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Talent Search Basics

What criteria qualify students for the Talent Search?

CTY invites applications from students who are in grades two through eight (or grade equivalents for home-schooled students) and meet the following academic requirements:

  • Achieve scores at or above the 95th percentile on a nationally normed ability test;

  • Earn scores at advanced levels (advanced proficiency, distinguished, honors, etc.) on state tests; or

  • Demonstrate superior academic performance.

Visit Who Can Participate for more information.

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What are the benefits of joining the Talent Search?

There are lots of practical reasons why parents choose CTY’s Talent Search. Many families apply to the CTY Talent Search to determine their child’s full capabilities. This can be accomplished when students take above-grade-level tests that were originally designed for older students.

Visit Why Participate for more information.

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What will my child actually do as a Talent Search participant?

Students participating in the CTY Talent Search take an above-grade-level-test (see details below) that provides specific information about a child’s reasoning abilities. Once testing is over, families receive a copy of test results and guidance materials. These materials include data on all CTY testers from the previous year that help them understand what the above-grade-level test scores mean and tips on how to use this information when planning the student's education. All children are recognized for their participation with a certificate. High-scoring students also receive Certificates of High Honors and are invited to CTY awards ceremonies in select states. Some children will earn test scores that qualify them for CTY’s summer and online courses. All students will receive updated information for several years about programs and opportunities, such as invitations to CTY’s Family Academic Programs, to help them develop their academic talents.

Visit After Testing for more information.

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How do I enroll my child?

Visit How to Participate for more information.

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What are the costs associated with the Talent Search?

There are two separate fees associated with the Talent Search, to be paid separately. The first is a nonrefundable Talent Search application fee, which you pay when you apply to the Talent Search. The second is a test registration fee, which you pay directly to the test provider when you register to test. Financial assistance is available.

Visit Fees and Deadlines for more information.

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What are the registration deadlines for Talent Search?

Visit Fees and Deadlines for more information.

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What happens after I apply to the Talent Search?

Test registration information will be sent to you. If you have not received the test registration information within 3 - 4 weeks of applying to Talent Search, contact CTY at 410-735-6278 or

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More questions about Talent Search?

We want to make your Talent Search experience a pleasant one, so please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. You can reach us anytime via email at or weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (EST) at 410-735-6278.

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About Testing

What tests do students take in the CTY Talent Search?

Students choose a test based on their current grade in school:

  • Students in grades seven and eight can take the SAT and ACT tests (paper and pencil) at specific test locations and times near their homes up until June.

  • Students in grades two through eight can take the School and College Ability Test (computerized) at testing centers near their homes until June 30.

  • Students in grades five and above can take the Spatial Test Battery (computerized) at testing centers near their homes until June 30.

The tests given are two to three grades above current grade level. Some students will score higher than others on the tests, but these are NOT pass/fail exams.

NOTE: All students must complete testing by June 30, the end of the Talent Search year.

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What is the CTY Spatial Test Battery (STB)?

The Spatial Test Battery assesses students' ability in the area of spatial reasoning and gives students and families an understanding of a child’s visual-spatial skills. The STB is a computerized test given at a Prometric test center to students in grades five and above and is one of the only exams of its type conveniently available for students this age. This assessment may bring a previously unrecognized strength to light. Special talent in this area can be of great benefit for the later pursuit of mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, architecture, and other fields.

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How should we decide which test my child takes?

The tests measure similar things, and the scores needed to qualify for CTY are set at the same levels, so the decision is really up to you. Some things you may want to consider are the dates and locations of tests, which can be found in the booklets mailed to you and on the websites for each test.

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Can students really do well on these tests without the benefit of higher level instruction in mathematics or language arts?

Yes, students with strong academic abilities and advanced reasoning abilities are able to answer questions on materials they have not been formally taught. Students who participate in the Talent Search are generally academically motivated and have the intellectual capability to handle these tests. Students are not expected to know the answers to all the questions. The tests are intended to measure how well students can reason, so we don’t recommend lengthy preparation beyond reading the test information to become familiar with types of questions and test format. It would not be a good idea to enroll a seriously test-averse student in the Talent Search, but in the case of highly able students for whom testing does not cause an unusual amount of stress, parent support and guidance can alleviate any pre-test jitters.

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What accommodations are provided for a child with disabilities?

Please visit CTY's Students with Disabilities Page.

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I called Prometric to schedule a SCAT/STB test, and they do not have an eligibility number on file for me. What should I do?

If you have recently submitted your application, you’ll want to allow three to four business days for computer files to update before contacting Prometric. If your eligibility number is unavailable after four business days, call CTY at (410) 735-6278 or email us at Talent Search will investigate and resolve your test registration ID situation so you may call Prometric again to schedule your test appointment.

