1 7th Grade Talent Search THE TALENT SEARCH EXPERIENCE for students and parents Welcome to Duke TIP! You ve joined a select group of academically gifted students who are on an incredible journey of learning about the world around you, about the educational opportunities in your future, and most importantly, about yourself. We re happy that you and your family are now part of our Duke TIP family. Duke TIP is in its 36th year of providing support for academically talented students, and more than 2.5 million highly able students have benefited from being a part of Duke TIP to date. This handbook is designed to provide you with information about what to expect as a participant of the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search.
2 7th Grade Talent Search and Beyond Maybe you asked your mom and dad if you could participate in the 7th Grade Talent Search, or maybe another adult was responsible for your enrollment. Perhaps your parents were a part of Duke TIP, and you re continuing the family tradition. You may even have an older sibling, friend, or cousin who participated and recommended it to you. Whatever the reason, we re glad you are here and now you may be wondering, What s next? TAKING THE TEST One of the first things you will do as part of the Talent Search is take the ACT or SAT in December, January, or February. These tests are designed for high school students who are preparing to go to college, so taking one of these tests can give you the opportunity to really show what you know. These tests require higher levels of mastery than the tests you take in school. But the good news is: you cannot fail. There are no repercussions as a result of your scores. This testing experience is just a snapshot of a few hours in one day of your life. Relax and enjoy the opportunity don t stress over the results. A few test centers put you in classrooms with only seventh graders, but the majority of test centers seat you with high school students. Experience tells us that the older students are more concerned by your presence than you will be by theirs. So smile when you see them and show lots of confidence. SUMMARIZING THE RESULTS Four to six weeks after you take the test, you will receive a score report mailed to your home from the testing agency that compares seventh grade scores to high school student scores. The testing organizations also send the results to Duke TIP at a later date. Once we get about 90 percent of all the scores, we will create a score results summary (www.tip.duke.edu/resultssummary) that charts the 2016 participants scores, allowing you to compare your scores with those of the other seventh graders from the talent search. This summary will be mailed to your home in May. Your parents will especially be interested in this comparison. It is one way to evaluate your academic talents using more global standards. Again, remember: there is no failing score on either of these tests. Your only job is to take the test and do your best. RECEIVING RESOURCES Check your inbox each month for the Duke TIP Insider, which includes important test day reminders, TIP program notifications, and information about your other talent search benefits. You will receive special publications designed to help you learn about your potential and to assist you in achieving your educational goals. Find out what other students are doing with their academic talent and plan for high school and college with help from the online Insights newsletters delivered through tenth grade and My College Guide in tenth and eleventh grades. Your When you test, you must have both your admission ticket and an acceptable ID form. Lost your ID form? Visit to print one out and to access other important test day information. parents will have access to the Digest of Gifted Research (www.tip.duke.edu/dgr), an online resource filled with information that can help them make the right decisions for you. As part of our talent search, you will also have access to the Educational Opportunity Guide (www.duketipeog.com) where you can learn about many schools, summer programs, and academic competitions across the United States and abroad for gifted students like you. As a 7th Grade Talent Search participant, you also have options to learn on your own through Duke TIP s Independent Learning courses (www.tip.duke.edu/learn). Take an Algebra 1 course to get up to speed. Spend the summer honing your writing skills with The Writer s Journey, Volumes 1 and 2, or, immerse yourself in the history of science through Foundations of Modern Biology. Receive discounts on Rosetta Stone language learning products (available now) and on special ACT and SAT prep courses through Princeton Review (available in tenth grade). Opportunities for you to explore your interests are nearly limitless! If you score at a specific level on the ACT or SAT, you will also be eligible to take online classes through Duke TIP s estudies program (www.tip.duke.edu/distance). Courses such as Crime and Justice in America or Fundamentals of Chemistry give you a leg up on topics that interest you and let you communicate online with an instructor and a virtual classroom of gifted peers all from the comfort of home. ATTENDING DUKE TIP PROGRAMS If you score above a certain level on the ACT or SAT, Duke TIP will invite you to attend a State Recognition Ceremony, or, for very high scorers, the Grand Recognition Ceremony at Duke University (www.tip.duke.edu/ceremonies). You may also be eligible to attend one of our summer programs (www.tip.duke.edu/summer78). Regardless of what you qualify for, we know you will benefit from being a part of our program from now through high school. Plus, when you graduate high school, you ll be invited to join our Alumni Network where you can stay connected to your TIP friends for life! ENJOY THE RIDE! In some ways, the talent search experience is up to you. All you really have to do is take the ACT or SAT to be a part of our program. Everything else is optional. But we hope you will take advantage of the many other resources Duke TIP offers. They re fun and a great way to build your academic and social strengths. It is an exciting acknowledgement of your academic potential to be eligible for the talent search, so take pride in the invitation. The Duke TIP staff is available to you and your family whenever you need us. We are excited to welcome you to the Duke TIP family!
