• Secondary education in the United States is suitable for those who want to integrate into American culture from school and then, without additional difficulties (like passing language exams), enter a US university.
  • The goal of local schools is to develop a child’s independent, versatile personality. Teens build their own curriculum, do real research, and often do sports on a professional level.
  • Formally, there is no minimum age limit for foreigners. However, most schools accept students from other countries only from the age of 11.
  • Foreigners usually study in private educational institutions. You can go to a public school only for a year in grades 9-12 as a part of an exchange program.
  • Studying at an American private school is expensive: a year of study and residence will cost 22,000-75,000 USD, depending on the type of residence and the school's ranking.
  • The main options for accommodation are boarding schools or host families. You can also find a guardian who is a US citizen.
  • There is no special visa for a parent accompanying a child in America. Parents can temporarily enter the country on a tourist visa.
  • To study successfully, the child must be fluent in academic English. When applying to school, you must pass the required SSAT test, which includes questions on logic, reading and mathematics, as well as writing an essay in English.
  • As a final part of secondary education, children study High School or IB programs. You can apply for them after grades 9-10.
  • For further admission to top American universities, it is recommended to additionally take Advanced Placement (AP) courses at the high school stage.
Advantages of the US secondary education
  • Flexible curriculum. All schools in the United States are autonomous. The government can only approve the list of compulsory subjects. Everything else is at the discretion of the administration of educational institutions. In American schools, you can choose additional subjects and the level of complexity of the courses. It allows a student to feel comfortable and get the most out of the educational process regardless of interests and abilities.
  • Practice orientation. In US schools, children are not just working towards obtaining a certificate. Students receive knowledge that can be applied in real life. For example, in a Maths lesson, they add up how much paint is needed to paint the walls in a classroom, and in Chemistry, they independently prepare detergents while studying their composition. Such skills are not as easily forgotten as raw theory.
  • Preparing for a university. American schools do not exist in isolation from the rest of the student's life. Most high school students want to continue their education in college or a university. Curators and consultants work with prospective applicants who help make the best schedule and choose a suitable university. In addition, university-level subjects can be studied at the high school stage. This will help to impress the admission committee, and the university can transfer credits received during such studies.
  • Internationality. People of a wide variety of nationalities, races, and ethnicities live and study in the United States. Each school promotes tolerance and inclusivity. Therefore, foreign parents don’t have to worry that their child will not fit in. Diversity is one of the main criteria for a good American school.
  • Sports. It takes a special place in American education. Each school is rated according to two main indicators: Academics and Athletics. Students do not simply have PE lessons but are engaged in one of the proposed sports almost at a professional level. In various institutions, there are courses in football, rowing, fencing, dancing, and even equestrian sports.
Disadvantages of the US secondary education
  • Prices. On average, studying at a private American school for a foreigner will cost 40,000 USD per year. In especially elite establishments, this figure can reach 70,000 USD. Many schools offer financial support for low-income families, but such payments rarely cover the full cost of tuition and living. You also need to take into account the cost of a visa, flight, insurance, additional classes. You won’t save any money by studying in the USA.
  • Heavy workload. The main thing that students of private schools in the USA complain about is the lack of free time. The day is scheduled literally by the minute: lessons, additional courses, sports, homework, sleep. Students must be willing to work hard. This will require some serious motivation.
  • Adaptation. In American schools, the student is expected to show initiative and the ability to work independently. High school is more like a university. To get the most out of studying in the US, a foreign student must adapt and get involved in the process as quickly as possible. It is very difficult to do this when you are surrounded by strangers and study a new language in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Religion. More than 50% of American schools are religiously affiliated. These are mainly Catholic and other Christian schools, however, they claim to accept students of all faiths. The teaching here remains completely secular, but, for example, prayer can be a part of a formal event. For families who are of the same religion, this will be an advantage. But for people with different views, this feature can cause discoco-edort.

School system in the United States

Secondary education in the United States lasts 13 years. Such a scheme is usually called "K-12", where "K" stands for kindergarten, which is mandatory here, and "12" is the last, 12th grade. Thus, K5-school provides elementary education, K8-school — secondary, etc.

Many schools specialize in specific stages: primary, secondary, or high school, as a result American students often change schools as they get educated. If parents want their child to go through all the stages of education in one place, they should look for a K-12 institution.

