Duke TIP

Frequently Asked Questions



Enrollment, Fees, and Financial Aid

Schools and Homeschools


Test Day Troubleshooting



What is a talent search?

In the world of gifted education, a talent search is the process used to identify students who are academically gifted and to pinpoint how gifted they are. Duke TIP offers two talent searches: the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search and the 7th Grade Talent Search. Both talent searches give students the opportunity to take above-grade level tests. This is because traditional testing often fails to measure the variation among gifted students who reach the upper limits of scoring on grade-level exams. Above-level testing gives these students and their families the opportunity to measure just how far above their grade level they are. In the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search, students take the EXPLORE test for eighth graders; while participants in the 7th Grade Talent Search take the ACT or SAT college entrance exam.

By taking an above-level test, academically talented students and their families gain a far better understanding of where the student stands in relation to his or her gifted peers and can determine what level of educational challenge is appropriate for that student going forward. In addition, experts at Duke TIP have worked hard to develop information, resources, publications, and exciting educational programs that inspire highly able, young people to learn.

What are the benefits of participating?

Each student who completes the ACT or SAT receives exclusive benefits beyond above-grade levels testing including test preparation materials; tools to interpret their scores; special recognition for their efforts; advice and resources; access to summer, academic year, and distance learning programs; discounts on educational programs; and college prep services.

How many students participated last year?

In the 2014-2015 7th Grade Talent Search nearly 65,000 students enrolled. A summary of these scores is found in the most recent results summary.

Does Duke TIP release information to outside parties?

We seek to provide information on relevant, valuable educational opportunities to academically talented students. From time to time we will release name and address information (not scores) to select organizations that provide unique educational opportunities that we think you will want to know about. You may opt out of this on the talent search enrollment form.

How can I let my local newspaper know about my participation?

All participants, regardless of their scores, are encouraged to seek media coverage independently for their talent search participation. To assist you in this process, a media announcement describing the talent search and your participation is available.

Will participating in the talent search increase my chances of getting into Duke University as an undergraduate?

There is no guarantee that participating in the talent search, even at a high level, will increase your chance for acceptance to Duke University. Your performance on the ACT or SAT may make you a strong candidate, but there are many other factors involved in the acceptance process for undergraduate programs at Duke University and other colleges or universities. In addition, keep in mind that nurturing gifted children means giving them access to the best possible instruction in their chosen fields. One of the goals of TIP is to make sure that all students fully understand their unique talents and choose the right college, given their abilities and interests. We offer guidance and other services to make sure gifted students and their families have the information they need to make the right choice when the time comes.

Will participating in the talent search increase my chances of getting scholarships for college?

Duke TIP is not directly connected to any college scholarship programs, and there’s no guarantee that participating in the talent search will increase your chances for getting a scholarship for college. However, there are many significant benefits to talent search participation including identifying your potential and aptitudes, preparing you for college-entrance testing, participating in programs that help you develop your skills and being recognized for your achievements.


Who is eligible to participate?

See Qualifying for 7th Grade Talent Search for detailed information.

Does participation in the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search automatically qualify me for the 7th Grade Talent Search?

A student must re-qualify and must enroll for participation in the 7th Grade Talent Search. However, if you participated in our 4th-6th Grade Talent Search and took the optional EXPLORE test as part of that program, you are automatically qualified for the 7th Grade Talent Search. See if you are eligible review Qualifying for 7th Grade Talent Search.

If my grade-level scores do not meet the qualification, is there another way I can participate?

Duke TIP allows seventh graders who want to participate in Duke TIP programs, but who narrowly miss qualifying for the 7th Grade Talent Search, to join Duke TIP independently. This independent enrollment is called TIP Option.


What are the enrollment deadlines?


What are the costs?


Is financial aid available?

Yes. See Fees for financial aid information.

Is the enrollment fee refundable?

No. This fee covers the cost of the ACT or the SAT registration as well as many talent search benefits through high school.

My seventh grader has already taken (or will register to take) the ACT or SAT on their own. Is it possible to enroll in the talent search and submit these scores instead of testing through TIP?

