Chicago Public Schools Selective Enrollment Exam

The Selective Enrollment Exam is the admissions test for entrance into the Chicago Public Schools’ selective high schools. It is taken by students in eighth grade and measures knowledge and skills in the academic subjects of reading, mathematics, and language.

Gaining admission to a Selective Enrollment High School is incredibly competitive and test scores are becoming an increasingly significant factor in determining acceptance into the top schools.

At Academic Approach, we recommend that students begin tutoring for the Selective Enrollment Exam during the summer before eighth grade; however, students can still achieve great success if tutoring starts during the eighth-grade school year.

Scoring & the Admissions Process
The Selective Enrollment Exam comprises 33% of the Selective Enrollment Composite Score. The Selective Enrollment Composite Score is out of 900 points, with the following possible sub-scores:

  • Seventh grade standardized test (NWEA-MAP): 300 points
  • Seventh grade final grades: 300 points
  • Entrance exam: 300 points

Completion of the Selective Enrollment Exam is necessary for consideration for admission into any one of the Chicago Public Schools’ selective high schools. Selective Enrollment Exam scores, in conjunction with standardized test scores and grades, are compared with other students’ scores and the accepted scores at the given selective high school.

In order to sit for the Selective Enrollment Exam, students must earn at least a percentile rank of 24 in both reading and mathematics on their seventh grade NWEA-MAP test.  Students may take this test in fall of their eighth-grade* year, but only their last score will be accepted for admissions.

*the fall of 8th grade is changing to spring of 7th grade starting in 2020

Testing Dates
The Selective Enrollment Exam can be taken October through January of eighth grade; testing dates can be found on the Selective Enrollment application, which is typically released in September.

On the application, students indicate whether the student will NOT be able to take the test on any of these dates and select a test site where they would like to test. The choice of site does not affect final selection.

The Point System
It is essential to note that one-third of a student’s admission eligibility is determined by their seventh-grade letter grades in Reading, Math, Social Studies, and Science, and an additional third is determined by their seventh-grade qualifying test scores. These two items will determine a student’s likelihood of earning acceptance to these highly competitive schools.

Admittance is determined using a tier system based on the socioeconomic status of zip codes in the city. Students will be assigned one of four tiers based on their home addresses. A certain number of spots at each school are assigned based purely on points ranking, while the majority of seats at each school are equally divided among the four tiers.

Students may only apply to up to six programs and will receive an offer from the school they ranked highest for which they qualify.

More information on the Selective Enrollment application process can be found on the CPS Access and Enrollment website or the GoCPS website.

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