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Some Boston-Area Private Schools Dropped Standardized Testing Reqs

A young student erasing an answer from a standardized testing answer sheet.

In private school admissions, the Secondary School Aptitude Test (SSAT) and the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) have long been crucial components of students’ applications. Like the SAT and ACT for college, these test scores help independent school admissions offices evaluate candidates from different schools and regions with a standard metric.

However, just as COVID-19 fundamentally shifted the testing landscape for college admissions, private school admissions have begun to react, too. The public health emergency has disrupted in-person testing for both tests, and technical difficulties have plagued at-home testing, as the number of at-home test-takers has skyrocketed.

As a result, in fall 2020, for the first time ever, a few private schools stepped away from their standardized test score requirement. Citing the closing of in-person testing centers, difficulties with at-home testing, and wider concerns about equity and access, these schools made the submission of standardized test scores optional for the 2020-2021 application cycle.

This is an unprecedented event in independent school admissions, and we don’t yet know how it will play out. The majority of independent schools have not changed their requirements and may not do so before their January and February deadlines. Meanwhile, private school applicants with scores can still choose to submit them and have them evaluated alongside the rest of their materials, so test scores will likely still be a factor for many students.

So, which private schools are test-optional this year? For your convenience, Spark has compiled a list of these schools, which we will update with the latest information.

At this moment, the test-optional independent schools in the Boston area are:

You can also learn more about what “test-optional” means in the context of college admissions (which, for now, is the best point of reference, as this is an unprecedented change for independent schools). And if you’re wondering whether your family would benefit from having a private school admissions consultant, Spark has some thoughts on that as well.





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