Educational LevelGradeAgeFinal Exams
Nursery SchoolPre-K3-4Kindergarten screening
KindergartenK4-5Kindergarten exit assessment
Elementary School / Primary School1-55-11School tests
Middle school / Junior High school6-811-14State exam
High school / Senior High school9-1214-17State exam, SAT, ACT, IB, AP

The cost of training in US secondary schools

Type of schoolTuition costAccommodation costGuardianshipPocket expensesTotal
Public3,000-10,000 USD/
13,000-15,000 USDFree1,500-2,000 USD17,500-27,000 USD
Private day school12,000-53,000 USD13,000-15,000 USDFree1,500-2,000 USD26,500-70,000 USD
Private boarding school12,000-57,000 USD5,000-22,000 USDFree1,000-1,500 USD18,000-80,000 USD

The table shows the approximate prices. Current fees should be checked on the schools' websites.

Types of US schools

In the United States, there are public and private schools. About 80% of American children attend public schools. They are free, but not available to foreigners. The only way to study in a public school is to become an exchange student for up to 12 months in grades 9-12. In this case, training will be paid. Therefore, further, we will focus on private schools: most of them accept children and teenagers from all over the world.

Private schools in the USA

There are over 34000 private schools in the USA. To make a more informed decision, you need to consider several main factors. Private schools are divided by:

  • Age of the students. Most parents choose American high schools for their children (grades 9-12). Most often applicants are accepted here starting from the age of 14. Students are preparing for admission to US universities and colleges, so high schools might be called College Preparatory Schools. Otherwise, the age of students depends on the program that the school offers. For example, there are junior schools where students only study up to 8th grade. Foreign students over 11 years old can enter. Private elementary schools are available for foreign children only if they live in the States with their parents or guardians.
  • Type of accommodation: day and boarding schools. At a day school, students come to class every morning and return home to their parents or host family at the end of the day. In boarding schools, children both study and live throughout the school year. Educational buildings and dormitories are located on the same enclosed territory so that the school employees can monitor the teenagers around the clock. There is also an option of a 5-day boarding — in this case, the children go home every weekend. Some schools offer both day and boarding options to choose from. The latter is 1.5-2 times more expensive.
  • Gender of students: co-ed / mixed-sex and single-sex. There are 45 schools for boys and 30 for girls in the USA. Supporters of this format believe that teenagers feel more coco-edortable among the peers of the same sex. In addition, romantic relationships will not distract young people from their studies. On the other hand, it can make socialization and building trusting relationships with the opposite sex much harder in the future. The choice is up to the family. Yet most of the top schools in the US are mixed.
  • Specialization: religious, artistic, military, therapeutic. If a teenager already has an idea about the future profession, he can pay attention to schools with a certain inclination. Here, in addition to compulsory subjects, the program includes playing musical instruments, studying the Bible, military training, etc. Graduates of specialized schools can also enter any US university.

The best private schools in the USA

Schools in the USA are usually assessed according to the following parameters:

  • Academic success: results of SAT and ACT; universities to which the graduates enter;
  • Teaching staff: teachers’ level of education, surveys from children and parents, teachers to student ratio;
  • Preparation for a university: the number of AP and IB courses;
  • Diversity: enrollment of candidates regardless of race, religion, and material status;
  • Additional activities: availability of clubs, regular sports events.

Below is a list of the best private high schools as of 2021, according to the portal Niche.

Phillips AcademyAndover9-12co-ed46,400 USD59,850 USD
Phillips Exeter AcademyExeter9-12co-ed44,960 USD57,563 USD
St. Mark's School of TexasDallas1-12boys27,135-33,929 USD-
The College Preparatory SchoolOakland9-12co-ed48,300 USD-
The Hotchkiss SchoolLakeville9-12co-ed53,720 USD63,180 USD
Harvard-Westlake SchoolLos Angeles7-12co-ed41,300-49,550 USD-
Trinity SchoolNew York1-12co-ed56,665-57,230 USD-
Choate Rosemary HallWallingford9-12co-ed48,550 USD62,760 USD

Affordable private schools in the USA

The average cost of tuition in a private American school is about 40,000 USD per year. However, there are more affordable options available. Many educational institutions are funded by the church, state, wealthy alumni, and various foundations. Thanks to such investments, prices can be reduced. For foreigners, the cost will still be 1.5-2 times higher than for US citizens, but it is quite possible to find a decent school for 30,000 USD or less, including food and accommodation.

