Expert Guide to John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth

Founded in 1979 by Julian Stanley, the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) is an extension of John Hopkins University. It was initially established to determine the rates at which gifted children can learn and is one of the first US programs to provide those children with a specific set of opportunities.

Each year, the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (JHU CTY) serves the needs of approximately 10,000 gifted students between the ages of six and seventeen

The CTY offers a wide variety of programs worldwide, but it is best known for its highly-prestigious summer programs.

Only students who qualify are eligible for CTY programs. Read on to learn more about the specific tests and admissions process that qualify your child for these unique opportunities and enable them to join the ranks of CTY’s alumni, including famous alums Lady Gaga and Mark Zuckerberg!

## Overview of John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth

The John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (JHU CTY) is fully-accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and is authorized to teach children ranging in age from kindergarten to high school senior.

Academically-advanced and gifted students apply to these programs to have access to course work that challenges and inspires them and can also enable them to gain credit for classes at their school.

So what kind of programs are available at the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth? Firstly, qualified students can participate in the CTY’s ‘Summer Programs’, which include sub-programs for elementary, and middle/high schoolers (7-12th grade).

Younger students take part in day or weekend events and classes, whereas older students are offered 3-week residential programs at colleges across the US.

CTYOnline, which includes courses on a wide variety of math, science, writing and humanities, is also a popular program for gifted kids who qualify

You can find out more about both the summer program and the CTYonline program below.

Two CTY programs are further 'gated'. These include the Family Academic Program and the Award Ceremonies. Both of these programs require your child to enter the 'talent search' to be considered for them.

First, I’ll go through the application process for the Talent Search Program, then I’ll provide a brief summary of the two programs that you can qualify for as a result of going through this process. Then, I’ll take a look at a few of the main other programs available to students in CTY, and provide an overview of the qualification process for these programs.

## CTY Talent Search Admissions and Application Information

### Step One: Qualify for the Talent Search

From October to February of each year, CTY begins its 'talent search' for elementary and middle school students. These students must have proven themselves to be of exceptional academic and intellectual ability. There are 3 main ways that students can show this:

Scored at, or above, the 95th percentile on that year’s standardized tests, including US state tests such as the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) or the New York State Standards Tests. Receiving "advanced proficiency, distinguished, honors, or gifted" designation on a nationally normed test of intelligence such as:

  • [Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)],
  • [Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT)],
  • [Stanford Achievement Test],
  • [Terra Nova],
  • [Inview],
  • [Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE)],
  • [Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement],
  • [Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS)],
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
  • Woodcock-Johnson Tests Of Cognitive Abilities.

    A third way to gain entry into the talent search is to show "superior academic performance". This is a rather nebulous term, but this process offers opportunities to students who go to private schools where nationally normed test scores are not made available to families.

    The qualifying assessment for 'superior academic performance' is provided by CTY Talent Search so get in touch with CTY to learn more.

    ### Step 2: Take a CTY Admissions Test

    Students who qualify in the first step of the application process will then be given an admissions test above their grade level to assess their readiness for the CTY summer or online programs.

    Students below 3rd grade typically take the elementary-level of the School and College Ability Test.

    Those between 4th and 5th grade will be given the intermediate version of the SCAT.

    If a child is between 6th and 11th grade, they will be tested using the advanced SCAT, ACT, or SAT.

    See below for more information on each of these tests.

    The courses your child can take will be dependent on his or her scores on the aforementioned tests.

    Students who scored well in mathematical reasoning, for example, will be given access to advanced classes in math, engineering, science, and computer science.

    ## CTY Talent Search: Nuts and Bolts of Admissions

  • Apply online at the CTY website (or submit an application by mail) for the talent search (first check to see if your child qualifies -- see step one above)
  • Take the qualifying CTY admissions test (see more in-depth information on the different kinds of tests your child can take below)
  • Obtain score report and send to CTY if your child took the SAT, PSAT 8/9 and ACT testers. (All SCAT and STB scores are sent directly to CTY).
  • CTY will inform you about the programs for which your child qualifies based on his or her performance on the CTY admissions test.

