Application Essentials for the Top 20 U.S. Private High Schools

Applying to private high schools can feel daunting. For many students, it’s the first time they’ve had to complete an application of this sort or take on serious standardized testing.

While the private school application process is definitely involved, it’s nothing that can’t be managed with a proper mindset, timeline, and study plan. We encourage families to start thinking about where they want to apply early and know the important deadlines for those schools.

Students should also begin studying for the SSAT plenty of time before their first official test date and be prepared to take the SSAT more than once. The first step towards independent school success is strong SSAT scores, and you want to put yourself in the best position possible to stand out.

To help with your planning, we’ve compiled a list of important dates, deadlines, and other application essentials for the top 20 private high schools in the U.S.

Here’s what we cover in this post:


The Private School Application in a Nutshell

Every private high school in the U.S. is different, but most applications require students to submit the same general materials, which typically involve the following:

  • an academic transcript
  • letters of recommendation
  • SSAT scores
  • an interview
  • and/or essay or writing sample

Many competitive high schools have application components in addition to these general requirements, such as interviews, parent/guardian statements, supplementary letters of recommendation, portfolios, graded writing samples, and essay questions.

Some schools might have “optional” or “suggested” requirements, such as the SSAT Character Skills Snapshot.

We encourage families to familiarize themselves with all application requirements for each school of choice and to consider submitting optional components if possible. While this doesn’t necessarily guarantee acceptance, these additional components can potentially provide admissions officers with greater insight into your student’s potential.

If you have any questions about the application process for a specific school, feel free to contact the admissions office. Most school representatives are more than happy to provide further insight into SSAT score requirements, candidate statements, transcript submission, etc.


Application Essentials for the Top 20 U.S. Private High Schools

The list below compiles application essentials for the most competitive U.S. private high schools in New England. There are numerous competitive private schools in this region, and their application standards are representative of most schools.

We update these details regularly for your convenience.

Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter, NH)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Essay questions, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation (optional), special interest recommendation (optional), SSAT character skills snapshot (optional)

Phillips Academy Andover (Andover, MA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: February 1 (February test scores accepted if all other materials are in prior to February 1)
  • Application deadline: February 1
  • Rolling Admissions: No, but there is a “second round” admissions process for students applying after February 1. Call the admissions office for more information.
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Graded writing sample, short answer and essay questions, parent/guardian statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation, special interest recommendation (optional)

The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, NJ)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: February 1
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes
  • Application Portal: Apply with the SSAT Standard Application Online (more info)
  • Additional application requirements: SSAT Standard Application Online forms, supplementary materials for athletics and art (encouraged), SSAT character skills snapshot (strongly recommended)

Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, CT)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (strongly encouraged)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Essay questions, parent/guardian statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation (optional), SSAT character skills snapshot (optional)

Deerfield Academy (Deerfield, MA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No, but there is a “late applicant” admissions process for students applying after January 15. Call the admissions office for more information.
  • Interviews: Yes
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Graded writing sample, short answer and essay questions, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, current academic teacher recommendation (from a third teacher of the student’s choice)

St. Paul’s School (Concord, NH)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Candidate statement, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation, special interest recommendation (optional), supplementary materials for athletes/ballet dancers/musicians (optional)

Groton School (Groton, MA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15 (January test scores will be accepted, but November and December tests are preferred)
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (recommended)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Graded writing sample, candidate statement, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendation, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation, special interest recommendation (optional)

Noble & Greenough School (Dedham, MA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: Apply through Ravenna (more info)
  • Additional application requirements: Student statement, extracurricular activities form, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, character skills snapshot (required)

The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, CT)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15 (January test scores will be accepted, but November and December tests are preferred)
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (recommended)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Graded writing sample, candidate project, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation, special interest recommendation (optional)

Middlesex School (Concord, MA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: Tests through February accepted
  • Application deadline: January 31
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (recommended)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Student essay questions, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation (optional), special interest recommendation (optional), SSAT character skills snapshot (strongly encouraged)

The Loomis Chaffee School (Windsor, CT)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: All late applicants will be considered on a rolling basis as space becomes available
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Essay questions, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, SSAT character skills snapshot (optional)

Milton Academy (Milton, MA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: Apply using the Gateway to Prep Schools common application or the SSAT Standard Application Online (more info)
  • Additional application requirements: Short answers and essay questions, parent statement, graded writing sample, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation (optional), special interest recommendation (optional)

St. Andrew’s School (Middletown, DE)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes
  • Application Portal: Common applications not accepted. Apply through the Andrew’s Online Application Portal.
  • Additional application requirements: Transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, special interest in athletics or art form (optional)

St. Albans School (Washington, DC)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 8
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes
  • Application Portal: Apply through Ravenna (more info)
  • Additional application requirements: Two personal statements, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation

Concord Academy (Concord, MA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (suggested)
  • Application Portal: Apply through Ravenna (more info)
  • Additional application requirements: Personal statement, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, visual and performing arts portfolio (if applicable)

Peddie School (Hightstown, NJ)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: Applications received after January 15 will be considered on a rolling basis
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: Apply with the SSAT Standard Application Online (more info)
  • Additional application requirements: Student essays, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation, Peddie School supplemental form

Hill School (Pottstown, PA)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 31
  • Application deadline: January 31
  • Rolling Admissions: Applications received after January 31 will be considered on a rolling basis
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Short answer and essay questions, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation (optional), graded writing sample (optional)

Taft School (Watertown, CT)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: Apply with the SSAT Standard Application Online (more info)
  • Additional application requirements: Short answers and essay questions, parent statement, graded writing sample, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, character skills snapshot (recommended)

Blair Academy (Blairstown, NJ)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: Applications received after January 15 will be considered on a rolling basis
  • Interviews: Yes
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Student questionnaire, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, personal recommendation (optional)

Westminster School (Simsbury, CT)

  • SSAT score submission deadline: January 15
  • Application deadline: January 15
  • Rolling Admissions: No
  • Interviews: Yes (required)
  • Application Portal: found here
  • Additional application requirements: Graded writing sample, candidate statement, parent statement, transcript report, principal/counselor recommendations, current English teacher recommendation, current Mathematics teacher recommendation, character skills snapshot, personal recommendation (optional)

Applying to Private High Schools: Next Steps

When it comes to applying to private high schools in the U.S., the key to success is preparation! Know what to expect when applying and create a schedule to ensure you have the capacity to submit all components on time.

A strong application also starts with strong SSAT scores and an early, effective study plan. The SSAT covers a wide breadth of material, some of which may feel unfamiliar to students, such as the SSAT Verbal section. The best way to be prepared is to practice as much as possible in order to familiarize yourself with different question types and figure out which strategies work best for which questions.

How can you make sure that you’re getting the best SSAT practice possible?

We strongly recommend signing up for one of our state-of-the-art SSAT programs. Working with professionals who utilize real SSAT materials is the surest way to guarantee excellent results as you study for your private school exams.

Good luck!


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Annie

Annie is a graduate of Harvard University (B.A. in English). Originally from Connecticut, Annie now lives in Los Angeles and continues to mentor children across the country via online tutoring and college counseling. Over the last eight years, Annie has worked with hundreds of students to prepare them for all-things college, including SAT prep, ACT prep, application essays, subject tutoring, and general counseling. She is a Master tutor at Princeton Tutoring.