GLL Core Essentials Page Block with Video

Gifted LearningLinks allows high ability students to:

  • Access advanced subject matter, including credit-bearing honors and AP® level courses
  • Learn at an accelerated pace anytime and anywhere
  • Receive personalized guidance from expert instructors
  • Engage online with peers from around the world

Core Essentials and Math Acceleration:

Many gifted and high ability students seek and benefit from opportunities for accelerated learning in math. GLL offers courses that can help student successfully make the jump into Algebra through its Pre-Algebra I, Pre Algebra II and Pre-Algebra Condensed courses.

Video Tutorial | CTD Online Application

Connect with GLL!

facebook iconTwitter






Application Process

The Online Core Essentials Program at CTD welcomes applications from returning applicants as well as new score and portfolio applicants. Before beginning the online application, determine which type of applicant you are based on the descriptions below.

Returning Applicant
You are a returning applicant if you are in grade 3 through 8 and you meet both of the following criteria: 

  • You have successfully completed a CTD course through the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program or Online Program at the Emerald Tier, or a tier with a higher score requirement, within the previous twenty-four months. 
  • You are now applying for an Online Core Essentials course with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) of a CTD course you previously completed.

New Scores Applicant
You are a new scores applicant if you are grade 3 through 8 and you meet any one of the following criteria:

  • You have never attended any CTD program and you have qualifying grade-level test scores (Verbal or Math) for your desired course that are no more than two years old.
  • You have previously attended a course with the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program, or CTD Online Program, but you are now applying for a course with a different qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) and you have qualifying grade-level test scores. 
  • You have participated in above grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 3, 4, 5, or 6, the ACT® or SAT® test taken in grades 6, 7 or 8 (NUMATS);


New Portfolio Applicant
You are a portfolio applicant if you are in grade 3 through 8 and the following is applicable to you:

  • You do not have qualifying test scores because you have either:

             1) never taken a nationally normed standardized achievement test 


             2) taken this type of test but not achieved a qualifying score.


An Admission Portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Required: one teacher recommendation form indicating that the student is performing 1½ to 2 years above grade level in the subject area of the course to which the student is applying (Home-school students may submit two teacher recommendations from non-family member adults who can speak to their capabilities in lieu of a teacher recommendation. Family members may not submit teacher recommendations for students); 
  • Required: most recent school report card indicating exceptional performance in the subject area of the Core Essentials course to which the student is applying; 
  • If available: most recent state testing report (e.g. NWEA/MAP); or any results of a grade-level test such as PSAT™8/9 taken in middle school.



To qualify for Emerald tier Online Core Essentials Courses, students must be in grade 3 through 8 and must also provide one of the following:

  • Achievement of a score of 90thpercentile or higher on a nationally normed grade-level assessment in the required qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) for the desired course; OR
  • Successful past completion of a CTD course, with the same qualifying subject area within the past two years; OR
  • Submission of a portfolio application, consisting of a teacher recommendation and the student’s most recent report card demonstrating that the student is performing exceptionally well in the qualifying subject area; OR
  • Participation in above grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 3, 4, 5, or 6, the ACT® or SAT® test taken in grades 6, 7 or 8 (NUMATS)

Fees. Withdrawals and Financial Aid


Core Essentials Nine-week Online Course

  • 2018-19 Academic Year $595 


Withdrawal Policy

  • Requests for withdrawals and refunds must be made in writing before the course begins. E-mail requests should be sent to
  • Withdrawals are subject to a processing fee of $60.
  • Withdrawals that occur after the course start date, but before the 21st day, are refunded 50% of the tuition, less the processing fee.
  • After the 21st day (including orientation and late starts) no refunds may be granted.  
  • Refunds may take up to eight weeks to appear in the account from which they were paid depending on the type of account and the billing cycle.


Financial Aid

CTD offers need-based financial aid awarded as requests are received. Families are encouraged to apply early because the amount of aid available is limited. Please see the Financial Aid page for details. 

  • The deadline to complete a financial aid application for Core Essentials programs is the last day of the month prior to the start date of the course. (e.g. December 31st for a January 15th start)
  • It is imperative that you complete the financial aid application as soon as possible as it may take FACTS up to ten days to process your information.
  • If you have previously completed a FACTS application for CTD you must still begin with the current link in the application confirmation email for this year’s program.  You will be able to link your FACTS account to this new FACTS information.  You may need to update financial information.
  • If you experience difficulties with the FACTS process please call the FACTS helpline at 866-412-4637.