    ### Timeline

    Students who want to get into CTY for the following school year need to apply before July 1, as CTY academic year runs from July 1-June 30. Also, take the test before July 1 if you want your score to be assessed at the grade level you are in when you are applying (rather than the grade you will be in during the next school year).

    ## Summary of CTY Programs

    ### Family Academic Program (Talent Search Entry Required!)

    The Family Academic Program was created for not only students but also their parents/guardians. These programs vary in length (some can be day or overnight events, others last a weekend or entire week) and offer some amazing learning opportunities and educational trips.

    The program is segmented into three age groups: Grades 2-4, Grades 5-7, and Grades 7-12.

    Students in the first two age groups can take part in classes and trips that conjure up exotic and curious adventures with names such as ‘Volcano Campout”, “Spy Games” and “Green Cuisine”.

    Students in grades 7-12 are offered trips and programs that help them explore their interests and potential career paths. Two recently-offered programs are described on the CTY website as “a remarkable field science experience on Channel Islands National Park, known as the “Galapagos Islands of North America” and “a time-travel adventure with one of the oldest historical societies in the United States.”

    There are also international adventures to countries such as Thailand and Italy for the intrepid family who wants to learn together (and can also afford the hefty price tags for these educational odysseys!)

    ### Award Ceremonies (Talent Search Entry Required!)

    Students in 2nd through 8th grade who score very well on the qualifying exams in the 'talent search' are rewarded by invitation to a regional award ceremony at specific locations around the US.

    In 2016, 30,000 plus students from scores of countries took part in the participated in the talent search. About 30 percent of entrants were invited to an awards ceremony.

    The Grand Ceremony takes places at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and recognizes and celebrates the very best seventh and eighth grade performers from the regional ceremonies.

    ## Note on Talent Search Admissions vs ‘Regular’ Admissions

    Again, please keep in mind that students need to qualify for and enter the 'talent search' to gain a spot in the family academic program, or take part in the Award Ceremonies. However they do not have to 'win' a seat by scoring high on one of the CTY admissions tests. This is because the program does not require a minimum score on the CTY admissions test for entry (unlike the summer courses, where entry is dependent on scores).

    Another important caveat is that, although the following CTY programs (Summer Program and CTYOnline) are available to all students who qualify, the students who have entered the talent search (plus returning students) are given priority, so it makes sense to enter your child into the talent search so if popular courses fill up, your child (if her score qualifies for the course) will have a better chance of a spot.

    ## What programs are available at JHU Center for Talented Youth outside of the Talent Search Process?

    ### JHU Center for Talented Youth Summer Programs

    The Center for Talented Youth summer programs can be found at seven different campuses across the United States, including at Johns Hopkins, University Dickinson College, Franklin and Marshall College, University of Seattle, Loyola Marymount University, Skidmore College, and Princeton University.

    These programs include the residential 3-week Academic Explorations, where students (seventh grade and above) dive into high-school and college-level enrichment courses in disciplines and topics that are not usually offered in the regular school curriculum.

    For example (just to whet your appetite) students can enjoy in-depth study of (listed according to subject):

  • Science: The Physics of Sports, Whales and Estuary Systems,
  • Math: Paradoxes and Infinities, Game Theory and Economics,
  • Writing: Whodunit? Mystery and Suspense in Literature and Film, The Graphic Novel
  • Humanities: Great Cases: American Legal History, Bioethics

    The Intensive Study courses are like Academic Explorations courses on steroids. Students in seventh grade through grade twelve are exposed, during a three-week residential course, to college-level teaching on subjects not usually on the high school curriculum (hello, Astrophysics), or study intensively a year's worth of high school material on a topic in which they are very interested and/or in which they already excel (such as Chemistry or Biology).

