Does your seventh grader need SAT or ACT prep for Duke TIP? Contact your local C2 center today!

Duke University is home to the top-ranked Blue Devils basketball team, a collection of outstanding undergraduate and graduate colleges, and the nation’s most well-known gifted and talented program for young students. In this post, we’ll explore Duke TIP and its 7th grade talent search.

Duke TIP Overview

Duke’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) is divided into two waves of talent searches: one for fourth through sixth grade students and one for seventh grade students.

Students in grades four through six may qualify for the 4th – 6th Grade Talent Search with high scores on an accepted standardized test. Once enrolled, these students gain access to a range of enrichment activities, guidance, testing opportunities, and educational programs.

The 7th Grade Talent Search is far better known, more competitive, and offers access to benefits that last well into high school. This is the program that we’ll focus on today.

Why Enroll in the 7th Grade Talent Search?

Enrolling in the 7th Grade Talent Search offers benefits throughout high school.

  • SAT/ACT testing: Above-grade-level testing provides many academic benefits, and the focus on SAT/ACT testing helps students get ahead of the curve in preparing to take the test when it’s time to apply to college.
  • Awards and ceremonies: The opportunities for recognition provide motivation that fosters a love of learning.
  • Access to publications and resources: Things like competition and scholarship listings, college planning advice, and discounts to independent learning products help students make the most of their time outside of school.
  • Educational programs: Here’s the big one that most people know about—Summer Studies. Students live and learn on campus, taking a three-week-long course that covers as much as a semester-long college course.

How to Enroll in the 7th Grade Talent Search

Convinced that Duke TIP is for you? Time to enroll!

The first step is qualifying for the program. Students must meet one of these requirements:

  • Score at or above the 95th percentile on an accepted grade-level national standardized test or state assessment
  • Score 125 or above on an accepted IQ test

Students can use scores from any time in the past two years. Most students use scores from the fifth or sixth grade. Look up accepted tests here.

Students who participated in the 4th – 6th Grade Talent Search and took the optional PSAT 8/9 are automatically qualified to participate, but they still need to formally enroll.

Once you enroll, you must register for the ACT or SAT. These scores are used as diagnostic tools to determine eligibility for certain courses. Your ACT or SAT score doesn’t so much determine whether you become part of the 7th Grade Talent Search as what perks and courses you gain access to. The program with the lowest score requirements is the eStudies program, followed by the Academy for Summer Studies, and then the Center for Summer Studies, which has the highest score requirements.

Pay close attention to enrollment deadlines. To attend summer programs, Duke TIP recommends that students finalize their SAT or ACT scores no later than February.

What summer programs are available? How do I qualify?

Those who enroll in the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent search and meet SAT or ACT score requirements are eligible to enroll in one of three Duke TIP summer programs:

Program eStudies



7-week program that offers rigorous online courses with small class-sizes

Academy for Summer Studies


Students live and study on a college campus while taking a 3-week-long course; academy courses are slightly less rigorous than center courses

Center for Summer Studies


Students live and study on a college campus while taking a 3-week-long course; center courses are slightly more rigorous than academy courses

Math Score Requirements SAT Math: 480+ SAT Math: 510-540 SAT Math 550+
ACT Math: 17+
ACT Science: 19+
ACT Math: 19-22


ACT Science: 20-22

ACT Math: 23+


ACT Science: 23+

Verbal Score Requirements SAT Reading and Writing: 480+ SAT Reading and Writing: 510-550 SAT Reading and Writing: 560+
ACT English: 18+
ACT Reading: 19+
ACT English: 20-22


ACT Reading: 20-23

ACT English: 23+


ACT Reading: 24+

The scores in the table are the scores for 7th grade students and are accurate as of the publishing of this post. For cutoff scores for other grade levels or to check for updates to these scores, check the table for eStudies here and the table for Summer Studies here.

Students only need to qualify in one area—math or verbal—to participate. Students who only qualify for math will be eligible only for math courses, and students who only qualify for verbal will be eligible only for verbal courses. Students who qualify for both may choose from either subject.

SAT or ACT prep if I’m applying to Duke TIP?

In a word: Yes. To truly reap the benefits of the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search, you’ll want to qualify for Summer Studies. This is the program that TIP alumni say is life-changing. By living and studying on a college campus, middle school students gain a unique glimpse into the future. What’s more, the courses available through these programs are unlike anything students are likely to come across in school, offering a chance to develop and pursue new academic interests.

In 7th grade, earning a 510 or higher on either section of the SAT or a 20 or higher on the ACT is no small feat. Consider this: the average SAT score nationwide is around 1070, and most SAT test-takers are in 11th or 12th grade. This means that students who qualify for Summer Studies must score similarly to students who are four or five years ahead of them.

If you’re considering applying for Duke TIP, take a practice test to determine your current score. This will give you an idea of how much SAT or ACT prep—if any—you need to do before you take the test for real. To get the most accurate score prediction possible, take the test under realistic testing conditions. Contact your local C2 Education center to schedule a diagnostic SAT or ACT to find out how you’ll score!