Characteristics of Gifted Students

Characteristics of Gifted Students and Gifted Students with Learning Difficulties

General Characteristics of Intellectually Gifted Students*

Characteristics of Gifted Students with Learning Difficulties

Accelerated pace of learning; retain information with less repetition

May struggle with basic skills and reading due to processing deficits; may need compensatory strategies to ease learning

High verbal ability

High verbal ability but problems with written language; may use language inappropriately

Keen powers of observation

Strong observational skills; however, may have deficits in memory skills

Strong critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills

Strong critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills; excel in solving “real world” problems

Long attention spans, persistent, and intense ability to concentrate

Frequently have problems with concentration but in areas of interest are able to focus for long periods of time

Innovative; creative in generating thoughts, ideas, and actions

Unusual imagination; extremely  divergent in thinking; generate original but sometimes “bizarre” ideas

Take risks

Often unwilling to take academic risks; take risks in non-school-related areas sometimes without considering consequences

May mature at different rates than same-age peers

Sometimes appear immature due to use of anger, withdrawal, and/or crying in dealing with difficulties


Require teacher support and feedback in deficit areas; can be more independent in interest areas; may appear stubborn and inflexible


Sensitive toward own deficits; can be critical of self and others; may engage in antisocial behaviors, though generally sensitive to the feelings of others

May have problems with friendships; may be isolated due to lack of intellectual peers or students with similar interests

May have problems with friends due to poor social skills; may appear to be loners since they do not represent a typical model of giftedness

Exhibit leadership abilities

May emerge as a leader among less traditional students; demonstrate “street smarts”; deficits may impact leadership abilities

Wide range of interests

Wide interests but deficits may hinder ability to follow them

Passion for particular topics

Passion for particular topics to the exclusion of others; interests often not school related

*Nielsen, E.M., et al. Characteristics of Intellectually Gifted Students and Gifted Students with Learning Difficulties.  In an unpublished manuscript.  Albuquerque Public Schools, 2000.