    Students in Grades 9-12 can also participate in the Civic Leader Institute, which offers education in leadership and community change, and ends with students creating a change-making plan on a specific topic of interest.

    All these residential programs (plus a couple more not mentioned here) place an emphasis on social interaction and team-building that goes above and beyond that seen at other gifted and talented programs. On weekends, which are free of exams, each program hosts a variety of site-wide, team-building activities.

    Another nice touch is that traditional grading is replaced by one-page long, highly-personalized, letters of evaluation.

    The Center for Talented Youth summer program is a highly coveted program as it provides such great opportunities for gifted youth to immerse themselves in unusual and inspiring learning experiences. Another great benefit is that the programs are not localized to one city, one state, or even one country (summer programs are also offered in Hong Kong).

    ### JHU Center for Talented Youth Online Programs

    CTY also offer many programs online.

    Therefore, no matter where a student lives, the CTY is never that far away.

    These courses are offered to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

    Students enroll in these courses for a variety of reasons, including intense interest in the subject matter, to supplement regular coursework at school, or even to prepare for standardized tests that a student will face in future years, like AP exams.

    The John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth cites its amazing instructors, who inspire students with their teaching ability and knowledge as well as take the time to give a lot of personalized feedback to students, as a key reason why parents and students choose to take CTY online courses.

    Courses can be taken for credit, but each student needs to arrange this with his or her school.

    ## Admissions to the CTY Summer Program and CTY Online

    Since the summer and online programs cater to a wide range of ages, the admissions exams also vary with age group.

    Students in Pre-K through first grade can qualify for the CTY online program by taking an intelligence test, usually the KeyMath-3. This test is given to the child by a psychologist and is administered in a one-to-one setting.

    Other tests that can be submitted (but not limited to) include the:

  • WISC,
  • WPPSI,
  • Stanford-Binet,
  • Cognitive Abilities Test.
  • Parents can arrange to have their child tested privately or get help from CTY’s Diagnostic and Counseling Center to do so.

    CTY recommends that students in 2nd through 8th grade who want to join CTY online and summer programs test through the Talent Search, otherwise they will have to go through a separate process that only provides for ‘provisional’ admission until test scores are submitted and evaluated.

    No matter which way the student applies to the summer programs, a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade student will need to attain a qualifying score on the School and College Ability Test, or SCAT.

    A 5th or 6th grade student must attain a qualifying score on the SCAT, PSAT 8/9, or Spatial Test Battery, or the STB. Tests given to students will be above grade-level.

    Students in 7th grade and above will have to attain a qualifying score on the SAT, ACT, Advanced SCAT, and/or STB.

    Older kids (students in 9th through 12th grade, who have aged out of talent search eligibility) will need to arrange to take appropriate tests themselves (or with help from CTY’s Diagnostic and Counseling Center) and provide their scores by the relevant deadline. Test Scores from the S SAT, ACT, Advanced SCAT, and/or Spatial Test Battery (STB) are needed for summer programs.

    Please note that a wider range of tests is accepted for CTY online programs. Check out the online program segment of the CTY website for more details.

    ## Guide to John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Admission Tests

    Now, I’ll talk a bit more about the admission tests required to enter the JHU CTY. As noted, the CTY accepts the results from a wide range of exams in its admissions process. Some tests are more appropriate for younger vs older students, and some assess specific talents rather than general math and verbal reasoning skills. Review some of the options below and choose the best test for your kid, given age and ability.

