Types of Private School Admissions Tests

There are several different types of admissions tests that private schools may require as part of the admission process. Each one has a specific purpose, and tests different aspects of a child's preparation for private school. Some admission tests measure IQ, while others look for learning challenges or areas of exceptional achievement. The high school admissions tests basically determine a student's readiness for the rigorous college prep studies most private high schools offer. While admissions tests are important, they are only one of several things which the admissions staff looks at when reviewing your application. Other important factors include transcripts, recommendations, and the interview. 

Entrance exams might be optional at some schools, but in general, these are important aspects of the admission process. Here are some of the most common types of private school admission tests.

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COOP

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The COOP or Cooperative Entrance Examination is a standardized admissions test used in Roman Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Paterson.
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EXPLORE is an assessment test used by high schools to determine the readiness of 8th and 9th graders for secondary level academic work. It was created by the same organization which produces ACT, the college admissions test. More »

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ISEE

The ISEE is to private schools admissions testing what the ACT test is to college admissions testing. The truth is that more students take the SSAT than the ISEE, but both exam results are typically accepted at schools. While schools will specify which standardized admissions test they want you to take, many schools allow you to make the choice.

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HSPT

HSPT® is the High School Placement Test. Many Roman Catholic high schools use the HSPT® as a standardized admissions test for all students applying to school.

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SSAT

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SSAT is the Secondary School Admissions Test. This standardized admissions test is offered at test centers throughout the world and is one of the most widely used exams by private schools everywhere. The SSAT serves as an objective assessment of a student's skills and readiness for high school academics.

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TACHS is the Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools. Roman Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn/Queens use the TACHS as a standardized admissions test. More »
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OLSAT

OLSAT is the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test. It is an aptitude or learning readiness test produced by Pearson Education. The test was originally devised in 1918. It is frequently used to screen children for entry into gifted programs. The OLSAT is not an IQ test like WISC. Private schools use the OLSAT as one indicator of how successful a child will be in their academic environment.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is an intelligence test which produces an IQ or intelligence quota. This test is commonly administered to candidates for primary grades. It is also used to determine if any learning difficulties or issues are present. More »

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The Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a standardized test normally taken in 10th or 11th grades. It is also a standardized test which many private high schools accept as part of their applications process. Our College Admissions Guide explains how the test works in case you decide to take it. More »
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The SAT is a standardized test normally used as part of the college admissions process. But many private high schools also accept SAT test results in their applications process. Our Test Prep Guide shows you how the SAT works and what to expect. More »
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TOEFL

If you are an international student or student whose native language is not English, you will probably have to take TOEFL. The Test of English as a Foreign Language is administered by the Educational Testing Service, the same organization which does SATs, LSATs and many, many other standardized tests.

Kelly Roell, About.com's Test Prep Guide, offers sound advice and lots of encouragement. Plenty of practice and adequate preparation are important for success on any test. But equally important are your attitude and your understanding of the test structure. Kelly shows you what to do and how to be successful. More »