The Most Sought-After Schools on the West Coast of 2020

  • Posted By: Ahladini Veerina
  • February 2, 2021

Over the past eight years, Test Innovators has helped more than 135,000 students prepare for the SSAT and ISEE—admissions tests required by many of 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 some of the most sought-after West Coast schools of 2020, based on the number of students who stated their intention to apply this year. Each of these schools resides in its own unique location and offers students special opportunities to explore and engage with their surrounding communities—learn more about these areas below.

Keep in mind that there are many wonderful schools not included on this list that may be perfect for you.


Harvard-Westlake School has two campuses in the Los Angeles area—the Middle School in Holmby Hills and the Upper School in Studio City. Holmby Hills is located in the well-known Bel Air neighborhood on the Westside of L.A. The region is known for its beautiful scenery and relative privacy and quietude. Studio City is a bit further north of L.A., on the slope of the Santa Monica mountains. It was named after a studio lot opened in 1927 by Mack Sennett; that studio is now the CBS Studio Center. (Harvard-Westlake, Discover Los Angeles, Compass)

Lakeside School

Lakeside’s Middle and Upper schools are settled on a wooded campus just inside the the northern city limit of Seattle. Seattle has around 152 days of rain a year, and gets around 38 inches of rainfall a year, making it one of the grayest places in the U.S. But don’t let that discourage you from exploring Seattle’s numerous natural destinations, including parks and gardens, nearby islands, lakes, mountains, and more. Seattle is also home to the famous Pike Place Market, a historic district in the heart of downtown Seattle that supports local farmers, artisans and small businesses, and provides services to marginalized community members. (, Visit Seattle, Pike Place Market)

Stanford Online High School

Stanford Online High School is located in Redwood City, just a 15 minutes from its namesake, Stanford University in Palo Alto. The school is in the Silicon Valley, a region in Northern California that is famous for being home to some of the world’s biggest tech companies, like Google and Facebook. The Silicon Valley got its name because it was the hub of the silicon chip industry at the time, and growth in that sector promoted unprecedented growth in the economy and in real estate in the surrounding area. (Silicon Valley Historical Association, Stanford)

Harker School

Harker School is located in San Jose, the third largest city in California. With over 193 regional and city parks and gardens, as well as 60 miles of hikeable trails, San Jose offers plenty of opportunities for people to spend time in the sunny Northern California weather. San Jose also has unique cultural attractions, such as the Winchester Mystery House, an architectural landmark famous for its bizarre construction, including 2,000 doors (some of which lead nowhere) and 10,000 window panes (which is more than the Empire State Building). (San Jose, Winchester Mystery House)


Lick-Wilmerding is located in San Francisco, nicknamed “The City by the Bay.” The diverse city provides opportunities to explore unique neighborhoods, like the Mission District and Chinatown, and to experience some cultural attractions, like visiting the Palace of Fine Arts, riding the cable cars, or taking a stroll on the Golden Gate bridge. The city is known for its foggy weather, which locals have come to call “Karl the fog.”

Preparing for the SSAT or ISEE? Get started with your prep today!