It may seem crazy to have a student under 13 take the SAT or ACT. Is it even possible? Why would you have your child take such a test and how do you go about signing up for these tests? In this post I’ll share what you would need to know about under 13 year old gifted cohorts taking college entrance exams.
Often times the achievement tests that students are given in school have age/grade ceilings which gifted children often hit. It’s hard to get an accurate picture of where the student is if they are coming in at 99% or higher on these tests. You need to move the ceiling to get a better idea of where they are academically. Above grade level test results can help give you a better snapshot of where they are academically and how to accommodate your child’s educational needs.
Once you have test results and understand your child’s academic level a little better, those results can help you determine the next steps in placement at school. Those scores are compared to junior and senior aged students. Often times PG kids need to be radically accelerated in one or more subjects. When approaching a high school or college to see if your child can enroll, having those test results are helpful because it’s a language the colleges can speak. They won’t know what to do with IQ testing results. That’s not meaningful data to them. ACT/SAT results can help get you in the door and will speak loudly for your child’s needs. If your child does well and you will be using the results to advocate for college placement at a radically accelerated age, the results will also be useful in applying for scholarships.
Taking these tests can also be helpful for gifted kids to provide experience of taking college entrance exams when the scores don’t stay on their permanent record and aren’t reported to colleges. For example, SAT scores of students 8th grade and under are automatically purged some months after the test unless you write The College Board to request to have them stay on their record. (The College Board says that the test results will be gone however you can pay an unarchival fee in the future if you need those test results.) When you remove the pressure that these scores don’t necessarily count for anything, it helps ease the testing anxiety in some children. The student will get to experience what the testing environment is like, how to fill in the testing sheet, and what it’s like to take a test with time constraints. Some students really enjoy taking the test while others may appreciate the low stress practice to help anxiety issues.
How to Sign Up for the ACT or SAT
Signing up for the ACT and SAT isn’t always the easiest to do for students under 13 years old. But there are ways around it. The easiest way to sign up for these tests is to do so using a talent search program. Programs like Northwestern’s NUMATS or Duke’s TIP have an easy way to sign up for testing on their websites. The results may also allow the student to take classes and summer camps through these programs. (I will list the talent search programs at the end of this post.) These classes can give an opportunity for students to meet other kids that may be both academically and socially similar to your child. Students with high test results may also be invited to award ceremonies which can be a fun place to meet other gifted children as well as receive an award/medal (travel would be required to attend the ceremonies). A draw back to signing up though a talent search program is the fee to test will be higher than signing up directly though ACT or The College Board.
Because of COPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), young students are not allowed to set up an online account with ACT or The College Board (SAT). This is very frustrating because this means you cannot sign up directly through them using the websites. Instead, you have to jump though some hoops to get registered.
ACT is a little easier than The College Board to work with however they recently changed the procedure. You used to be able to request a registration packet right from their website to be mailed to you. However, they are no longer printing paper registration packets. This information has not been updated on their website. It just says that “paper registration has closed for this year”. What you need to do is send an email to ACT (email@example.com) to request a digital version of the registration packet to be emailed to you. They will also email you a “customer care case number” that you MUST include on the top left of the registration form when you snail mail the registration forms back to ACT.
The College Board (SAT) is a little more difficult to work with so pour a cup of coffee and plan on some time on the phone when you call them. Not all their customer service reps are well versed in students under 13 signing up for the test. To sign up for the SAT under 13, you must call the customer service number at 866-756-7346. Tell the customer service agent that you would like to register a student under 13 for the test. (Some of their reps will say it’s not possible. Ask for someone else.) If they ask which testing date you are signing up for, tell them a date within 2 months. Some agents will refuse to send you a packet if the date you want is over 2 months away. But you need to plan a lot of time because it can take weeks for them to mail you the packet and then you have to send it back and wait for the approval of the testing date. You will get an email back saying that the student is signed up. But you will also get a slip in the mail which is the students testing ticket. YOU MUST HAVE THAT TICKET THE DAY OF THE TEST in order to take the test. The student will not be allowed to take the test without that ticket. Also note that students under 13 do not have to send a picture with the registration packet but they must have ID with them on the day of the test. If they don’t have a picture ID, you can have the child’s school fill out the picture wavier form found here: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/sat-student-id-form.pdf
Because the student will not have an online account, you will not receive the scores electronically. You will have to wait an extra week or so for the score report to be mailed to you after results are released. You are allowed to call The College Board to get the scores verbally on the day results are released. This is free because they are under 13 but some customer service agents will try to tell you there is a $10 fee. This is incorrect and ask to speak to a supervisor.
Side tangent: The College Board does have a way for students under 13 years old enrolled in AP classes or taking AP tests to sign up for a College Board account. They refuse to implement this for PSAT/SAT test takers to do the same. Many people in the gifted community have tried to advocate for our students about this issue to no avail. If your AP student does take the SAT, then those results will be in their online account. I am not a fan of The College Board to say the least. If anyone reading this in upper management at The College Board, feel free to reach out to me so we can help resolve this issue together. The College Board is underserving the gifted community which in turn is detrimental for the education of these students!
I hope you found this information useful in why and how to sign up for college prep tests for younger students. I will update this post when I find there has been any changes to any of the procedures. Below I will post information on a few of the different talent search programs you may find interesting, even if you just want to sign up for testing though them to make registration easier. Taking the tests though the talent search programs does not commit you to using any of their services.
Links and information taken from each respected website. Also note that testing results taken with one talent search program (or directly though ACT or The College Board) may also be submitted to other talent search programs. You also don’t have to apply for programs in just your regional area. You can sign up for these programs wherever you live in the United States and beyond.
Northwestern University Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS)
NUMATS is a research-validated program that utilizes above-grade-level assessment to help parents and educators better understand their students’ academic strengths and educational needs. NUMATS allows eligible students to take internationally recognized tests before the grade levels at which they are normally administered. The PSAT™8/9 test, designed for students in grades 8 and 9, is administered to students in grades 3 through 6. SAT® and ACT®, designed for students in grades 11 and 12, are administered to students in grades 6 through 9. NUMATS identifies academic ability, measures growth and connects gifted students to educational resources and opportunities for enrichment and acceleration.
Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP)
The Duke University Talent Identification Program is a nonprofit organization that supports academically talented students in grades four through twelve. We offer above-grade-level testing, enrichment resources, year-round learning options, residential summer programs, online courses, and original research to supplement what students receive in school.
Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY)
The world leader in gifted education since 1979, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth is a nonprofit dedicated to identifying and developing the talents of academically advanced pre-college students around the world. We serve bright learners and their families through our research, advocacy, and counseling, as well as our signature gifted and talented summer, online, international, and family programs.
Johns Hopkins Study of Exceptional Talent (SET)
The Julian C. Stanley Study of Exceptional Talent (SET) provides direct services free of charge to students who meet eligibility requirements. SET evolved from a concern that students whose reasoning abilities are exceptionally advanced for their age may need an educationally advanced program to be optimally challenged. In addition, they may lack a peer group that shares their interests and abilities. While all of CTY’s programs have been developed with these concerns in mind, students who score at the highest levels on tests of ability or achievement may be most at risk of failing to achieve their full potential if these issues are not addressed. Thus, SET focuses on working with students who achieve exceptional scores on the SAT through CTY’s Talent Search or through another venue.
Find a complete list of various other talent search programs on the Davidson Young Scholar website here: https://www.davidsongifted.org/search-database/entry/a10260