Course Environment

Students will be independently engaged in academically stimulating and engaging activities designed to develop higher-order thinking skills. A student should have a keen interest in the subject and be eager to work through challenges, both academic and technical. Our dedicated instructors will initiate and guide the dialogue, but students should possess effective communication skills including proficient reading and writing skills and feel comfortable asking questions.

While students will have flexibility in terms of when they log on, pacing guides help students stay on track each week. Students should expect to spend 2-5 hours per week engaged in course activities. The student’s ability to manage time and adjust their work levels as needed is key to success.

Some Core Essentials students participate in their courses at home, while others learn online in school in a computer lab, media center, gifted resource room, or study hall and take online courses as alternatives to traditional study a regular classroom setting.

Program Orientation

  • Acceptance notifications are sent via e-mail upon receipt of a completed application.
  • Prior to the course start date, students receive login information allowing them to gain access to the learning management system (LMS), Schoology, which houses online courses.
  • Course access begins on the official start date.
  • The GLL experience starts with a virtual online orientation for all new students (returning students are welcome to repeat the orientation).
  • Syllabi, assignments, timelines, discussion boards, links and more are found on the course site, which is available 24/7.
  • Primary communication with the course instructor and/or classmates occurs within the learning management system. Depending on the nature of the subject matter and student preferences, instructors may use additional tools including, but not limited to, discussion boards, the phone and online class meetings such as Skype, Adobe Connect and/or Google apps.


Students will be emailed a narrative evaluation that includes a letter grade, comments on the student's academic performance and online learning skills, including communication and time management, as well as future course recommendations.

Evaluations can also be accessed via the family's MyCTD Toolbox account.

For Schools

For information on how schools can partner with Gifted LearningLinks, visit our Partner Opportunities page.

Middle school educators are also invited to explore the Gifted LearningLinks Honors program for additional standards-aligned course options for gifted middle and high school students. GLL Honors courses can provide middle school students who would benefit from acceleration in one or more individual subject areas with access to accredited high school courses in their areas of strength without moving between school buildings. 

Technical Requirements

  • Students need access to a stable internet connection and updated web browser.
  • Participation in “live” online sessions may require a computer microphone or headset.
  • While iPads and tablet computers may be sufficient for most coursework, some web tools and/or websites may require the use of a computer or laptop.




What is the difference between the various categories of courses?

Family Program courses are for students in grades K-3. Your child does not need test scores to qualify for these courses, which are designed for parents and children to work on together. These courses begin four (4) times each year.

Core Essentials and Enrichment courses are for students in grades 3-8. Core Essentials courses are standard academic offerings while Enrichment courses are electives. Sessions begin four (4) times each year and last nine (9) weeks. They require approximately 2-5 hours of activity per week.

Honors and Honors Electives courses are designed for students in grades 6-12. They begin on the 15th of each month throughout the year. These are credit bearing high school-level courses that require approximately 5-7 hours of activity per week. Honors courses last 36 weeks while Honors Electives courses last 18 weeks.

AP® courses are one and two semester courses that have been authorized by the College Board. They are designed to prepare students for college-level work and for the AP® exams in May.

ASO (Accelerated Summer Option) courses are offered over the summer. They condense one and two semester high school level classes into intense nine (9) week sessions. One credit courses typically require 10-15 hours of activity each week for successful on-time completion, and two credit courses typically require 20-30 hours per week.

Why do students need to qualify for GLL classes?

Our classes are designed for students working 1-2 grade levels above their chronological age. Not all students are ready for these courses, which are designed for learners who are advanced for their age and learn at a faster pace than most students. Our goal is not to be exclusive, but to ensure students are placed in a course that is appropriately challenging.

How can my child qualify?

Students can qualify in one of three ways:

Fast Track Returning Student – this method is for any student who has been accepted into a similar CTD course within the past two years. If you were previously accepted into a Core Essentials or Enrichment course and are now applying for an Honors, Honors Electives, AP® or ASO course, you may NOT apply as a “fast track” participant.

New Student/New Scores – If you are applying for a Core Essentials or Enrichment class, you may apply with scores at or above the 90th percentile (in the subject area of the course to which the student is applying) from any test with a national percentile ranking (NPR). We also accept ASSET test scores. You may apply for Honors, Honors Electives, AP® or ASO courses with PSAT, SAT or ACT scores. On the program page, click on “Qualifying Test Scores” to learn exactly what scores are required.

Admission Portfolio – This method is for students who do not have the appropriate tests or scores. Students must submit two (2) teacher recommendations and a recent report card. Many students qualify with the portfolio method.