NameCityGradesTypeTuition/yearTuition+boarding/ year
Luster Christian High SchoolLuster9-12co-ed-12,000 USD
Northland Scholars AcademyDunbar9-12co-ed25,700 USD35,700 USD
Hillcrest Lutheran AcademyFergus Falls5-12co-ed4,580-11,280 USD25,900 USD
Pillsbury College PrepOwatonna6-12co-ed-23,000 USD
New Mexico Military InstituteRoswell9-12co-ed23,870 USD28,230 USD
Freeman AcademyFreeman1-12co-ed-27,551 USD
Michigan Lutheran High SchoolSaint Joseph9-12co-ed-20,900 USD
Totino- Grace High SchoolFridley9-12co-ed16,680 USD36,130 USD

Public schools in the US

To enroll children in a public school, parents must be US residents: have a long-term visa or citizenship. Most often, schools accept students from nearby areas, exclusively at the place of registration. But there are also free-enrollment schools that don't follow this rule. It is not uncommon for families with children to first choose a suitable school, and then look for real estate in the nearby area.

There are three types of state schools: public/traditional, charter (use alternative teaching methods), and magnet (specialized schools with an inclination towards a specific field of science).

List of US public schools
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Academic year in American schools

American schools do not have a set date for the beginning of the academic year. The school starts in late August or early September and ends in May or June respectively. Winter break is the longest, it lasts 2-3 weeks. It includes Catholic Christmas and New Year. Spring break is timed to coincide with Easter and lasts about a week in March or April.

The academic year in different schools can be divided into semesters, trimesters or quarters. Each segment ends with final tests. All schools in the USA teach 5 days a week: from Monday to Friday.

Primary / Elementary school in the USA


Primary school begins at the age of 5-6. The first year is called kindergarten. Some schools also have pre-kindergarten groups for kids aged 3-5. Typically, primary school lasts up to grade 5, less often up to grade 4 or 6.

Formally, there are no age restrictions for foreigners — you can send a child to a private school starting from the kindergarten level. However, there are not many primary schools in the US that accept foreigners. As a rule, this option is used by those families who live in the States on a permanent basis.

There is no strict discipline in the class for the first 2 years. Children play a lot, communicate, master basic skills like counting, reading, and writing. Then the core subjects are gradually introduced. One teacher conducts classes in English, math, science, geography, and history. Special subjects such as art, music, physical education, computer science, and a foreign language (most often Spanish) are studied by schoolchildren with other teachers. Also, students are regularly taken to the library.

Grading system

In most schools, grading starts in year 2. At first, a simplified ESNU scheme is often used:

  • E (excellent);
  • S (satisfactory);
  • N (needs improvement );
  • U (unsatisfactory).

Then they usually switch to a standard letter scale (from A to F) or introduce their own grading system.

Standardized tests are conducted every six months for each subject to track student’s progress and overall school performance. The teacher can use other forms of performance control at his own discretion. There are no final exams at the end of primary school in the United States.


Although there are boarding schools for elementary students (at least from grade 3) in the United States, few parents choose this option for their child at such a young age. Therefore, almost all primary schools in the United States are day schools. Children often stay at school until 6-7 pm: attend extra classes or do homework. There should also be a guardian permanently residing in the United States who is responsible for a foreign student during the rest of the time. Unlike Britain, there is no visa for parents of young children.

How to get into an American elementary school

You must apply for elementary school almost a year before starting your studies. The typical deadlines are usually January-February. Depending on the school, the child and parents may be invited for an interview (in person or online) and/or a test day at school. During the visit, teachers look at the future student in a new environment, conduct classes in groups, and additional tests. The decision is made by March.

