The Salk School of Science: What You Need to Know


The Salk School of Science is a highly selective junior high school in downtown Manhattan that serves students in grades six through eight who are residents in District 2.

Close to two-thirds of Salk graduates go on to study at one of New York's specialized high schools, and the school has a reputation for being strong in science and giving students the chance to work with NYU professors.

While the school is best known for its science program, it also offers students a solid foundation in typical middle school subjects, as well as drama, technology, and Spanish.

The Salk School of Science also gives its students plenty of freedom, including the chance to leave the building for lunch if they would like and to attend many off-campus trips and events.

What Is the admission process for the Salk middle School?

Just like many of the other selective junior high schools, the Salk School will only consider students who perform well on their math and ELA exams in the previous year. While there is no cutoff score to be considered for admissions, scoring at least a three on both exams, preferably a four, is the best way to have a chance at participating in the on-site visit/interview.

Once students complete their math and ELA exams and finish the middle school application process, the Salk School will invite groups of high-scoring students to an on-site visit.  During the visit, students participate in three activities -- writing, a group interview, and individual or group hands-on science activity. Each activity lasts approximately thirty minutes each.  

Unlike at other competitive middle schools, there is no lengthy sit-down test to judge the candidate students. This is because the Salk School wants to see how students can explain and write out their ideas and apply concepts in a hands-on way. For example, the informal interview includes plenty of open-ended questions, and examines how the students can share their ideas and talk about their experiences.

Students will also be asked to show their recent report cards at the on-site visit, and teacher ratings in the NYC DOE's Student Enrollment Management System (SEMS) will also be taken into account.  A student who did not take particular NYS ELA and/or Math Common Core tests will need to provide alternate standardized achievement test scores.

The Salk School will evaluate performance on the various segments of the on-site visit and give points. According to Salk, the criteria used to assess students is weighted in the following way: 

Teacher Rating in SEMS is given the greatest weight of 18%

The interview is given the second  greatest weight at 17%.

The science activity is given  a weight of 15%

Writing is given a weight of 15%

The student's 4th Grade Report Card is given  a weight of 15%

NYS ELA test is given a weight of 8%

NYS Math test is given a weight of 8%

Attendance/Lateness is given the lowest weighting of 4%

The points are then calculated according to these weights to arrive at each student's score.

Note that the School will interview all students who put the Salk School as their number one choice on the middle school application. Interviews take place in February (on a Saturday).

How to Prepare for the Salk middle School on-site visit/interview?

Students will need to prepare for the different parts of the entrance process separately. Most importantly, students should aim to perform well on their math and ELA exams, because students will need to score at least a three if they want a good chance of being considered for admissions. Secondly, students might want to practice writing short timed essays in response to a prompt because it will be important to turn out a well-composed piece when students create their writing samples during the on-site visit.

We also highly recommend that students practice answering questions about themselves in order to get more comfortable during the interview process. This could include describing their favorite book (this question is, in part, probing to see if your child reads for pleasure as well as for school), hobbies (schools are seeking 'passion' in students -- encourage your child to avoid focusing on TV shows or video games), and sharing thoughts about current events (encourage your child to follow the news for a few months before so she/he can speak in an engaged and informed way about a topic of interest).

We highly recommended to practice interviews regularly with your child before the on-site visit. Click the box below to download 17 interview questions that will help your child do his or her best at the Salk Middle School interview.


Admissions to middle schools are high-stakes in NYC, and you probably have questions about how to best help your child prepare for the Salk School admissions interview. You may have also asked yourself whether your child would benefit from a private test prep tutor for the ELA and math exams, which the Salk School uses as indicators of whether to invite a child to an on-site visit.

Origins Tutoring helps prepare students for entrance exams in NYC middle and high schools and helps guide families through the sometimes stressful admissions process. Our approach is simple: each student will receive the undivided attention and the expertise of a dedicated, experienced coach who places a premium on delivering the highest quality preparation in the most effective and time-efficient manner possible.

If you think we could help your child achieve his or her personal best on the ELA or math exams so he or she can be a competitive candidate for the Salk School, please call 917.287.7927 for a complimentary consultation now.