What Is NUMATS Should You Participate


In this guide, I’ll be discussing the

Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search Program,


NUMATS provides advanced tests to younger students to find their academic strengths and weaknesses

and to suggest academic supplements to help these gifted students thrive. Depending on your score on the test, you may be offered a chance to attend one of their subprograms.

While you can read all about this program on the

NUMATS website

, the information can be difficult to dissect.

That’s why we’ve put it into this easy-to-read guide.

I recommend reading the entire guide, but I’ve created a Table of Contents that lists the specific sections to help you find whatever information you need.


UPDATE: Changes to NUMATS Due to COVID-19

Because of COVID-19,

NUMATS registration for 2020-2021 is only open for the SAT.

Because testing sites have also been impacted by the pandemic, that means test date and site availability isn’t guaranteed.

The NUMATS website recommends that you check the

College Board’s website

for the most up-to-date information about test date cancellations.

What Is the NUMATS Talent Search? What Do You Do in the Program?

NUMATS is a program that

offers advanced children above-grade-level testing to accurately measure their academic strengths.

Depending on how well they perform on the tests, there may also be other programs available to participants.

While students are already tested in school, if you or your child scores above the 95th percentile on their standardized tests,

the score isn’t telling you what your child knows beyond what was covered on the test.

NUMATS provides students with the opportunity to take certain tests years before they normally would. For example, the

PSAT test

, typically given in eighth grade, is offered to students in grades three through six, and the




, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, are offered to students in grades six through nine.

After students take one of the tests, they receive

recommendations on areas they can improve in,

and, depending on their score, they

may be offered an invitation to participate in

supplemental programs


These supplemental programs include online, weekend, and summer programs.

Supplemental programs

offer advanced, unique courses to students

that allow them to be appropriately challenged and learn more about a subject of interest to them.


ome supplemental programs last only a single weekend while others run for multiple weeks or weekends.

Supplemental programs can be online or in-person classes, depending on the specific course.

Who’s Eligible for the NUMATS Program?

Students in grades three through nine who meet one or more of the following criteria can enroll in the program:

  • Participated previously in NUMATS or another talent search program.
  • Qualify for their school’s gifted or advanced academic program.
  • Be recommend by a teacher or parent, based on their exceptional verbal or mathematical reasoning skills, consistently high level of performance on demanding coursework, or repeated requests for more challenging academic experiences.
  • Meet grade-level assessment criteria in either verbal/reading or math on a nationally normed or state achievement test.

What Are the NUMATS Test Dates for 2020-21?

The testing window for the 2020-2021 NUMATS program is

September 2020 to July 2021.

The PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests are offered through NUMATS year round.


here are test centers throughout the US, so you can participate in NUMATS no matter where you live.

You can

search for a test date at a test center near you through the NUMATS website


Why Should You Participate in NUMATS?

When you participate in NUMATS, you’re provided with test preparation materials. After you take a test and receive your scores,

you’ll get recommendations for selecting future classes

and extracurriculars in math, science, social science and the humanities based on your scores.

Also, you’ll receive instructional resources for use at home and in the classroom.

For high scorers, there will be an award ceremony at Northwestern with scholarships presented to first-place scorers.

Depending on your score on the tests,

you may receive invitations to Northwestern’s other gifted programs.

As I mentioned before, these programs include




, and


programs, and are

offered to students ages 4 through 17.

Through these supplemental programs, students can take

advanced, unique classes

that allow them to be appropriately challenged and learn more about a topic of interest to them. However, if you live far from Northwestern, you may be limited to participating in online and summer programs.

There are tons of benefits to participating in NUMATS’ programs! These courses can help you

connect with other gifted students and will push you to rise to your full potential.

In addition, you get to

test out subjects you’re interested in

(such as playwriting or rocket science) at a young age to see if you might want to pursue a career in that field. It’s great to get this exposure at a younger age rather than wasting time and money in college debating what you should major in.

For students in high school, you can also get access to AP courses online for which you can get college credit. If you’ve never heard of AP, learn more about

AP classes in our other guide


With all of that said: we

highly recommend doing NUMATS if you qualify and can afford it.


How To Apply and Application Requirements

You apply through the

NUMATS website

by creating an account. The application requirements are the same as the eligibility requirements listed above. As I said before,

you need to meet one of the following requirements and provide proof in your application:

  • Previously participated in NUMATS or another talent search program
  • Participate in the gifted program or advanced academic program at your school
  • Meet grade-level assessment criteria in either verbal/reading or math on a nationally normed or state achievement test
  • Can provide a teacher or parent letter of recommendation stating you’re performing at a consistently high level in verbal/reading or math.

How Much Does NUMATS Cost?

The exact cost of taking the NUMATS test is $83 to $113, depending on which test you take

. This fee covers the cost of taking the test and the cost of the NUMATS program (which includes access to all of the benefits listed above in the “Why Participate” section).

Is There Financial Aid? How Do You Apply For It?

Yes, NUMATS offers need-based financial aid only for

applicants who qualify for other federally subsidized programs

(such as the

National School Lunch Program

). Financial aid can be requested when you register for NUMATS online.

To apply for financial aid, you must submit a letter stating you meet the financial aid eligibility criteria.

The letter must be written on school letterhead and signed by a school official. Here is an

example of a financial aid eligibility letter


Submit the letter to NUMATS by your chosen test’s registration deadline

via email at numats@northwestern.edu.


Tips on How to Get a High Score

You should try to score high on your NUMATS test (PSAT, SAT, or ACT) because

if you score high enough, you can qualify for the amazing

supplemental programs

I mentioned above, as well as


. First place scorers are invited to an award ceremony at Northwestern and presented with scholarships. Additionally, depending on your score, you could be offered grants to participate in the supplemental programs (mentioned earlier) in partnership with the

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation


If you’re hoping to do well in the NUMATS program,

you’ll want to do a lot of PSAT, SAT, or ACT prep.

We’ve got great resources to

help you prepare for the SAT


the ACT


You should check out our

online prep course for PSAT preparation

or consider taking some

PSAT practice tests.

What’s Next?

Learn about other pre-college programs such as the

Emory Pre-College Program


Not sure where you want to go to college?


how to do college research right


Not sure how you’ll pay for college?

Check out

our guide to paying for college


Trying to decide where to go to high school?


how to compare high schools using SAT


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