3 Tips for TIPsters Remember that it s good to take this test because it helps you know what to expect when you really need to know what to expect on it, like in high school when we are juniors and seniors. ~Georgia, MS Don t get over stressed over the test. Sure, you should study, but don t go overboard and over stress yourself for the test. Also get a good night s sleep, because studies show that sleeping before a test allows your brain to process and keep the important things you studied while you sleep. Have a good breakfast because the test takes an extensive amount of time and eating gives your brain the nutrients it needs to process things. ~Adam, AL Stay calm, and remember that you re not supposed to know everything. No one expects you to get everything right. ~Avery, FL Eating a healthy breakfast is also important. Have some waffles, pancakes, cereal, or fruit to keep your energy longlasting. Sugars and fatty foods won t get you through the whole test, even though you can bring snacks. If you get done early, don t just sit there; double-check your answers to find mistakes. ~Rachel, GA Here s a tip: When you go to take the test, almost everyone will be older than you. Don t be discouraged! They may sneak looks at you but that s because it s odd for someone so young to take the test! Instead of being discouraged, take it as a compliment; be proud of your accomplishments! ~Zoe, LA Take advantage of your Duke TIP talent search benefits. Visit to learn more.
4 Advice from a TIPster Who Has Been There My SAT Experience BY ALLEN PARAYIL Taking the SAT was certainly a new academic experience for me. After all, most people don t get to take it till high school. Well, lucky me! I got to take the most frightening test ever before I even needed to and you do too! After all, you are in Duke TIP, so you will probably ace them anyway. Now, let s get to the story. It all started the fall before... My dad informed me one day about the SAT and he signed me up. I went to the test site on a rainy day with my buddy, only having studied it a little bit to refresh my memory. My dad had packed me snacks and water, along with lots of pencils and a calculator. As I was finding my test room and checking in, I saw a lot more of my friends than I thought I would! I ll tell you one thing: the test is LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. It s mostly 25-minute test sessions with breaks once in a while. There are 10 tests, including an essay, reading, writing, and math tests. It s easy to get hungry during the SAT, so pack snacks and drinks! Also, be very careful of what you do! For example, you could get kicked out if you take out your phone during testing. Anyway, I finished the test with a tight time limit, and there were only a few questions that perplexed me. After all, this is high school content. After the test, I had those Doritos Tacos from Taco Bell (I LOVE TACOS!!!!!!!!). Later, I learned that I did well enough (it s not nearly as hard as it seems) to qualify for Duke TIP Summer Studies, a 3-week program, and enjoyed a piece of cheesecake to celebrate. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience. Good luck! My ACT Experience Taking the ACT was something new, even though it was similar to the SAT. You re normally supposed to take it in high school, but at Duke TIP, you can take it early. It may seem terrifying, but it s a lot easier than you think! The ACT preparation was a lot like what I did for the SAT. At the test site, we had to fill out a few forms, and then I went on to my testing room to take the test. After the introduction and instructions, the test began. There were four; math, reading, English, and science. Because the ACT people said it would help, I tried to answer all the questions, but I was really pinched on time, so I rushed a bit. Even so, this test did not seem as hard to me as the SAT. And to think that this is from the high school curriculum! Like I said, it s a lot easier than you might think. After four tests and a break, it was time to go. We went back home and life was normal. Sometime after the test, my parents informed me that I qualified for the Grand Recognition Ceremony because of how well I did on the ACT. This is the highest award you can get and you attend a ceremony with smart kids from around the country. Maybe you will qualify to go next year as well! Note: Participants only take one test (either the ACT or SAT) as part of the talent search and only one test is covered with the talent search enrollment fee. Allen wanted the additional challenge and chose to take the ACT as well by registering for the ACT independently and directly with ACT.