Part of the 7th Grade Talent Search enrollment fee covers the ACT or SAT test registration fee. If your student has already taken or plans to take the ACT or SAT independent of Duke TIP, they may use those scores and they do not need to take the ACT or SAT again for talent search purposes. These scores will be marked as seventh grade scores in the Duke TIP database. This 2Step enrollment process requires a student to complete a paper talent search enrollment, not an online enrollment. To receive information on how to enroll through the 2Step process, please send an email to 7talentsearch@tip.duke.edu.

What will I receive after I enroll?

If enrolling online, students will immediately receive access to test day information, a practice test, and a talent search identification form to use on the day of the test. If enrolling by paper, students will receive this information by mail within five weeks of enrolling. Students should contact Duke TIP if this follow-up packet is not received within five weeks of enrolling.

The admission ticket is sent to the student from either ACT or SAT and should arrive no later than two weeks prior to the test date. Students need to bring the ID form and the admission ticket to the test. Families should contact the testing agencies directly with questions about admission tickets.

How can I let Duke TIP know if my address changes?

In order to receive an admission ticket and talent search benefits, it is important that a student's current address be registered with Duke TIP. Address updates or corrections should be submitted on the student update form.


My school does not participate, how can I enroll?

Complete the online enrollment or request a paper enrollment form by emailing 7talentsearch@tip.duke.edu.

May I participate if I am homeschooled?

Duke TIP welcomes homeschooled students.

What is my Duke TIP school ID?

The Duke TIP school ID consists of six numbers and two letters. Find your school ID number.

Why should a school participate in the talent search?

The Duke University Talent Identification Program is a global leader in identifying academically gifted students and providing them with innovative programming to support their development. Through identification, recognition, challenging educational programs, information, advocacy and research, Duke TIP provides resources to gifted students, their parents, educators, and schools for the development of the students' optimal educational potential. Participation in the 7th Grade Talent Search can complement the gifted students' regular school experience, it is easy to administer, and free to the school.

Will my school be notified of my scores?

Scores are reported to you and to Duke TIP by the testing organizations. If you test in December, January or February, at the end of each testing season, scores will be shared with schools.

May the school pay for the students’ talent search enrollments using a purchase order?

If your school or district would like to use a purchase order to pay for talent search enrollments, please visit www.tip.duke.edu/7purchase for instructions.

How would I establish a school as an ACT or SAT test center location?

ACT: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/act-test-center-request-form.html 

SAT: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/sat-reasoning/coordinate/center

After your test center is established and you have received your test center code, please email Duke TIP at 7talentsearch@tip.duke.edu so that we can add the test center to our database.


What is above-level testing?

When a student is already excelling on grade specific tests, the knowledge and experience gained from taking an above-level test like the ACT or SAT is invaluable. The exams are the same that high school juniors and seniors take when applying to college. Above-level ACT or SAT testing provides helpful insight into a student's academic abilities and allows effective planning for high school and beyond. This testing experiences give seventh graders the opportunity to preview the same test they will face during the college admissions process.

Should I take the ACT or SAT?

Which test you should take depends on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. Visit  ACT or SAT? to assist you in making your decision.

What are the test dates and deadlines?

See Calendar for test dates and online and paper enrollment deadlines.

Should I select a second test center?

A second test center is optional, but highly recommended. If your first test center is full, you will be assigned your second test center choice. If both test centers are full, the testing agency will assign you one based on proximity to your other test center choices.

Do I have to take the entire ACT or SAT test?

Yes, you must take the entire ACT or SAT test.

May I sign up for both the ACT and the SAT?

No, select only one test and only one test date for the 7th Grade Talent Search.

May I participate without taking the ACT or SAT?

No, taking the test is not optional. In order to participate in the 7th Grade Talent Search you must take either the ACT or the SAT.

After I have enrolled and selected the ACT, should I add the ACT Writing portion of the test?

As a talent search enrollee, you will be registered to take the ACT, which is made up of four multiple-choice tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science. ACT also offers another test option—the ACT Plus Writing, which includes the multiple-choice tests plus an optional 30-minute Writing Test and costs an additional $17.00. Your talent search enrollment does not register you for the ACT Writing section. You do not need to take the Writing Test for Duke TIP. If you would like to take the Writing Test, please follow the instructions contained in your ACT instruction folder.

May I wait and take the redesigned SAT that will be offered in March of 2016?

