School for the Talented and Gifted Dallas Admissions. How To Get In!

The School for the Talented and Gifted at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center (commonly referred to as TAG or TAG Magnet) is a magnet secondary school that specializes in college preparatory classes and challenging curriculum. Located in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas, this public high school is part of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and serves grades 9-12. TAG is recognized for its challenging Advanced Placement Program as well as its intensive education style. It has been consistently voted the #1 public high school in the United States by Newsweek and the U.S. News & World Report, and its students are known for their high test scores and 100% graduation rate. Continue reading to learn more about the School for the Talented and Gifted Dallas admissions process, and see if TAG is the right fit for your child.

School for the Talented and Gifted Dallas | School Overview

TAG Magnet was established in 1982 with the intention that its curriculum would provide a comprehensive program for students in grades nine through twelve that were identified as gifted and talented. Originally located in West Dallas, TAG Magnet’s campus moved to the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center in the fall of 1995 when the DISD created a magnet center that would house multiple schools.

TAG Magnet admits students from all across the DISD and about 160 students make up the entire school population. These students are culturally diverse and have a broad range of experiences and backgrounds. Every student that attends TAG Magnet must complete the Distinguished Achievement Program in order to graduate along with the specific requirements that are unique to the magnet school itself. Some of the features that are special to TAG are TAG TREK, Interdisciplinary Seminars that incorporate multiple subjects and produce the best Advanced Placement program in the state of Texas, and TAG-IT, mini-courses that are provided during winter break.

The students at TAG Magnet are nationally known for their high standardized test scores and measurements, with, at times, 100 percent of them passing all of the reading, writing, and math tests on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS). The school consists of 16 faculty members who are professional educators with advanced degrees that are highly qualified in teaching AP curriculum as well as the gifted student.

Visit the official TAG Magnet website to learn more information about the school.

School for the Talented and Gifted Dallas: Admissions Information

In order to be eligible to apply to TAG Magnet, interested applicants must meet certain criteria including:


       Prospective students must have a GPA of at least 82 in English, math, science, and social studies from last year and the first half of the current school year

       STAAR test scores

       Grade 7 STAAR average ELA or math score of 1780 with no single score going below 1700

       Grade 8 STAAR average ELA or math score of 1780 with no single score going below 1700

Students who do not have a STAAR score must have an average of the 82nd percentile in ELA and math with no single score going below the 75th percentile in any of the following exams:


       Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)

       Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED)


       Terra Nova

       Stanford Achievement Test Series (SAT 10)

       California Achievement Tests (CAT)

       Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)

       Metropolitan Achievement Tests (MAT)

       Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP)

       Educational Records Bureau (ERB)

       Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement

If the student meets these pieces of criteria, they are qualified to apply to TAG Magnet to be considered for acceptance. Any qualified student can apply to TAG, regardless of where they live, however, students who reside within the DISD boundaries will receive priority status during the application process. Once all in-district applicants have been awarded seats, then the remaining seats will be awarded to the out-of-district applicants. Qualified applicants that are not initially selected due to limited space will be placed on a waiting list.

Applications will be accepted from January 10, 2017 to January 31, 2017. The application itself consists of five different steps.

1.     Read the article that is provided by TAG. The article can be obtained at the official TAG website, in the TAG office, or at a recruiting and information session. Next, design and carry out one of the projects from the given list. The goal of this project is to showcase an applicant’s creativity and it should not take more than two to four hours in total.

a.      Fine Arts: Applicants may respond to the article through a form of visual art (drawing, sculpture, etc) or through a performance (dance, drama, etc) that is under five minutes long

b.      Language Arts: Applicants may write a piece of fiction that is inspired by the article, or a piece of nonfiction that analyzes an issue related to the article

c.       Leadership: Applicants may create a proposal to raise awareness about an issue related to the article, or may take a stand to argue against an issue

d.      Science/Math: Applicants may build a model that demonstrates how technology or math relate to the issue, or may design an experiment to test a hypothesis based on the article

