Testing requirements at New York City private schools have changed in light of the pandemic. Many schools have gone “test optional,” meaning they no longer require the submission of test scores alongside admissions applications. However, many schools still require testing, and submitting scores can still be an advantage at test-optional schools. Therefore, testing remains an important factor of many applications, but it’s also a component that stresses out many students and parents. Preparing for NYC private school testing can seem daunting on top of an already busy school schedule, but we’re here to help guide you through the preparation process.
We recommend that families review the “Admissions” section of each of their target schools’ websites as early as possible to double-check which standardized tests they require for students of relevant age. Then, register your student for appropriate tests as soon as possible to get the date on the calendar. In the process, don’t forget to check if your student is eligible for testing accommodations, and register for those if applicable.
In terms of actual NYC private school testing options: many schools require scores from either the ISEE or SSAT tests. Most students take the tests sometime between October and December. While the SSAT can be taken multiple times per year, keep in mind that students can only take the ISEE once per testing season; “seasons” are defined as Fall (August –November), Winter (December–March), and Spring/Summer (April –July). Because the NYC admissions season includes both the Fall and Winter ISEE seasons, students can test twice within the heat of the admissions season if they need to.
NYC private school testing is challenging. Tests require comfort with vocabulary, reading comprehension, math, reasoning, and writing skills. It’s a good idea to start preparing as early as possible! We strongly recommend making a several-month study plan, rather than trying to cram; long-term study almost always yields higher scores. Some families engage a tutor to help create a study plan and stay on track; other families commit to self-studying, often with the help of test prep books or online courses. Regardless, it’s important to lay out a clear plan, and build studying into your child’s day-to-day routine. For more specific test prep tips, check out our guest blog post from Ivy Tutors Network.
As you get closer and closer to test day, do your best to be a calming presence for your child. For most students, NYC private school testing is their first time sitting for a long standardized test. Your child might well feel like the test is very high-stakes, depending on their goals for the admissions process. This pressure can be intense for many students (and parents too!), so we recommend taking proactive steps to relax and keep a healthy perspective. Reward studying with enjoyable experiences, and remind your child that you’ll love them no matter what score they receive.
It’s also important to keep in mind that test scores are only one portion of the application that admissions committees will review. Admissions is a holistic process; schools are looking to get to know your whole child and whole family, not just one data point from one day of testing. Even if your child’s scores don’t end up as high as you were hoping, there are plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their unique personality and fit for a school via essays, parent statements, interviews, and more.
As you embark on your NYC private school testing journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need any assistance. We provide customized guidance for each and every one of our families, including referrals to local tutors and other test prep resources.