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 day 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. Harvard-Westlake School, Los Angeles, California
In 1989, the all-boys Harvard School and the Westlake School for Girls merged, creating Harvard-Westlake, a coeducational school in Los Angeles serving 1,600 students in grades 7-12 across two campuses. Harvard-Westlake’s academic and extracurricular offerings include 28 AP courses, 90 art classes, a variety of concerts and recitals, and a strong community service program. Notable alumni include astronaut Sally Ride, and actors Jessica Capshaw, Lily Collins, Jamie Lee Curtis, Emily Deschanel, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Shirley Temple, Jason Segal, and Billie Lourd.
2. The Harker School, San Jose, California
The Harker School is the largest elite independent school in California with four campuses and over 2,000 students in grades preK–12. Guided by their commitment to both academic achievement and civic duty, Harker offers curricula tailored to students’ needs and a wide range of electives, including numerous STEM and arts courses. Among the many performing arts opportunities at Harker is the musical theater department, which has been invited to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in the London New Year’s parade.
3. Lakeside School, Seattle, Washington
Lakeside School holds a special place in our hearts here at Test Innovators. Located in Seattle, Washington, the same city as our headquarters, Lakeside is frequently cited as the best school in the state and counts Paul Allen and Bill Gates among its alumni, as well as our Director of Education, Brenna O’Neill. Lakeside instills in its students a commitment to academic excellence, diversity and inclusion, and global engagement. In addition to a standard service learning requirement, Lakeside encourages students to participate in the school’s Global Service Learning (GSL) program. On GSL trips, students spend a month living and working on service projects in rural areas outside of the United States.
4. Menlo School, Atherton, California
Menlo School started as a military school in 1915, at which time only 13 boys were enrolled. Today, Menlo is a coeducational day school with 795 students in grades 6-12. Even with a growing student body, class sizes at Menlo remain small with a student to teacher ratio of 10:1. Among the many clubs and activities are the award-winning student newspaper, The Coat of Arms, and the Mock Trial team, which has competed in state and national competitions.
5. Crystal Springs Uplands, Hillsborough, California
Crystal Springs Uplands School, located in California’s Bay Area, is a grade 6-12 school with two campuses, including an upper school campus situated in a renovated mansion. The school removed AP courses in 2012 to allow teachers more freedom with their curriculum and to encourage more student-led projects, research, and experiences. Every year, students are invited to take part in international experiential learning to destinations such as Nicaragua, France, India, and Zambia.
Visit our Most Competitive Schools of 2019 page to see what schools made the top 50 for 2019.