For consistency in scores and subsequent qualification for Duke TIP programs, recognition, and opportunities, Duke TIP will register talent search students—who want to take the SAT—for the December 2015 and January 2016 SAT only. Those testing in March will not receive their scores in time to be invited to a recognition ceremony or to apply to summer or eStudies program this year because the scores will be delayed until May for the March administration.Taking the current SAT is still an excellent above-grade level testing experience and students will still receive valuable feedback on their academic abilities. In addition, scores from the December and January SAT will also allow students with qualifying scores to receive recognition or apply in time to our Summer Studies or eStudies programs.

 Are the student's ACT or SAT scores permanently recorded?

ACT scores are kept on file permanently while SAT scores are not. If you wish for SAT to keep your scores on file permanently, you may request this from the testing agency before June 30 of your seventh grade year. Both ACT and SAT scores will never be shared with colleges unless the student requests this. Duke TIP will keep the scores indefinitely for their records. Duke TIP will never share scores with anyone.

How many questions are on the ACT and how long is the ACT?


How many questions are on the SAT and how long is the SAT?


How do I apply for Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)?

See Exceptions to Standard Testing.

May I test on Sunday for religious convictions?

Information about non-Saturday testing.

What type of preparation does Duke TIP recommend before taking the test?

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 structure of the test, timing of each section, recommended guessing strategies, and to complete the practice test provided by Duke TIP. 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.

Should a student guess, or leave spaces blank, on answers he or she doesn't know?

For ACT, visit www.actstudent.org/testprep/tips/index.html.

For SAT, visit http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/sat-reasoning/prep/approach.

Should a student retest?

Most students do not take the ACT or SAT again until they are applying to college. However, some students choose to retest because they want practice on the alternate test or they want to try to increase their scores to qualify for a Duke TIP educational program. Retesting is optional and requires independent and direct registration with the testing agency.

ACT: www.actstudent.org, (319) 337-1270

SAT: sat.collegeboard.org/register, (866) 756-7346

You must be at least 13 years old to use the online registration on the ACT or College Board websites. If you are not yet 13, call ACT to request a paper registration form be mailed to your home or use the online request form. For SAT, you can get a registration packet from a local high school or call SAT to register by phone.

Once you receive your scores, please fax or mail Duke TIP a copy to the address below so we can update your record.

Test on Your Own
Duke University TIP
300 Fuller Street
Durham, NC 27701
Fax: (919) 681-4182

Test Day Troubleshooting

How can I make a change to my test date or test center assignment?

As soon as you know of a change, call Duke TIP at (919) 668-9100. If your information has already been transmitted, changes must be made directly through the appropriate testing organization: ACT (319) 337-1270 or SAT (866) 756-7346. ACT and SAT will charge an additional fee for these changes.

I did not get the test center I requested. What can I do?

Test centers are assigned by ACT or SAT based on the choices submitted on your enrollment. If your first and second choice test centers are full, the testing agency will assign another location. Contact ACT, (319) 337-1270 or SAT, (866) 756-7346 regarding test center assignment changes or availability.

If I have not received (or I have lost) my admission ticket, what should I do?

Allow up to 10 business days prior to the test to receive your admission ticket. If you have not received it by then (or you have misplaced it), please visit the following web pages for instructions:

ACT: www.actstudent.org/faq/ticket.html

SAT: www.collegeboard.com/mysat

Note: You must be at least 13 to create an account at these websites 

If I have not received (or I have lost) my talent search ACT or SAT identification form, what should I do?

You can download a replacement ACT or SAT ID form.

Do I need a photo ID to test?

ACT: If you enrolled in the 7th Grade Talent Search and Duke TIP transmitted your ACT test registration to ACT for you, you do not need a photo ID. The ACT Talent Search Student Identification Letter you received in your follow-up information will serve as an acceptable form of ID. However, if you registered directly with ACT and were required to submit a photo, you cannot use the ACT talent search ID in place of photo ID on test day. Instead you must bring an acceptable photo ID in accordance with ACT’s security policy. See www.actstudent.org/faq/id.html for more information.

SAT: No, you do not need a photo ID. The SAT talent search ID you received in your follow-up information will serve as an acceptable form of ID.

What do I need to bring with me on test day?

Students must have the admission ticket and an acceptable ID form in order to be admitted to the test center. Students should also bring two sharpened number 2 pencils, an eraser, and an approved calculator. This information is noted on your admission ticket.