What is the procedure for applying?

First, complete the online application form and pay for the course. Second, submit your qualifying materials. Finally, wait to hear from the Admissions Committee.

When do I pay for my child’s course?

In order to upload qualifying materials and be considered by the Admissions Committee, you will need to pay when you apply. If you have not paid, qualifying materials such as teacher recommendations cannot be uploaded into your application. If your child is not accepted into their course, you will receive a full refund.

What is a nationally normed test?

This is a test that compares students’ scores in the same grade across the entire nation.

What is a prerequisite?

A prerequisite is identified by the instructor as the knowledge or skills necessary to start a course. For instance, Algebra 2 has a prerequisite of Algebra 1.

How do I know when my materials have been received?

Materials will not be marked “received” until a GLL staff member checks them in. During busy periods, this can take up to five business days. You can check your MyCTD Toolbox account to see if materials have been “received.”

What does it mean when my child’s application is marked “complete”?

It means that you have submitted all of the necessary qualifying materials. The next stop for your child’s application is the Admissions Committee. They will contact you with more information.

When will I hear if my child has been accepted?

The Admissions Committee meets several weeks before course start dates. They review applications on a rolling basis and only consider completed applications (i.e. all qualifying materials have been submitted). They will contact you with their decision or with a request for more information. Login information is sent 24-48 hours before the start of class.

When will I receive textbook information?

Your acceptance email will contain a link to our online bookstore. You can purchase the book from MBS or any other bookstore.

Can my child work at his/her own pace?

Yes. Our courses are flexibly paced and independent study. Students may complete their course in less than the allotted time.

What if my child does not finish the work by the end of the session?

Core Essentials, Enrichment and Family courses end after 9 weeks. Students in Honors, Honors Electives, AP® or ASO classes may request up to 3 one month extensions from their instructor. Extensions cost $100 each.

Are there online lectures?

No. Courses are facilitated independent study. That means students log in and work according to their own schedule. Instructors, who have designed the course, grade assignments, give feedback, and are available to answer any questions. Students may be directed to other websites that may include lectures or articles

Who teaches GLL courses?

Our instructors come from various professional backgrounds and are selected because of their mastery of the subject matter, teaching experience, enthusiasm, and ability to work with gifted students. Teachers receive guidance and support from experts in online learning design.

What is the procedure for requesting financial aid?

When filling out the online application, check the box on page 6 indicating that you are interested in applying for financial aid (FA). Your registration confirmation email will contain a link to our online FA form. Fill out the form and attach the first two pages of your most recent tax return. Please understand that applications for students requesting FA will take longer to process since applications must be reviewed by both the Financial Aid and the Admissions Committees. The FA Committee does not review applications until the student has qualified academically.

What is GLL’s refund policy?

To learn more about our refund policy, please visit our "Refund & Withdrawal Policies" page.

How many courses can my child apply for at one time?

Gifted LearningLinks is accredited as a nonpublic supplementary school. Our courses are meant to provide classes not available at a student’s main school or to allow a student to work ahead of their school’s normal curriculum. Core Essentials and Enrichment courses require approximately 2-5 hours of work per week. Honors, Honors Electives and AP® courses require approximately 5-7 hours of work per week. ASO courses require up to 15 hours of work per week per credit. Please consider your child’s schedule when applying for multiple classes. Many students successfully take multiple courses at a time. However, if your child is new to online learning, we recommend starting with one or two courses and then consider increasing involvement over time once your student is comfortable in the online environment.


Critical Mathematics: From Googol to Infinity (3-5)

June 15, 2019 - August 17, 2019

How does math help us get to the nearest galaxy?  How much is a googolplex and what happens if there are a googolplex atoms in the universe?  How did bakers create the world's largest pumpkin pie?  How can a math trick help you earn a million dollars?

By examining the infinitely large and the incredibly small, students will increase their understanding of ratio, integers, fractions, and exponents.  Problem-based coursework, discourse, and mathematical debate will lead the learning in this course.  

This course focuses on the Common Core Standards of Numbers & Operations while allowing for work on middle school goals of Ratios & Proportional Relationships and The Number System.  The focus on higher order problem solving allows students to build their skills in these areas. 

GLL Core Essentials
Subject Area

Advanced Reading & Writing: Informational Texts and Using Sources (5-6)

June 15, 2019 - August 17, 2019

More books about vampires and dystopian societies? What about real, authentic events and issues from history and today?

