Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Information

ATS Qualifying Exam

ATS Classes

General Information

What is Academic Talent Search (ATS)?
Academic Talent Search (ATS) provides challenging and fun classes to highly able and motivated 4th-9th grade students in the greater Sacramento area. Courses are fast-paced and designed to allow students to explore further their areas of strength or special interest. They are not designed to provide remedial assistance. ATS has been serving the needs of the Capital region’s young scholars since 1982 and has provided instruction to approximately 45,500 academically advanced students. Summer 2018 will be ATS' 37th year of offering classes at Sacramento State.

Who can attend ATS?
Students who are in grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 as of January 1, 2018 and who have taken the ATS Qualifying Exam: "Intermediate Level" (4/5) or "Advanced Level" (6-9) will be eligible to attend ATS' Summer 2018 program.

The ATS Qualifying Exam

What is the ATS qualifying exam?
The College Ability Test (formerly referred to as the School and College Ability Tests) is the same test that ATS has used for more than 30 years. It is a 40-minute, multiple choice exam which assesses aptitude for learning. There are two parts to the exam: a verbal section and a quantitative section. Each section has 50 questions, and students have 20 minutes to complete each part.

Why should students take the qualifying exam?
The test offers information about students' academic skills and abilities that are essential for success in advanced-level studies. Test results list data and rank comparisons that can help identify special aptitudes (talents) to be developed further.

Do all students take the same exam?
No. Students in 4th and 5th grades take the Intermediate level exam. Students in 6th through 9th grades take the Advanced level exam.

If students take the qualifying exam do they have to attend ATS?
No. Taking the test gives students the option of applying for classes. Participation in classes is not mandatory.

What score is required for admission to the ATS program?
There is no minimum score required to "pass" the test. All current 4th through 9th graders who take the test are automatically eligible for admission to ATS: 4th and 5th graders are eligible for the ATS 4/5 Program while 6th through 9th graders are eligible for the ATS 6-9 Program. The higher a student scores on the exam the more classes s/he has to choose from. There are classes available for all score levels.

What is considered a good score?
Whatever score a student receives is a good score. A better question might be, "What score is required for a specific class?" When students receive the Summer Catalog, they should check the Master Schedule of Classes. There they will find the score requirements for each course. ATS has classes available for all score levels. The higher a student scores, the more class choices s/he has available. All classes are filled "top score down" until all seats are filled so a higher score gives students a better chance of being offered a seat in a specific course. No matter how a student scores on the exam they will have many classes to choose from. (Remember, ATS classes are designed to build on academic talents so students should select courses in their area of strength NOT areas they need improvement in, are weak in, or require remedial help for.)

If a student has taken the test before does s/he have to take it again?
Students in grade 6 or above who last tested in 4th or 5th grade must test again to take the "advanced" level exam.
All students are advised to retake the exam each year as class admissions are made top score down based on qualifying exam scores until all seats have been filled. The highest score on the verbal or math section can be used, so students can "mix and match" scores from different years.

Where can students take the test?
ATS administers the qualifying exam at public and private schools in the Sacramento area between January and March each year. Students who are unable to test at their own school site can take the exam at Sac State on select Saturday mornings between late January and mid-March. After testings at schools are concluded, students can take the exam in the ATS Office on select weekdays. A listing of available test dates at the University and in the ATS Office can be found on the Calendar page.

How do students sign up for one of the exams at Sac State?
Students can call the ATS office at (916) 278-7032 to pre-register for one of the Sac State exams or can send an email to that indicates the test date requested, student's name, mailing address (including city and zip), current grade and current school. Confirmation materials will be sent to the student approximately 10 days prior to the test date.

How do students sign up for an exam in the ATS office?
When available, office testing dates will be posted on the Dates page. Students can call the ATS office at (916) 278-7032 to pre-register for an ATS office testing or can send an email to that indicates the student's name, mailing address (including city and zip), current grade and current school. Confirmation materials will be sent to the student approximately 3-5 business days prior to the test date. Test dates for office testing are usually available in late March - June.

