National programs, school districts, and even individual institutions have many different methods of testing students who may qualify for Gifted and Talented programs. Gifted and Talented programs can provide more challenging coursework, recognition for high achievement, and a wide range of academic opportunities for students who consistently perform above grade and age level in school. Though the SAT is created to measure high school junior and senior students’ aptitude for college readiness, some Gifted and Talented programs use the SAT to assess students’ reading and math skills.
Why use the SAT?
In order to catch students and begin providing support earlier, parents and schools often choose to test younger students. Although elementary age students might take a different set of tests, middle school students are likely to be administered an SAT as part of their Gifted and Talented assessment. For schools, offering the SAT is familiar and easy, since the SAT is so widespread already. For students, taking the SAT provides a fairly straightforward comparison to other students, again because the SAT is pretty standard across US schools.
Gifted and Talented testing often includes a range of exams and assessments, including both achievement and ability tests. Achievement tests, like the SAT, try to assess what students already know…what students have achieved so far in school. Theoretically, the results will show parents and educators whether the test taker is more academically advanced than other students at the same grade level. Generally, academic achievement tests need to have a high “ceiling”–in other words, the test shouldn’t limit the test-taker’s ability to show how much he or she knows. Since the SAT is designed for high school juniors and seniors, that creates a pretty high ceiling for middle school students taking the exam. For Gifted and Talented testing, the point isn’t just getting the highest score possible. Remember, these are 6th grade kids taking a test designed to show college readiness! The purpose of the SAT scores in Gifted and Talented testing is to help educators and parents see the student’s strengths and weaknesses laid out clearly in data.
Registering as a non-high school student
Since the SAT is designed for upper level high school students, it can be a bit more of a process to register if you’re younger! But, it’s not impossible. Students outside of the typical grade and age range for the SAT will just need to follow a different set of guidelines.
If you’re a student below the age of 13, or a parent registering your child who is below the age 13, you’ll need to register by mail. Registering by mail isn’t difficult, but you do need to make sure you gather all materials before you send off your registration!
1. Get a registration form from your school’s guidance counselor.
2. You’ll also want to ask your counselor about which SAT codesyou need. These codes tell College Board which testing center or school you took the test at, and where you need your scores sent.
3. Most registering students need to include a photo, but if you’re below 8th grade, you don’t need to include a photo with your registration packet. But, you will still need a photo ID on test day!
4. Make sure your packet is postmarked by the same deadlines for online registration in order to avoid late fees or denied entry!
Check out this handy guide for more mail registration tips!
Registering with a talent search organization
Of course, if you’re registering through a talent search program, such as the Center for Talented Youth or Talent Identification Program, you’ll have a few more hoops to jump through.
If you’re below eighth grade and taking the SAT as part of a talent search program, your Talent Search Program ID works in place of a photo ID on test day.
If you’re taking the SAT as part of one of these talent searches, you need to turn in extra documentation to College Board, which can be different for each talent search program. Some talent programs require you to register for the SAT with their own special registration forms, or pay additional testing fees. Make sure you check out the specific details for each talent search program on their website. These programs try to make registering for the SAT and other exams as seamless as possible, but you’ll need to make sure to follow specific program requirements as well.
- Northwestern University — Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS)
- University of Iowa — Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS)*
- Johns Hopkins University — Center for Talented Youth
- Duke University — Talent Identification Program (TIP)
Preparing to take the SAT
Of course, registering for the SAT is just the beginning! As you prepare to take the exam, Magoosh offers support every step of the way. Create study timelines, find out what you need to bring on the day of the test, and how to ace every subject area!
*While BESTS offered SAT as part of their talent search program, they currently only offer ACT for students in 7-9 grade.