The Admission Process

The application procedure can be confusing for families new to independent schools. There are specific steps that need to be completed, some with very rigid deadlines. The school's admission office is there to assist in the process. They want to be sure that the match between your child and their school is a good one. The following explain the process and provide helpful suggestions:

Process and Deadlines

Independent schools are as concerned about their students' welfare and success as you are. After you visit several schools, create a "short list" of those you wish to pursue. Complete each selected school's application form, triggering the rest of the admission process. Most schools require a complete application file before making a decision.


The following items are typically required:

  • A completed application form
  • The most recent academic transcript with grades
  • Past standardized testing results
  • Teacher recommendations or observations
  • Results of a standardized admission test and/or a school-administered entrance exam
  • Notes from a formal interview with your child

Remember, all independent schools have slightly different admission procedures, so review each school's requirements carefully. Do not miss individual school application deadlines, but if you do, don't panic. There are many fine independent schools that continue to admit students throughout the academic year and during the summer months.



In most cases, testing is used to evaluate a student's ability to perform inside and outside of the classroom. Often, testing helps schools to understand whether they have an appropriate program for applicants. In some cases, private schools find they are best equipped to serve students with certain testing results that fit within a specific range or percentile. Testing is also used to place accepted students into appropriate classes in their new school.

Many TAIS schools place equal value on the applicant's campus interview, the student's record of achievement, teacher recommendations, and student/parent written statements. In short, test scores cannot tell an individual's full story and admission officials recognize this limitation, even as they require testing.


Testing Instruments

Testing varies tremendously between elementary and secondary schools in the independent school world. Prospective elementary students most often take school-based tests, usually administered by a school psychologist or administrator. Secondary applicants are usually required to sit for standardized tests.

Tests used by private secondary schools include The Secondary School Test Board's Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) and the Educational Records Bureau's Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE). These standardized tests focus on two primary areas: quantitative and verbal skills. Both organizations have helpful websites, online registration and are happy to send general information to familiarize your family with their tests.