  • Age. Children are accepted to kindergarten from the ages of 5-6. If the school has a pre-K year, a child can enroll there at the age of 4-5, respectively.
  • Academic performance. There are no strict requirements for grades in primary school. The absence of unsatisfactory ones is good enough. The admissions office looks at a child's overall social and intellectual skills, relying heavily on feedback from parents and previous teachers.
  • Language proficiency. Elementary schools in the United States do not provide additional classes in English for foreigners (English as a Second Language — ESL). Therefore, children should speak English virtually at the same level as their American peers.
Documents required for admission

For kindergarten:

  • Parent statement — a letter from a parent describing the child, his character, strengths, interests (sometimes the school suggests filling out a special questionnaire instead);
  • Kindergarten screening (test of basic intellectual skills);
  • Payment of the registration fee (about 50-75 USD).

Additionally for school children:

  • Sample of written work with teacher’s grade;
  • Assessment Test (tests in core subjects);
  • School progress report;
  • Grade notes for the previous years of study;
  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher.

The full list must be checked on the school website.

Middle school in the USA


Children enter middle school (grades 6-8) at the age of 11-12. At this age, foreign students can already enroll in many private American schools.

Here, each subject is taught by a separate teacher. Between classes, which are called periods, there are short breaks 5-10 minutes long. During this time, students must reach the next class. In the middle of the day, there is a lunch break for 1-2 hours.

Middle school students have a more flexible curriculum compared to younger students. Compulsory subjects include English, mathematics (algebra and geometry), science and social sciences, history, and sports. At the same time, schoolchildren can choose the level of education: basic or advanced. In the second case, the program will be the same, but the studies will be more in-depth. Additionally, each educational institution has a list of elective courses. You can take 1-2 new disciplines annually. This can be acting, graphic design, French literature, and even the editorial office of a school newspaper. With such a system, all students get a different schedule, and there are no permanent study groups.

Grading system

In middle school, students regularly write short tests on the material they have passed. The grades for these tests tend to affect the final score even more than the final test. Therefore, students should always be actively involved in the educational process. Good academic performance at the end of the year gives you the right to take more advanced courses next year.

Each school independently determines the assessment format: it can be a unique point system or a standard letter scale adopted by many schools.

Letter gradePercentageScore
A90% -100%4.0
B80% -89%3.0
C70% -79%2.0
D60% -69%1.0

To graduate you must get a satisfactory grade (by the standards of that particular school) grades in every compulsory subject.


There are junior boarding schools in the USA. They accept students aged 11-13. Educators usually live at the same student residence. As a rule, these are teachers or school administration staff who monitor the daily routine of schoolchildren and help them in difficult situations. In fact, they function as parents, and therefore they are called dorm parents.

Day schools sometimes organize housing with a host family, but generally require the student to have an official guardian residing in the United States.

How to enroll in an American middle school

Application deadlines are in December-January, that is 8-9 months before the start of school. However, many schools advise to make an application a couple of months earlier — interviews are scheduled as new candidates appear. Interviews (in person or via online video call) are usually conducted until February. Students receive an invitation in spring — March-April.

  • Age. Children from the age of 11 are usually enrolled in secondary schools. But the admission criteria depend on the specific school.
  • Academic performance. Admissions officers do not set the minimum GPA requirements, but they always look at the grades from the previous school. Achievements in English, math, and science are especially important, as these are the subjects that most American schools focus on.
  • Language proficiency. For comfortable learning in middle school, the language level must be at least B2. Some schools have additional English classes for foreigners who are having difficulties.
  • Entrance tests. International applicants must pass a standardized test to be admitted to US middle schools. The type of the test is decided by the school. Most often it is SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) or ISEE (Independent School Entrance Examination). They test various aspects of knowledge of the English language and mathematics.
Documents required for admission
  • SSAT or less often ISEE test result;
  • Proof of English proficiency: TOEFL Junior (or another test at the request of the school);
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers;
  • School progress report;
  • Transcripts with grades for the last 2-3 years;
  • Essays assessed by an English teacher;
  • Parent statement — a letter from a parent describing the child, his character, strengths, interests (sometimes the school suggests filling out a special questionnaire instead);
  • Payment of a registration fee (50-350 USD).

The full list must be checked on the school website.

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High school in the USA


The high school covers grades 9-12. Teens begin this stage at the age of 14 and graduate when they are 18. Sometimes middle and high schools are combined into one, and education lasts from grades 6-7 to 12. In this case, there are two stages: Junior High School and Senior High School.

