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Everything You Need to Know about NYC High School Admissions

Everything You Need to Know about NYC High School Admissions

Ivy Tutors Network’s founder, Lisa Speransky, recently sat down for an information-packed webinar with admissions experts, Katie Miller and Chantal Aflalo. The subject was “everything you need to know about New York City high school admissions.” Here’s what we learned...

Lisa Speransky
Lisa Speransky
High School Admissions

Ivy Tutors Network’s founder, Lisa Speransky, recently sat down for an information-packed webinar with admissions experts, Katie Miller and Chantal Aflalo. The subject was “Everything You Need to Know About New York City High School Admissions.” Here’s what we learned:

Cast a Wide Net

There are so many amazing high schools in New York City, both public and private. Some of the options include:

Public High School in New York City

Private High School in New York City

  • Independent Schools
  • Parochial and Other Religious Schools
  • Boarding Schools

All of these schools have different educational philosophies and admissions modalities, but they are all worth looking into and considering. The wider you cast your next, the more likely you are to find a school your child will be happy at. By not fixating on one school, you keep your options open and avoid any major disappointments.

When it comes to casting a wide net, here are our recommendations:

  • Include public, independent, parochial and or charter schools on your list.
  • If you are interested in Specialized High schools, SHSAT prep is very important. Aim for 30-40 points above the cut-off score for your child’s first-choice school.
  • Any artistic interest or talent? Consider applying to LaGuardia and public general education audition schools.

Empty class

Сreate a Balanced List

We recommend creating a list of 8-12 schools, but it must be balanced! This means that your list will include both highly competitive schools with a limited number of seats, and schools that have fewer applicants per seat. You should also consider adding schools with different admission modalities (SHSAT, audition, lottery etc.).

Be aware of approximately how many seats are available to your child at schools of interest. Your favorite school(s) should still find a place on your list, BUT do not weigh your list too heavily with schools that have minimal seats available for your child. Schools with 100(ish) seats will often, realistically, only have about 30-50 seats available to your general education child, and 20ish seats available to your SWD (student with disabilities) child. A K-12 or a 6-12 school may have between 20-40 seats TOTAL available.

Remember, creating a balanced list gives your child the best chance of receiving an offer from a school you choose for them.

Start a Spreadsheet

Now that you have a balanced list, start a spreadsheet. There’s a lot to keep track of. Public, private, and boarding schools all have different admissions timelines. Different schools require different tests and application materials. It’s useful to have a spreadsheet or other organizational system to keep track of what you need to submit and when.

Have a Plan for Test Prep

Whatever test your child is taking, it’s important to have a plan. Here’s a brief rundown of the different tests and what schools they’re for:

  • SHSAT - This is the test for specialized public high schools. Admission to these schools is based solely on your child’s score. For more about SHSAT check out our article.
  • ISEE and SSAT - These tests are required for admission to most independent and boarding schools. Many schools will accept either one, but it’s important to look at the requirements for the individual schools on your list before deciding which one to take. Check out article about differences between ISEE and SSAT.
  • TACHS - This is the admission test of the Catholic high schools in and around New York City. Find out more about TACHS here.

Test preparation should begin at least 3 months before your test date. Start by having your child take a diagnostic test, and based on their performance, determine a plan of action. It’s important to know what is on each test and have your child commit to a consistent study plan (approximately 30 minutes of study per day).

One of the best ways to prepare is to have your child read. Reading books and periodicals daily (The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times, etc.) with complex ideas and difficult vocabulary is the best way to study without studying!

Although some schools are now test optional, many schools would still like to see a score. A strong score can be a big admissions boost! That being said, you should evaluate whether or not the test will help or hurt your child’s application.

Ivy Tutors Network provides both diagnostic testing and a team of expert, caring tutors to get your child’s test prep plan on track.

It’s an Evolving Situation, so be Proactive

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about how admissions will work this season. For example, we don’t yet know if there will be in-person open houses for the public schools. Be proactive and regularly check the websites of the schools you’re interested in for updates. This will allow you to make sure you snag a spot at that tour or open house as soon as it becomes available. Although we don’t have all the information yet, you can still be prepared for what’s coming up by following the advice in this post.

Also, check out our overview of 2020/2021 NYC High-School Admission Results.

Table with books, an apple, and letter blocks

Get Excited!

Few places in the world have such a wide and diverse array of schools as New York City. Although it may feel like a lot to navigate, you and your child should feel excited about all the incredible educational opportunities on offer. If you stick to these guidelines, you’ll be sure to find the right school for your child, and they’re sure to have an amazing high school experience!


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