2.     Fill out the Magnet application form, which can be found online at and beginning on December 5, 2017.

3.     Submit the following to the TAG office before Tuesday, January 31, 2016 at 5:00pm:

a.     Official transcripts showing grades from 7th and 8th grades

b.     Completed project; if the project won't fit into a Manila folder, take pictures of it or record it and put it on a flash drive

c.      Project explanation form

d.     Proof of residency

4.     After the application and project are turned in, the applicant needs to sign up for an application session.

5.     The last step in the application process is for the applicant to attend the application session.

What to Expect During the Application Session

Application sessions are the final step in applying for a coveted seat to TAG Magnet. The application session is comprised of four different components: an essay, a reasoning and math activity, an interview, and reading comprehension.


Applicants will have up to one and a half hours to write an essay based on one of three prompts that they can choose. The essay is to be handwritten and is completed on-site. They will not be able to refer to a dictionary or a thesaurus.

Example Prompts:

       What invention would the world be better off without, and why?

      If you had the power to change three things in your community or in the world, what would you change and why?

 Using a piece of wire, a car window sticker, an egg carton and any inexpensive hardware store item, create something that would solve a problem. Tell us about your creation. Don’t worry, we won't require proof that it works.

Reasoning and Math Activity

The reasoning and math portion will be a timed activity in which applicants have 30 minutes to complete. The student will further discuss the reasoning portion of the activity during her interview. The reasoning and math activity consists of:

       Logical reasoning and problem solving

       7th and 8th grade pre-algebra problems

       Basic Algebra I concepts


Applicants will participate in a 15 minute interview that is conducted by a panel of TAG faculty. The faculty is carefully selected and trained in norming procedures as well as the scoring process for interview questions so students can be assured the scoring is standardized. This personal interview is made up of two portions:

       The first component is a 10 minute segment based on seven questions

     The second part of the interview is a five minute portion in which applicants address questions based on the reasoning and logic activity they completed during the math stage

Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension portion of the application session is based on the article that applicants were required to read beforehand. The comprehension activity contains 15 questions and will be 20 minutes.


Applicants can earn a maximum of 100 on the various application components combined, requiring a minimum of 82 to qualify for admittance to TAG. The possible points for each portion of the application session may be allocated as follows:

Application Component: Points Possible

Application Component

Points Possible

GPA (7th
and 8th Grade)


Creative Component


Critical Reading Component






and Math Activity





Although the topic of the essay is not revealed, your child can practice it by going over the sample prompts and answering them. Because they will not have access to dictionaries or a thesaurus, it is vital they practice their spelling as well as their use of adjectives and creative words in their writing.

Reasoning and Math Activity

Again, even though the exact questions that will be posed are not revealed beforehand, your child may prepare for this portion by reviewing math topics from 7th and 8th grade and ensuring they understand each component. Reading through their notes from previous years is a great way to review many topics in an efficient manner, and practicing sample problems from areas they need more review on will be extremely beneficial.


The interview consists of questions provided by the committee as well as questions based on their math activity. To prepare for this part of the application session, help your child by asking them common interview questions and timing their answers. Assist them in making their answers concise and succinct while still answering the question. Also make sure your student can explain their thinking when they practice math problems, as well as the reasoning behind why they performed the problem in a specific way.

Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension portion of the session will be based on the article that was provided during the application process. The best way to prepare for this quiz is to have your child thoroughly read and review the article. You may also provide questions for them with varying levels of depth and complexity.

Obtaining a seat in the Talented and Gifted Magnet school in Dallas is a challenging process that is meant to test an applicant’s determination and creativity. TAG Magnet is a highly-competitive school that enriches the education and minds of some of the brightest students in America. By completing the application process and proving drive and ambition, graduating from the #1 public high school in the United States can be more than just a dream. 

How Can We Help?

At Origins Tutoring, we believe that preparation for the School for the Talented and Gifted Dallas 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 TAG's admissions 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 assessments used to determine admission for the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas.