Exam Schools

  • The Boston Public Schools (BPS) has three exam schools: Boston Latin Academy, Boston Latin School, and the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. All three schools accept new students for grades 7 and 9. The O’Bryant School also accepts a limited number of new students for grade 10.

    Students who are interested in attending an exam school must complete an application process that includes taking an exam, submission of grades, and ranking the schools in order of preference. Parents of students not currently enrolled in BPS are also required to confirm Boston residency at a BPS Welcome Center. 

    Historically, BPS has used the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE). The contract with Educational Records Bureau (ERB), the organization that administers the ISEE test, expired on June 30, 2020. In Fall 2019, BPS began planning to conduct a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to secure a new admissions test for the next admissions cycle, which begins September 2020. On July 2, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) named NWEA as the vendor to administer the assessment for three of its 7-12 selective admissions schools that require an exam as one part of the admissions criteria. BPS is actively planning for the new admission cycle, with consideration of state guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have additional questions, you may contact BPS Welcome Services at examschoolsrfp@bostonpublicschools.org

    Information about the Next Admission Cycle for School Year 2021-2022 Enrollment (current 5th, 7th, and 8th graders)

    Register for the Exam School Entrance Test


    Students must be currently enrolled in grades 6, 8, or 9 in order to take the exam and apply for admission to the BPS exam schools. 

    How to Register

    Test registration materials will be made available for the next admission cycle, in the fall of 2020. We will provide updates on this process as the district and state develops school reopening plans in light of COVID-19. Please check back for updated information.

    Request Testing Accommodations (for students who have Limited English Proficiency and who have a disability)

    Test accommodations are any modifications made to the exam or testing conditions that allow students with disabilities or with limited English proficiency to fully participate in testing. Common accommodations include extending the length of time students receive to complete the exam and having a small group of 10 or fewer students in the test room. The English Learner (EL) test accommodation allows for the use of a bilingual dictionary and/or extended time on an exam.


    • To request test accommodations based on a disability, the student must have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan.
    • To request the English Learner (EL) test accommodation based on limited English proficiency, students not currently enrolled in BPS are required to take an English Proficiency Test provided by the BPS Newcomer Assessment Office to determine eligibility. Current Boston Public Schools students must have an English Language Development (ELD) level 1-5 to be eligible for this accommodation.

    Residency Verification

    Parents of students who are not currently enrolled in the Boston Public Schools are required to complete the Residency Verification Process in person at a BPS Welcome Center in order for their student to be eligible to take the admissions test.

    Students who must complete the Residency Verification Process include:

    • Students attending private school
    • Students attending parochial school
    • Students attending METCO program schools
    • Students attending Commonwealth Charter schools (excludes UP Academy, Boston Green Academy, and other “in district” BPS charter schools)
    • Students attending schools outside the City of Boston
    • Students being home-schooled must demonstrate that both the student and parent/guardian live in the city of Boston through the residency verification process

    If the student attends a public school outside of the Boston Public School district, we will require a letter from the respective Superintendent from that city or town stating that they are aware of Boston residency, as per our requirement, but attending their public school. The letter must be original, notarized, on school district letterhead, and must be presented in person with the BPS required residency documents during the verification period. (Not applicable for students attending METCO program schools.) 

    Note: The residency verification must be completed even if you have other children enrolled in the Boston Public Schools; your student is receiving special education services from BPS; you are a current city employee; or if your child was previously enrolled in the BPS.

    The dates for the residency verification period will be made available on bostonpublicschools.org/exam. Please check back for up-to-date information.  If the residency verification process is not completed by the required deadline, the student will not be allowed to take the admissions test and will not be eligible for admission to a Boston exam school.

    Test Preparation

    We know some parents are already thinking about how to help their child prepare for the admissions process and some may have already begun test preparation. The best test prep is daily attendance in school and learning grade-level reading and math. For those who are already participating in test prep programs, we encourage you to speak with the provider to ensure the materials are appropriate for your student’s grade and aligned to Massachusetts learning standards.

    The Exam School Initiative (ESI), managed by the Office of Opportunity Gaps, is a racial equity initiative that intends on expanding access to historically underrepresented students - Black, Latinx, English Learner, and economically disadvantaged students - to the district’s exam schools: Boston Latin Academy, the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, and especially at Boston Latin School. As a targeted strategy of the Boston Public Schools, ESI enrollment is by invitation only and prioritizes BPS students.

    ESI will serve 650 students through three components detailed in the table below. While the program originally planned to serve 850 students, the demands of virtual learning have required that resources be reallocated to intensive family engagement, communication and support. The Virtual Extension is an effort to ensure that BPS students have sufficient opportunity to master the ELA and Math standards given challenges presented due to school closures. The Summer Institute will provide the traditional two-week where students will receive a total of 3 hours of Math and ELA instruction virtually over ten days. The Ramp Up has historically taken place on Saturdays at Boston Latin School, but is being planned as virtual; students will receive test-prep instruction over five days the week leading up to the test.

    ESI Program

    ESI Summer 2020

    Please see the ESI 2020 FAQ Sheet for more information. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Opportunity Gaps at examschoolprep@bostonpublicschools.org.

    The new admissions test is strongly aligned to the Massachusetts learning standards for Math and ELA. You can access information on these through the MA Department for Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Learning Standards for Families site.

    Ranking Exam School Preferences and Grade Collection for the 2021-2022 School Year Enrollment

    Ranking School Choices: In January, the Exam School Admissions Office will distribute school choice forms to collect ranked preferences between the three exam schools. You will also be able to rank other BPS school options on this form if you so choose. Parents are able to apply to one, two, or all three exam schools for grade 7 and 9 admission. Students currently in grade 9 may only apply for grade 10 admission at the John D. O’Bryant School. Ranking your exam school preferences is not an indication of invitation to an exam school. We collect school choice rankings from all applicants prior to sending out invitations.

    Grade Collection: The Grade Point Average (GPA) is based entirely on the marks submitted by your child’s school. If your child attended a different school last year, other than a Boston Public School, please make sure the current school has a copy of the official transcript. (Note that previous year marks are not required for students applying for grade 10 admission). Student grade information is collected directly from the applicant's current school.

    Notification of Invitation

    Admission decisions are sent to families in mid-March to both the mailing address and parent email address on file. The decision letter will include the student’s test scores, calculated GPA based on marks submitted by the applicant’s school, how the student ranked among other applicants, and their admission status. Admission decisions are final.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Superintendent Cassellius’s Letter to BPS Community - April 20

    Superintendent Cassellius’s Letter to BPS Community Regarding Admissions Test Change