Davidson Young Scholars - Frequently Asked Questions



Young Scholars Application and Qualification Criteria

Eligibility and Application

Q. Who is eligible to apply?
Anyone may apply who:
  • Is between the ages of 5 and 16;
  • Meets or exceeds the minimum qualification criteria;
  • Is a U.S. Citizen residing in the United States or a Permanent Resident of the United States residing in the United States.
Q. How do I access the Young Scholars application?
A link to the Online Application System is available on the How to Apply page.

Q. Can you tell me a little more about the application process?
Applications are reviewed monthly. Complete applications received by the 1st of each month will be sent to review that month. Young Scholar applications are reviewed on an individual basis to determine if an applicant is qualified, if more information is needed, or if the Young Scholars Program is not a good fit at that time. In order for an applicant to qualify, all items submitted to demonstrate extreme precocity must meet or exceed the minimum qualification criteria. Decision notifications will be sent via email by the end of the same month in which the application is reviewed. Because of the large volume of applications we receive, please refrain from contacting the Davidson Institute unless you have reason to believe there is a problem with your application, or if you have technical difficulties using the Online Application System.

Q. Who can fill out the Nominator form?
A Nominator is someone outside of the family who did not administer testing. You may wish to consider teachers, instructors, mentors, coaches, or tutors as possible options. Once this person’s information is entered into the Online Application System and the application is submitted, an email is sent to the Nominator with a link to their form, which is required for an application to be complete.

Test and Score Guidelines

Q. The IQ and/or achievement tests I have for my child are not listed on the website. Can I submit them in place of an accepted test?
No. The Davidson Institute’s Qualification Criteria was developed by experts in the gifted field to provide us with a consistent and accurate gauge of a child’s cognitive abilities. IQ tests (such as the RIAS, CoGAT, WASI or SB-LM) and achievement tests (such as the MAP, SCAT, ITBS, STAR, and Stanford Achievement Test) will not be considered for qualification. However, these tests may be submitted in addition to those listed in our specific qualification criteria to further demonstrate precocity, but will not take the place of the required testing. There are no exceptions. Please note: Test reports must be uploaded in the Online Application System as PDF files.

Q. Can you review test reports for eligibility prior to the application process?
The Davidson Institute cannot determine eligibility and/or goodness of fit outside the context of a completed application.

Q. What constitutes a full report? What if I did not receive one with my child’s test scores?
Typically, the tester will include written notes on how the child presented on the day of testing; whether the child gave their best effort on the tests; and, if the testing is considered valid. If a full report is not available, please provide an explanation along with the scores submitted.

Q. I don’t have any of the tests listed on your website, where can I find them?
Your school or district may be able to administer the testing we require. You can also make an appointment with a private tester or testing center for individually administered achievement and intelligence testing. If you are looking for a tester in your area, you may wish to check out Hoagies’ Gifted Page, your state gifted association, or a national professional association such as the APA or National Register. For more information on assessment you also read “A Place To Start: Is My Child Gifted?

Q. What if my child does not meet the minimum qualification criteria?
As we strive to serve the extreme of the gifted population, the scores listed on our website are considered to be the minimum in terms of eligibility requirements. However, we recognize that testing is only a small snapshot of a whole child and we take the entire application into consideration when determining eligibility. If the tester feels there were extraneous circumstances preventing a child from meeting the minimum criteria, a letter from the tester included with the application to explain the test scores will be considered in the review process. Many very bright students may not meet our qualification criteria for this program, but are likely to benefit from the information and free resources that the Davidson Institute makes available to the public via our websites, including our searchable Davidson Gifted Database, the public Gifted Issues discussion forum, and several guidebooks.

Q. Are talent search/college placement tests evaluated based on the child’s age or grade?
The Qualification Criteria states that the ACT, SAT, and EXPLORE are evaluated based on grade. However, testing is always reviewed in the context of the entire application.

Q. Does the Davidson Institute have a reporting code for the SAT or ACT?
No. Official score reports are submitted by parents once they become available.

Portfolio of Work Samples

Q. What is the review committee looking for in a portfolio?
The committee is looking for a portfolio of work samples that will clearly demonstrate the applicant is at least two to three grade levels above age peers in academic areas including math, science, social studies, or writing. The Review Committee prefers handwritten examples (scanned and uploaded as PDF files) as they allow them to better gauge the student's level of ability and independence. However, you can submit typed assignments with teacher grades and comments. Each work sample should include the date and age of the applicant when it was completed as well as the context for when and how the work was created. You can also submit workbook pages that are two to three years advanced for the student’s age.

Q. My child does not produce a lot of work samples, what you would suggest?
You may wish to submit a video (submitted as a *.wmv file no larger than 75MB) of your child talking about an area of interest, demonstrating reading and advanced comprehension, or presenting a project. Work samples must consist of academic items listed above, not artwork. (video help page)

Q. Is a video of my child’s music performance and ability considered a portfolio item?
No. While videos of musicianship years beyond same-age peers displays talent, it does not demonstrate the academic qualifiers we look for in portfolio items when determining eligibility for the Young Scholars program. All fine arts submissions will be looked upon as supplemental to academic work, not taking the place of academic work samples.

