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CPS Academic Centers

Learn more about CPS Academic Centers and the gifted admissions exam students must take to apply!

What are CPS Academic Centers?

CPS Academic Centers are accelerated middle schools for seventh and eighth graders. While at an academic center, students earn high school credits. This allows them to take more challenging classes once they’re in high school.

The programs are associated with and located in the following Selective Enrollment High Schools: Brooks, Kenwood, Lane Tech, Lindblom, Morgan Park, Taft, and Whitney Young. Students who attend academic centers for seventh and eighth grade are guaranteed admission into the associated high school for ninth grade. 

Most often, students apply for admission to seventh grade rather than waiting until eighth grade.

How do students get into the CPS Academic Centers?

Sixth and seventh graders must apply to academic centers for entry to seventh and eighth grade respectively (most students apply as sixth graders). Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 to be eligible to apply.

CPS uses a 600-point system to assess students:

  • Previous year’s final grades count for up to 300 points (so fifth grade grades count for students applying to seventh grade; sixth grade grades count for students applying to eighth grade)
  • Gifted admissions exam score counts for up to 300 points

Learn more about the admissions process here.

What's on the CPS gifted admissions exam?

CPS does not release much information about the gifted admissions exam it uses for the academic center entrance test. According to their website, it “measures critical thinking skills, reasoning, problem solving, and mental control. Mental control is the ability to hold information in the short-term memory while performing a mental operation.” The exam resembles an IQ test more than an achievement test. 

Verbal items include analogies, sentence completions, and logic problems. Among the nonverbal items are paper folding and pattern matrices. Math questions involve series and puzzles. 

When do students take the CPS gifted admissions exam?

Typically CPS gives the exam in the winter. We recommend checking the GoCPS website after mid-September for the most up-to-date information.

How do you help students prepare for the CPS gifted admissions exam?

For sixth and seventh graders applying to CPS Academic Centers, in-person and online tutors help students become familiar with the question types, and they teach some test-taking strategies. Our main goal is to help students feel comfortable and confident going into the test. We also offer a practice test similar to the gifted admissions exam.

What if I want my younger child to prepare for the gifted admissions exam?

Younger students take the CPS gifted exam for entrance to Regional Gifted Centers. Kindergarten through fifth grade students can meet for a few sessions to understand what to expect on the exam and build confidence. 

Because our approach is customized to each child, we encourage you to give us a call to learn about how we can support your child!