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Why take yet another test?

October 14, 2011

Why would you want to pay money to subject your 3rd through 9th graders to yet another test?  Because this one opens doors for gifted students to better educational opportunities, provides insights about their abilities, and recognition for their achievements.

Four well-renowned universities across the country run regional Academic Talent Searches – Duke, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, and the University of Denver.    Students in Montana can participate in the Western Academic Talent Search (WATS), run by the Center for Bright Kids at the University of Denver.  The objective of the Talent Search is to give the kids a test that does not have a “ceiling effect” (e.g., they won’t get perfect scores) so that they can get a true measure of their abilities, which may be well above their current grade level.

Those who score in the gifted range are invited to summer enrichment programs where they can get appropriate challenge and where they can make friends with other kids like themselves.  Some gifted kids live all year in anticipation of that month in the summer when they can truly be themselves.    And a test score on one of the three tests – EXPLORE, ACT or SAT – is a prerequisite for some of these programs.

Some students may also win scholarships through this process.

Even if your child does not participate in any of the enrichment programs offered by the Center for Bright Kids or its sister organizations, you can still gain insights into your child’s strengths, by understanding which subjects he or she excels in or by understanding just how advanced he truly is.  For example, many of the kids accepted into this program will score at a high school junior or senior level when they are only in 7th grade, which can give you some insight into why they may not feel excited about what is being taught in 7th grade.    Such knowledge may help you advocate for your child’s academic needs with your school district.

  • Students in 3rd to 6th grade can take the EXPLORE test at Monforton School in Bozeman on 1/21/12 or 2/18/12, but they must register with WATS by 12/7/11.
  • Students in 6th to 9th grade can choose between the ACT (Dec & Feb test dates) or SAT (Dec or Jan test dates).   But note that WATS has earlier deadlines than SAT or ACT deadlines, so don’t delay getting your registration in.  [Generally, students who excel in science may do better on the ACT; those who excel in writing may find the SAT shows off their abilities best.]

To be eligible, a student must have a score at or above the 95th percentile on a nationally normed academic achievement test OR a letter of recommendation from a school counselor or licensed teacher or home school association official.

Get all the details and registration forms from the Center for Bright Kids.

Go break the news to your kid – this test may be his ticket to his kind of fun!


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