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Can I get a refund of my test fee if I decide I do not want to take the SCAT/STB after I have already made an appointment with Prometric and paid my testing fee?

Your credit card will be credited the testing fee if you have an appointment and cancel 10 or more days in advance. You must cancel your appointment by speaking directly to Prometric personnel; leaving a message on a voice mail or answering machine is not sufficient. If you cancel 2-9 days before your appointment, you will be charged $20 and the remaining $35 will be credited to you. If you cancel less than 48 hours before your appointment, your credit card will be charged the full testing fee, and you will not be issued a refund.

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Will there be any charge if I need to reschedule my SCAT/STB testing appointment?

The following deadlines and charges apply when rescheduling with Prometric:

Amount of Notice Before Change

  • 10 or more days = No fee
  • 2-9 days = $20
  • 48 hours or less = $38

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If my child observes the Sabbath on a Saturday, could we arrange to take the test on another day?

SAT: Sunday testing for the SAT is available for students who cannot take the SAT on Saturday because of religious convictions. Follow directions under "Sunday Testing" of the Registration Bulletin for the SAT Program. You will still be eligible for all Talent Search benefits, including consideration for invitation to Awards Ceremonies and related benefits, if qualified.

ACT: Non-Saturday testing dates are available for ACT testers. ACT advises that if there is a test center within 50 miles of your home for any test date, you should plan to register for that date and request that center. If this option is not available to you, do not register. Instead, please write ACT Universal Testing, PO Box 4028, Iowa City, IA, 52243-4028, and describe your situation. Information will be sent to you about arranged testing.

You may take the SCAT and STB on a date and time convenient for you. As long as you test in the Talent Search testing window (July - June), you will be eligible for all Talent Search benefits. Most Prometric test centers are open weekdays from 8AM to 8PM, and provide Saturday hours, too.

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Before Testing

How should my child prepare for the test?

Have your child look over the materials for the test he or she will take. Pay special attention to the sample questions as well as information on questions, test format, guessing, and making efficient use of time. Finally, be sure your child gets a good night’s sleep before the test. Give yourself ample travel time to get to the test center on promptly and without stress.

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Is it necessary to take an entire test?

Yes. To have a valid score, you must take all standard portions of the tests. While CTY does not use the writing section of the SAT or the ACT for program eligibility, the College Board requires its completion on the SAT; the writing section of the ACT is an optional section.

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Test Day

What should my child bring to the test center?

For the SAT and ACT:

  • Your Admission Ticket
  • Two No. 2 (soft-lead) pencils and a good eraser
  • Your Talent Search Valid ID
  • A watch might be helpful (do not bring one with an alarm that beeps)
  • An approved calculator may be used on the math portion of the test (see ACT and SAT registration bulletins for details)

For the SCAT:

  • The SCAT test scheduling worksheet (this test is given on a computer)

For the Spatial Test Battery (STB):

  • The STB test scheduling worksheet (this test is given on a computer)

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What if there are poor weather conditions on the day of the test?

For both the SAT and ACT, listen to the radio on the morning of the test. If the test center is closed it will be announced by the SAT or ACT Program or local testing center. If you were registered for the SAT or ACT, you will receive notice of a make-up. If you need further information, you can contact SAT or ACT.

If you registered for the SCAT or STB, and the center is open, you are expected to test; otherwise you will be considered a no-show and will be charged the same way you would be if you did not cancel two or more days in advance. If the center is closed due to weather, you may call and reschedule your test date.

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What if my child is ill on the day of the test?

SAT: If your child will be absent for any reason on the test day you’ve registered for, you can reschedule your test. You can find the details for SAT rescheduling here or by calling 866-756-7346.

ACT: You can find details for ACT rescheduling here or by calling 319-337-1270.

SCAT and STB: If the student is too ill to test, he/she should see a doctor and obtain a note documenting the illness. Fax this note to 443-751-4988 along with the following information: student’s name and illness, name of the test (SCAT or STB), date of test missed, parent’s name and daytime phone number. Allow two business days for documentation to be approved and the student's eligibility to be reset, then call Prometric at 800-688-5796.

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I have not received my child’s SAT or ACT admission ticket. What should I do?

First, make sure you have done the following:

  1. Applied to CTY's Talent Search and paid the Talent Search application fee.
  2. Registered with the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ, or with ACT in Iowa City, IA, and paid the test fee to SAT or ACT using the materials sent to you by Talent Search.

If this is the case and you still have not received your Admission Ticket by the Wednesday before the test date, contact the appropriate testing organization. The number for SAT admission questions is 866-756-7346. The ACT number is 319-337-1270.

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I lost my child’s SAT or ACT admission ticket. What should I do?

Contact the appropriate testing organization for instructions. The number for SAT admission questions is 866-756-7346. The ACT number is 319-337-1270.

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I lost my child’s SAT and ACT Valid ID. What should I do?