High school is actively preparing students for entering colleges and universities. Students have two main tasks:

  • To collect the number of credits required for graduation. If the subject has been studied for a year, the student receives 1 credit, six months — 0.5 credit[1]. Each state has its own requirements. Instead of credits, there may be requirements in the form of grades or points (depending on the grading system). The compulsory curriculum usually includes:
    • English;
    • Mathematics (algebra and/or geometry);
    • History and/or other social sciences (geography, world culture);
    • Natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology);
    • Art;
    • Physical Education.

Also, high school students can additionally choose several courses that are interesting to them and/or will look good in the university application.

  • To get extra credits for advanced courses. In high school, students can go to an advanced subject group (Honors) or enroll in a university-level course — Advanced Placement (AP). This requires excellent academic performance: for example, to attend an Advanced Cell Biology class, a student must demonstrate high scores in basic biology over the past year. The more AP courses a graduate has successfully completed, the higher the chance of getting into one of the top American universities.

Grading system

Grades in American high schools are important. Students regularly write tests, do group projects, and take lab classes. These add up to the final score in each subject and the GPA, one of the important criteria for admission to college or university. Most schools use a 4 or 5-point system along with the letter one (A-F), but there are also institutions with a 6 or even 11-point grading scale.

Some states have final exams for high school students, but their results do not influence admission to US universities. Private schools do not usually require you to take them. Instead, students concentrate on preparing for the SAT and ACT exams, which are required for admission to American universities.


Private school students can live in a boarding house or with a host family (if the school has this option). A guardian can also be found for day schools.

The boarding residence is a kind of dormitory, where each room is shared by 2-3 people. Also, the building usually has a kitchen, study area, relaxation area, and sometimes a gym. The residences are located on the school grounds, and a curator from among the teachers lives with the students, so they are always under supervision.

How to enter an American high school

You can apply to most high schools until January and submit entrance test results by February (the year of the beginning of studies). However, there is a lot of competition in the top schools, so preparation for admission should begin the year or two before applying. Often, the submission of documents is divided into two stages: the first stage involves submitting basic information and paying the registration fee (this is how the school learns about your interest in admission), the second stage is dedicated to submitting documents and test results. Almost always candidates will have an interview (in person or via video call). The results come to light in March. The school announces the exact dates on its official website.

  • Age. High schools accept children from the age of 14. At this age, they can live both in the school residence and in a host family.
  • Academic performance. Even the most elite private schools insist that grades are not the main selection criterion for them. However, practice shows that to get into a competitive school, the GPA must be at least 3.5 out of 4.
  • Language proficiency. In high school, the curriculum reaches the university levels of complexity, so it is important not only to speak English at a level not lower than B2 but also to be versed in the scientific vocabulary. Some schools offer additional English lessons for foreign students.
  • Entrance tests. Selection criteria vary greatly depending on the prestige value of the school. Sometimes, in addition to the standard SSAT or ISEE tests, you need to pass additional exams in specialized subjects. In the highest-rated institutions, you may need to pass the SAT for admission to grades 11-12. However, the main requirements remain academic performance, motivation, language proficiency, and good references from the previous school.
Documents required for admission
  • SSAT, ISEE, or HSPT test results (optional when transferring to grade 10-11 PSAT, SAT or ACT — mainly for top schools);
  • Additional tests in specialized subjects (if necessary);
  • Proof of English proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS);
  • Essays assessed by an English teacher;
  • School progress report;
  • Transcripts with grades for the last 2-3 years;
  • Motivation letter;
  • Parent statement — a letter from a parent describing the child, his character, strengths, interests (sometimes the school suggests filling out a special questionnaire instead);
  • Recommendation letters from teachers (usually English and mathematics);
  • Sometimes: a reference from a close friend and/or headmaster;
  • Portfolio (for schools with a creative emphasis);
  • Payment of the registration fee (approximately 150-350 USD).

The full list must be checked on the school website.

What is SSAT?

The SSAT, or Secondary School Admission Test, is a standard exam for admission to grade 4 and up of a US private school. This is the most approachable option for international students, as the rest of the tests, as a rule, can only be taken in the USA and Canada.

