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Frequently Asked Questions about Young Scholars


What is the Young Scholars program?

This free program offers a range of family services designed to nurture the intellectual, social, emotional, and academic development of profoundly intelligent young people between the ages of 5 and 18 (students must be between the ages of 5 and 16 when applying). Families choose their level of involvement in each of the services provided, including support sessions with our team, an online member community, webinars facilitated by experts, summer events, and more. A family’s participation may ebb and flow over time as their needs change, but we are here for you throughout your gifted parenting journey. 

How do we join the program?

Prospective Young Scholars apply to participate in the Young Scholars program. Applications include intelligence or achievement testing, a nomination from someone outside the family, and a parent questionnaire. Applications are accepted throughout the year during our application cycles. For more information, please see our Admissions page.

Is support focused primarily on academics?

Not necessarily. Due to their intellectual ability, profoundly gifted students often have an extreme need for constant mental stimulation and the ability to learn and process complex information rapidly. Therefore, these students and their parents frequently need guidance in finding a supportive academic environment and like-minded peers. The Young Scholars program focuses on the whole child, however, so families can also access support based on their needs in other areas such as social and emotional development.

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 correspondence 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. Need-based financial assistance is available to provide Young Scholars and their families with the appropriate hardware, software and Internet connectivity required to participate.

What is the duration of the Young Scholar’s enrollment in the program?

Davidson Young Scholars are eligible to receive services until the age of 18. Once a Young Scholar turns 18 years old, the young person becomes part of our Alumni program, which offers opportunities for giving back to the Young Scholar community, as well as forums for Alumni and families to continue communication.

What does it cost to participate in the Davidson Young Scholars program?

There is no fee to apply to, or participate in, the Young Scholars program.


The intelligence and/or achievement tests I have for my child are not listed here. Can I submit them in place of an accepted test?

No. The Davidson Institute’s Qualification Criteria was developed in coordination with testing professionals to best identify young people on the extreme end of the gifted continuum who are likely to benefit from the services we offer. Intelligence tests (such as the RIAS, CoGAT, WASI or SB-LM) and achievement tests (such as the MAP, SCAT, STAR, and Stanford Achievement Test) cannot take the place of the tests listed under the Qualification Criteria. There are no exceptions. Additional tests may be submitted as PDFs in the Supplemental Information section of the Young Scholar application to further demonstrate precocity. However, these tests do not replace a portfolio; portfolio requirements are outlined on the Portfolio Requirements page.

Can you review test reports for eligibility prior to the application process?

The Davidson Institute is unable to determine whether or not an applicant will qualify for the Young Scholars program until a complete application has been submitted. If you believe your child may qualify for the Young Scholars program and want a decision regarding their eligibility, it is best to submit an application. After reviewing the application, the committee will decide if the applicant qualifies, does not qualify with the information provided, or if additional information is needed to make a final decision. Please see the Supplemental Information page if you would like to include additional information that you believe may assist the review committee in making a decision.

What constitutes a full report for individually-administered intelligence and achievement tests? What if I did not receive one with my child’s test scores?

Typically, the tester will include a written summary of 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. Additionally, we often find that a full report offers valuable additional insights. For example, a full report may discuss child’s learning profile in depth or provide relevant background on a child’s academic or developmental history. A full report can also be a useful advocacy tool for families as some reports include suggestions for educational accommodations or diagnoses that affect a child’s classroom experience.

If a full report is not available, please contact the Application Coordinator at

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, a national gifted association such as SENG or 2e Newsletter, or a professional association such as the APA or National Register.

For families seeking a complete assessment that is also cost-effective, some universities with counseling or testing centers offer testing on a sliding or reduced scale for graduate students to gain experience while under close supervision by a licensed psychologist faculty member. You can look at the websites of local colleges or contact them directly to ask about these services.

For more information on assessment you may also read Is My Child Gifted?

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 eligibility requirements. However, we recognize that testing is only a snapshot of a whole child and we take the entire application into consideration when determining eligibility. If the tester feels there were extenuating circumstances preventing a child from meeting the minimum criteria, a letter from the tester can be included with the application in the Portfolio Requirements section. You may also submit a portfolio as part of the Supplemental Information section.

