How to Apply to Exam Schools
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- View our complete School Registration Toolkit for Families.
Important Updates on School Year 2021-2022 Exam School Decisions
May 2021: Exam school decisions were sent to families by email on April 28, 2021. Families should have also received a copy of decision letters by postal mail. Parents may call a BPS Welcome Center directly or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to accept or decline the offer.
March 2021: On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, a court hearing was held regarding this year’s Exam School admission process in response to a lawsuit that was filed. BPS will share any impact the case has on the admissions timeline and send messages directly to families. Updates will be available every two weeks, including adding content to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the BPS Exam Schools landing page as they receive questions from families.
What are Exam Schools?
Boston Public Schools (BPS) has three “exam schools” for students in grades 7–12. Other areas of the country may refer to these types of schools as “magnet schools.”
Boston’s three exam schools are:
Entry into these exam schools is determined by the student’s grades and their performance on a standardized test. Each exam school accepts students entering grade 7 and another group of students in grade 9. The O’Bryant School also accepts a small number of students entering grade 10.
Who is eligible to apply for and attend Exam Schools?
All of the following must be true:
Students must be currently enrolled in 6th, 8th, or 9th grade (O’Bryant only) to apply; and
Students must reside in the City of Boston. Proof of residency is required for students not currently attending Boston Public Schools.
How do you apply to Exam Schools?
For the past 25 years, BPS has used the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) as part of its admission criteria to its three exam schools. As of February 2020, the ISEE test will no longer be used by BPS for exam school admissions. We will provide more information and guidance once a new exam school entrance standard has been selected by BPS. Please read our full statement regarding the elimination of the ISEE test for BPS exam schools.
New Exam School Admission Process for School Year 2021-2022
In October 2020, the Boston School Committee voted to temporarily suspend the use of a new standardized test during the 2020-2021 school year for admission into the three exam schools for school year 2021-2022.
Students can qualify for the exam school applicant pool based on one of the following two criteria:
- Met or Exceeded Expectations on the 2019 ELA and Math MCAS, or
- Earned a B or higher average GPA during the first two terms of School Year 2019-2020
Invitations to each of the exam schools will be allocated to students in the applicant pool using two methods:
- The first 20% of seats at each exam school will be reserved for the top-ranking students citywide based on GPA.
- The remaining 80% of invitations will be distributed using a combination of GPA and student home zip code, and broken down as follows:
- Each zip code in the city will be allocated a number of seats that is proportionate to the percentage of school-aged children living in that zip code
- Students in each zip code will be invited based on their GPA, starting with the highest GPA.
For more information about the 2020-2021 exam school admission process, please visit the BPS Exam School page.
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