Succeeding at school can be tough, but it turns out there can be some tell-tale signs that certain students have a knack for school work.
Some teachers took to Reddit to share how exactly they knew when kids in their class were particularly talented at academics.
From instant knowledge of foreign languages to burning interests in school topics, they share the ways that they were able to spot their star pupils. Of course, INSIDER cannot independently authenticate these stories, so it’s just for fun.
“Bright students? They actually figure out what you’re talking about and can explain it in their own words. But this girl? She not only understood, but then applied it to other areas.”
“I taught a girl who was an absolute genius. She hated it when I or other people called her that because she didn’t think she was.
“The main thing that set her apart was her ability to understand a concept as well as the significance that concept had to other areas based on me explaining something orally once. Most students wouldn’t realize that class had started yet by the time she already figured out my lesson.
“See, most students, after several attempts at me explaining something, will just memorize my explanation word-for-word and regurgitate that on the test because they still don’t understand what on earth you’re talking about. Bright students? They actually figure out what you’re talking about and can explain it in their own words. But this girl? She not only understood but then applied it to other areas. That’s why she was brilliant.” – Reddit user CanadianFalcon
“As for what ‘makes them so smart,’ I would say that their lucky genetics plus an internal motivation to learn is what made them so smart.”
“I would estimate that I have taught about five such individuals.
“What these kids all have in common is that everything came naturally to them almost like it was intuition. Tons of smart kids will get bored and actually do poorly in class (they don’t do their ‘easy’ class work). But usually, the genius kids have a thirst for knowledge. They are inquisitive and motivated to find answers.
“As for what ‘makes them so smart,’ I would say that their lucky genetics plus an internal motivation to learn is what made them so smart.
“I will end by saying that I think anyone can be ‘smart’ with enough hard work. Depending on your genetics, your environment, and your determination it may take a little bit of work or a whole bunch of work.” – Reddit user Aoxoa
“He didn’t real self study. He just knew the subject.”
“I think ‘M’ might be the brightest I’ve ever had and quite possibly a genius. He took several AP tests without having taken the class and scored 5’s. He didn’t really self-study them either. He just knew the subject. The AP Physics C teacher wasn’t happy about it.” – Reddit user j_freakin_d
“When the AP tests came around, she took several including some for subjects she didn’t take the class for, and as far as I know she got a five on all of them.”
“Initially I wrote her off as just being a slacker until I subbed for that AP Bio class. Every test I gave out, she’d get every question right, and her essay answers were absolutely flawless and often really interesting.
“The first time this shocked the s— out of me because again this was a student that never did ANY work and never paid attention at all. And she blitzed through the test twice as fast as everyone else and got a perfect score when even the best and brightest students were struggling to get Bs.
“When the AP tests came around, she took several including some for subjects she didn’t take the class for, and as far as I know, she got a five on all of them.” – Reddit user DissonantVerse
“She got it … and got it better than anyone else in the class had.”
“The student could learn complex concepts in the span of minutes. The kid once missed an entire unit that I taught over the course of several weeks. I spent 20 minutes with her when she got back, explaining and drawing diagrams and she got it … and got it better than anyone else in the class had.” – Reddit user KC_at_the_bat
“I asked him what it was like and he said that it was like having a tiny room inside his head filled with white.”
“I’m a substitute teacher and I went to cover a middle school math class. There was one very shy kind of awkward kid who was working on an assignment involving square roots. Without using a calculator that kid was coming up with answers left and right. I thought I was some kind of joke or prank but for the heck of it I took out my phone’s calculator and asked him to multiply different three and four-digit numbers.
“Without batting an eyelash this kid would give me the answers almost as quickly as I could ask the question. A few occasions he had to recalculate things in his head once or twice but it was scary how quickly the answers came. I asked him what it was like and he said that it was like having a tiny room inside his head filled with white.” – Reddit user Frankfusion
“This kid taught himself how to tell time, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and started division at the end of our school year.”
“My students range from 3-5, but I did have one student that stood out.
