Characteristics of Students with High Abilities

A child of high abilities may exhibit some or most of these characteristics; these characteristics are found more frequently among those later identified as students with high abilities. The characteristic may or may not be manifested in problematic behavior.


Early reading and/or quick mastery of reading

Learns new things quickly and easily

Has extensive vocabulary, background knowledge or memory

Grasps math concepts quickly; solves problems involving critical thinking; enjoys logic and puzzles

Has a more intense energy level, activity level, or ability to concentrate; may talk

Extremely sensitive and/or introverted

Thinks differently; is creative

Great sense of humor

Curious, observant


Displays interest in complex games, fantasy, non-fiction

Sensitive to environment

Possible Problematic Classroom Behavior

May be impatient with reading instruction, resist doing worksheets, and insist on reading own material which is years above grade level.

May exhibit boredom and frustration with repetition and not being allowed to move on or do something else.

May dominate discussions and refuse to listen to others' contributions. May argue in a sophisticated way.

May resist doing repetitive computation drill needed by others. May correctly or incorrectly jump to an answer without careful attention to detail. May make careless errors, be sloppy out of boredom, refuse to do homework, and incorrectly assume all will be too easy. May work problems in unconventional ways.

May seek active inquiry or be so completely involved with a task that he/she becomes frustrated with having to change tasks. Could seem overactive, stubborn or uncooperative with poor self-regulation.

May cry easily, prefer to work alone, may not readily participate orally, may (incorrectly) appear to be immature in social development. May be upset by student cruelty to others or to teacher becoming upset.

May appear different and/or rebellious or may experience social isolation. May be a day dreamer. May ask tangential questions and seem off track. may question authority.

May be the class clown or use humor sarcastically

May be off task and have difficulty disengaging to change activities.

May set unrealistic standards for self and others, be overly concerned with details, be rigid in work routines. May find true-false or multiple choice questions frustrating in their lack of precision; may be argumentative and correct every small error made by others.

May prefer to play with older children or adults. (May also prefer to play with younger children whom he/she can organize into activities.

May object to loud noises, bright lights, odors, or have many allergies