Characteristics of intellectually advanced young people
Davidson Institute for Talent Development

This brief list offers some common characteristics of highly intelligent young people. Please keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive in that each young person has individual traits and interests.

Profoundly gifted students think and learn differently than other students. Some common characteristics of profoundly gifted students can include one or more of the following:

  • An advanced ability to learn and process information rapidly.
  • An extreme need for constant mental stimulation.
  • A need to understand the world and for it to be logical and fair.
  • An ability to relate a broad range of ideas and synthesize commonalities among them.
  • An insatiable curiosity; endless questions, inquiries and appreciation for nuance.
  • An inborn sensitivity and awareness of life.
  • A need to explore some topics in greater depth.
  • A sense of frustration with regard to mundane or repetitious processes.

Profoundly gifted students may also:

  • Demonstrate different or unusual interests compared to their same age peers.
  • Reach developmental milestones earlier and faster.
  • Read early or understand math concepts at a very young age.
  • Hold themselves and others to high standards.
  • Exhibit asynchronous development, which can manifest as uneven intellectual, physical, and emotional development.

Oftentimes profoundly intelligent young people are not properly identified and, thus, do not receive an appropriately challenging education. Research shows this can lead to underachievement or even dropping out of school – studies indicate that 40 percent of all gifted students may be underachievers (Handbook of Gifted Education, p. 424). If you know a young person who may have advanced intellectual abilities, there is a wealth of information available at www.DavidsonGifted.org/DB/.

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