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The Admissions Process

The application process for public middle schools varies by school. Private schools and public selective schools assess students on the basis of one or more of the following items:

  • Application
  • Writing sample
  • Recommendations from former elementary school teachers
  • Student and parent interviews
  • Elementary school transcripts
  • Entrance exams
  • Auditions

Middle School Entrance Exams

Unlike selective public elementary and high schools, there is not a standard entrance exam for 5th graders to take that is required by all of the City’s public selective middle school programs. Some selective schools have developed their own entrance exam, while others do not have an exam but do have minimum requirements in terms of scores on standardized tests taken in elementary school. Other selective schools will require some combination of an application, an interview, essays, or auditions (for those students with artistic or musical talents). Moreover, some zoned neighborhood schools have "special progress" programs for high-achieving students (generally, top 15 percent on the standardized tests taken in elementary school).

Most private day middle schools require applicants to submit their scores from the three hour Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) administered by the Education Records Bureau (ERB). There is a lower level test for 6th graders, and a middle level test for 7th and 8th graders. The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) is primarily used by boarding schools.

Please click on the following link to learn more about the ISSE and SSAT Exams.

More Information about the Admissions Process

To obtain more detailed information about applying to private middle schools, please click on the Private Middle 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 Registration 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.