Additional Resources

Unique High School Programs

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What is The IB Diploma Programme?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum requires that students complete a course of study in six core subject areas (language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, and the arts), write an essay of up to 4000 words, and sit standard, externally assessed exams. Students are also required to complete two formal projects and a minimum of 50 hours of community service. 


Advanced Placement (AP) vs. International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs: What’s the difference?

If you’ve heard of International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement enrichment programs before, you may be wondering what the difference is between them. Find out in this brief overview and how they might be right for your child!


A step ahead with IB & AP

Some examples of parents’ and students’ experiences with both programs.



Questions for Parents to Ask Schools

School Philosophy Types of Students
  • What are the key elements of your school philosophy and vision? 
  • How do these fit with your school’s mission statement? 
  • How are they applied in the classroom and school community?
  • What does your model student look like? 
  • What kind of academic focus do they typically have? 
  • What kinds of interests and goals might they have outside of academics? 
  • How does your idea of a model student align with your school vision or philosophy?
  • How does your school support students with an IEP?


Curriculum Class Size
  • What curriculum do you use? 
  • Do you meet or surpass the curriculum standards of Ontario? 
  • Do you have a specific curricular approach, and if so, what is it? For instance, is it an IB or AP approach? 
  • How is your curricular approach integrated into the classroom at different levels of education?
  • What is the class size and student-to-teacher ratio for my child’s class and for classes he or she may move on to? 
  • Do you offer individualized learning and differentiated instruction and what do these things look like? 
  • Do you have teaching assistants and what role do they play?


Tuition Extracurricular Activities
  • How much is annual tuition? 
  • What exactly does tuition include and not include? 
  • Are there any essentials not included in tuition (e.g., textbooks, uniforms, etc.)? 
  • What can I expect my overall yearly expenses, including tuition and extra costs, to be at your school?
  • What kinds of extracurricular activities do you offer? 
  • When and how often do these activities take place? 
  • Are these activities included in tuition or do I have to pay extra for them? If they cost extra, how much?


Teacher Qualifications Use of Technology
  • What educational qualifications and training do your teachers have? 
  • What other credentials and qualities do your teachers have (e.g., teaching experience, dedication, passion, etc.)? 
  • What kinds of opportunities do you give teachers to develop themselves professionally (e.g., workshops, seminars, conferences, advanced studies, etc.)?
  • What kinds of technological resources do you have and in what, if any, ways do students have access to these? 
  • How is technology integrated in the classroom at each level of education? 
  • What kinds of technological skills, if any, do you teach? 
  • Do you offer any tech-based courses, and if so, which ones? 


Measurement of Progress Student Life
  • How do you measure individual achievement and progress? 
  • What benchmarks do you use? 
  • Do you have any forms of self-assessment, such as student rubrics? 
  • How, and how often, are parents updated on their children’s progress? 
  • How often are report cards handed out?
  • What strategies do you use to promote a vibrant and cohesive community at your school? 
  • Do you have regular community-building events and activities? 
  • How do you cultivate strong peer relationships? 
  • How do you deal with social and behaviour problems, such as bullying, teasing, and ostracism?


Parent Involvement School Governance
  • What opportunities are there for parents to get involved in school? 
  • Is there a parents’ association? If so, what does it do? 
  • What events take place during the school year to involve parents? 
  • How do educators communicate with parents?
  • How is your school operated and governed? 
  • Are you a for-profit, not-for-profit, or nonprofit school? 
  • Do school staff answer to an owner-operator, board of directors, or any other persons or organizations? 
  • Who do I go to with questions about my child?


Sample Interview Questions

*Article below contains tips for answering each question.

Questions about yourself

Questions about non-school interests

  • Describe yourself or tell me more about yourself.
  • Tell me a bit about your family.
  • What are three of your strengths and three areas of growth or challenges?
  • What three adjectives that best describe your personality?
  • What personal achievement are you most proud of?
  • What do you read outside of school?
  • Tell us more about what you do outside of school.
  • What extracurricular activities are you interested in?
  • If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would you meet and why?
  • What has happened recently in current events that interests you?


Questions about school interests and attitudes

Questions about your suitability for a school

  • What is your favourite subject, and why do you like it?
  • What is your least favourite subject, and why do you dislike it?
  • Have you ever had trouble communicating with a teacher or coach, and if so, what did you do?
  • Have you had any other conflicts at school, and if so, how did you deal with them?
  • Why are you interested in our school? Why do you want to enroll here?
  • Why should we select you?
  • How will you benefit from attending this school?
  • In what ways have your experiences prepared you to attend this school?
  • What gifts and talents can you bring to this school?


Questions about your beliefs/values

Questions about the school

  • What does it mean to be a good member of a community?
  • If your best friend asked you if they could copy your homework, what would you do?
  • What would you do if you did not make a team you really wanted to play for?
  • Do you have any questions about our school?
  • Do you have any concerns about our school?


The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT)


SSAT Format

Verbal Quantitative (math) Reading Comprehension Writing Sample
30 minutes 60 minutes (two 30-minute sections) 40 minutes 25 minutes
  • 30 synonym questions, which tests vocabulary
  • 30 analogy questions, which tests vocabulary & verbal reasoning.
  • Two sections, 25 questions each for a total of 50 questions
  • Students do math computations, as they would in school
  • 40 questions based on 7 reading passages
  • Questions measure your ability to understand what you read
  • Support or argue the topic statement (presented)
  • Use examples from personal experience, current events, history, or literature


SSAT Recommendations

There are two levels of testing for the SSAT:

  • Lower: For students currently in Grade 5-7
  • Upper: For students currently in Grade 8-10.


SSAT Tips for Success

Timing is key:

Keep in mind that many schools like to receive SSAT scores no later than February. Make sure you fully understand the requirements and essential deadline dates for your preferred school(s), since these vary between schools.

Once you know you will need to take the SSAT test, ensure you do the following:

  • Select a test site and location
  • Obtain necessary documentation
  • Select score recipients (who will receive the test results)
  • Register for the test
  • Print your SSAT admission ticket and manage your SSAT account
  • Prepare for the test (more on this below)
  • Review your score report (after you’ve written the test)

Order a prep test

Help is only a click away. The Secondary School Admission Test Board publishes a book of full-length practice tests, available online.

It contains:

  • Full-length practice tests (two upper level, two lower)
  • Scoring instructions and explanations
  • Descriptions and exercises for each type of question
  • Advice for using time efficiently

Once you’ve received the test, go through it. It will give you a strong indication of what to expect from the SSAT.

Prep courses

Some organizations offer prep courses for the SSAT, which may help prepare your child. It’s important to note, though, that prep courses are not endorsed by the SSATs governing body.

Work together with your child:

Parents can help by going over test-taking strategies with children and helping them practice. After giving your child a timed test, go over the wrong answers with your child, to help him or her figure out how to do better when taking the actual SSAT.


Schools that require the SSAT


Girls Schools Boys Schools Co-ed Schools
St Clement’s School St Michael’s College School University of Toronto Schools
    Country Day School


CIS Ontario