Cognitive ability is regarded by many people as a synonym for 'intelligence'.
Professionals are often a little more cautious, describing Cognitive Ability as "the process of information processing". This is sometimes sudivided into perceptual ability, conceptualization, problem solving ability, and metacognition (the ability to think about thinking itself).
Cognitive Ability is measured by sitting psychometric tests. These might be numerical, verbal, non-verbal or spatial in nature. Not everyone believes that it is correct to even attempt to measure Cognitive Ability. Some say the basic principle of intelligence is flawed while others point to the difficulties of removing bias from tests.
In Secondary education, Cognitive Ability is measured for a number of reasons. It might be measured to spot potential problems for an individual learner or might be used to benchmark an incoming cohort of pupils so that later retesting can show how well the teachers and school have performed.
Example of a test of Cognitive Ability
One such test is the The Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT), published in the UK by GL-Assessment.
The CAT is a group-administered assessment that looks at verbal, numerical and non-verbal reasoning.
The resulting scores Standardised for comparison with the
national average results.