What Is The Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search, and Why Do It?


What is the Duke TIP, and what is the 7th Grade Talent Search? In this article, I'll be writing about the Duke Talent Identification Program, also known as Duke TIP, also known as the Duke TIP Program. The Duke TIP is a conglomeration of multiple subprograms, one of which is the 7th Grade Talent Search.

While you can find all the information about it on Duke's own website, as I did, the information is spread out and a little tricky to track down (hence the confused panda at the top of this article). For your convenience, I've compiled everything here into one magnificent blog post/guide. I recommend reading it all the way through, but if you only want to read one particular section, you can pick and choose from the Table of Contents.

Now that that's out of the way, let's dive into the Duke TIP and the 7th Grade Talent Search!

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2021 UPDATE: Duke TIP Program Canceled Permanently 

After canceling its summer residential programs in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, in December 2021 Duke announced that it has officially canceled its TIP program, including the 7th Grade Talent Search. 

There will be youth residential programs for summer 2022, and interested families with students in grades 6-8 can access information about their current course offerings through the Duke University Pre-College Program webpage. This Pre-College Program has replaced both TIP and the Duke University Youth Program.

Although Duke will not be re-opening the TIP program, they have stated that they will continue to provide “deep, rigorous academic opportunities for talented students.” Additional details about how their programming may change in the future is unavailable at this time, but they appear to be moving away from using standardized test scores as a way to identify “talent.”


Table of Contents

What Is The Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search? What Do Kids Do During TIP?

Why Should I Participate in Duke TIP?

How To Apply

Logistics: Cost


Actions To Take


What Is The Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search? And What Do Kids Do During It?

Since there is so much to say about the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search, I've broken it down into who, what, where, and when (the why and the how get their own separate sections).


What Is the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search?

The 7th Grade Talent Search...
  • Identifies gifted 7th grade students through test scores (there's more information about this in the How Do I Apply? section of this guide).
  • Registers these students to take the SAT or ACT during their 7th grade school year.
  • Provides students with information on how to interpret these test scores and resources to help them and their families better plan out their futures. These resources include advice and guidance regarding your education plan, special Duke TIP publications like The Talent Search Experience and eInsights, online resources like The Digest of Gifted Research, and access to Duke TIP's year-round Independent Learning courses. More specifics can be found on the Duke TIP website.


Who's Eligible for the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search?

If you live in the US, are in seventh grade (or are an eighth grader who skipped seventh grade), and meet the test score requirements (more on that here), you can enroll in Duke's 7th Grade Talent Search. Simple as that. Homeschooled? Not to worry. The 7th Grade Talent Search is completely open to home-, public-, private-, parochial-, and other-schooled students.

If you don't fit under these guidelines, don't sweat it—there are other Duke TIP subprograms that might be right for you, like 8th-10th Grade Option.


Great! So Where Does the 7th Grade Talent Search Take Place?

Unless you are reporting your SAT or ACT score separately and need to use paper application (more on that here), all parts of the application happen online, and all resources are distributed online. In fact, with the exception of taking the SAT or ACT, which will require you to go in person to a testing center, all you need for Duke TIP is a computer or mobile device and an internet connection. The only times when Duke TIP has in-person interactions are if you are invited to and choose to attend the Recognition Ceremonies at the end of the year.


When Does This All Happen?

The 7th Grade Talent Search takes place during the 7th grade school year. For most students (all US students), enrollment begins in August, with the rest of the Talent Search (SAT or ACT testing, information about your scores, resources for gifted students, and the recognition ceremonies for high-scoring students) spread out over the rest of the 7th grade school year.

If you're not in the US, you can either take part through the 8th-10th Grade Option or by submitting a request for the program you want to take part in and submitting a portfolio with transcripts, extracurricular resumes, test scores, IQ Scores, and any other materials requested.

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Why Should You Apply For The Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search?

So what do students get out of the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search? One perk is the opportunity to take what Duke calls 'above-level' tests (that is, you take the SAT or ACT before you're in high school) and compare your results with similarly gifted peers.