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.

Why do I need to submit work samples if I am submitting PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores?

Currently, we require a minimum score of 145 on various index or subtest scores on intelligence tests. We set this minimum with the understanding that 145 represents a score that is three standard deviations above the mean or average intelligence score. This score identifies the top 0.13% of the population in terms of intelligence—the profoundly gifted members of our community.

The College Board (PSAT and SAT) and ACT serve a broader demographic, and thus, their scoring is not as nuanced as the other forms of testing we accept. Therefore, to have a better understanding of a child’s intelligence and abilities, we require at least three work samples submitted along with PSAT, SAT, ACT, or ITBS scores.

Why do the testing requirements of the Young Scholar Program differ from those of the Davidson Academy and Davidson Academy Online?

As related organizations, we each have separate applications and application cycles. As a result, we do annual updates of our criteria and applications on different timelines. Any changes to the Davidson Academy or Davidson Academy Online criteria or application will be updated on their websites for their 2023-2024 application cycle. Please see their respective websites for more information.

How does Davidson Institute determine their criteria?

The Davidson Institute is dedicated to serving and supporting the families of young people whose IQ score is at least three standard deviations above the mean IQ score of 100. Given that research in fields related to giftedness, neurodiversity, and intelligence testing are ever-evolving, we know that the terms or labels associated with giftedness are not necessarily universally agreed upon and are subject to change as these fields advance. As an organization, we continue to work to be as inclusive as possible, recognizing that every child is more than a test score and that giftedness can take myriad forms, which are often asynchronous in their development.  

We review our eligibility and testing requirements regularly. In determining program eligibility requirements, the Applications Team works closely with leading neuropsychologists in the gifted field to set testing requirements that will help us to best identify the gifted young people who would benefit from our program. Our eligibility requirements are also set with the goals of our program and the services we are able to offer in mind. 


When is the application to the Young Scholars program due?

Applications are reviewed year-round during several specific application periods.   

Upcoming Application Due Dates are: 

  • January 5, 2024 – Last deadline to qualify to apply to STARS 2024. 
  • February 23, 2024 – Last deadline to qualify to apply for REACH 2024 and to register for Summit 2024. 
  • April 26, 2024
  • July 26, 2024
  • September 13, 2024
  • November 1, 2024 

What is the fee to apply to the Young Scholars program?

There is no fee to apply to, or participate in, the Young Scholars program.

How will I know when the application I submitted is complete and will be sent to review?

The parent selected as primary contact on the Parent/Guardian page of the application will receive automatic emails from the application system throughout the application process, including an email once the entire application and forms are confirmed to be complete. At this point, the application will go to review.

Can I submit more than one Recommender Form?

Unfortunately, our application system only allows for ONE Recommender Form to be submit per application. However, you can include a letter(s) of recommendation as part of the applicant’s portfolio as discussed on the Portfolio Requirements page.

Will I be receiving any email notifications after I apply through the Application System?

Yes, you will be receiving email notifications and prompts from our email server. If you do not receive these emails after applying, your mail server may be identifying some of our email as spam. If these emails are in your spam folder, enable your anti-spam and parental control software to accept email from by adding it to your list of safe senders.

When should I receive an email letting me know if my child has been accepted?

Decision notifications will be sent via email to the primary contact listed in the application within six weeks of a confirmed completion. All applicants will receive an email stating whether the applicant is accepted, not eligible, or if more information is needed. Please do not contact staff to check on an applicant’s status during the review month as this delays the process for all applicants. If you have not received a decision notification within six weeks of when you received the confirmation of completion email, please first check your junk/spam folder. If you do not see an email, please contact

What am I agreeing to if accepted to the Young Scholars program?

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.

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 of the applicant. Once accepted, any person who shares legal custody of a Young Scholar will have access to the services provided through the Davidson Institute. If a change in legal custody of a Young Scholar occurs after their enrollment materials have been processed 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.