The SSAT has three levels:

Elementary Level3-42 hours 5 minutes203 USD
Middle Level5-73 hours 10 minutes287 USD
Upper Level8-113 hours 10 minutes287 USD

The test includes five sections, which differ in time and complexity for different levels:

  • Quantitative (Math);
  • Reading (questions based on read texts);
  • Verbal (questions on vocabulary and analogy);
  • Writing Sample (a small essay that is not scored, but is used by schools to assess writing skills);
  • Experimental (does not count toward reported scores).

Examples of tasks can be found here.

Foreign students can take the exam in one of two ways:

  • Paper-based testing at an authorized test center. Held 5 times a year on fixed dates around the world. Check the availability of test centers in your country here;
  • Computer-based testing in a special Prometric Test Center. Available for grades 5-11 only. Possible dates are indicated on the website (select the option SSAT by The Enrollment Management Association).

Registration on the official website.

High school programs in the United States

High School

High School is a standard American high school program. It lasts 4 years, from grades 9 to 12. During this time, you must collect the minimum number of credits established by the state for compulsory subjects. Upon successful completion, graduates receive a High School Diploma, which reflects all the courses taken and the grades for them. Some states also require a final exam, but the result is not counted towards university admission. Private schools usually forgo such exams.

High School Diploma is accepted at all universities in the USA and Canada. For admission to many universities in Europe (for example, Germany[2]) this document is not enough. Depending on the country and university, additional qualifications may be required:

  • Preparatory program in the country of study;
  • 1-2 years of study at a US university or college;
  • High SAT I or SAT II Subject Test score;
  • 2-5 AP courses with high scores;
  • IB Diploma.

Advanced Placement — AP

Advanced Placement (AP) are university-level courses taught in high school. They can be studied in parallel with or instead of the required subjects. For example, the Advanced Microeconomics course contains all the material from the basic algebra course, so the latter is not required to be taken separately.

APs are elective courses of increased difficulty. Students are not required to include them in their curriculum, but this will be a huge advantage when entering a university. The courses and their number should be chosen, focusing on the future university and specialty. So, when applying to elite institutions like Harvard, it is recommended to have at least 7 AP courses under your belt. For universities with a lower rank, 4-5 will be enough. Some universities may transfer AP course credits.

Advanced Placement has 38 disciplines in total. Private schools usually have an average of 15. Apart from AP, there are other types of advanced courses: for example, CL (College Level) or Honors. Because of this, the total number of APs listed on the school's website may be more than 38.

Schools with a large selection of AP courses

NameCityGradeTypeTuition/yearTuition+boarding/yearAP courses
Brophy College PreparatoryPhoenix9-12boys16,400 USD-30
The Loomis Chaffee SchoolWindsor9-12co-ed47,240 USD63,605 USD38
Philips AcademyAndover9-12co-ed46,400 USD59,850 USD70
Tabor AcademyMarion9-12co-ed52,950 USD70,250 USD44
Blair AcademyBlairstown9-12co-ed46,500 USD66,500 USD54
Westtown SchoolWest Chester1-12co-ed41,980 USD65,910 USD37
Bishop Lynch High SchoolDallas9-12co-ed18,800 USD-47
Montgomery Bell AcademyNashville7-12boys29,500 USD-30

International Baccalaureate — IB

International Baccalaureate (IB) is another alternative to the standard school curriculum. According to the IB system, you can study it in elementary, middle, and high school. American high school students often choose this path, since the IB diploma is often regarded as higher than the standard certificate. In addition, unlike the High School Diploma, it is recognized at universities in almost any country, which is important for those who intend to enter European universities. It is important to note that when entering American universities, an IB diploma does not exempt you from taking the SAT or ACT.

The IB course for high school students lasts 2 years, training usually begins at the age of 16. To obtain an IB diploma(diploma program — DP), which is equal to a high school graduation certificate, you need to study 6 subjects: 3 at honors level (HL) and 3 — at standard level (SL). In addition, students take a special course in Theory of knowledge, participate in sports and social work, and conduct research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.

If the diploma program seems too difficult, you can take one or more IB courses while attending a regular high school. In this case, after passing the exams, the student receives a certificate, which will also become an advantage when entering the university.

There are 128 private schools in the USA that have the IB Diploma Program. Four of them teach in Spanish, three in French.

