Hunter College Elementary School Admissions: How To Get Into Hunter!

hces -- a hard nut to crack!  this elementary school has one of the lowest admissions rates in the US 

hces -- a hard nut to crack!  this elementary school has one of the lowest admissions rates in the US 

Hunter College Elementary School (HCES) is a great option for gifted students in New York City, and it is free to attend given the Hunter partnership with CUNY. The school only admits a small group of students each year for kindergarten, and these students generally continue on to Hunter High School. The application process for Hunter Elementary is extensive, so parents should read on and decide whether Hunter might be a good match.

Hunter Kindergarten Admissions | School Overview

Hunter was founded in the 1940s and has achieved great success and recognition for its high-quality teaching programs and strong alumni. Hunter Elementary admits fifty children for kindergarten each year and offers a dynamic and interactive learning environment. Overall, the Hunter Elementary program includes a robust curriculum and plenty of freedom for independent work. Students will cover all their required elementary school work from K-6, and they will also dive deeper into topics, with plenty of individual work and opportunities to focus on particular interests. For gifted children, the opportunity to work closely with others and bond with students with similar interests can be the first step in forming strong friendships.

There are plenty of extracurriculars and areas for enrichment at Hunter, whether through language studies, summer programs, or general after school activities. Hunter is well-known for its chess program and hosts tournaments throughout the year for students and participants from other schools. In the afternoon, Hunter hosts after school activities include Mandarin, theater, several interactive science courses, soccer, Zumba, and cooking.

Visit the official HCES site for more information about the school.

Hunter Elementary | Admissions Information

The application and admissions process for Hunter Elementary is challenging, so parents should prepare in advance for several stages. In order to apply, students must be Manhattan residents (documented by tax filings) and be born in 2012 for the fall 2017 school year. No preference is given to siblings or children of alumni. There are no other screening requirements to apply. After meeting the above criteria, families can fill out the Hunter Elementary application.

The next step is to make an appointment for testing with an approved tester (lists will be provided after the applications are submitted). This test will be based on the Stanford-Binet V exam for young children . Note that students may not have taken the SB-V or similar tests in the past year, and Hunter will disqualify any students who appear to have exposure to the exam. Parents need to sign and provide a consent form stating that their child has not taken this exam in the past year. This appointment and testing must be completed within three weeks of submitting the application.

Hunter Kindergarten | Round Two and Cut-Off Scores

After completing this exam, children who scored above a certain cut off point will be asked to visit Hunter on one of two weekends in January, with dates randomly assigned. The cut-off scores change every year, but have in the last five year averaged a Sum of Scaled Scores (SSS) between 143-149. About 250-300 students of the 2-3000 who apply reach a score at or above this cut-off. These students are invited to attend the on-site assessment process.

During this January visit, students will be grouped into sections of nine, with several teachers and consultants observing. Many of the psychologists who gave the children the original SB test now work with the admissions team to assess the children. The consultants work in teams to assess each child on various skills. They are also observing the child's temperament, as the school wants a unique mix of children, both in terms of skill abilities, temperament and also culture/ethnicity. So, for instance, if your kid is shy, don't fret that he or she won't be noticed. The point of this visit is to also to determine how students behave in a classroom setting, and it is similar to the pre-kindergarten visits students must complete for many New York City kindergartens. After observing, the consultants and teachers discuss their observations about the children in order to arrive at agreed-upon recommendations The admissions committee is the final arbiter of who gets in and who does not, not the consultants.

Families that are invited to the second round, are also asked to fill out 'The Parent Observation Form' and to ask the child's pre-school teacher to submit 'The Teacher Observation Release and Observation Form'.

The parent observation form gives parents an opportunity to share details that can help the Hunter admissions team get to know their child. Hunter asks parents to share "moments or events or conversations that gave you insight" into the child's "thinking, learning, or becoming curious about the world". The teacher observation form is emailed directly to the child's preschool teacher, and parents do not see this submission.

After all these stages, Hunter will select fifty students (25 girls and 25 boys) for Kindergarten admission the following school year, with a wait list of twenty-four students. Families can visit the school and get a sense of life at Hunter before making their final admissions decision.

Hunter College Elementary School Admissions | How To Get Ready

Though Hunter Elementary specifically states that children should not be exposed to the SB test, you can still prepare your child by teaching and encouraging critical thinking and reasoning skills, as well as by exposing your child to a variety of learning experiences. For example, check out the kinds of everyday activities you can do with your child to prepare for gifted assessments, and click the button below to access 30 questions that can help your child improve her or his critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


Despite the lengthy application process and low admissions rate, Hunter Elementary is a top choice for gifted students in Manhattan given its strong curriculum, individual attention, and link to Hunter College High School. Parents of gifted students should seriously consider whether Hunter is a good fit, and how Hunter Elementary could help support their child.