Chance me for Andover, Exeter, Harvard-Westlake

Applying for 9th grade

  • Asian male, CA
  • currently 8th grade
  • Honors Program
  • Algebra 2 in 8th grade
  • Highest curriculum for science, history, math
  • Grades
  • All A’s throughout 6th, 7th, and beginning of 8th (so far)
    - ECs/Awards
  • ScienceBowl A Team
  • MathCounts
    - First in chapter invitational, state qualifier
  • Speech/Debate
    - NSDA Two time national champion (2020: informative, 2021: informative, prepared prompt speaking)
    - Debate local tournament wins
  • AMC
    - AMC 8 HR
    - AMC 10 AIME Qualifier
  • Scholastic Writing
    - Gold Key
  • Space Club
    -Founder/President 2 years
  • Volunteering
    - NJHS (National Junior Honor Society) President
    - started personal tutoring program
  • Honors
    - Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship Finalist 2021
    Test Scores
  • All 100% (SBAC CAASPP)


  • Tennis (not on a team, just personal practice w/coach-- possibly will pursue in high school)


  • Highly gifted

Did you or are you planning to take the ssat/isee. It is also fine if you don’t, but may help you if you do. You are a highly qualified candidate, but the schools you are mapping to are very hard to get into. Do you have more schools on your list, if not you should add some. Also, do you need financial aid because that can make a diffrence?

I don’t know about Harvard/Westlake, but the acceptance rates at Andover and Exeter are in the low-to-mid teens, and most of the applicants are highly qualified academically. You are very strong academically, but not super strong in terms of extracurriculars. Given what I know about who in my area got in to these schools, I would “guesstimate” you have a modestly above-average chance at admission to Andover and Exeter, maybe 20% to 25%.

Thank you for the feedback! I’m planning to take ISEE. I am just applying to these 3 schools, as I’m not sure whether I will go to a public highly gifted school or a boarding school; I’m not in a situation where I absolutely have to get accepted to a boarding school, so I’m only applying to these 3.

Also, what do you mean by do you need financial aid? Don’t Exeter and Andover have need-blind admission systems?

I see. By extracurriculars, are you referring to sports/music? Would ScienceBowl, MathCounts, Speech/Debate, Space Club and Volunteering all be academic?

What is missing from my application? More sports? An instrument?

I was concerned about this point as well, but I thought my ECs would be enough after reading this.
“No but it is important to have something that shows commitment and passion. Good colleges are looking for people who are passionate in what they love to do and are willing to push themselves for accomplishments. Sports and Instruments are both good ways to show these attributes. However, I do know people who have gotten into Ivy League colleges without doing either. They showed off their passion though with other leadership roles such as debate captain or being nationally ranked in chess, etc. You don’t have to play a sport or musical instrument, but you do have to be able to offer some kind of activity outside school work. The truth is that the application will go through an algorithm that relies heavily on grades and scores. If yours are in line with the school’s admission requirements, you should be able to get in.”

Harvard-Westlake is a day school, not a boarding school. If you are in the Los Angeles area, not a problem, but it’s a deal breaker if you aren’t. About 210-220 kids are admitted in 7th grade, and a much smaller group (80-90) is admitted in 9th grade. Both entry points are very competitive, but the 9th grade entry point is more competitive. Don’t know for sure, but I suspect they use the 9th grade admissions to round out the class and recruit particularly desirable students such as star athletes and/or academics.

Good Luck.

I live in the LA area. Yeah, I heard the entry is competitive. Last year, I think around 6 or 7 eighth graders got in from a 60 student gifted class that I attend in my school.


Okay, good. I figured I’d mention it just in case you were thinking it was a boarding school. You have outstanding qualifications and any school would be lucky to have you, but because of the limited number of spots (only 40-50 boys) acceptance may hinge on whether you match any particular niche they are looking to fill. Though with all all your various accomplishments, you might.

Again, good luck.

Yes, higher-level sports and music would make your potential for admission much higher, IMO. However, there isn’t anything you can do with that at this point. If I were advising you on how to increase your chances, I would suggest you amp up your participation in service in order to highlight leadership ability and care for others. Andover, Exeter and comparable schools want kids who are super smart, yes, but they also want them to be nice and fun to be around.

Andover is explicitly need blind. Exeter is not, however they are committed to “meet 100 percent of our admitted students’ demonstrated financial need.” Their formula for same of course.

Conventional wisdom is that needing FA lowers the odds slightly. Probably worth perusing:

I’d note that for PA and PEA this past year the admit rate was even lower than usual.

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I imagine we travel in same world in LA. You haven’t mention if you are full pay or need aid. Your odds are vastly different at HW. If you need aid, assume you won’t get in. An awful lot of kids with a top notch profiles apply and very few get aid at HW, even with spectacular ISEE or SSAT. If you want a local private school you need to move pretty far down the academic ladder. IMHO HGM is better option.

As for boarding school, there are again plenty of applicants with your profile. They give more aid, but there are again more applicants. And it does make a difference in admissions. You really need to expand your pool a lot if you need aid. Lots of kids who are full pay and are pretty perfect don’t get in a way. If this is important to you, you need to apply more wildly.

You sound like a great and talented kid. I don’t mean to be depressing but we went through this process very recently. CASSP scores don’t really correlate at all with ISEE/SSAT. It is a different world. You need to take the test seriously. Do not assume you can apply test optional or that because your previous testing history is solid you will high scores or the SSAT.

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Here is what you need to consider as you apply. How many asian males from CA do you know with very similar stats as you described in your original post? You are competing against them. Do you have a way of presenting a cohesive picture of who you are that distinguishes you from them, that breaks you out of this somewhat stereotypical super smart math student mold? The answer is not to try to add a bunch of things to your resume, the answer is to really think about how you are unique and write/talk about that.

You probably already know this but definitely do not go around telling AOs that you are “gifted,” it probably does not come across well in conversation.


thank you

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By HGM do you mean NOHO’s program?

Would you recommend that I still include this on my application? Where would I put “99.9th% highly gifted”?

If you have testing you could add it as supplemental material. One of my kiddo’s school clubs was also part of the gifted program so that went into her extracurricular list.

You should include the facts that support the “99.9% highly gifted “ in your application but leave that claim out.


Gah!!! :roll_eyes: :grimacing: You are TOTALLY missing the point: don’t put “highly gifted” on your application. It comes across as obnoxiously boastful.

You SHOW that you are academically qualified by:

  • Having a stellar transcript.
  • Listing relevant academic awards/honors and activities.
  • SSAT/IEEE scores.

In your interview, you show that you are intelligent by, well, speaking like an intelligent person. But it is just as important to show your emotional intelligence in interviews, and that you are developmentally ready for BS in the case of Exeter and Andover - this has more to do with maturity and independence.

It is more impressive for a teacher to write in a letter of recommendation that you are a gifted student, and hopefully your teachers like you.
Your letters of recommendation should also include one from an adult who knows you well, and not related to you.

Students with your stats are a dime a dozen among Andover and Exeter applicants; putting down that you are “highly gifted” is superfluous at best.

What makes you interesting as a person? These schools want well rounded people, or at least people that will add something to the student body. Right now you’re coming across as yawn boring, applying to private schools out of vanity. There has to be more to you, and you have to find that, and bring it out to shine.


Fight Club is available on Amazon Prime.