Getting into Private School

Here we cover the private school admissions process from the application to the interview. Get information on how admissions works, when and how to apply, and tips on preparing for testing and interviewing. Learn what you should look for on a school visit and questions you should ask during the interview.
View the most popular articles in Getting into Private School:
Updated July 16, 2018 |
A Parent’s Guide to Private & Boarding School Entrance Exams
As you’ve been doing your boarding school research, you’ve likely seen ISEE/SSAT score submission requirements for your target schools, and understand how important scores are to the admissions process. Unfortunately, tremendous candidates can get bypassed because they were not able to demonstrate what they knew on test day.

There are many reasons why a private, independent, or boarding school could be the best option for your student. They typically offer thrilling academic challenges, extensive STEM or arts programs, or other remarkable resources. Their student-teacher ratios are excellent, and faculty may have advanced academic degrees and strong professional reputations. While only about 10 percent of students attend private schools nationwide, private school admissions is selective and competitive.

To help distinguish applicants, private schools use standardized testing. The admissions process, especially for those migrating from public to private, can be an eye-opening experience. The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and Secondary School Admissions Exam (SSAT) are the most commonly used admissions tests for private, independent, and boarding schools. The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is often used by Catholic schools for entrance into grade 9.

The ISEE and SSAT are long multiple-choice tests lasting 2-3 hours and potentially covering above-grade-level content. For the 4th grader applying to private middle school, this might the first time they have undergone two hours of solid testing with only one or two short breaks. The best starting point is always to have your student take a full-length diagnostic test. It’s important to know where your child is starting from so that you can help them get to where they need to be.

ISEE & SSAT Similarities and Differences

Start by looking at the websites of your target schools or giving the admissions offices a quick call to

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Updated January 31, 2018 |
Applications 101
Use this hub to keep track of the steps in the private schools' admission process.
Admissions to a private school is a process with many components to it. Both the process and its many components can be confusing to parents dealing with private school admissions for the first time. So, I devised this article as a hub which includes all my articles describing the private school admissions process.
 
The Overview
 
Admissions to Private School: A-Z puts all the information you need to navigate the private school admissions process in one convenient place. Whether you are just beginning or have been through this before, you will find help and advice to guide you. Admissions 101 offers an overview of the private school admissions process, as well as the steps needed to find the right private school for your child. Admissions Checklist will keep you on track as you work through the private school admissions process. Essentially it takes the points covered in the previous two articles and formats them into an easy-to-follow checklist. 5 Challenges To Getting Your Child Into Private School If you are good at organizing projects, the challenges involved in getting your child into private school will not seem especially daunting. Bear in mind that this project will stretch over eighteen months or more. Play the Hand You Have Been Dealt suggests that you need to be objective as you decide which schools will be on your short list. Card games such as bridge and solitaire with multiple decks of cards fascinate me. I have learned to
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Updated May 25, 2017 |
Admissions Matters: The Essay
The admissions essay is an important part of your child's admissions profile. Noodle Pros essay expert Kate Fisher offers some valuable tips about writing the admissions essay.

Editor's Note: I am most grateful to Kate Fisher, who is an expert in admissions essays with Noodle Pros, for explaining how to handle the inevitable essay portion of your child's private school admissions application. ~Rob

If your child is applying to a private middle school or high school, he or she will likely have to write an admissions essay. It is important to remember that this is not a college admissions essay, which means that the standards used to assess your child’s writing ability are lower. However, this also means that it’s much easier for admissions officers to quickly identify essays that a parent, teacher, or tutor has had too heavy a hand in. 

It is extremely difficult to disguise adult involvement in an essay that is supposed to be written by a child applying to middle school or high school. You may feel uncomfortable allowing your child to submit his or her essay without reading it over. If you choose to help him or her by proofreading or editing it, remember to make sure the language, syntax, and sentence structure remain age-appropriate. No private school admissions officer expects a rising sixth grader to write as well as an award-winning novelist, let alone a college-educated adult.

The best way to ensure the success of your child’s admissions essay is to show how to choose the right essay. Most private schools ask applicants to choose one prompt from a list of several. Helping your child brainstorm which topic to write about

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Updated April 02, 2018 |
How To Improve Your SSAT Quantitative Score
The experts at Noodle Pros offer on improving quantitative scores on the commonly used private school standardized admissions test, the SSAT.

I asked the experts at Noodle Pros for suggestions as to how to improve quantitative scores on the commonly used private school standardized admissions test, the SSAT. Their answers follow. ...Rob

Four Noodle Pros give advice on how to improve your SSAT quantitative score: 

1. Be thorough.

Write out your math as thoroughly and as clearly as you can. Even when you can do much of the calculation in your head, it helps a lot to have your step-by-step thinking on paper in front of you. Many times when you get lost or stuck, you can look at what you have written and find your way out of a jam. You can also find and fix the errors in your thinking or your calculation more quickly and more accurately when you can see the work in front of you. Don't do all your math in your head! - Brendan Mernin, 27 Years Tutoring

2. Be confident.

Students do their best when they feel confident. The challenge in maintaining good morale is that the difficulty of the exam can cause students anxiety. Remember that, according to the SSAT website, the SSAT writers design the questions so that only 50 to 60 percent of the test-takers get the question right. Help your child maintain a realistic view of what is expected, and take on preparation in reasonable “chunks.” Start by mastering the questions on content your child already knows, gradually pursue new content or new applications of content, and remind your child

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Updated February 10, 2017 |
The Benefits of Tutoring
How does tutoring work? When should you engage a tutor for your child? Answers to these questions and more.
Photo: Highwaystarz Photography

Editor's note: I asked Noodle Pros to explain how tutoring works and how it might benefit private high school students. Their professional tutors provided the answers to the questions below. ~Rob Kennedy

Noodle Pros is an exclusive group of experienced, professional tutors who work in all tests and subjects from pre-kindergarten to graduate school. Tutors are available in 11 major U.S. cities, internationally, and online.  

1. At what age should parents consider having their children tutored? What are the warning signs that some remediation is necessary? 

Kalen Lister, Pre K-8 Expert: Parents can begin tutoring their children at four years of age to prepare their youngsters for the Pre-K admissions exams and interview readiness. While it seems surprisingly early to some, it can be a positive experience, one that helps kids forge an enthusiastic relationship with learning. Most children enjoy the special time and attention that the one-on-one format provides. Furthermore, they will be more calm and confident on test day if they have been exposed to critical concepts and the various test formats which they will encounter. This usually translates to better scores. Also, a good tutor can provide guidance to the parents about the types of games that will help deepen spatial, phonetic, arithmetic, and aural reasoning.

Many families, however, start incorporating tutoring when their children are in elementary school for any range of remedial needs, test preparation, executive functioning skills, application and interview coaching, and enrichment. If your child exhibits any of the following, a

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Getting into Private School

How Admissions Works

The private school admissions process can be competitive. Explore the process, compile your profile and submit your application with help from our tips and tools. Explore the challenges of getting into private school and the most common mistakes made during the admission process.

Applications

An in depth look at the private school application process. From teacher recommendations to the acceptance letter, we'll explore some of the most crucial aspects of applying to private school. Learn more about when and how to apply, why the deadlines are important and what to do when your child is accepted.

Test Preparation

Standardized tests are a large part of the admission process at many private schools. Here you'll find information on the most commonly used exams and how to prepare for them. Explore the tests, what the scores mean, and how the schools will use them.

School Visits and Interviews

School visits and interviews are an integral part of applying to private school. Learn why it's important to visit and what to do if that is not possible. Explore school visit options like open houses and shadowing. Get valuable tips on a successful interview and learn what questions you should be asking.