“… We would often let kids have some supervised computer time playing on a site with lots of letter games, math games, etc for all grades. This kid taught himself how to tell time, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and started division at the end of our school year. He had little to no help with the work.
“If he couldn’t figure something out on his own he’d ask for help once and then be perfectly fine continuing on his own. He’s going on to kindergarten now and I’m so excited to see where he goes in life.” – Reddit user LaurenLumos
“[She] got shut out until she was in junior high because the judges thought she had been coached or prepped somehow.”
“Art is where she really stood out. As a third grader, adults wanted to keep and frame her paintings. She entered a number of competitions but got shut out until she was in junior high because the judges thought she had been coached or prepped somehow. Her work was so impressive that they wouldn’t believe someone her age could have done it. Then, as her age became more ‘credible’ she started winning major awards.
“Gifted kids are often portrayed as Rainman types, but that turns out to be BS. She has such incredible social and interpersonal skills.” – Reddit user pinewind108
“She’d started with the basics fundamental principles and figured out the same equations that the original scientists did. But she did it over night.”
“I once taught a girl who was a genius, she showed it in many ways but one always stuck out.
“This was an A-level physics class (UK so 17/18-year-olds) and for a piece of homework, there was one question that should take them about half a page of working to solve. It was a proof so they knew what the answer was, but they had to figure it out themselves using the input data, selecting the right equations and then showing all the working.
“She turned in her homework and said ‘Sir, I’ve got the right answer but I’m not quite certain how I got there.’
“What she meant was, she knew what she’d done was right but it didn’t match the solution she was supposed to have.
“I take a look and it’s about four pages of working which ends up with the right numbers. I tell her: ‘I’m going to have to look into this overnight and get back to you.’ So I took it home and had a good read.
“Turns out that instead of using the given equations, she’d re-figured out the same equations from first principles, i.e. She’d started with the basics fundamental principles and figured out the same equations that the original scientists did. But she did it overnight.” -Reddit user epiclabtime
“It felt like he had some cheat code enabled or something. He remembered nearly everything, and synthesized information really fast and in great depth.”
“One-year people started warning me about a kid that was coming in. He was supposed to be off the charts smart. Teaching these classes, the ‘genius’ term gets thrown around for the top five-10 kids every year, so I mostly roll my eyes and don’t think too much about it.
“Met the kid and he seemed normal. I gave him a hard time about being smart, and he said it was only math (‘I just started early. I’m not smarter than anyone else’). Then I found out he was taking advanced college maths in middle school. Oh, sure. Just started early.
“But he was clearly on a different level in English as well. Never any errors in his essays, and always a wonderful analysis of complex ideas explained in simple and clear terms. When discussing novels his analysis was stuff I remember my professors pointing out to me when I was in college. A lot of the time it was stuff I missed or only got my third or fourth year teaching it.
“It felt like he had some cheat code enabled or something. He remembered nearly everything and synthesized information really fast and in great depth.
“Wonderful kid too. Very humble, and if you didn’t know him, you’d think he was normal. I hope he does great things with his gifts.” – Reddit user uttuck
“I don’t know where to draw the genius line, but that kid was definitely something special.”
“I teach English to little kids in France, I had a 5-year-old (who speaks English, French, and Russian) explain the International Phonetic Alphabet to me – names of symbols, sounds, and why it’s useful. I don’t know where to draw the genius line, but that kid was definitely something special. Also, he was just the coolest little dude.” – Reddit user cbdhalkyard
“We’d put puzzles, complex work, anything to keep him occupied but he mastered everything pretty quickly.”
“Preschool teacher here. First time ever meeting a child that showed signs of photographic memory was two years ago. It was amazing. He came to my toddler Montessori classroom around the age of 2 1/2.
“We’d put puzzles, complex work, anything to keep him occupied but he mastered everything pretty quickly. The only reason we couldn’t advance him to the preschool classroom was that the class was full and he had to wait till the following September. He was a great kid and it was awesome to watch how he tackled complex problems.” – Reddit user CaitCaitCaitMoMo
For more great stories, head to INSIDER’s homepage.