Q. Can I submit awards/certificates or report cards to show my child’s accomplishments?
While awards/certificates and report cards can be evidence of advanced activities, they do not demonstrate a child’s advanced thinking and problem-solving skills. You will also need to submit at least four academic work samples to compose the portfolio.

Additional questions about the application process may be submitted to ysapplications@davidsongifted.org. Emails will be responded to within three to five business days.

Davidson Young Scholars Program Information

Q. What is the Davidson Young Scholars program?
This free program offers a set of services designed to nurture the intellectual development of profoundly intelligent young people.

Q. Does the individualized program focus primarily on academics?
Most profoundly intelligent children have unique intellectual needs that the program helps the family to identify and address. The Young Scholars program focuses on social and emotional needs as well.

Q. Is it necessary to have access to a computer, email and the Internet to participate in the program?
Yes. Not only do we communicate information about the program through email, list serves, and our private website, but working together online also offers parents and Young Scholars the opportunity to connect, share experiences and learn from each other. Financial assistance is available, on the basis of need, to provide Young Scholars and their families with the appropriate hardware, software and Internet connectivity required to participate.

Q. What is the duration of the Young Scholar’s enrollment in the program?
Davidson Young Scholars are eligible to receive services until age 18.

Q. What does it cost to participate in the Davidson Young Scholars?
There is no fee to apply to, or participate in, the Young Scholars program.

Enrollment, Custody & Communication

NOTE: The use of the term “legal custody” in the following Q&A information refers to parents/guardians who share legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, regardless of any “physical custody” arrangements that control where the child spends time. In general each parent has legal custody unless that is extinguished by a court order.

Q. After being accepted into the Young Scholars program, what are the next steps?
Once a student is accepted into the Young Scholars program, all persons with legal custody will be required to sign the enrollment document. The enrollment document outlines the Davidson Institute’s confidentiality policy, how we work with individual families, and the rules of our online communication channels. The enrollment document also covers other important matters such as legal releases. All persons with legal custody of the Young Scholar must read and sign the enrollment document. It is up to the Young Scholar parent (or guardian if applicable) who is the Davidson Institute’s primary contact to take steps to ensure that any other person with legal custody of the child reads and signs the enrollment document. The Davidson Institute reserves the right to refuse participation to any applicant if these enrollment requirements are not satisfied. Please contact our office if you need assistance with special circumstances.

Q. What else am I agreeing to by signing the enrollment document?
Please know that by participating in the Young Scholars program, families will be consenting to comply with Davidson Institute policies and procedures, and statutes, regulations and case law of the State of Nevada where the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is organized as a not-for-profit corporation and maintains its principal offices. The policies and procedures of the Davidson Institute are subject to reasonable revision without notice.

Q. How will the Davidson Institute communicate with me and with any other parent/guardian who has legal custody of the applicant?
Applicants for the Young Scholar program must provide contact information for any person who shares legal custody with the parent/guardian who serves as the Davidson Institute’s primary contact. As noted above, these persons must read and sign the Young Scholar enrollment document. Once enrolled, the Davidson Institute will copy any person who shares legal custody of a Young Scholar on all correspondence, emails and other written communication from the Davidson Institute. Further, Nevada state law (Nevada Revised Statute 125.520) requires that access to records and other information pertaining to a minor child must not be denied to a parent for the reason that such parent is not the child’s custodial parent.

If any parent/guardian with legal custody of the Young Scholar does not wish to receive correspondence, emails or other written communication from the Davidson Institute, that parent/guardian must provide the Davidson Institute with a signed letter (not an email) requesting to be excluded from copies of communications.

If a change in legal custody of a Young Scholar occurs after their enrollment paperwork has been received by the Davidson Institute, we will require legal documentation, satisfactory to us, proving that any applicable rights, for example, rights to access records or rights to make decisions on behalf of the child, have been extinguished before we will alter our communication or other interactions with parent(s)/guardian(s). It is up to the parent(s)/guardian(s) to let us know and provide the appropriate documentation concerning any extinguishment of rights.


Q. What if I am in the middle of a divorce, separation, or custody dispute and want to ask my Family Consultant to write something (for example, to a court) on my behalf?
The Davidson Institute has a policy that prohibits Family Consultants or other staff members from participating in divorce, separation and custody cases. Family Consultants may not provide written or verbal commentary on personal character or circumstances in support of any divorce or other legal proceedings.

Q. Will the Davidson Institute reveal the names of the participants with anyone outside the group?
We will not share the names, descriptive information, or photographs of the participants without written consent from the Young Scholar's parents. For more information, please read the Davidson Young Scholars Confidentiality Policy.

Q. What if my child is accepted as a Davidson Young Scholar and the program is not a good match?
Although the vast majority of individuals who access our services find them beneficial, these services are not a "good match" for every family. In these rare cases, the Davidson Institute retains the right to modify or terminate services. Families also may choose to withdraw from the program at any time.


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"My interactions with the Family Consultants, the resources they have recommended, the Summit, and parents of other Young Scholars via eLists and Bulletin Boards have been crucial to a life-changing education for my daughter. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the role the Davidson Institute has played in our lives."
- Davidson Young Scholar Parent


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