How To: NYC Kindergarten Admissions

Updated by Angela Tohl from a previous post written by AWNY.

Overview of NYC Kindergarten

In this post, we’re looking at the admissions process for Kindergarten in NYC.

Firstly, let’s clarify the terminology.  In Australia, “Kindergarten” (aka “Kindy” or “Kinder”) depending on the state, can either refer to the year of pre-school preceding prep/reception at primary school or the very first year at primary school. In the US, “Kindergarten” is part of the K-12 educational system and refers to the very first year of elementary school preceding first grade.

There are three different approaches depending on whether you are looking at Kindergarten at private, public or gifted and talented schools.

Private Schools

Kindergarten at a private school is a whole other ball game. Your nursery school will help you with everything you need, so this part will be brief. But if you’ve just moved and you’re looking to start at a private school, the best thing to do is find a consultant. The city is full of them and they know all the schools (and the schools mostly know them). A quick assessment of your family’s needs will help them guide you to the right places. They’ll also know where it might be possible to get in. This is one – – but there are plenty of others if you google them.

Luckily, if the process, cost and everything else that goes with it isn’t your thing, most of the city has fantastic public schools.

Public Schools

Important Dates For 2018 Commencement:

  • Eligibility: To commence Kindergarten for 2018-19 school year, your child must turn 5 during 2018 calendar year, i.e. your child was born in 2013.
  • Applications Open: Tues Nov 28, 2017
  • Applications Close: Fri Jan 12, 2018


The NYC Dept of Education site has a good overview of elementary schools admission. The DOE offers open houses and events, where you can visit elementary schools and learn about the admission procedures. Applications are accepted between Nov – Jan. You can choose up to 12 schools in order of preference. An offer is sent in March. In April you can accept the offer and pre-register at the chosen school.

Photo credit: Baumann


Two years ago, Ella Colley of Inside Schools wrote us a post covering An Inside Guide to NYC School Applications. Not a lot has changed since this guide was published, and Inside Schools is the best website that goes into great detail on each school. They have photos, info and all the stats, ranging from how the kids do in tests to how much the parents and teachers recommend the head of the school.

New York City’s roughly 700 public elementary (generally K-5) schools are divided into 32 districts (six of them in Manhattan). The schools within each district are strictly zoned.

Generally admissions priority for a particular school is given to students who reside in the school’s zone. However some schools will still need to wait-list kids who live within their zone, when they receive more applications than they have places available.  Conversely some schools are able to accept students from outside their zone, subject to availability of places. An AWNY member personally knows of a few families who fall into this category, so it never hurts to contact the school Principal directly.

The subject of school zones and school choices, is complex and extensive, and we are planning a follow up story on this. If you have any questions in the meantime, drop AWNY a line via email or Facebook page DM.

Admission into any public school requires proof of address (rental agreement, utility bill etc.) and the child’s birth certificate. The high demand schools – like 234 and 41 will take admissions from the previous November. But you can walk up to any admissions on any day and enroll your child in the school (if they have a place), even after term has started.

Gifted and Talented Programs

Important Dates for 2018 Commencement:

  • Eligibility: children entering K through Grade 3 in 2018 can sit the test
  • Request For Testing (RFT) for G&T Test Opens: early Oct, 2017
  • Request For Testing (RFT) for G&T Test Closes: apply online by 11.59 pm Mon Nov 13, 2017.


The NYC Department of Education site has a good overview of the G&T (Gifted and Talented) program.  The G&T program follows the same curriculum as the general education classes but at a possibly accelerated or enriched pace.

The program is available for students entering K through Grade 3 in 2018. In order to be offered a place in the program, the child must sit the G&T Test and meet the qualifying score.

District G&T programs: are located within district elementary schools (i.e. there will be a G&T class for students enrolled in the G&T program, along with classes for all other students taking the general education curriculum). These programs give admissions priority to students who live in the school district.

Citywide G&T programs: are located within a school dedicated to the G&T program (i.e. all students at this school are enrolled in the G&T program). These programs give no admissions priority to students who live in the school district. The Citywide programs are highly sought after and there are five schools: three in Manhattan – Anderson, Nest+M and TAG. There is also one in Queens – 30th Avenue School, and one in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn School of Inquiry.


The process begins at the G&T website. In mid-October, registration opens for testing (RFT) and it closes mid-November. You need to register your child to be tested, and you want to do it early to get a convenient test centre. Testing takes place largely in January.

Students scoring 90 or more can apply to District G&T Programs.  Students scoring 97 or more can apply to District and Citywide G&T Programs.  However in reality it’s more like above 99 to get into a Citywide program. There is a high demand for places in the G&T program and regardless of the child’s test score, there is no guarantee a student will receive an offer.

In addition to the practice questions in the G&T handbook provided by the DOE, lots of parents prep their children further for these tests. It’s totally up to the individual – you can prep them and they may get in. But if they don’t get in on their own, they may have a tough time once they’re there. So while some test prep – so they know what to expect – is important, lots of the educators don’t recommend doing too much. Which sounds good to me, it’s expensive and time consuming so I’ll take the advice!

And then, of course, last but not least there is Hunter Elementary which is a school for gifted and talented students, administered by Hunter College, of the City University of New York. It has a very low acceptance rate, despite the $400 cost to test for it, and you can’t prepare. They take 25 girls and 25 boys in Kindergarten, with more admissions in high school. It’s only open to people living in Manhattan. Famed New Yorker, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “Hamilton” is a graduate of Hunter College High School.

And that is it!

Do you have any NYC Kindergarten tips or tricks?

Let us know in the comments section, and enjoy the school year!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts in our “School Series”.



Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.

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