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 the entrance exam, submission of grades, and ranking the schools in order of preference.  Parents of students not currently enrolled in the BPS are also required to confirm Boston residency at a BPS Welcome Center.

    The ISEE will be administered free of charge by the Boston Public Schools on Saturday, November 3, 2018. 

    For families that missed the registration period for the November 3rd exam, a make-up test administration will be offered on Saturday, November 17, 2018.

    Register for the ISEE

    Eligibility: Students must be currently enrolled in grades 6, 8, or 9 to register for the ISEE and apply to the Boston exam schools.

    How to Register: Registration is now closed for the Saturday, November 3, 2018 ISEE administration. Boston Public Schools will offer a make-up exam on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Boston Latin School. Students will be able to walk into the test site with the required documents and register on site. Please refer to the residency verification and student identification requirements listed on this website. Additional information regarding the make-up test will be available in mid-October.


    ISEE Make-Up Test Information
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    Sunday Test Option: Boston Public Schools will offer a Sunday test administration for students who cannot sit for the Saturday administration due to their religious beliefs. This special administration will be on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at Boston Latin School. To request a Sunday test for your child, please contact the Exam School Admissions Office at exam@bostonpublicschools.org or 617-635-9512. Parents must still complete the ISEE registration form for the November 3rd test date in order to receive a test ticket.

    National Test Option: Students applying to private and independent schools, as well as the Boston exam schools, are encouraged to register for a national test administration of the ISEE. The base fee of $120 includes both the multiple choice exam and student essay component required by many independent schools, test scores received two weeks or less after the exam, and the option to send the score report to additional schools.   

    Please visit www.iseetest.org or contact 1-800-446-0320 to register for a national exam.  Please note that students may sit for only one test administration within a four-month period (August 1 - November 30, 2018).  Families are responsible for the $120 fee and must schedule a test date on or before November 17, 2018. ERB registers students on a rolling basis based on availability, therefore parents are encouraged to register early. To ensure that the BPS receives the ISEE score report, families must provide school code 888888 during the test registration process.

    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 limited English proficiency to fully participate in a testing situation.  Common accommodations include extending the amount of time students receive to complete the exam, and a small group of 10 or fewer students in the test room. The English Learner (EL) test accommodation allows for the use a bilingual dictionary and extended time on the exam.

    Test accommodations for the November 3 exam are only available at Boston Latin School.


    > To request test accommodations based on a disability, the student must have an Individual Education Plan (IEP), 504 Plan, neuropsychological evaluation, or physician’s letter documenting a medical/health concern that will impact testing.

    > To request the English Learner (EL) test accommodation based on limited English proficiency, students not currently enrolled in the 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.)

    Request Process: The request form is included in the 2018-19 ISEE Bulletin of Information, or you may click here. It is the parent’s responsibility to initiate the request at the student’s current school and ensure the form is submitted with the required documentation.

    Students approved for test accommodations will receive written confirmation by mail at the home address.  The letter will share the specific accommodations approved for the student and provide instructions if the student is allowed to bring in any items. The accommodations confirmation letter must be presented on test day along with the other required documents for entry. If the accommodation request is denied, the Exam School Admissions Office will contact the parent directly.

    Deadline: All requests must be submitted by September 28, 2018, to make arrangements for the November 3rd exam.

    Contact: Maria Vieira, Exam School Admissions Office, 617-635-9512 or exam@bostonpublicschools.org

    NOTE: For students taking a national test administration with the Education Records Bureau (ERB), please contact the company directly for assistance with the test accommodation request process.

    Residency Verification

    The following students must complete the Residency Verification Process at a BPS Welcome Center by Friday, November 16, 2018:

    • 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 is planning to attend the November 3rd exam, the residency verification must be completed by November 2, 2018.

    Details about locations and required documents can be found here: Residency Verification Locations & Schedule

    If the residency verification process is not complete by the required deadline, the student will not be allowed to take the ISEE and will not be eligible for admission to a Boston exam school.

    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.

    Test Preparation

    The Educational Records Bureau (ERB) provides a preparation book for each level of the exam free of charge when downloaded from the website www.iseetest.org. Preparation books may also be purchased in a hard copy format for $20. The book is titled "What to Expect of the ISEE" and is the only preparation material authorized and approved by ERB. Each book includes level-specific background information about the ISEE test and experience, sample questions, a full-length practice test, and scoring information.

    The Exam School Initiative (ESI) strives to increase diversity in the three Boston exam schools – Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the John D. O'Bryant School of Math & Science. The program utilizes certified Boston Public Schools’ ELA and Math teachers to assist students in preparing for the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) in November. The annual program hosted at Boston Latin School runs for two-weeks in August with fall refresher courses in the weeks leading up to the ISEE exam. Traditionally, the program focuses on serving students who attend a Boston Public School. However, grade 5 students who attend a non-BPS school (private, parochial, charter, etc) may be invited to attend based on high scores received on the TerraNova exam on Saturday, October 13, 2018. Please click here for more information on the upcoming exam.

    Take ISEE

    The ISEE administered by the Boston Public Schools consists of four subtests: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics Achievement.  Please note that we do not offer the essay section. The Middle Level test is used for candidates entering grade 7 and the Upper Level test is used for candidates entering grades 9 and 10.

    The exam administration is two hours and ten minutes; however, there are a number of administrative tasks that must be completed by the ISEE staff member prior to the start of the exam.

    Test Day Checklist: In order for students to test with BPS on November 3rd, the following materials must be presented at the test center:

    1. ISEE Test Admission Ticket
    2. Student Identification
    3. Residency Verification Receipt (not required for current Boston Public Schools students)
    4. Five sharpened No. 2 pencils and an eraser

    The majority of students will receive the ISEE admission tickets at their current school the week of the test.  Home-schooled and METCO students will receive the test ticket at the home address.

    Examples of acceptable student identification include:

    • a passport with a recent photo of the child
    • a green card with a recent photo of the child
    • a BPS One Card or School ID
    • a Social Security Card
    • a Report Card from the previous school year
    • a Progress Report from the current school year
    • a Birth Certificate

    Students will not be admitted to the test center without the required documents under any circumstance.

    Rank Exam School Choices and Submit Grades

    In early January the Exam School Admissions Office will distribute the Candidate Release Form for the collection of student grades and ranking of exam school choices. 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.  The form must be returned by the student’s current school by Friday, February 1, 2019.

    The Grade Point Average (GPA) is based entirely on the grades 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 (previous year marks are not required for students applying for grade 10 admission).


    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 ISEE scores, GPA, candidate rank, and admission status.

    Admission decisions are final, and the exam schools do not have waitlists. BPS does not offer an appeal process since admission is strictly based on student academic performance.

    Criteria for admission: The ISEE score counts for 50% of a student’s score, and the Grade Point Average (GPA) counts for 50% of a student’s score.



    Frequently Asked Questions

    2018-2019 ISEE Bulletin of Information:  

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