If there is time, Talent Search can fax or mail you an ID; call 410-735-6278. If there is no time or no fax available, please see the section in the relevant test registration booklet for acceptable forms of identification.

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I lost my child’s registration worksheet and cannot remember the date and time for the SCAT and STB testing. What should I do?

Call Prometric at 800-688-5796 and tell them you have forgotten the date and time of your test appointment. Give them your student’s name, address, and phone number. Prometric will confirm that you are eligible to test and provide your appointment information.

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After Testing/Retesting

How and when can students retest?

Students may take the SCAT and STB two times per academic year. All requests for re-tests must be submitted by May 31. To request a SCAT or STB re-test, log in to MyCTY and request a retest.

Students may take the SAT and ACT as often as they desire. Simply re-register for testing directly with the testing agency.

More information on retesting.

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Is my child required to retest each year to retain eligibility for CTY’s summer or online courses?

Students who test and qualify for CTY summer or online courses as early as second grade remain eligible for those courses through the end of sixth grade. We ask that students who were previously qualified retest in grade seven so that we can have an up-to-date assessment of their abilities. Those who qualify in seventh-grade maintain their eligibility until their seventeenth birthday.

The one exception to this rule applies to students who qualify for courses after taking the SCAT as sixth-graders. Sixth-grade SCAT qualifiers are not asked to re-test in seventh grade. They maintain their eligibility until their seventeenth birthday.

More information about CTY Summer Programs eligibility.

More information about CTYOnline eligibility.

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Should I enroll my child in the CTY Talent Search in future years?

Families may enroll their children in Talent Search through eighth grade. Many children participate for several years, even those who have qualified for courses.

Why? The tests taken through the Talent Search can provide a continuity of useful information not found elsewhere. These above-grade-level tests can serve as a useful barometer of ongoing student achievement. And students can be eligible for awards ceremonies again each year.

Again, students who have qualified for CTY’s academic programs in the past remain qualified and do not need to retake the tests annually. The exceptions are students in seventh grade (or eighth if they didn't test in seventh), who must re-test by taking the SAT, ACT, or SCAT or students who qualify in sixth grade using the SCAT.

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Why not ninth-graders?

Ninth-graders begin to have a wealth of programs from which to choose, including broader selections at the high school level and options offered by many colleges and other providers.

In addition, while the SAT and ACT test scores are not retained on student permanent records through eighth grade, as of ninth grade, the scores may appear on a student’s test score record when applying to college. Some families do not want these scores on a student’s permanent record, so CTY does not offer a program to ninth-graders where this could be an unexpected consequence of participating.

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What is an Awards Ceremony?

CTY hosts Awards Ceremonies to celebrate the outstanding achievement of Talent Search participants who earn High Honors scores on the SCAT, SAT, ACT, or STB tests. Students in grades two through eight who participate in the CTY Talent Search, take the specified test for their grade by the published dates, meet or exceed the require High Honors scores, will be invited to Award Ceremonies. Qualified students are emailed invitations with a website link and additional information. At the event, students are individually recognized and receive a pin of High Honors. Students not living where Awards Ceremonies are held or who cannot attend are mailed their pin and program.

Visit Awards Ceremonies for more information.

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What is the Grand Ceremony?

Each year CTY hosts a Grand Ceremony at Johns Hopkins University to honor seventh- and eighth-grade Talent Search participants from around the world who meet the Grand level qualifying score criteria and  Study of Exceptional Talent (SET) qualifiers of any grade. The ceremony itself is similar to the state Awards Ceremony, but the students receive a medal rather than a certificate.

Visit Grand Ceremony for more information.

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What are CTY’s academic courses for qualifying students?

CTY offers challenging and enriching courses through summer programs and online courses The courses aim to develop the talents of very bright young people so they may make the most of their academic abilities throughout their lives.

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How does my child become eligible for academic courses?

The tests given through the CTY Talent Search are those used to establish eligibility for CTY’s summer and CTYOnline courses. See the following program eligibility charts:

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If my child participates in the Talent Search but does not take courses right away, do I remain on the CTY mailing list?

Yes, you’ll continue to receive communication from CTY for a period of time. You can always request information anytime by calling 410-735-6278 or emailing Most of our materials are also available on our website.

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Information for Schools

Why should schools participate in the Talent Search?

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) is an acclaimed national program that complements and parallels a gifted child’s regular school experience. Your school can benefit from CTY and the Talent Search with:

access to services and programs for highly able students.

  • a school report listing the names and scores of students from your school who participated in the Talent Search.

  • a school certificate recognizing the school’s interest in serving academically talented students.

  • your school name listed after students’ names in the Awards Ceremony program.

  • an Educator Guide to assist you with the Talent Search process.

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Where does a school get the information needed to participate?

Visit the Schools Section of our website for everything you need.

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