Informational text allows us to learn about the natural and social worlds. Viewing nonfiction materials from different perspectives with a variety of texts (not always books!) allows us to create deeper understanding of and appreciation for the world around us. Additionally, recognizing, using and citing reliable, respectable sources is more important than ever. In this course, students will practice researching, reading and thinking like scientists and historians while simultaneously analyzing vocabulary and text structure.

Different units within the course include analyzing scientific articles, scientific tables & graphs, historical primary and secondary sources, and current events.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Know current research strategies and tools 
  • Understand the structure and purpose of research
  • Create research presentations and essays 
GLL Core Essentials
Subject Area
English & Language Arts

Advanced Grammar & Academic Writing I (6-8)

June 15, 2019 - August 17, 2019

Participate in a unique approach to grammar instruction that culminates in greater depth and breadth of grammatical knowledge.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand that grammar is a way of thinking about language and a method of critical thinking.
  • Understand the meaning of the parts of speech, parts of sentences, the meaning of clauses, phrases and the meaning of grammar.
  • Use grammar concepts as the foundation of academic writing.

Note: A text for this course is Magic Lens-Based Grammar, Volume 1, Student Manual by Michael Clay Thompson. Order directly from or call 845-726-4444.


GLL Core Essentials
Subject Area
English & Language Arts

Anatomy & Physiology (6-8)

June 15, 2019 - August 17, 2019

In this course, students look at biology from the perspective of animal body systems while being introduced to a range of biological concepts. Our focus will be on human body systems, but students will also learn about the body systems of invertebrate and vertebrate animals. During the course students will learn the correct vocabulary for body organs and organ systems, engage in moderated discussion topics, participate in learning activities, perform hands-on and virtual labs – including real and virtual dissections –  and develop their own project about how the body works.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Define and describe the major regions of the body
  • List the major components and functions of each body system 
  • Describe the relationship between the different systems.



GLL Core Essentials
Subject Area

Conceptual Chemistry (6-8)

June 15, 2019 - August 17, 2019

Learn the fundamental principles and applications of chemistry as you improve your scientific literacy. Students will use hands-on and virtual laboratory experiences, study key topics, analyze data, draw conclusions and report results. Scientific method, chemical foundations, compositions and reactions, modern atomic theory and current events will be covered. Conduct virtual and home-based experiments that build a foundation for future studies in chemistry. 

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Write and balance chemical equations for various types of reactions.
  • Name ionic and covalent compounds.
  • Interpret information about chemistry presented in graph or chart format.
  • Conduct virtual and hands-on chemistry experiments.


In order to be eligible for this course, students must have:

  • 90th percentile or above distinction in math or reading on a nationally normed, standardized achievement test within the past two years, or
  • Participation in above-grade-level testing through NUMATS or similar program, or
  • Successful completion, within the past two years, of a previous CTD course with the same qualifying subject area criteria, or
  • Admissions portfolio (2 teacher recommendations and a recent report card)
GLL Core Essentials
Subject Area

Introduction to Pre-Algebra: Data, Statistics, and Probability (4-6)

June 15, 2019 - August 17, 2019

Linked to the national core standards, Introduction to Pre-Algebra courses provide a rigorous foundation in elementary mathematics. Through exploration, practice and application, students develop skills to deepen their understanding of mathematical ideas and apply them to real world settings.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Know the basics of ratios, proportions, probability, and various graphs.
  • Understand different how to analyze and create graphs, as well as answer algebraic equations to create various graphs for statistical analysis.
  • Be able to identify a variety of types of graphs, perform multi-step equations, complete algebraic problems.


  • Students may participate in any or all of these courses, beginning in any session.
  • "Numbers & Algebraic Thinking" recommended as first course in sequence
  • Completion of all three (Introduction to Pre-Algebra: Numbers & Algebraic Thinking, Introduction to Pre-Algebra: Geometry & Measurement, Introduction to Pre-Algebra: Data, Statistics, & Probability) prepares students for Pre-Algebra.


GLL Core Essentials
Subject Area

Pre-Algebra Condensed (6-8)

June 15, 2019 - August 17, 2019

This rigorous, self-paced class covers a year of Pre-Algebra in one nine-week course. Successful completion provides a solid foundation for Algebra I Honors.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Know how to perform operations with real numbers and understand how to apply mathematical properties and operations to simplify expressions and solve equations.

  • Create equations and expressions to model real world situations.

  • Graph linear equations on the coordinate plane, find the missing measurements in right triangles, and analyze and apply formulas to find solutions to problems.


GLL Core Essentials
Subject Area
Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development