  • SCAT: Also known as the School and College Ability Test, this is the test most commonly taken for admission to JHU CTY. All students who qualify in the first round for CTY are eligible to take this test. It’s divided into a verbal and quantitative section; each section contains 55 questions. If this is the test you and your child choose to take, make certain you’re prepared for a challenging, versatile, above grade-level exam.
  • PSAT: Also known as the NMSQT, the PSAT is a test taken by approximately 3.5 million students each year. It takes approximately two hours to complete and tests high-leveled skills in both reading and mathematics. High school juniors and seniors are eligible to take this exam.
  • SAT : Once known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT is published each year by the College Board. Most colleges and universities in the United States require this exam, or the ACT, as part of the admissions package. In 2016, the College Board introduced a brand-new version of the SAT. Regardless of the version of the test, it is designed to analyze problem solving and reading abilities.
  • ACT: A curriculum-based test taken by high school students to assess college readiness, this test takes about 3 and a half hours to complete. Composite scores will end up being between 1 and 36. Tested subject areas include English, writing, science, mathematics, and reading.
  • John Hopkins Center Talented Youth Test: The Spatial Test Battery (STB) assesses a child’s cognitive abilities as they relate to spatial reasoning. Taking this test, and doing well, allows your child to take part in CTY’s programs in both math and science.
  • ## Where Should My Child Take The Test?

    High schools administer the SAT and ACT tests, and middle schools give the PSAT 8/9 tests. Prometric test centers administer SCAT and STB computer-based tests.

    ### CTY Tuition

    All of the programs require tuition. The only free program is the award ceremonies. But bear in mind that invitees will still have to pay for travel and accommodation if the ceremony location is far from home.

    In terms of the other programs, a quick review of costs at John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth website showed prices for the academic family program ranging from approximately $100 for day events up to $7000 for trips abroad.

    Tuition for each 3-week summer residential program is approximately $4500, and includes room and meals. There is an option to be a ‘commuter’ student, but the program does not encourage it, and the cost is only about $600 less than a student who stays on campus.

    The cost of courses in the CTY online program vary according to subject and course length and pacing. In 2017, the average cost of a session-paced class (which run for a semester) is about $600-800, but some classes, including AP classes, cost more -- up to $1795 for AP Chinese Language and Culture. Students have options to also choose flexi-paced or individual-paced classes, and prices vary according to the ‘pace’ you select.

    Apart from tuition, families will also have to budget for various application and registration fees that relate to the various programs.

    ### CTY Financial Aid

    CTY gave away nearly $ 6 million in financial aid to about 1,500 CTY students in a recent year, so if your child needs assistance to cover the cost of any of the programs offered, help is available. However, keep in mind that most of the families who received aid had an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $50,000.

    There are other options that can provide financial support to your family, but the criteria for eligibility is strict.

    For instance, if your child qualifies for CTY Scholars, scholarships are available. However, students must meet a number of requirements to join CTY Scholars and apply for aid, including that the student must be from ‘“a traditionally underrepresented student group in higher education,” must attend an 8th grade public or charter school, have a family adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less, and live in a specific geographic area.

    Parents can also apply to individuals and foundations who have pledged support to CTY. Financial packages and eligibility criteria varies according to the donor source.

    Students who can show that they receive federal free or reduced-price lunch program will be receive aid for fees and participation in the Talent Search programs.

    ## How Can We Help?

    At Origins Tutoring, we believe that preparation for CTY admissions assessments does not have to be daunting and exasperating; instead, it can represent an important opportunity along a student’s path to learning mastery. Indeed, the perspectives and abilities acquired during preparation can last a lifetime.

    Our two-track approach to mastering content and improving test-taking skills means that students will not only thoroughly understand the fundamental concepts and skills tested by the CTY assessments, but they will also excel in using essential techniques to improve attitude, endurance and focus.

    Our students hone their independent thinking skills while developing a resilient mindset so they can perform on test day in a powerful, resourceful, creative and calm manner. Each student in our program receives the undivided attention and expertise of a dynamic and experienced coach who provides the framework to support each student on his unique path to becoming a master learner.

    Please contact us now for a complimentary consultation to discuss how we can help your child achieve his or her personal best on the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth exams.

    ## What's Next? If you plan on getting a good score on the admission assessments for John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, we recommend to start with reviewing our expert tips to SCAT practice.

    To find out more about the SAT, check out our article on everything you need to know about the SAT.