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 BPS are also required to confirm Boston residency at a BPS Welcome Center.

    Beginning this school year, BPS is excited to offer the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) for grade 6 students enrolled in a BPS school at the student's school. The school-based testing is during the normal school day at each of the district’s middle and K-8 schools on Thursday, November 7, 2019. The school-based test is not mandatory and only families interested in the exam schools should register for the exam. 

    Grade 6 students attending private, parochial, and public charter schools, and all students in grades 8 and 9, are invited to take the exam on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at one of several test locations across Boston.

    The ISEE is free of charge for all eligible students residing in the City of Boston.

    Superintendent Cassellius’s letter to the Boston Public Schools Community

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    BPS ISEE Bulletin of Information

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    Register for the Exam School Entrance Test


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

    How to Register

    Test registration materials are available at all Boston area schools, all branches of the Boston Public Library, all four BPS Welcome Centers and online.

    BPS Grade 6 students:  

    BPS grade 6 students who did not pre-register are still eligible to take the exam in their schools on November 7.

    Registration for the Saturday test is now closed. 

    BPS students in grades 8 and 9:

    Online registration for the November 9th exam is now closed.  Students who missed the registration period may attend the Make-up Test on Saturday, November 23rd at Boston Latin Academy.  The Make-up Test is walk-in registration only.  Students may report at 8 AM with the required items and register on-site to take the exam.  


    Students not enrolled in BPS: 

    Online registration for the November 9th exam is now closed.  Students who missed the registration period may attend the Make-up Test on Saturday, November 23rd at Boston Latin Academy.  The Make-up Test is walk-in registration only. Students may report at 8 AM with the required items and register on-site to take the exam.  


    Sunday Test Option: Boston Public Schools offers a Sunday test for students who cannot attend the Saturday exam due to their religious beliefs. This special option will be on Sunday, November 10, 2019. After registering, contact 617-635-9512 to request the Sunday test.

    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 (fee applies). The base fee 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. Parents may register for a national test online at www.iseetest.org or call 1-800-446-0320.

    Please note that students may only take the test once within a four-month period.  Families are responsible for the test fee and must schedule a test date between August 1 and November 23, 2019. To ensure that 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 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 the exam.


    • 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 medically treated issue or physical disability.
    • 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.)

    Test accommodation requests for the Saturday, November 23rd exam must be submitted by November 19th. Test accommodations must be approved before test day.

    Test Accommodation Request Form for the Make-Up exam on November 23

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

    Residency Verification

    Parents with students not currently enrolled in the Boston Public Schools MUST complete the Residency Verification Process at a BPS Welcome Center between October 7 and November 22, 2019. Please click here for a checklist of required documents and Welcome Center locations.

    • 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 is planning to attend the November 9th exam, the residency verification must be completed by November 8, 2019.

    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.

    If the student currently 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.

    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 https://www.erblearn.org/parents/isee-preparation#what-to-expect-on-the-isee. Preparation books may also be purchased in a hard copy format for $25. 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. The program accepts students by invitation only. For questions please contact the Office of Opportunity Gaps at 617-635-9419.

    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:

    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 January 2020 the Exam School Admissions Office will distribute school choice forms to collect ranked preferences between the three exam schools and other district BPS school options. 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 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). Student grade information will be collected directly from the applicant's current school.


    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