Why is this helpful? It can give you information early on about areas you might want to to further develop and give you a preview of the test-taking process.

For instance, let's say you score a 200 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, which is below par compared to your peers in the TIP. You'll know that you have to work on that skill, and as a result be able to better plan with your family for high school and the college admissions process. If you just took the SAT as a 7th grader without taking part in the Talent Search, you would not have the opportunity to know how you stack up against other students in your grade and age group; instead, you would end up being compared to much older students, which doesn't really tell you anything about where you should be now.

Taking part in the 7th Grade Talent Search also opens up opportunities to enroll in and attend other Duke TIP subprograms, including (but not limited to) eStudies courses, Summer Studies programs, and Scholar Weekends. You'll get access to the advice and resources discussed above as well.

Finally, there's the recognition of your prowess at the (aptly named) Recognition Ceremonies. At year-end ceremonies, Duke TIP recognizes the highest scorers on the SAT or ACT out of all the 7th Grade Talent Search participants. We have more information about these ceremonies in articles about the SAT and ACT score requirements to qualify, but for now, I'll just say that it is usually gratifying to get special recognition for your talent. It's not just about the medal (although you do get one at the Award Ceremonies)—it's knowing that other people value your hard work.


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Devil's Advocate: When Should I NOT Apply to Duke TIP?

IF...you don't care about taking college entrance exams early, OR

...you don't have any interest in taking part in TIP summer programs or resources later on down the line,

...THEN it might not be worth it for you to apply to the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search.

Why? Most colleges don't care about what you did in middle school, unless it was something truly spectacular like getting a paper published or starring in a Broadway show. Bottom line: if you're going to use the resources and take advantage of the programs open to you through TIP, then absolutely do it. If not, save your money (and time).


How Do I Apply To The Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search?

So after reading all this information, you've been inspired to apply to the 7th Grade Talent Search, and need instructions. Or maybe you already were inspired, but didn't know how. Either way, I've done the research for you. Read on for instructions on how you can qualify for the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search, and how to apply.

In order to enroll in the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search, you must meet a certain threshold on your scores on approved standardized tests. What are these tests, and what are the thresholds, you ask? There are two categories of tests that are accepted by Duke TIP, each with different standards you must meet to qualify for the 7th Grade Talent Search.

  • Category 1: IQ Tests. To qualify for Duke TIP's 7th Grade Talent Search, you must have scored 125 or above on IQ test administered within the last two years.
    • Some of the most commonly administered IQ tests accepted by Duke TIP include the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, the Cognitive Assessment System, or any of the Woodcock Johnson Tests.
  • Category 2: Other standardized tests. To qualify for Duke TIP's 7th Grade Talent Search, you must have scored 'at or above the 95th percentile on an accepted grade-level national standardized test or abilities test...[or] on a state assessment' Quotation source: Eligibility | Duke TIP. Accessed 2019-10-18.]
    • These are often state-administered tests, like the California Achievement Test, or any test that's part of the New York Statewide Testing Program.

All of the specific tests that Duke TIP accepts as metrics for their 7th Grade Talent Search are listed on this site. If you can't find a test you've taken in this list, you can always email Duke TIP (qualifying_test@tip.duke.edu) to see if a test that you've taken is accepted.

After you've figured out if you qualify for the 7th Grade Talent Search, you're all set to create your Duke TIP account and enroll. The "enroll now" link is only active from early August to early December of each year, but you can still create your account now and check back again in August to enroll.



  • If you participated in the 4th-6th Grade Talent Search and took the optional EXPLORE test, then you are automatically qualified (although you still have to enroll). Otherwise, even if you took part in the 4th-6th Grade Talent Search, you must re-qualify and enroll in the 7th Grade Talent Search.
  • If you have already taken SAT/ACT, already paid and registered to take it, or missed the Talent Search deadline but are planning on registering for the SAT/ACT, you can still enroll for the 7th Grade Talent Search, but you must do so using a different application process. For more information on the enrollment process for these cases, you can email 7talentsearch@tip.duke.edu


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Logistics: Cost

Now you know what the 7th Grade Talent Search is, why you should do it, and how to apply. What follows are a few more details that might be useful about the cost of the 7th Grade Talent Search.

