The Salk School of Science: What You Need to Know


Updated for 2019-20 admissions.

The Salk School of Science is a highly selective junior high school in downtown Manhattan that serves students in grades six through eight, and 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.

In 2018, the admission process changed. Select students are no longer asked to come to the school for an interview. Instead, the criteria is now based mainly on report cards, state Math and ELA test scores and a couple of other personal behavior factors that teachers rate in the NYC DOE's Student Enrollment Management System (SEMS) (see below).

New SALK Admissions Criteria Selection (2018):

SEMS core course grades: 30%

SEMS academic/personal behavior ratings (Collaboration)- 20%

SEMS academic/personal behavior ratings (Perseverance)-15%

SEMS academic/personal behavior ratings (Independence/Time management)-15%

NYS ELA test - 10%

NYS Math test -10%

(Before 2018, the Salk School invited 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. The previous rating criteria BEFORE 2018 was: Teacher Rating in SEMS was given the greatest weight of 18%, The interview was given the second  greatest weight at 17%.The science activity was given a weight of 15% Writing was given a weight of 15%.The student's 4th Grade Report Card was given  a weight of 15%. NYS ELA test was given a weight of 8%. NYS Math test was given a weight of 8%. Attendance/Lateness was given the lowest weighting of 4%).)

Note that any 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: 

How to Prepare for the Salk middle School?

Most importantly, students should aim to perform well during the school year so their report cards contain high grades. They also need to excel on the NY State 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.


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, including whether your child would benefit from a private test prep tutor for the NY state ELA and math exams.

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.