5 Should You Opt In to Test Prep? In a few months, you ll be taking the ACT or SAT a test usually taken by high school juniors or seniors. It s normal to feel a little bit nervous and wonder if you should do anything to help prepare for taking an above-level test. You may even wonder whether you should take a formal preparation course to help boost your score on the ACT or SAT. If the courses are offered to high school students taking the ACT or SAT, why wouldn t a seventh grade student want to take advantage of them too? Before you sign on the dotted line (and ask Mom and Dad for the check!), let s look at the differences between taking test prep courses as a student preparing to apply to college versus as a member of a talent search. TAKING THE TEST When high school students take the ACT or the SAT, they are doing so to enhance their college applications so they have the best chance possible of being accepted by the college they want to attend. High school students may also be competing for scholarships, financial aid, and other awards that may be influenced by standardized test scores. Talent search members, for the most part, are not competing for merit-based scholarships. Rather, taking the ACT or SAT as a member of the talent search will give you: an idea of your current level of educational performance a sound idea about your potential for success in future study a perspective on the level of challenge you should be seeking in the courses you plan to take as you finish middle school and proceed to high school Have you ever put a thermometer next to a light bulb to give the impression that your fever is higher than it really is? Doing that doesn t measure your actual temperature, and is therefore misleading. Similarly, taking a test prep course may lead to an inaccurate educational assessment, which will not be the most helpful result for your planning purposes. TEST PREP COURSES: WHAT YOU GET The large test preparation companies offer a variety of options. Costs can range from online classes at about $30 per hour of instruction to around $45 an hour for in-person classes. Rates can exceed $120 an hour for private tutoring. In most cases, customers will take a diagnostic test at the beginning of the course to assess where they are and in what areas they can improve. Even test prep courses use diagnostic testing to plot educational plans! DO THEY WORK? Some testing companies may make claims about increasing SAT scores by 100 points, while specific instructors may cite examples of even larger gains. Another common action that test prep companies take is to cite specific cases of drastic score improvements. However, it would be more accurate and informative for the company to tell us the average increase in score for all of their customers. In May 2009, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), which represents over 11,000 college counseling and enrollment professionals, released a report reviewing the research on preparing for college admissions exams (www.nacacnet.org/research/research-data/documents/ TestPrepDiscussionPaper.pdf). According to this report, typical gains as a result of taking a test prep course are around 30 points on the SAT. It goes on to caution families to consider whether an expected improvement of around 30 points is worth the investment of time and money. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, even a senior vice president of the College Board, Laurence Bunin, says that the best way to gain a few points is to be familiar with the test. THE BOTTOM LINE We at Duke TIP don t think you need to take test prep courses to take the ACT or SAT as a seventh grader. Remember, taking this test is a way to help understand more about your academic strengths and skills at this point in your education.
6 Making the Most of Middle School It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Although Charles Dickens did not write these words in response to middle school years, it certainly is an appropriate description, isn t it? How then do you maximize the best and minimize the worst? Consider these key areas of middle school life, and the implications that giftedness has for each one. SELF-KNOWLEDGE Learn more about who you are as a person. Understanding the characteristics, behaviors, and feelings that gifted youth share will help you cope when your patience is tried or you are frustrated by what goes on around you. For example, gifted kids typically have a heightened sense of justice and can be appalled by events or behaviors in school or across the world, only to find no one else seems to think it matters. A good source for more information about giftedness is Duke TIP s Digest of Gifted Research, available on our website at It helps to know the ways people can differ so you can develop pride in your own uniqueness and find satisfaction in your accomplishments. ACADEMICS There is a paradox in education: it is important to be a good student but not too good. The phrase, The nail that sticks out is the nail that gets hammered exemplifies the middle school experience. The greater an individual differs from what s considered normal, the greater the teasing, put-downs and even bullying that can occur. In academics, you may be ridiculed by fellow students for your outstanding ability in math or your enthusiasm about the upcoming science fair. Based on your understanding of yourself, you can determine which is really important: your opinions or theirs. Does the person teasing you really matter to you is that an opinion that really matters? Why is the teasing Learn more! The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook Many more ideas for gifted teens can be found in this book by Judy Galbraith and Jim Delisle (Minneapolis, MN, Free Spirit Publishing). It is an excellent source of material in a fun format that is sure to inform and make you smile, too. occurring, and is that something you could or should consider changing? And above all, know when teasing crosses the line and becomes bullying. Teasing is something everyone experiences; bullying is different, and you must not tolerate bullying. The most important thing is to never, never compromise who you are in an effort to reduce the teasing. In the long run, the bullies or mean girls won t matter but your talents will. As Dumbledore said, It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices. Instead of hiding your abilities to avoid teasing or bullying, you should let them shine by taking advantage of harder classes and other learning opportunities so you can truly challenge yourself academically. EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES John Gowan, an expert in gifted education, once wrote, When you re a kid in a thousand, it means you have to go through 999 other kids to find one who is like you. Middle school often means losing old friends and trying to find new ones. Making friends occurs when two or more people find they share an interest, and that can be a challenge for anyone. However, gifted kids often find it even more difficult, because their interests aren t shared by other students in the same grade. This is where your school s extracurricular activities can provide an opportunity to make friends. For some, it is athletics gifted kids are sometimes more coordinated and stronger than the average kid of the same age. Team sports offer the chance to find and make friends. This isn t the only route, however. If athletics isn t your thing, consider academic organizations, such as the science club or the school newspaper as a way to find and make new friends. There are other team sports such as Odyssey of the Mind, MATHCOUNTS, or Future Problem Solving competitions. If your school doesn t have a team, talk to your favorite teacher about being a faculty advisor and start your own. There may be other students who want the same opportunity and would be glad to join, creating an opportunity for a whole new group of potential friends. Be open to the possibilities and they will find you. By knowing who you are, challenging yourself to be your best, and exploring opportunities both in and out of school, you ll make the most of your middle school experience.
