U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

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Academic Component

All graduating high school seniors who are citizens of the United States, or are Legal Permanent U.S. Residents, and have scored exceptionally well on either the SAT or the ACT college admission test during the two-year window that begins in September, 2011 and runs through October, 2013, are automatically considered for participation. This program cycle concludes with recognition events held in June, 2014. Students who notified ACT or The College Board in writing that they did not want their scores released to outside agencies are excluded. Also excluded are students who did not indicate their year of graduation to be between January and August of the current program year.

The U.S. Department of Education then looks at test records for the top 30 males and top 30 females in each of the states/jurisdictions. For each examinee, the SAT score is converted to the ACT Sum of Scores, according to a concordance table. Each individual examinee's highest test score (in a single test administration ) is identified, and duplicates and/or lower scores are dropped.

The combined file of scores from the top male examinees and top female examinees are then ranked from high to low in each state. The scores associated with the top 20 male examinees and top 20 female examinees are used to identify the candidates in each state. When ties occur in the cut off score, more than 20 persons of that gender are selected in that state.

In addition, each Chief State School Officer (CSSO) may nominate three male and three female candidates based on their outstanding scholarship, residing in the CSSO's jurisdiction.

To be considered further, candidates must submit candidacy materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and an analysis of their essay.

In late March, approximately 500 semifinalists are chosen by an independent, national committee of educators convened by the Commission on Presidential Scholars. Six to twenty semifinalists are identified for each state/jurisdiction by the review committee. The number of semifinalists identified per state/jurisdiction is based on a proportionate number of test takers for that state.

In April, the Commission on Presidential Scholars makes the final selection of the 121 students. One young man and one young woman are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and from families of U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, up to 15 students are chosen at large.

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Arts Component

Students must register and participate in the YoungArts™ program: a national program designed to identify, recognize and encourage talented high school seniors who demonstrate excellence in: dance, music, music/jazz, music/voice, theater, photography, visual arts or writing.

Depending upon the discipline entered, registrants must submit audiotapes, videotapes, slides or manuscripts demonstrating artistic accomplishment. One panel for each art discipline evaluates applicants in a two-step process. The judges review material submitted by the applicants and select up to 150 award candidates from nine disciplines—Cinematic Arts, Dance, Jazz, Music, Photography, Theater, Visual Arts, Voice and Writing—for live adjudications in Miami. All applicants are judged against a standard of excellence within each artistic discipline and not against each other.

The final judging from YoungArts™ Week results in the recognition of excellence within the artistic disciplines. Upon completion of the YoungArts™ program, YoungArts will nominate up to sixty students who meet the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program's eligibility requirements. These students will be mailed candidacy materials and invited to apply to the program.

To be considered further, candidates must submit candidacy materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and an analysis of their essay.

Arts candidates enter the Presidential Scholars Program selection process at the semifinalist level. In April, the Commission on Presidential Scholars makes the final selection of up to 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

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Last Modified: 08/14/2013