1. Education

A Glossary of Private School Terms

Common Terms and Acronyms

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What Does It Mean?

What Does It Mean?

Photo by Norbert Machinek
Private schools have their own jargon. Many of the terms found in common use at private schools come from Britain. As a result you will come across familiar words used in strange ways. Other terms are merely acronyms frequently found as you research schools and explore their websites.

  • ADD/ADHD
    Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are mental disorders which can develop most commonly in children.

  • AP
    Advanced Placement is a very popular sequence of courses organized by the College Board.

  • COOP
    COOP is the Cooperative Entrance Examination.

  • Eurythmy
    Eurythmy is a movement art commonly found in Waldorf schools.

  • Form
    A grade is a form in some older prep schools. The terms are interchangeable.

  • Grade Scales
    An A on one school's grade scale may not be the same as an A at another school.

  • Headmaster
    A headmaster is the principal or chief administrator of a private school.

  • House
    A house is a subset or grouping of students within a private school.

  • HSPT
    HSPT® is the High School Placement Test.

  • IB
    IB refers to International Baccalaureate.

  • IPSL
    The Ivy Preparatory School League is a consortium of top New York City private schools.

  • ISEE
    The Independent Schools Entrance Exam is a commonly used standardized admissions test.

  • Junior Boarding Schools
    Junior boarding schools typically serve 6th through 8th grade.

  • Legacy Admissions to Private Schools
    Legacies is a term which refers to applicants whose close relatives currently attend or have attended the same school.

  • Montessori
    Montessori is usually applied to schools which follow the teachings and methods of Dr. Maria Montessori.

  • NAIS
    The National Association of Independent Schools has about 1700 member schools.

  • NEPSAC
    New England Preparatory School Athletic Council has over 150 member schools.

  • Nonsectarian
    A nonsectarian school is a school not affiliated with any particular religion or belief.

  • OLSAT
    The Otis-Lennon Test is an aptitude test developed by Pearson Education.

  • Orton-Gillingham
    Orton-Gillingham refers to an approach for teaching reading to children who have dyslexia.

  • PFS
    The Parents Financial Statement is one part of the financial aid request process.

  • PG
    A post graduate year is the year following 12th grade.

  • Progressive Education
    Progressive education is rooted in the teachings and philosophy of John Dewey.

  • Rolling Admissions
    Rolling admissions means that a school has no fixed admissions deadline.

  • Safe School
    A safe school is a school you are certain to be accepted at.

  • SSAT
    The Secondary School Admissions Test is a widely used private school admissions test.

  • Sundries
    Sundries refers to all the extras on a private school bill.

  • TACHS
    TACHS is the Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools.

  • Wechsler Intelligence Tests
    The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children(WISC) is an intelligence test which produces an IQ or intelligence quota.

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