7 for parents Exploring High School Options with Your Child As students approach their high school experience, wise parents will want to stay abreast of the many options for pursuing challenging, accelerated studies before college. Three popular opportunities for gifted students are the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, the Advanced Placement (AP) program, and dual enrollment. INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE The International Baccalaureate originated in Geneva, Switzerland, and focuses on intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills. There are four programs: The IB Primary Years Programme, for students ages 3 to 12, focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer both in the classroom and in the world outside. The IB Middle Years Programme, for students ages 11 to 16, provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world while helping them become critical and reflective thinkers. The IB Diploma Programme, for students ages 16 to 19, is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education (with final examinations) that prepares students for success at university and beyond. The IB Career-related Programme, for ages 16 to 19, addresses the needs of students engaged in career-related education and leads to further education, apprenticeships, or employment. A demanding pre-university course of study, the IB Diploma Programme allows students to fulfill requirements for university programs in the United States and abroad. IB students prepare for high achievement at the university level by studying languages, social studies, experimental science, math, and electives in any of the aforementioned subjects or in the arts. Students in the program also participate in creative, action, and service activities; write an extended essay; complete a theory of knowledge class; and demonstrate mastery through rigorous internal assessments and external exams. Successful IB candidates demonstrate a willingness to learn have the determination to make a positive impact in the community take responsibility for their learning and success have strong written and oral communication skills maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average, and participate in extracurricular activities. A former IB student, Shivani, participated from fourth through eighth grade and found the IB to provide a wonderful foundation for traditional high school. She explained: IB is much more than academics. It allowed me to work in the community with Teen Court. It taught me how to connect to students who can use help. Shivani went on to become a Siemens AP Scholar and finalist and won the Intel Science Talent Search while at Princeton. Yanni, a former IB Diploma Programme participant, agreed with her former classmate: IB is a comprehensive program. It is an integrated approach to learning and living responsibly in the world. IB prepared me for life! Students in more than 4,162 schools in 149 countries have the opportunity to pursue an IB program. Visit to determine if there is an IB World School in your area. ADVANCED PLACEMENT The College Board established the Advanced Placement (AP) program to provide highly motivated high school students with college-level academic courses. Students take AP courses to develop advanced skills in critical and analytical thinking, to gain a deeper understanding of subject matter, to earn advanced standing or college credit, and to demonstrate their readiness for college work. Good candidates for AP coursework are motivated, independent learners who wish to take on extra academic preparation, have strong reading and study skills, want to better their time management skills, and have performed well in class and on the PSAT. Students should take AP courses after taking honors and advanced courses in middle school and after learning how to balance academic, extracurricular, and personal responsibilities. Students may pursue AP coursework in one subject or many. The AP Program currently offers more than 35 courses across multiple subject areas. Many secondary schools offer a variety of AP courses. AP courses are also available online and, in some locations, via satellite. Visit for more information about high school academic planning, AP courses, and exams. Ishani took 16 AP courses while attending Jordan High School, in Durham, North Carolina and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. By Elizabeth Moore Feifs, EdD Elizabeth Moore Feifs holds an MEd in counseling and EdD in school psychology from Duke University. She has professional experience in undergraduate admissions, teaching high school English, school counseling, school psychology, and student services administration.
8 She says, I was not concerned about graduating from college early. I am hungry to learn. AP credit allowed me to study more areas during college, some in greater depth. After graduating from Princeton University, Ishani has become a Scholar in National Service. DUAL ENROLLMENT Dual enrollment allows high-performing high school students to engage in college-level work by enrolling in college courses while still in high school, thus simultaneously earning high school and college credit. College-level coursework challenges high school students with rigorous content and pace, extends and enhances the traditional high school curriculum, and avoids unnecessary duplication of coursework. High school students pursuing dual enrollment earn college credit, save on tuition, and experience a slice of college life while still living at home. Criteria for admission depend on school policy and college or university requirements. Some dual enrollment programs are offered in traditional high school settings with regular classroom teachers serving as adjunct university faculty. Other programs take place on community college or university campuses. CONCLUSION College admissions officers at highly competitive colleges and universities are interested in students who have pursued the most rigorous academic experiences and programs available to them and have excelled. Participation in some of these programs may provide additional weighting into secondary school formulas for computing grade point averages. College admissions is a multifaceted process and no one program will, by itself, give your child the edge on getting accepted. However, all of these programs broaden experiences and sharpen skills for college and life beyond the academic gates. WEBSITES The Advanced Placement Program International Baccalaureate Organization Contact us anytime at follow duketip on: Keep your and mailing addresses updated with Duke TIP! Visit Copyright 2015/Duke TIP Duke University Talent Identification Program All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America