Over the past seven years, Test Innovators has helped more than 100,000 students prepare for the SSAT and the ISEE—the admissions tests required by the most competitive independent schools in the country. Every year we review our data from thousands of test-takers to determine the most popular schools.
Below are the 5 most sought-after boarding schools, based on the number of students who stated their intention to apply in 2019.
Keep in mind that there are many wonderful schools not included on this list that may be perfect for you.
1. Phillips Academy Andover, Andover, Massachusetts
Founded in 1778 during the Revolutionary War, Phillips Academy Andover (commonly called Andover) is one of the oldest academies in the U.S. Over the years, the school has grown and transformed while maintaining its prestige and academic excellence. Today, Andover’s diverse student body consists of 1,150 students from 49 different countries. Andover is both a boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 with approximately 75% of students boarding and 25% of students attending day school. Along with over 300 course offerings, Andover students engage in more than 125 clubs and activities ranging from rock climbing to robotics.
2. Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire
Three years after helping his nephew start Andover, John Phillips founded Phillips Exeter Academy (commonly called Exeter) in Exeter, New Hampshire. Exeter takes a collaborative approach to learning, and its classes follow a unique model called the Harkness method. The Harkness method, which Exeter adopted in 1930, promotes a fluid classroom environment in which students and their teacher sit in an oval configuration to openly discuss ideas.
3. Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, Connecticut
Choate Rosemary Hall’s campus covers 458 acres of suburban Connecticut and has 121 buildings designed to house and educate more than 800 high school students. One of the most famous alumni, John F. Kennedy, now lends his name to one of Choate’s eight signature programs: the JFK Program in Government and Public Service. Other signature programs at Choate include the Advanced Robotics Concentration, the Study Abroad Program, and the Environmental Immersion Program.
4. Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts
Unlike many of the other schools founded in Massachusetts during the 1700s, Milton Academy began as a coeducational day school. After 100 years, the school divided into separate boys’ and girls’ schools before merging the schools once again and becoming the coeducational, K-12 boarding and day school it is today. Milton draws students from 27 states and 28 countries, all motivated and bound together by the school motto ‘Dare to be true’—a motto embodying the school culture of initiative, respect, and the active pursuit of learning.
5. Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Massachusetts
Deerfield Academy is a college-preparatory boarding and day school with 650 students in grades 9-12. Founded in 1797, Deerfield is one of the oldest secondary schools in the United States. Deerfield embraces a liberal arts curriculum, highlighting the humanities at seminar tables, STEM through experiments, and the arts in and out of the studio. Notable alumni include Henry W. Kendall, 1990 Nobel Prize recipient, Allen Stack, 1948 Olympic gold medalist swimmer, and Jeffrey Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner.
Visit our Most Competitive Schools of 2019 page to see what schools made the top 50 for 2019.