Duke TIP

Choosing: ACT or SAT

The ACT or SAT is the same exam that high school students take when applying to college. In fact, at most test center locations, there will be high school students taking the test alongside the seventh graders. Participants are required to complete the entire exam. Note that when it is time to apply to college, these scores will never be sent to a college unless the student requests that they be sent.

Duke TIP does not recommend one test over the other. The ACT and SAT are both accepted tools for the above-level testing experience, so we recommend that the decision be made on a student-by-student basis. Families should consider the four factors— dates, test center locations, test content, and student preference.


Students should select only one test and one test date

Test Dates
December 6, 2014
December 13, 2014
January 24, 2015
February 7, 2015
Once enrolled, call Duke TIP at (919) 668-9100 if a change in test date or test center is needed. If student information was already transmitted to ACT or SAT, changes must be made directly through the appropriate testing organization. ACT and SAT charge an additional fee for these changes. Students who require special accommodations or those who need non-Saturday testing for religious reasons should review the exceptions to standard testing.

Test Center Locations

Consider which test center is the most convenient. In addition to the first test center location, Duke TIP suggests selecting a second test center location. If the first test center is full, a tester will be assigned to their second center choice. If both test centers are full, the testing agency will assign a center.

Locate a test center to enter on the 7th Grade Talent Search enrollment form by using the drop-down below: 

Select a State:

Test Content

Both the ACT and SAT measure what a student has learned and are valuable tools used by colleges in the undergraduate admissions process. While the length of each test is listed below, this time represents only the actual testing and does not include time for the check-in process that morning, instructions from test administrators, questions from students, and breaks between test sections.

ACT (no Writing*) SAT
3 to 3.5 hours long 3.75 hours long
4 sections—English, Mathematics, Reading, Science 3 sections—Critical Reading, Mathematics, Writing (includes essay)
36 possible points on each section 800 possible points on each section





*Participants are not required to take the ACT Writing test; however, after the talent search enrollment is processed, students will receive information on how to add the optional Writing test. This is arranged directly with ACT and there is an additional charge of $16.50 payable to ACT.

Student Preference

Some students will want to take the test they are likely to take in high school. Others may choose to test with friends. At this age, both tests offer the same appropriate above-level testing experience and serve to raise the bar and provide information about the student's academic abilities.

A Caution About Excessive Test Preparation

Duke TIP does not recommend that students take part in excessive test preparation. Talent search testing is diagnostic in nature; unnecessary anxiety is often the only obvious result from some preparation programs. It is sufficient to be familiar with the test structure, timing of each section, recommended guessing strategies, and to complete the practice test provided. This testing experience does not have a pass or fail component, and along with other academic indicators such as grades, it can provide additional information for parents to evaluate.