Your Private School Application Timeline (Here’s how to prepare, step-by-step)

private school timeline image 1The first step to finding the best private school match for your child is to understand the timing of the process.

Although the timeline varies a bit from school to school, the following schedule is a good overview of what to expect and when to expect it.


  • Begin to compile a list of schools that meet your criteria. Request catalogs from selected schools and peruse their websites.
  • Take an SSAT diagnostic test.
  • Review diagnostic scores to determine if prep is needed and if so, when to start.


  • Fill out online applications for the schools you are considering. Begin the financial aid process.
  • If you haven’t already done so, attend an open house or go on a tour. (Note: Some schools require an application to be submitted prior to touring the school.)
  • Schedule interviews and shadow days.


  • Request letters of recommendations.
  • Register for the SSAT or any other necessary testing to be completed in December. If you need accommodations, plan about a month ahead to make sure you have all the necessary documentation.
  • Submit the candidate questionnaire (usually for grades 7-12).


  • Complete the interviews and shadow visits. Send thank-you notes afterwards.
  • Complete financial aid forms.


  • Final opportunity to take the SSAT.
  • Submit applications and send in all supporting documents for schools with December deadlines.


  • Be sure all applications, testing, and supporting documents have been submitted. Beat deadlines by a week or more.


  • Stack rank your schools.
  • Wait for the admission letter, unless the school is on a rolling admission schedule.


  • Watch for decision letters, which usually arrive via email early to mid-month.


  • Plan revisit days to the schools to which your child was accepted.
  • Make a final decision.
  • Inform the schools that your child won’t be attending of your decision.

When in doubt about a particular school’s timeline, give them a call directly. Admission departments are always happy to help!