How much does it cost to take the test?
There is a $15 processing fee when students take the test at their school sites or at Sac State. Students receive their test scores in the mail approximately 3-4 weeks after taking the exam. These fees help to defray costs associated with preparing and mailing personalized score results to students.

There is a $40 processing fee to defray costs associated with preparing personalized score results for students who schedule appointments in the ATS office (March - June).

ATS Classes

What kinds of classes does ATS offer for 4th & 5th graders?
ATS offers new approaches to traditional topics as well as explorations of subjects not always available in regular school. Classes are planned for the summer session in the areas of Art, Computer Science, Engineering, English, Humanities, Languages, Mathematics, Performing Arts, and Science.

What kinds of classes does ATS offer for 6th-9th graders?
ATS offers traditional academic subjects along with other topics which are not always available in regular school. Classes are planned for the summer session in the areas of Art, Business Communication Studies, Computer Science, Engineering, English, Languages, Law, Mathematics, Performing Arts, Science, and Social Science.

Where are classes held?
ATS classes are held on the Sacramento State campus and use University classrooms and laboratories. Students attend classes only with other ATS participants (4th and 5th graders together, 6th-9th graders together) and not with college students.

How do students get to class?
ATS is a commuter program so students must make their own transportation arrangements to get to and from campus and classes. Carpooling and Regional Transit are two ways to get to campus. More information is available on the Getting to Campus page.

What kind of supervision is provided?
Because ATS is an academic program and not child care, it is the responsibility of the parent to supervise their students before and after class. ATS provides supervision during class time only. ATS staff do not escort students to and from class.
4/5 Program: Parents will be required to sign a Policy Agreement form to indicate their choice between 1) an authorized adult signing their student in and out of class each day, or 2) allowing their student to leave class without adult accompaniment and verifying the student is mature enough to be on campus independently without supervision.
6-9 Program: Students are expected to be responsible, independent individuals and find their own way to class and around campus.

How much do classes cost?
For Summer 2018, course fees for the 4/5 Program are $355 per class. Fees for the 6-9 Program range from $150 to $450 depending on the length of the course. In general, five-week classes cost $450 while one- and three-week classes cost between $150 and $360 depending on the number of class hours.

Is there financial aid for classes?
Yes. Each year ATS provides a generous amount of financial aid to students who otherwise might not be able to attend due to cost. Financial aid is granted to qualified students based primarily on family income (applications are included in the catalog).

Do students receive college credit for taking ATS 6th-9th grade classes?
ATS courses do not count toward college credit. However, some courses in the 6-9 Program may be recommended for high school credit. Credit recommendations are included in each course description printed in the Summer Catalog. Many schools accept ATS' recommendations for advanced class placement, transcript annotation, and/or credit. Most students attend ATS classes for the learning experience and not for credit. However, if credit is an important consideration for attending, then students should talk to their high school registrar or counselor about school requirements before applying for ATS courses.

Do students receive college credit for taking ATS 4th/5th grade classes?
No college or high school credit is recommended for classes in the 4/5 Program.

Can students take ATS classes to help them catch up with their regular school work?
ATS is not a remedial program. Students attend ATS classes to further their progress in subjects in which they excel, not to help them improve in areas of weakness. Classes are fast-paced and move through the curriculum at an accelerated pace (for example, the language classes cover a full academic year's worth of material in five weeks).

Is it acceptable for students who have other activities to miss class?
ATS is committed to providing a positive learning experience for all participants. Because absences are detrimental to class progress, students are expected to attend every class session in its entirety. All classes are fast-paced so missing one day of class can be like missing a month of regular school. Students who know they cannot attend every class session due to other commitments should NOT apply for those classes in which they will miss.

Where can students get more information about ATS classes?
The ATS Summer Catalog is published each spring. There are separate catalogs for the 4/5 Program and the 6-9 Program. Catalogs are mailed to students who have taken the qualifying exam and are also available for download from the Catalog/Literature page.