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What is GT?

The U.S. Department of Education (1993) defines giftedness as "Children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment."

This definition is very broad and basic. It discusses talent but does not go on to define what is a talent. A talent can include academics, athletics, arts, and social aspects. In most public schools the focus of talents is on academics. Although a student is talented, in order to be gifted, the student should be able to use these talents in order to achieve at high levels. This can include using the talent to do something new and remarkable. The National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) states that all talented children have the potential to achieve at high levels but may not have realized the potential yet due to being underachievers, twice exceptional, or in an underserved group without an enriching and nurturing environment to flourish the talents. 

Six Areas of Giftedness

NSGT outlines six areas where children may show giftedness. A child will not be gifted in all areas but may show talent and passion in one or two. The six areas include creative thinking, leadership, general intellectual ability, specific academic ability, psychomotor, and visual/performing arts. NSGT outlines each area as follows:



  • Assumes responsibility

  • High expectations for self and others

  • Fluent, concise self expression

  • Foresees consequences and implications of decisions

  • Good judgment in decision making

  • Likes structure

  • Well-liked by peers

  • Self-confident

  • Organized



  • Challenged by difficult athletic activities

  • Exhibits precision in movement

  • Enjoys participation in various athletic opportunities

  • Excels in motor skills

  • Well coordinated

  • Good manipulative skills

  • High energy level


Visual/ Performing Arts

  • Outstanding in sense of spatial relationships

  • Unusual ability in expressing self, feeling, moods, etc., through dance, drama, music, etc.

  • Good motor coordination

  • Exhibits creative expression

  • Desire for producing “own product” (not content with mere copying)

  • Observant

Creative Thinking

  • Independent thinker

  • Exhibits original thinking in oral and written expression

  • Comes up with several solutions to a given problem

  • Possesses a sense of humor

  • Creates and invents

  • Challenged by creative tasks

  • Improvises often

  • Does not mind being different from the crowd


General Intellectual Ability

  • Formulates abstractions

  • Processes information in complex ways

  • Observant

  • Excited about new ideas

  • Enjoys hypothesizing

  • Learns rapidly

  • Uses a large vocabulary

  • Inquisitive

  • Self-starter


Specific Academic Ability

  • Good memorization ability

  • Advanced comprehension

  • Acquires basic skill knowledge quickly

  • Widely read in special interest area

  • High academic success in special interest area

  • Pursues special interest with enthusiasm and vigor

Gifted Characteristics 

Here are some characteristics seen in gifted children:

  1. Has advanced vocabulary for age or grade level.

  2. Has quick mastery and recall of factual information.

  3. Is a keen and alert observer.

  4. Is easily bored with routine tasks.

  5. Strives towards perfection; is self-critical.

  6. Often is self-assertive; stubborn in his or her beliefs.

  7. Displays a great deal of curiosity about many things.

  8. Is a high risk-taker; is adventurous and speculative.

  9. Carries responsibility well.

  10. Can express him or herself well; has good verbal facility, and is usually well-understood. (Coleman & Cross, 2005, p. 36-37).

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