
14:06 – 17:00+ G 11+  

Detailed Breakdown of CAT4 Test Components for Levels A-G

The test is divided into three main parts, with each part containing multiple timed test sections assessing different reasoning abilities. The order in which the test is taken cannot be changed.

Part 1 consists of two sections:

  • Figure Classification (10 minutes test time, 15 minutes for instructions/practice)
  • Figure Matrices (10 minutes test time, 5 minutes for instructions/practice)

Part 2 includes three sections:

  • Verbal Classification (8 minutes test time, 5 minutes for instructions/practice)
  • Verbal Analogies (8 minutes test time, 5 minutes for instructions/practice)
  • Number Analogies (10 minutes test time, 5 minutes for instructions/practice)

Part 3 has three sections:

  • Number Series (8 minutes test time, 5 minutes for instructions/practice)
  • Figure Analysis (9 minutes test time, 5 minutes for instructions/practice)
  • Figure Recognition (9 minutes test time, 5 minutes for instructions/practice)

Application of CAT4 Test in Education

Primary Schools:

  1. Purpose: Understand children's cognitive abilities to tailor teaching strategies.
  2. Frequency: Administered once or twice during primary education.
  3. Benefits: Identifies cognitive strengths and areas for development, aiding in personalised education plans.

Secondary Schools:

  1. Purpose: Set academic targets and provide career guidance based on cognitive profiles.
  2. Frequency: Administered at the start of the school year or during key transitions.
  3. Benefits: Supporting Transitions: Facilitates a smooth transition from primary to secondary education.
  4. Guiding Subject Choices: Helps students select subjects that align with their strengths.

International Schools:

  1. Purpose: Assess the cognitive abilities of a diverse student population, including English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners.
  2. Frequency: Administered as part of an entrance exam to ensure the school can meet the learning needs of each potential student.
  3. Benefits: The test's non-reliance on English proficiency makes it ideal for students from varied linguistic backgrounds.


The CAT4 test assesses students' reasoning abilities in four areas: verbal, numerical, non-verbal, and spatial. It is used in the UK and Ireland for baseline assessments, tracking progress, and as part of entrance exams for selective schools. The test provides valuable insights into a child's cognitive strengths and weaknesses, helping to tailor educational strategies accordingly.

The CAT4 test is structured into several levels to assess students' cognitive abilities across different age groups and academic years. Here are the levels and corresponding age groups:

  • Level X: Ages 6:00 – 7:11 (Year 2, UK / 1st Grade, US)
  • Level Y: Ages 7:01 – 8:11 (Year 3, UK / 2nd Grade, US)
  • Level Pre-A: Ages 6:06 – 8:11 (Year 3, UK / 2nd Grade, US)
  • Level A: Ages 7:06 – 9:11 (Year 4, UK / 3rd Grade, US)
  • Level B: Ages 8:06 – 10:11 (Year 5, UK / 4th Grade, US)
  • Level C: Ages 9:06 – 11:11 (Year 6, UK / 5th Grade, US)
  • Level D: Ages 10:06 – 12:11 (Year 7, UK / 6th Grade, US)
  • Level E: Ages 11:06 – 13:11 (Year 8, UK / 7th Grade, US)
  • Level F: Ages 12:06 – 15:11 (Years 9 & 10, UK / 8th & 9th Grades, US)
  • Level G: Ages 14:06 – 17:00+ (Year 11+, UK / 10th Grade+, US)

These levels ensure that the test is appropriate for the student's age and academic stage, providing a fair assessment of their cognitive abilities.

The CAT4 test includes four main batteries: Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Spatial Reasoning. These batteries assess different aspects of a student's cognitive abilities, helping to identify strengths and weaknesses in various areas of reasoning and problem-solving.

A good CAT4 score varies by context, but generally:

  • Standard Age Scores (SAS): A score between 85 and 115 is average. Scores above 115 are above average, indicating strong cognitive abilities.
  • National Percentile Rank (NPR): Higher percentiles indicate better performance compared to peers. For example, an NPR of 84 means the student performed better than 84% of their age group.
  • Stanines: Scores in stanines 7-9 are considered above average, with stanine 9 being the highest, representing the top 4% of students.

While both CAT4 and traditional IQ tests assess cognitive abilities, CAT4 is more focused on supporting educational strategies and understanding a student's academic potential in specific areas of thinking. In contrast, IQ tests provide a broader measure of general intellectual potential and are used in a wider range of contexts.

While the test publishers do not recommend extensive practice, understanding the test format and familiarising oneself with the types of questions can be beneficial. Here are some preparation tips:

  • The CAT4 focuses on core reasoning abilities. Practice logic puzzles, brain teasers, and critical thinking exercises to strengthen these skills.
  • Vocabulary Makes a Difference. To broaden your vocabulary, immerse yourself in rich texts, actively engage with new words, and craft sentences using them to make them stick.
  • Look for resources offering CAT4 practice tests. Familiarising yourself with the question format, difficulty level, and time constraints can significantly boost your confidence on test day.