Read more

The best IB schools in the USA

NameCityGradesTypeBoardingTuition/yearTuition+boarding/yearScore for graduation
Newark Academy Livingston6-12co-edno43,400 USD-100%
The Quarry Lane SchoolDublin1-12co-edno41,200 USD-100 %
French-American School of New-YorkMamaroneck1-12co-edno33,800 USD-100%
Detroit Country Day SchoolBeverly Hills1-12co-edno33,200 USD--
The Awty International SchoolHouston1-12co-edno30,300 USD-94 %
George SchoolNewtown9-12co-edyes42,200 USD

63,700 USD

Atlanta International SchoolAtlanta1-12co-edno28,500 USD--
The Village SchoolHouston1-12co-edyes28,000 USD

67,800 USD

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University admission after an American school

For admission to an American university, you must pass one of the standardized tests: SAT or ACT. There are several universities where this is optional, and in general, in America, there is a lot of talk about the need to abolish the test system when selecting candidates. For now, however, SAT or ACT exams are still an important part of the application. Each school has its own learning characteristics, and tests help to equalize all graduates.

SAT and ACT are similar in structure and content. It is difficult to say if one is any harder than the other. In 2019, 2.2 million people passed the SAT and 1.8 million — ACT[3]. Many students took both exams. It is generally accepted that the SAT is better at revealing mathematical abilities, while the ACT is better suited for testing language abilities. Both tests are created by private organizations and there is a fee to take them.

Although US universities actually treat all applicants equally, regardless of the previous place of study, the choice of the school still matters. If you are planning to enter a top university, it is advisable that teachers have experience in preparing applicants for universities of this level. Schools usually tell what universities their graduates enter on the websites.

The US high school programs are also recognized by other countries, but sometimes American graduates have to acquire additional qualifications in different ways. For European universities, the ideal option would be to complete an International Baccalaureate (IB), however, with a standard high school certificate, it is still possible to enter European universities as they take AP and SAT scores into account.

SAT scores in the US universities

Top US schools based on SAT results

NameCityGradeTypeCost/yearAverage SAT score
Ross SchoolEast Hampton1-12co-ed45,000 USD1575
The Awty International SchoolHouston1-12co-ed30,300 USD1525
Westridge SchoolPasadena4-12girls30,300 USD1490
The Lawrenceville SchoolLawrenceville9-12co-ed57,140-69,420 USD1490
The College Preparatory SchoolOakland9-12co-ed48,300 USD1483
The Quarry Lane SchoolDublin1-12co-ed41,200 USD1480
BASIS Independent Silicon ValleySan Jose5-12co-ed30,700 USD1478
Hopkins SchoolNew Haven7-12co-ed44,800 USD1470
John Burroughs SchoolSt. Louis7-12co-ed29,400 USD1470
Cistercian Preparatory SchoolIrving5-12boys19,075 USD1470
Thomas Jefferson SchoolSt. Louis7-12co-ed30,000 USD1460

Source: Private Schools Review

Visa for US schools

Students of all ages must obtain an F-1 student visa to study at an American private school. Once the candidate has been enrolled in one of the SEVP-certified educational institutions, you should request an I-20 form from the school and pay the I-901 SEVIS fee (350 USD). Then you can send an application to the nearest US consulate. Registration usually booked months in advance, so at least six months must be allocated for visa procedures. When submitting documents, students over 13 years old undergo a short interview with the consul. The visa is issued for a year and is extended as long as the child keeps the student status.

Documents required for a visa
  • Completed visa application (Form DS-160);
  • Color photo 5x5 cm (requirements);
  • Letter of invitation from the school (Form I-20);
  • International passport;
  • Payment of visa fee 160 USD.

Additionally, you may need to provide:

  • Transcript with grades for the last 2-3 years;
  • Certificates of passing the tests required for admission;
  • Proof of funds.

An F-1 visa is not a guarantee of entry into the United States. The final decision is made by the CBP officer at the port of entry (for example, at American airport), after studying the documents once more. You can arrive at a maximum of 60 days before the start of training.

There is no visa to accompany students in the United States. If desired, a parent can enter the country with a child on a Type B tourist visa for a specified period. However, usually, all issues can be resolved remotely with school representatives. They will also meet the child at the airport.

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