Middle Schools

Early adolescence is a time of remarkable physical, mental and social growth.  Children begin to distance themselves from adults and turn to their peers to learn about the world. Middle schools need to provide a strong sense of community with an academic setting that accommodates the unique learning styles of 11 to 14 year old children. This section will help you learn about the different types of middle schools in the Greater Boston Area as well as help you navigate the public and private middle school admissions process.

You will need to start thinking about the private and public middle school admissions process during the summer after your child completes 4th grade or the fall semester of 5th grade, because most middle schools in the Greater Boston Area begin in the 6th grade. This section helps you:

  • Understand the educational profile of your child who is entering the most academically and emotionally challenging time of her or his life
  • Select a type of school that meets your child's and family's needs
  • Navigate the private and public middle school admissions process

The Admissions Process

Parents will quickly learn that admission to the private and selective public middle schools is similar to the process, if not more complex, when they themselves applied to college. You may need to apply to several schools, tour the schools, take an entrance exam, complete the application, be interviewed and wait for an acceptance letter. This section will help you navigate this process.

The application process for public middle schools varies by school. Private schools and public selective schools assess students on the basis of one or more of the following items:

  • Application
  • Writing sample
  • Recommendations from former elementary school teachers
  • Student and parent interviews
  • Elementary school transcripts
  • Entrance exams
  • Auditions

The three public exam schools in Boston and most private day middle schools in the Greater Boston Area require applicants to submit their scores from the three hour Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) administered by the Education Records Bureau (ERB). There is a lower level test for 6th graders and a middle level test for 7th and 8th graders. The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) is primarily used by boarding schools.

Please click on the following link to learn more about the ISSE and SSAT Exams.

More Information about the Admissions Process

    To obtain more detailed information about applying to private middle schools, please click on the Private Middle School Admissions Process link.

    To learn more about the registration rules and requirements of the Boston public school system, please click on the Boston Public School Education Process link.

    To learn more about the registration rules and requirements of the Cambridge public school system, please click on the Cambridge Public School Education Process link.

    Please see the handout section near the bottom of the parent guide for tips regarding the school tours, writing a compelling essay for the application, reference letters, admissions officers' pet peeves, admissions decisions as well as financial aid and scholarships.

    Your Child's and Family's Educational Profile

    Before you look at different middle schools, you need to understand your child’s educational profile as well as clarify your family's educational goals and practical concerns. This section will help you ask the right questions to identify the characteristics of schools that will best suit your child's and family's needs.

    Your Child's Educational Profile

    Your child's educational profile will focus on these areas:

      Please click here to learn more about these aspects of your child's educational profile for middle school.

      Your Family's Educational Goals And Practical Considerations

      Regardless of your child’s skill development and interests, parents may also have academic goals and/or practical considerations that are important. Some educational issues that you may want to consider are:

        Moreover, there may some practical considerations that are important, including:

        • Transportation
        • Location
        • Cost

          Please click the following link  to learn more about your family's educational goals and practical concerns regarding middle schools.

          Selecting Middle Schools

          There are over 400 public and private middle schools in the Greater Boston Area, and all of them have their own personalities and differ by educational approach, structure, size, cost, grades served and other characteristics.This section discusses the various types of middle schools in the Greater Boston Area.

          Once you have a clear understanding of your academic goals as well as your child’s educational profile, you are ready to identify the schools that would be a good fit. The following are some characteristics you will want to consider:

          • Public versus private school
          • For public schools: Which type of program
          • For private schools: Prestigious or lesser known schools
          • Educational philosophy of school
          • Distance from home
          • Large versus small schools
          • Dual language programs
          • Charter schools
          • School structure
          • School culture
          • Coeducational versus single sex schools
          • Feeder schools

            Please click on the following link to learn more detailed information regarding middle school characteristics.

            Resources and Our Services

            To help parents navigate the middle school admissions process, we offer several services including:

            • A school finder and comparison tool
            • Handouts to prepare for school tours and interviews
            • Eduprofile
            • Workshops
            • Individual consulting

            School Finder and Comparison Tool

            To help parents navigate the middle school admissions process, the website has a school finder and a comparison tool allowing parents to identify a set of schools that meet their child's and family's needs as well as to compare these schools on characteristics such as educational philosophy, cost, test scores, and attendance rates. To learn more about these services, please click on the School Finder Tab above.

            Handouts

            Moreover, the website has handouts that help parents prepare for the child and parent interviews, the entrance exams as well as the school tours.  Included is also  a survey to help parents keep track of the strengths and weaknesses of each school they visit.

            Please click on the following links to download the handouts:

              In addition, we provide more personal services to help parents navigate the middle school admissions process, including eduprofile, workshops and individual consulting. To learn how to purchase these services, please click on the Our Services Tab.

              Eduprofile

              We have created a survey that will help us determine your child’s educational profile as well as your family’s educational goals and practical concerns. More specifically, the questionnaire asks you about your child’s basic learning capacity, skill development, special interests, learning styles, motivation to learn, social temperament and disabilities. In addition, the survey asks parents questions regarding the importance of various educational characteristics (e.g., what content is emphasized, teaching methods, classroom behavior management approach and school community) as well as any practical considerations that are important, including the school’s type, location, educational approach, schedule, transportation, and cost. Once we have reviewed the survey, we will send you information about your child’s educational profile as well as a list of schools that we think will meet your child’s and family’s needs.

              Workshops

              We offer the following 2-hour workshops:

              • Navigating the middle school admissions process
              • Preparing children for the entrance exams

              The middle school admissions process workshop provides parents with tips regarding 1) how to identify the middle schools that meet your families’ needs, 2) the logistics of the admissions process, 3) touring schools, 4) parent interviews, 5) preparing your child for interviews, 6) writing a compelling essay, and 7) juggling acceptances and wait-list offers. 

              The second workshop, preparing students for the middle school entrance exams, explains the rationale behind the admissions tests required by many middle schools. Parents will also learn how to prepare their child to be as comfortable as possible on the date of the test.

              Individual Consulting Services

              We provide individual consulting services to parents who would like help navigating the public and private middle school admissions process. More specifically, we can help parents with any one or all of the following steps:

              Step 1) Develop your child's and family's educational profile

              Step 2) Identify the middle schools that meet your child’s and family’s needs

              Step 3) Understand the logistics of the admissions process

              Step 4) Prepare for the school tours as well as the parent and student interviews

              Step 5) Complete the application and write a compelling essay

              Step 6) Select the best school for your child and family