Award Criteria
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Award Criteria

Academics' Choice Awards™ bring recognition to the best thinking-based products in the industry. Our standardized approach to product evaluation is rooted in constructivist learning theory and based on a proprietary method developed over many lifetimes with the help of countless educators. In order to be selected as an Academics' Choice™ award winner, the submitted product must be determined by our academic board and evaluation teams to have robust educational value and strengthen cognitive skills. Each submission is evaluated by a panel of product-appropriate judges, including parents, educators, scientists, artists, doctors, nurses, librarians, students and children.

When assessing overall value, we evaluate many attributes, including:


Higher-Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

The product develops imagination and/or inventiveness (creative thinking), or evaluation (critical thinking), or problem solving and decision making, or investigation, or ability to compare and contrast, or analytical skills, etc. Much of our criteria for evaluating the presence of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) were developed by modeling techniques from professors at James Madison University and Cornell University.


General Thinking Skills and Standards

The product develops comprehension, logic, visual perceptual skills, and other general thinking skills, also called Lower Order Thinking Skills (LOTS). The product (depending on type ) addresses various standards, including the Common Core Standards, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards, State Dept. of Education Content Standards, Voluntary National Subject Area Standards, Gifted Program Standards from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), and others.


Character Building

The product develops and/or encourages responsibility, honesty, caring, fairness, cooperation, respect, and other relatively universal values.



The product captures and captivates attention while delivering the intended learning experience. The process fun, exciting and/or delivered an emotional response.


Ease of First/Simultaneous/Repeat Use

The product is relatively easy for the intended audience to get started and continue. Instructions/directions were clearly written and easy to follow. The product can be used by more than one student at a time. The product attracts genuine desire to replay/reuse.



The product is well-made, able to endure usage from the intended audience. The product is something teachers and retailers would be proud to have on their shelves, and/or parents would give as a mind-building gift.


Innovative and Unique

The product is new and exciting, or a twist on a classic, or a new way of seeing/doing that promotes development of the mind.


Selection Process and Criteria

Each product is evaluated independently based on its own merit, type, and claims, using a standardized evaluation method.

During the evaluation process, products are used by qualified testers in a variety of settings, including observed focus groups, homes, and/or schools. Comments and evaluation forms are integrated with feedback from our academic board of advisors to form our final evaluation.

We accomplish our mission with the help of educators and families all over this wonderful planet. Students, parents, and educators learn new lessons, read stories, relax to rhythms, test toys and games, all while observing, evaluating and reporting. We require a lot of our testers when evaluating products submitted to the Academics’ Choice Awards program, but we all know its worth our time. Join the team, help us promote and review products that develop the mind.

We comb the earth searching for great products, but the recommendations from people just like you are invaluable.

Submit your product to be considered for an Academics' Choice Award™.

Discover all the Free Award Benefits for winners, and how we help great products gain attention from millions of potential buyers.