Houston ISD Vanguard Magnet and Neighborhood Programs Online Preparation – 2024

Gifted and Taletned Tests Practice

Houston Independent Schools District (HISD) Vanguard Magnet and Neighborhood Gifted and Talented programs are for children that have been identified as having above average academic abilities. HISD provides two program options for gifted and talented students:


Gifted & Talented Vanguard Neighborhood Program

The Houston ISD Vanguard Neighborhood Program is designed for students in grades K-12 who have been identified as having an above average intellectual, creative, or leadership ability. The Neighborhood program aims to challenge gifted and talented students within their neighborhood (zoned) schools and provides a more complex curriculum than the standard school program.


Vanguard Magnet Program

The Vanguard Magnet Program is designed for gifted and talented students in grades K-12 who require a specialized environment in which to work with their gifted and talented peers. The Magnet Program only operates in designated Magnet schools in the area and adheres to the HISD Magnet Standards. Each Magnet school has a specialized theme that is incorporated into their classes and curriculum. For example, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) school may offer more exposure to science and engineering than a Magnet school that has a focus on Fine Arts for example.


How can my child enroll onto the Houston ISD Vanguard and Magnet Neighborhood Programs?

The admissions process is the same for both programs and requires candidates to be tested at a Vanguard Neighborhood or Vanguard Magnet school.



Students that have applied to the gifted and talented programs will be evaluated using one of three tests.

CogAT Test (Cognitive Abilities Test)

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a multiple-choice aptitude test that consists of a variety of verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative questions. Unlike achievement tests such as SAT, CogAT do not measure how much a student has learned, but instead assess a student’s cognitive abilities. Students that score high on the CogAT are considered to be intellectually gifted, and a top score will give them a higher chance of being placed into a gifted and talented program.


Iowa Assessments

The Iowa Assessment is a multiple-choice achievement-based test used to assess a child’s knowledge of what they have learned in school. Skills assessed include vocabulary, word analysis, comprehension, and problem solving. Students that score on the 95th percentile or higher are recognized as gifted and are likely to be placed into a gifted and talented program.


Woodcock Johnson Test

The Woodcock Johnson test is an assessment of both cognitive abilities and academic achievements and consists of a variety of questions including comprehension, short-term memory, quantitative knowledge, and reading-writing ability. This test is often used to understand a child’s strengths and to determine eligibility for gifted and talented programs. Doing well on the test can mean a child is placed onto a gifted and talented program.


How to Prepare for the Houston ISD Vanguard Tests?

The CogAT, Iowa Assessments, and Woodcock Johnson tests are complex tests and scoring high on them can boost your child’s chances of gaining a place on Houston’s Vanguard programs.

If you want to help your child become one of the 5% of children selected for a gifted and talented education program, you must first help them prepare for these tests. As the CogAT and Woodcock Johnson tests do not 100% cover material from your child’s curriculum, the best way to prepare them is by familiarizing your child with the format, question types, and content type of the test they are going to take. Online resources, specifically study guides and practice questions are a great way to familiarize your child with this content, so they are not overwhelmed on the day of the actual test.

Study guides include detailed explanations of how problematic questions should be answered. The explanations will show how the answer was determined so that if your child is faced with a similar question, they will know the steps to take to answer it effectively.

Make sure your child has plenty of time to practice sample tests as this is essential to their success. Determining thing best way to study can be difficult, but by exposing your child to these types of tests, you can ensure your child is comfortable and confident before sitting their gifted and talented test.