Will the Davidson Institute reveal the names of 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.

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.

Portfolio Requirements

Do I need to submit a portfolio with my child’s application?

The following testing situations require the submission of a portfolio. If you are submitting one of the following types of testing reports, you must also submit a minimum of three (3) work samples as described in our Portfolio Requirements. If you submit one of the following types of testing and do not also submit three (3) work samples, your application will be considered incomplete and won’t be reviewed until it is complete.

  • You are submitting PSAT, SAT, ACT, or ITBS scores.
  • You are submitting a testing report of any kind that is more than four years old, which may include an earlier version of a test we currently accept (ex. a WISC-IV that was administered 5 years ago)

Additionally, while supplemental information will not override scores that fall significantly below the Eligibility and Testing Requirements, submitting a portfolio can enhance the review committee’s understanding of the applicant’s abilities. Please see Portfolio Requirements for more information on what kind of content to include in your child’s portfolio.

If I include a portfolio, what is required?

Each portfolio submission must have the following:

  • The age and grade level of the applicant at the time the work was completed;
  • Description of the submission. In the description, please include whether or not the work was reviewed by anyone (i.e., whether the work was a first draft, a final copy that was edited based on the comments of a teacher, a work-in-progress that had received help from a parent, etc.. If a specific curriculum or workbook used, please include the title and grade level.

These items are collected in the application.

Please see Portfolio Requirements for more information on what kind of content to include in your child’s portfolio.

How will portfolio items be reviewed?

The review committee assesses work samples based on whether the samples

  • Demonstrate academic abilities in areas such as math, writing, reading, science or social studies;
  • Demonstrate the applicant’s ability to work at least two or more grade levels above age peers; and
  • Demonstrate an innate curiosity to explore subjects in surprising depth or the ability to learn and process complex information rapidly.

My child does not have a lot of current written work samples. What do you suggest?

Portfolio work samples may include videos demonstrating the applicant’s academic abilities. Videos should consist of the applicant discussing an area of interest, demonstrating advanced comprehension of academic material (science, mathematics, literature, etc.) or presenting a project that is at least two or more grade levels above age peers.

Can I submit awards, alternative testing, certificates or report cards to show my child’s accomplishments?

The purpose of the supplemental information section of the application is to provide the review committee with concrete examples of the applicant’s advanced thinking and problem-solving skills. Awards, alternative testing, certificates and report cards do not always clearly demonstrate the context within which applicant’s skills and abilities were being assessed. For this reason, applicants can submit no more than two awards, alternative testing, certificates and report cards. If you are submitting these items, we highly encourage you to also submit works samples in your portfolio.

Please see Portfolio Requirements for more information on what kind of content to include in your child’s portfolio.

Can I submit more than one Recommender Form?

Unfortunately, our application system only allows for ONE Recommender Form to be submit per application. However, you can also include one letter of recommendation as part of the applicant’s portfolio.

Please see Portfolio Requirements for more information on what kind of content to include in your child’s portfolio.

Are photographs helpful to submit as Supplemental Information?

Photographs of students participating in activities often aren’t helpful as this type of photograph often does not give enough information for the committee to adequately assess them. For example, a photograph of a student completing a science experiment does not show the student’s preparation or execution; it only captures a moment in time. Photographs are considered relevant is when the photograph is part of a larger project. For example, if photographs are part of a student’s lab report (perhaps part of the process or result sections), that is acceptable to include in the portfolio.

What type of skills or abilities should be included in videos?

A student performing a music piece, dancing, performance a theatrical piece or demonstrating other artistic skills are not generally reviewed. This is because the review committee does not have the background adequate to judge the merit of these performances. However, you can submit videos in which an artistic discipline is discussed. For example, a student’s dance performance wouldn’t be considered. However, a student’s presentation on the evolution of a particular style or type of movement that happens to include movement to demonstrate points made in the presentation would be considered.

Additional Questions

Do you have a question that isn’t answered here?

Please come to our next live Application Q&A if you have questions about what the Young Scholars Program is or how we can support your student.

Questions? Please contact