Phase 2: The Application Process

Factors to Consider before Applying to a Private or Independent School

“All parents want the best for their children. That’s certainly true when it comes to their children’s education. However, good intentions sometimes lead to decisions or actions that negatively impact a child’s learning. I will share with you the five most common mistakes parents make when it comes to their children’s education.”  Bryan Ide is Education Director, Principal of KEY Enrichment Centre

The Our Kids magazine suggests that parents should avoid the following Five Common Mistakes Parents Make when applying to a private or independent school.

Secondly, if your child has specific learning needs there is an excellent comparison tool that allows you to filter schools based on their special needs support. Simply click on the corresponding colour to the type of special needs you are looking for. However, this will only identify what types of special needs schools support, not to what degree they support the child. Therefore, parents should read more about How do special needs schools support students?.

Thirdly, if it is important that a school provides enrichment or support for giftedness, you might find the following comparison of gifted programming helpful before applying to any school. 

It’s important for any school to have the most accurate, up-to-date information about your child and how they learn. As such, if your child’s Educational Assessment will be three or more years old in their coming Grade 8 year, we recommend starting the process to get an updated assessment over the summer. When applying, it is essential that you provide the school with a copy of your child’s most recent assessment and their complete IEP; this way, the admissions departments will be able to determine whether they are equipped to provide your child with the support they will need to thrive.

Applying to a Public School

Families should register with their local high school, which is done by contacting the school directly. All contact information can be found by following the links on the Find Your School’ page. Montcrest recommends that families register for their local school before applying to any other school in order to provide reassurance to their child that they are attending a high school.

Students who are interested in applying to a specialized program will have to follow the specific requirements and unique admission criteria for each program. Application to specialized programs is made directly to each program through Optional Attendance. Students have the opportunity to access schools outside of the school designated to serve their residential address by applying on optional attendance. Acceptance at these schools is subject to space availability and program suitability. The procedures, conditions, and timelines relating to optional attendance are described in the Optional Attendance Policy and the Optional Attendance Operational Procedure. Ensure you read the ‘Important Dates’ section, which is the last page of this document. To apply, families will need to complete the Optional Attendance Form.

  • Each year in December, schools are classified as limited or closed to optional attendance based on the space they have available for the upcoming school year. 
  • A school classified as limited can accept students on optional attendance. A limited school is not obliged to accept all students who apply on optional attendance. Acceptance is conditional upon space being available in the appropriate grade and program. 
  • A school classified as closed cannot accept any students on optional attendance. Only students residing within the school’s attendance area will be accepted. 
  • If a school is classified as limited, and you are interested in applying to that school, please contact the school’s principal.

Applying to an Independent School

Every private or independent school has its own application and admissions process; however, most will follow a similar process. This will involve a school tour or visit, an interview, and an entrance test, along with the application documentation. The type of documentation required will include an application form, a non-refundable application fee, a confidential school report from Montcrest faculty, and previous report cards (Grade 7 June report card, Grade 8 progress report & Grade 8 January report card). Some schools may also require test scores (depending on the school, it may be necessary for your child to write the SSAT or some other entrance requirements). 

  1. The confidential school report can be completed by any of your child’s regular academic teachers. As a parent, you will want to select a teacher who knows your child well and has taught your child within the last year. These reports, once completed, are mailed directly to the school that you will be applying to.
  2. The previous report cards are requested so a school can look at your child’s academic growth and character development over a period of time. Schools will review your child’s academic achievement, their learning habits, and their involvement within the school community along with any awards, and finally they look at a child’s attendance record, including the number of late arrivals. 
  3. The entrance exam is used as an independent assessment to compare all applicants. These can include assessments of math, reading comprehension skills, and an independent writing exercise. The writing exercise has two purposes: it is intended to give the applicant an opportunity to express themselves thoughtfully and creatively. The writing sample is not graded. Some schools have developed their own entrance exam, while others use the Secondary School Assessment Test (SSAT). Some families choose to enrol in an SSAT preparation course to ensure their child understands the SSAT format, while others purchase one of several SSAT prep books from a bookstore. The following is a list of schools that require the SSAT as part of their application process. 
  4. The interview is one of the most important parts of the application process, but its main purpose is simply seeking to provide a clearer view, beyond the paper application, of whether or not your child is a good fit for the school and vice versa. Here is a sample of the types of questions students get asked at private school interviews. The interview is another opportunity to decide whether the school is a good fit for your family values, and for the school to determine whether your values are a good fit for the school community. Therefore, it is important to understand the role of parents in this process. The Our Kids magazine suggests the following questions to pose to private schools to help you determine if the school you are applying to is a good fit for you and your child. 

Montcrest will prepare students for school interviews by conducting a mock interview. These interviews should be booked through Matthew Barry ( These should take place about 1-2 weeks prior to a student’s first interview, and all interviews will be conducted with Mr Barry.

CIS Ontario