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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to questions commonly asked about the Intel Science Talent Search

Who is Society for Science & the Public?

Society for Science & the Public (SSP) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC.  SSP has run the Science Talent Search for more than 7 decades, including the application process, judging, finalist week in Washington DC, processing awards, and keeping in touch with alumni.  SSP works actively with Intel Corporation, who has been a generous title sponsor for the program since 1998.  

Who can enter the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS)?

Any student who is enrolled in and attending his or her last year of secondary school in the US and its territories may apply. Also, students who are US citizens living abroad may qualify.  Please read the Rules and Entry Instructions for more information.

Can students who have completed team research enter Intel STS?

No; only independent, individual research is eligible. Even if students performed different parts of the experiment or if one student was the primary investigator, this is still considered team research.  Students may not “split” a team project and enter it in Intel STS. 

Can students who have worked with scientist mentors or college students enter Intel STS?

Yes; these students are eligible to enter Intel STS, but in terms of judging, students should consider if the work is substantially their own. Judges understand that sometimes scientists cannot allow students to choose their own topic or sometimes the main part of a procedure is already known. Students should consider what portions of the research they can take credit for and if they believe it shows their potential as a scientist. 

Can homeschooled student enter Intel STS?

Yes.  Homeschool students should contact SSP to have their school added to the high school lookup function, just as other new schools are added. They will also need to provide a document indicating what courses they have completed and their success in those courses, and submit that as a school transcript.

What is required of students prior to entering Intel STS?

Students perform independent science research at school, at a research institution, in the field, or at home. Frequently this research spans a year or more, but some students have completed research in as short as 6 months. They write a research report that would model a journal article explaining their experiments and conclusions.

How can I do research that would allow me to enter Intel STS?

We suggest you read our Science News for Students' Pathways to Research page to determine which pathway might be right for you. If you would like to participate in an out-of-school program, you can search for one using our Student and Teacher Program search function.

How should I begin?

Begin by reading the Rules and Entry Instructions to be certain that you and your project are eligible and that you get any prior approval required for projects involving humans and animals.

Next, open an application to view all the parts that are required. Request recommendations and send school transcripts as early as possible, even before beginning your portion of the application.

After completing your research, compose your research report, following the guidelines provided in the Rules and Entry Instructions and in the application system. Upload your report, along with all the other requirements before the Application Deadline.

How are entries judged?

Entries are reviewed by three or more PhD scientists, mathematicians, or engineers in the subject area of the entry. Semifinalists and finalists are selected by the judges, using all available entry evidence, with greatest weight given to the Research Report. Judges are looking for students exhibiting exceptional research skills, a commitment to academics and to their communities, innovative thinking, and promise as a scientist. 

What Intel STS Awards are given?

All Intel STS entrants receive a digital badge in recognition of their completion of the application. Entrants may also be awarded a Research Report and/or Student Initiative badge for their well-written college-level research report and/or their extraordinary effort and accomplishment relative to the resources available to them. These are awarded via the same process used to select entries for the awards listed below.

Three hundred semifinalists are awarded $1,000; with an additional $1,000 going to their high schools to support STEM education. All 40 finalists are awarded at least $7,500. They also win an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC for the Intel Science Talent Institute where they explain their research to some of the country’s top scientists and compete for the top 10 awards, ranging from $20,000 to $100,000.

Who runs the Intel STS?

Society for Science & the Public (SSP) has administered the Science Talent Search since its inception in 1942, first in partnership with Westinghouse, and since 1998 in partnership with Intel. SSP is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education. Over the history of their sponsorship, Intel has increased the annual awards for schools and finalists from $207,000 to $1,250,000.


Application-related questions

How can I apply?

You should first visit our "For Applicants" page to learn more details about applying, then open an application in our online system.

Should I wait to submit my portion until after my recommenders have completed their recommendations?

No, do not wait. Recommenders will be able to submit their recommendations up until the Application Deadline even after you submit your portion.

Should I wait to submit my transcripts until my first quarter grades are listed?

No, first quarter grades are not necessary. Please send transcripts as soon as possible.

Can the same person fill out more than one of my recommendations?

Yes. For example, if your research mentor is also your teacher, you may request one educator recommendation and one project recommendation from that person. In that case, students should consider requesting another educator recommendation from a different teacher, even though that teacher does not know the student as well.

Can a parent complete a recommendation?

Yes; if the parent fits the description of the recommender type. In these instances, students should consider requesting an additional educator or project recommendation from another person, even though that person may not have as much to contribute to the recommendation.

I don’t have official copies of my test scores.  What should I upload?

If at all possible, students should upload official copies of test scores, but should not do so if they have to pay money for it.  Students may print unofficial scores from the website, scan, and upload those copies. 


Application Trouble-Shooting

I sent my transcript, but it isn’t showing up as submitted in my online account.

This could be due to a number of reasons:
- Your transcript may have a different version of your name than what you used in your application, in which case we may have been unable to match it.

- When you opened your application, you may have chosen a security setting that does not allow SSP to see your address before you submit. To change your security setting, use the “update profile” link at the top of any page. 

- Transcipts sent via regular US mail may take up to 10 days to arrive. SSP then requires 3 business days to process transcripts. If you have waited 2 weeks and still do not see you transcript posted, please send another.  If it is less than two weeks before the Application Deadline, SSP recommends sending a hard copy via a nationally known mail carrier with a delivery date and time guarantee.

- Transcripts uploaded by counselors to the High School Report are not viewable by SSP until they submit the report.

- If you did not communicate to your High School Report provider that you would like a transcript uploaded, it is likely that they did not do so. 


My research report won’t upload correctly.

There is a 2MB limit on the research report upload. Try clicking on the “Ideas on how to reduce file side” link on the Research Report upload webpage. 

If you have many mathematical symbols or certain images, your report may not appear as you intended.  Sometimes saving the document as a pdf helps. You can also print your research report in paper form, then scan it and upload it. 


My high school is not listed in the high school lookup function.  Will that affect my application?

The high school look-up function is a database of all schools that have had entrants in the last 15 years.  If your high school is not listed, it just means you are the first to enter in many years. Please contact SSP at sts@societyforscience.org and provide your school’s name and address. It will be added to the lookup function within a few days. Each year, approximately 100 schools are added to our database.  Evaluators are not provided with information on the number of entries per school for any year, so this will in no way affect the judging process. 


When I try to submit, the system says I have not requested the right recommendations. 

Even though you may have requested the right number of recommendations and have sent the requests to the right person, you may not have sent the correct recommendation type. There are 3 types of recommendations – Educator Recommendation, Project Recommendation, and High School Report – and each one has a different set of questions. You will be able to submit once you request one recommendation of each type. 

I can’t log in.

Please use the “Forgot your PIN or password?” link.  You do not need to enter both your PIN and e-mail address - just enter one.  If you are still unable to log in, it is possible that you entered your password incorrectly too many times and your account has been locked. If you have pop-up windows blocked on your browser, you may not see this explanation when it tries to pop up. Please contact technical support to have your account unlocked.

My question is not answered here.

For other questions or clarification, please consult the full Rules and Entry Instructions, which give information on eligibility, components of the application, human/animal rules, intellectual property, and many other items.  If you do not find the answer to your questions there, please contact SSP at sts@societyforscience.org.

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