Getting Into NYC Private Schools

May 15, 2017


How are NYC private schools different than public schools?

Private schools have freedom in developing their curriculum and can have vastly different focuses. Want a school focused on the arts? NYC has a private school. Looking for a school that covers Pre-K through 12th grade? NYC has it! NYC is a gem with a ton of private school options.  


Private schools typically have a curriculum that is ahead of the public education system - in many cases private school kindergarteners are required to have the maturity level to comprehend multi step instructions. For this reason, private school students typically begin at a slightly older age, due to the academic requirements which are generally not applied or expected at most pub


lic schools.


Testing Process

So how do you apply? Once you have made a list of the private schools you are considering, it is crucial to check in with the schools themselves and find out which test, if any, they require. There is no one uniform test for private schools like there is with the Gifted and Talented program in NYC public schools. If you’re applying to multiple private schools, your child may have to take different tests and it's important to help prepare them for those exams. In most cases, private schools require at least an interview process for your child (and perhaps for you too!). It is important to know in advance your priorities - if there is a particular school you feel you have the best shot at, then research their process intently, and give it everything you’ve got!



One such admissions test that a pre-k student may expect to see is the AABL (Admission Assessment for Beginning Learners). Only a handful of private schools in NYC require students to take this test, Riverdale being one, for example. The AABL is administered in a group setting, but students are expected to make their own answer choices with no teacher instruction. Most students find this test very challenging, as it is administered on an iPad, and students most listen closely to the instructions given to them through headphones. This test also requires basic math and literacy skills which for most pre-k students is a big ask - they are generally expected to be working a grade level ahead.


The AABL is challenging for many reasons: it can be very hard for kids to concentrate in a room with other children. Additionally, since the test is self administered, and on an iPad, there is no way to prevent your child from randomly clicking on answers, perhaps thinking it’s a game, without actually working towards the correct answer. In spite of all this, if your dream school requires the AABL, Bright Kids is here to help prepare your child for the big day!


How We Can Help

A unique aspect of Bright Kids is that we have created a tablet-based diagnostic test, mirroring the content and time restrictions that they will expect to see on the day. Our diagnostic is self-navigated, just like the AABL exam, and our teachers evaluate your child’s results to create a customized curriculum geared to your child’s specific needs. Mastering the content for this exam can be a lengthy process, and our team is here to ensure that your child has a positive and valuable learning experience.


The Interview!

Interviews are a common part of most private school applications.Helping your child become comfortable having conversations with adults will help take away some of the anxiety of the interview. From the moment you and your family begin the tour of a school, be aware that the interview process has essentially begun. Ensure that your prospective student is on their best behavior, and that everyone involved is taking the process seriously.


Most schools also require a parent interview, and this aspect can really make a difference. Finally,  part of this process where you can stay in control! The person who is interviewing you wants a family to join their community. This is your chance to explain why your family would be a good fit for the school. When you are preparing for the parent interviews, know the answerer to such questions as, “ tell me about your child” and “why this school”. Do NOT give a generic answer. Be prepared to show the school you have invested in understanding the school's values and how they coincide with your own family values. Do not check your phone! Be attentive and friendly! Engage in a pleasant conversation with whoever is conducting the interview. Schools are wary of families who appear who appear difficult or demanding. One last tip! Do not lie about your child on an application - they will ask your child about their interests. If you tell the school little Sarah loves ballet and and she says she hates it, it's going to look bad. Being honest about your child will help you find the best fit for you and your family.


Applying to private schools in NYC can be hectic, but it can be a fun experience. NYC has so many school options, and there is a perfect fit for you and your family out there. Bright Kids is here to help guide you through the process, so that your child is prepared for the testing and interviewing process, and the years ahead.


Please reload

Featured Posts

Home Together? Now What?

April 6, 2020

Please reload

Recent Posts