7th Grade Duke University Talent Identification Program

Duke TIPFounded in 1980, the Duke University Talent Identification Program, or Duke TIP, identifies and supports academically gifted elementary, middle, and high school students. Today we will focus specifically on the Duke Talent Identification Program for 7th graders. The purpose of Duke TIP is to “work with students, their families, and educators to identify, recognize, challenge, engage, and help students reach their highest potential.” This is accomplished, of course, by first identifying these students and then encouraging their development with academic resources and activities.

How do I qualify for Duke TIP?

Duke TIP identifies gifted and talented students through the use of grade-level standardized tests. This means the test that initially qualifies a student to participate in Duke TIP is not advanced or above a student’s grade-level when taken. This test is typically taken in 5th or 6th grade (Duke TIP requires the scores that qualify students for their program to be no more than two years old). The specific standardized test will vary from state to state (you can find a list of qualifying tests for 7th graders here) and students must score in the 95th percentile or higher to be eligible. Alternatively, students may qualify by achieving a composite score of 125 or higher on an IQ test.

After initially qualifying to participate in the Talent Identification Program, students will then be invited to take above-level standardized tests, most commonly the SAT or ACT, and, based on their scores, may be eligible to attend a variety of educational programs. It should be noted that different Duke TIP educational programs will have different eligibility requirements.

Why should I participate in Duke TIP?

There are a number of reasons to participate in the Talent Identification Program, not the least of which is the test-taking experience younger students gain from taking above-level standardized tests. In addition to acclimating students to the experience of standardized testing, having them take above-level tests allows researchers to make insightful evaluations of a student’s exact ability level and “depth of understanding.” Specifically, students and parents will receive a TIP score summary in addition to the usual score report provided after taking a standardized test. This information is helpful in identifying students’ relative areas of strength and weakness, which in turn “allows families to effectively plan for high school and beyond.”

The most significant benefit of participating in Duke TIP is the access participants have to various educational programs. These programs include options like Scholar Weekends, Field Studies, Summer Studies Programs, and eStudies distance learning. Let’s cover each of these options in a bit more detail:

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Scholar Weekends:

As a 7th grader, students cannot participate in the Duke University Scholars Weekend. Scholars Weekends are only open to students in 8th-11th grade; however, to be eligible to sign up for a Scholars Weekend, students must participate in the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search.

Scholar Weekends are weekend-long courses held on campus at Duke University. Compared to the cost of the Summer Studies Programs, Scholars Weekends are relatively less expensive, with the cost of attending between $400 to $450. Course options cover a wide variety of topics, including: Psychology, Ethics, Logic, Math, Genetics, Gender Studies, as well topics like Business, Law, Energy, Politics, Literature, and Neurobiology. Much like the Summer Studies Programs, Scholar Weekends give students the opportunity to be exposed to college-level course work and meet similarly gifted, motivated peers and academics.

Field Studies:

Field Studies are two week on-site programs hosted throughout the country, and internationally, that allow students to gain experience working in a specific academic field or discipline. Examples of Field Studies provided on the Duke TIP website include debating a Supreme Court case in a state-of-the-art modern courtroom, conducting astronomical research in the Appalachian Mountains, and writing poetry, fiction, etc. at a celebrated artist’s summer retreat. Field Studies are comparable in price to Summer Studies, typically ranging from $3500 to $4000.

Like Scholars Weekends, the topics of study available in different Field Studies are varied and wide-ranging. Student can elect to participate in Field Studies related to everything from Fiction, International Politics and Law, Architecture, Chaos Theory, Marine Research and more. Note: These programs tend to fill up incredibly quickly, so if this is something you are interested in, we recommend applying as soon as possible.

Summer Studies Programs:

The Duke TIP Summer Studies Programs are three-week educational programs available to 7th through 10th graders. These programs are highly regarded, rigorous, and extremely selective. Duke TIP is perhaps best known for their Summer Studies Programs, and as a 7th Grade Duke TIP participant, the Summer Studies Programs will be the first educational program available to you or your student. These programs are designed for specific age groups, so there are programs designed specifically for 7th and 8th graders and other programs designed for 8th, 9th, and 10th graders. These programs are offered in the months of June and July, and the cost is typically between $3600 to $4000.

The Summer Studies Programs are split into two different categories, Academic and Center (with Center considered the more elite of the two), and each program has specific score requirements based on student’s performance on the SAT or ACT. These score requirements vary based on grade level and program type. The Duke TIP website has generated an easy to read chart (reproduced below) to help you determine which category you might be eligible for:

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An additional, and not insignificant, benefit of participating in any one of the above mentioned educational programs, or just the Duke Talent Identification Program itself, is the recognition you receive from participating. Every participant receives a participation certificate, and select high-scoring participants are actually awarded a medal at an official recognition ceremony each year.

How should I prepare for Duke TIP?

7th and 8th graders who take the SAT as participants in the Duke Talent Identification Program take the same SAT as high school students applying to college. This means that they should prepare for the exam in much the same way as these high school students. Successful preparation strategies include taking practice tests, a review course, and studying vocabulary.

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  1. This is one program I will suggest to all parents to encourage their children to participate in. I have a high school daughter who is currently participating in it and the outcome had been simply amazing. I have another seven grader who had just taken the SAT in preparations for the summer program. The exposure these children have received has given them a tremendous heads up looking forward to going to college.Duke Tip I salute your foresight in putting these program together since 1980.

  2. Hello, Can my son still apply for the talent search or is it too late? He is 11 and in 7th grade and just received his SAT scores. How do we apply for the talent search?
    thank you
    C. Nelson

    1. Cecily,

      The Duke TIP website indicates a March application deadline. In this case, I would recommend calling them directly to inquire about a deadline extension.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Do most schools give out awards to the students who just qualify at the end of the school year

  4. Are there any financial aid programs available to students whose parents are unable to pay the $4,000 for the course? I have a niece that is in 7th grade and has qualified to participate in one of the courses this summer. However, I found out this past weekend that her (divorced) parents have been unable to come up with the funds for my niece to attend. I really hate to see such talent stand by and watch this opportunity pass her by. Her passion is literature and she even belongs to a “writer’s club” that is composed of mostly college students. I believe she is the only middle school student in the club. She has been looking forward to this for a few months now and is so deserving of this opportunity. I am just trying to do research on my own to find out if there is any aid available to her. If anyone has any resource and contact information, please let me know. Thank you! “Aunt” Liz

    1. Hi Liz! Duke TIP definitely offers a number of financial aid programs and scholarships. You may want to contact Duke TIP directly to see what exactly the program offers, if their website doesn’t answer all your questions. You can call them at 919-668-9100 for more info!

    1. Shital,

      That’s a fairly broad question. If you’re interested in preparing for the SAT as a 7th grader, we would recommend Testmasters. You can learn more about their different SAT preparatory options here.

      Hope this helps!

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