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The Admissions Process

If you are applying to private schools, the admissions process is similar across schools, and applicants will be asked to tour the school, complete an application, write an essay, be tested, send your child’s middle school transcript, and the parents and child may be interviewed.

In contrast, the application process for public schools varies by where you live in the City and by type of school. Selective high schools assess students on the basis of one or more of the following items:

  • Application
  • Writing sample
  • Recommendations from a former middle school teacher
  • Student interviews
  • Middle school transcripts
  • Standardized test scores
  • Performance on a school exam
  • Audition

High School Entrance Exams

Most private schools, Catholic schools and specialized public high schools require their applicants to submit their scores from a standardized test. For example, eight of the nine specialized public high schools and some of the selective public high schools require applicants to take the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). Most private day high schools require applicants to submit their scores from the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) administered by the Education Records Bureau (ERB), while most boarding high schools require their applicants to take the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT). Finally, most Catholic high schools require applicants to take one of three entrance exams, the Test for Admissions into Catholic High Schools (TACHS), the Cooperative Entrance Exam (COOP), and the High School Placement Test (HSPT). 

Please click on the following link to learn more about the high school entrance exams.

More Information about the Admissions Process

To obtain more detailed information about applying to private schools, please click on the Private High School Admissions Process link.

To learn more about the registration rules and requirements of the New York City public school system, please click on the Public School Education Process link.

Please see the handout section near the bottom of the parent guide to learn tips regarding the school tours, writing a compelling essay for the application, reference letters, entrance exams, admissions officers' pet peeves, admissions decisions as well as financial aid and scholarships.