Quick disclaimer: all costs are at the time of this article's writing, so be sure to check the 7th Grade Talent Search, SAT, and ACT websites before planning a budget around this information.

The application fee for the 7th Grade Talent Search is $80. This fee includes the cost of registration for the SAT or the ACT, depending on which test you choose to take.

Keep in mind that the writing sections of the SAT and ACT are completely optional and thus not covered by the $80 fee above. If you want to take the SAT or ACT writing exams, you can sign up for them separately after your enrollment in the Duke TIP program has been processed. Also, you'll register for this portion of the exam directly through the testing service instead of through Duke TIP.

So how much does the writing portion of the exam cost? While the Duke TIP no longer lists the add-on prices on its website, the SAT Essay exam costs $15, whereas the ACT Writing exam has costs $16.50 (in addition to the standard test fee).


Can I Get Financial Aid?

Yes. If you qualify for free or reduced price lunches, and submit the proper documentation showing this, you can waive part of the application fee for the 7th Grade Talent Search. Qualified applicants who are able to present written verification (either the approval paperwork or fee grant form on school letterhead) of their free/reduced price lunch status will only have to pay an enrollment fee of $30, rather than $80. For more information about where to submit proof of free/reduced price lunch status, email 7talentsearch@tip.duke.edu or call Duke TIP's Financial Aid Office at (919) 668-9100.

You can also get scholarships from foundations like Jack Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program.

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Tips to Get Into the Duke TIP

Below, I've made up a list of helpful hints to boost your chances of getting into Duke TIP's 7th Grade Talent Search and other programs.

  • If you haven't done particularly well on school standardized tests within the last two years, take a look into some of the other test options. Maybe an IQ test would be a better way to identify your talent and potential.
  • If you're waffling between the 7th Grade Talent Search and waiting until later and doing 8th-10th Grade Option, absolutely do the Talent Search. Since Duke TIP subsidizes the cost of the test, the Talent Search ($80 flat rate) is more cost-effective than 8th-10th Grade Option ($35 fee + $49.50 for the SAT or $46 for the ACT, both without the essay exam). If you don't do well on the SAT or ACT when you take it through the Talent Search, you can always retest later.
  • When you've started the 7th Grade Talent Search process, don't forget to study for the SAT/ACT.
    • Why? Because while Duke TIP is just using the SAT or ACT as a diagnostic, if you blow it off, it could prevent you from getting into a summer studies program that you totally deserve to attend (or at the very least cause you to have to retake the test in order to qualify).
    • At the very minimum, you need to be familiar with the test structure and timing. How can you do this?
      • Take a practice test to gauge where you are, then use this information to determine the amount you have to improve.
      • Know how much time you have to study so you can plan your prep accordingly.
      • For more advice along these lines, read our article on if you should take the SAT/ACT in 7th grade.

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Actions To Take

#1: Find out which of the accepted tests you've taken and what your scores were, including composites. Because you can only upload one score with your Talent Search application, you want to be sure you're choosing and uploading your best test score.

#2: Once you get into the 7th Grade Talent Search Program, study for the SAT or ACT.

#3: Make sure to keep an eye on the 7th Grade Talent Search key dates calendar for updates on information for this school year, including when enrollment for the Talent Search goes live (judging from past years, it's usually around August 1, but I make no promises).

#4: If after reading this article you're still not sure if the 7th Grade Talent Search is right for you, read more about it on the Duke TIP website.

#5: Read our other articles on the SAT and ACT score requirements for the various Duke TIP programs.

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What's Next?

Curious about other programs for the gifted? Make sure to read our early achiever guides about CTY at Johns Hopkins, Summer Institute for the Gifted, Stanford EPGY, and NUMATS.

Want to participate in Duke TIP programs? Read up on the SAT and ACT requirements for the Summer Studies and eStudies programs, as well as for the Recognition Ceremonies.



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About the Author
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Laura Staffaroni

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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