When should I arrive at the test center?

The arrival time is noted on your admission ticket and varies from test center to test center, but it is typically around 7:30–7:45 a.m. Please check your admission ticket to confirm exact arrival time.

What should I do if there is inclement weather on the day of the ACT or SAT?

Visit the testing agency website to determine if weather affects your testing time and date.


I have a complaint about the test day. To whom should I report this?

While the tests are administrated by ACT and SAT, Duke TIP should be informed when there is a test day problem. Feel free to contact Duke TIP by e-mail at 7talentsearch@tip.duke.edu or phone (919) 668-9100. In addition, it is very helpful to let the testing agencies know directly. ACT and SAT request feedback so that they can improve their test administration process.

ACT: http://www.actstudent.org/forms/centerform.html

SAT: www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/contact.html (Scroll down to section entitled, Test Center Complaints).

What do I do if my child is sick or has a conflict and is unable to test on their assigned test date?

Before or after the test date, call the appropriate testing organization: ACT (319) 337-1270 or SAT (866) 756-7346 to reschedule for a later test date. ACT and SAT will charge an additional fee for these changes. Scores from test dates after February arrive too late for an invitation to attend a recognition ceremony should the student qualify. Students testing in March, April, May, or June of their seventh grade year will receive their award by mail in the fall. Similarly, if a student qualifies, participation in Duke TIP's Summer Studies might also be affected because of the late arrival of scores.

I was unable to test during December, January, or February. May I test later?

Yes, students are encouraged to follow through with testing, even if it is at a later date, so that they may begin receiving talent search benefits. Contact ACT (319) 337-1270 or SAT (866) 756-7346 to reschedule your test. However, be aware that scores from test dates after February arrive too late for an invitation to attend a recognition ceremony should the student qualify. Students testing in March, April, May, or June of their seventh grade year will receive their award by mail in the fall. Similarly, if a student qualifies, participation in Duke TIP's Summer Studies might also be affected because of the late arrival of scores.


When will I receive my official score report?

Six to eight weeks after the test date. The score report will be mailed from the testing agency to the address you indicated on your talent search enrollment.

May I view my scores online?

Duke TIP does not post the scores online, however they are available on the ACT or SAT websites.

ACT: http://www.actstudent.org/scores

SAT: www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/scores.html

Note: You must be at least 13 to create an account at these websites. Contact ACT at (319) 337-1270 or SAT at (866) 756-7346 if you experience issues when creating an account.

May I receive my scores by phone?

To protect the confidentiality of scores, it is Duke TIP’s policy, as well as ACT’s policy, not to give scores to anyone by telephone, email, or fax. However, students who took the SAT and are unable to view their scores online (because they are under the age of 13) can call SAT Customer Service at (866) 756-7346 to receive their scores.

I have received my scores, now what?

After all of the scores from December, January and February are received by Duke TIP, we compile a score interpretive guide, the Results Summary, to send to all talent search participants in May. This mailing also includes a certificate and information on some of our educational programs.

Some students qualify for a recognition ceremony, for our campus-based summer programs, and for our eStudies distance learning program. Summer program information is mailed to eligible students in March. Invitations to a ceremony are mailed to eligible students in April.

How do seventh graders perform on the ACT or SAT?

The Results Summary is a report that each participant receives that allows him/her to compare scores with those of other 7th Grade Talent Search participants, some of the most gifted seventh graders in the country.

How can I request a copy of my ACT test questions and answers?


How can I request the SAT Question-and-Answer Service (QAS) or the SAT Student Answer Service (SAS)?

QAS: www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/scores/qas.html

SAS: www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/scores/sas.html

How do I get a copy of my SAT essay?

Students age 13 or older may view their essay online as part of their score report at the College Board website. For those under the age of 13, you may request a free paper copy of your most recent essay by sending a written request stating your full name, complete street address, SAT registration number (located on the front of your score report), date of birth and test date to:

Customer Order Support
PO Box 4699
Mount Vernon, IL 62864

The copy of the essay will be sent to you within four weeks of the receipt of your request.

How is the ACT scored?

Understanding ACT scores. 

How is the SAT scored?

Understanding SAT scores.

You must be at least 13 years old to use the online registration on the ACT or College Board websites.