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Entrance Testing and Interviews

Real answers to some hard questions about private school admissions

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Admission Matters is an annual information evening presented by eight independent, single-sex schools on issues related to education and the admission process. The events provide an opportunity to ask some difficult questions of school administrators, in panel, about aspects of private education. Collected here are some questions that have been raised at past events, as well as the responses that were given. Admission Matters takes place each fall. This year’s event will be hosted by the Centre for Creative Learning (CCL) at the Crescent School on September 28. For event details, click here.

 

Is it harder to gain entrance in later years compared to early years?

Every school will have what can be termed ‘natural points of entry.' These occur when a school has strategically created space in certain grades to enable new families to enter the school. For many, the final natural point of entry is grade 9 with entry to grade 10 and 11 being driven by attrition from the previous year. Most points of entry happen prior to grade 9 with many admitting to grade 1, 3, 5 and 7. It is best to check with each school about where they admit and how many spots are typically available.

How should we prepare for the interview? As parents and the applicant?

The interview is best for everyone when the student is allowed to be his or her authentic self. Over-preparing can lead to additional stress and time spent on many topics that may never be covered. Come to your interview ready to chat about yourself and what you like. Be comfortable with yourself, speak from the heart and engage in the conversation.

Are parents assessed as part of the interview process?

It is likely no surprise that when a student is admitted, so is the family. While everyone wants the student and school match to be a good match, we all want the match to be good for the entire family. As a result, many of the schools will spend some time chatting with the parents in an effort to better learn about the family match beyond the student match.

What is the SSAT and do all schools use it?

The SSAT is a test of Math and English that some schools use as part of the admission process. Not all schools use it and you should contact each school in which you have an interest to determine if, and how, it is used.

How important is the SSAT?

There is a fair bit of variety with this answer. On the whole, most schools view this as a complementary piece of information but not a priority piece of information. It is one of the only common threads in an admission process and can be helpful in complementing the information gathered through school reports. It is important that you ask each school how they value the outcomes of the SSAT.

If my student has previously written the SSAT, do they need to rewrite it?

It is never recommended that a student write the test more than once in the same admission cycle. The stress level is elevated and the outcomes are rarely all that different. If you are curious about having written it one year and if it needs to be written in the following year, that is best addressed by each school in which you have an interest.

What types of tests do your schools use for younger grades?

Many schools will use an in-house test for younger applicants. Typically, they will cover Math and English and in some cases, a school may ask applicants in to the school for a period of time to better understand the fit.

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