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CPS Selective Enrollment

The admissions process for CPS Selective Enrollment High Schools is complex. We'll help you make sense of it, and help your child do their best on the test!

Our Approach

At Nurturing Wisdom, we understand the high stakes nature of the SEHS exam. Students are vying for a limited number of available spots, so there is little room for error. Coupled with the secrecy surrounding the test, of course students and parents feel anxious and uncertain. We're here to help! While we can't wave a magic wand, we can help students achieve great scores by addressing four core areas: test taking strategies, academic skills, test anxiety, and timing. A deficiency in any of these areas can lead to a score that doesn't reflect a student's ability. For example, a student may have mastered their language strategies, but have anxiety issues which derail their performance on the test.

Sections of the Test

As you may know, details of the test's content are not released. No sweat! We work on intense skill-building in each of the four areas tested so that students are prepared for whatever comes their way. A nice side effect is that all of this academic skill-building will impact their school work, too! Here's how we approach each section:

  • Vocabulary: On this section, we teach strategies that will help students deconstruct unfamiliar vocabulary.
  • Math: On the quantitative section, we emphasize techniques for word problems, geometry, and math translation. Since calculators are not allowed, we also practice mental math computation skills.
  • Reading: We take a hands-on approach to the reading section, teaching active strategies for comprehension, question-answering, and timing.
  • Language: Our tutors tackle this challenging section head-on, teaching students the picky grammar, mechanics, and sentence structure skills.

In recent years, the SEHS exam has also included an experimental, unscored section which was similar to an IQ test. We do not know if a similar section will appear on the test in future years.

Scoring and Admissions

The Selective Enrollment High School Exam accounts for one-third of your child's admission score. Another third comes from their seventh grade grades, and a final third comes from their NWEA MAP scores. Learn more about the Selective Enrollment High School admissions process here.

Testing Accommodations

Securing appropriate accommodations for your child can be daunting since CPS follows a very specific set of rules for accommodations approval. We can help you understand this process so that you can effectively advocate for your child. Our expert tutors are also well-versed in how to adjust strategies for students who receive accommodations.

Getting Started

All students begin by taking a diagnostic pre-test. After the pre-test is complete, we'll put together a tutoring timeline outlining how much tutoring we recommend, goal scores, and which test dates we suggest preparing for. We recommend that students begin tutoring in the summer, but we’re happy to begin working with students during the fall as well!

If you're in the Chicagoland area, sign up for one of our proctored pre-tests, a great opportunity to get a feel for the real test day. If you're outside Chicago or unable to make a proctored test date, contact us today to get a free pre-test!

Online Tutoring

If you live outside of Chicagoland, we can still help! We love working one-on-one with students online to help them achieve their goals. Contact our online tutoring director, Jessica Lepore, at 312.260.7945 x3 to learn more!

Why Nurturing Wisdom?

Nurturing Wisdom goes beyond just helping your child get a great CPS test score. With a strong tutor match, your child will look forward to tutoring sessions, follow through on independent work, and become a more confident learner. Your tutoring director will walk you through every step of the process. They will help you put together an optimal timeline, keep you posted on progress, remind you of important deadlines, and answer any questions you have along the way. If your child will need to take more than one type of high school entrance test, a director will help you figure out the most effective and efficient way to prep. (Learn more about high school entrance tests in general here).

Seventh Graders

While we don't prepare seventh graders for the selective enrollment exam, we do help them prepare for the NWEA MAP test! Since seventh grade grades are so important, many students also come to us for academic or executive functioning tutoring.



Need some help navigating the ins, outs, ups, and downs of high school entrance tests and admissions? Our high school entrance specialist will be happy to answer your questions and help you decide on next best steps. Contact us at 312.260.7945 x2 or info@nurturingwisdom.com.

  • Parent of an 8th Grader
    Our son can't believe he got every math problem correct on his high school placement test! We are very pleased because he was placed in all honors classes! Thanks for all your help.
    Parent of an 8th Grader
  • Cheryl, Parent
    My experience has been fantastic. Matt is a great match for Peter. Very smart and easy to be around. He has developed a great rapport with Peter. Peter has told me that he feels that Matt is good with explanations and understands his strengths and weaknesses. Peter said that Matt has given him many tips and tricks to working the test properly and he is excited to use them on the test. I highly recommend Nurturing Wisdom to my friends!
    Cheryl, Parent
  • Kristi, Parent
    My 8th grade daughter has been tutoring with Rebekah this fall in preparation for the HSPT in December. They hit it off right away on the first day. Rebekah is a friendly, patient, funny, kind, outgoing, genuine, intelligent person who has been extremely easy for my daughter to work with. Rebekah just seems to be at ease with herself as a tutor, and that quality helps make the sessions very successful. My daughter has made great progress from the initial pre-test to the mid-test, and I’m sure that by the post-test she will have made even more progress. We really love Rebekah and cannot say enough positive things about her!
    Kristi, Parent
  • Deanna, Parent
    Nurturing Wisdom is an amazing company that will listen and help get the right fit for each child's needs! Going through high school testing is hard enough. When your child feels lost and unsure of how to handle testing, Nurturing Wisdom definitely prepares them for it. We were super happy with Matt- he was definitely everything my son needed!
    Deanna, Parent
  • Deanna, Parent of a high school entrance test student
    Nurturing Wisdom was recommended by our school. I have to say I have never been so happy with our overall experience from the beginning of discussing my needs for my son and our current tutoring. Catherine was always so respectful and caring and when we were blessed with Matt we couldn't have been happier! Matt is a remarkable young man who listened and cued in on Maximus' needs! I would recommend Nurturing Wisdom to all and I will also use them for my daughter as well!
    Deanna, Parent of a high school entrance test student
  • Jenni, Parent
    We have had a very positive experience with our tutor Shannon. She and my daughter are very well matched. She has been very helpful. She is patient and has given my daughter wonderful tools to use on her test. She is always punctual and it was so easy to schedule our appointments with her. All in all we loved having Shannon as our tutor and would continue to use her in the future.
    Jenni, Parent
  • Parent of an 8th grader
    Our son was very skeptical about his odds of getting into the high school of his choice, St Ignatius College Prep, after having taken the practice test and performing well below his normal standards. We were told of the tutoring program offered through Nurturing Wisdom and spoke to several parents who explained how much it helped their child, so we decided to enroll our son in their program. We were very pleased with his tutor and his style of teaching our son how to take this specific exam and what methods to implement to help him score high. As a result, he took the exam and was accepted into St Ignatius College Prep! We are extremely happy with our investment in his tutoring through Nurturing Wisdom and would recommend their program to anyone in our situation!
    Parent of an 8th grader
  • Andrea and Richard, parents of an 8th grader accepted at St. Ignatius
    As parents, we want the best for our children. So when we make such a critical decision on who will best serve the tutoring needs for our child, we better be right the first time and we were - it was Nurturing Wisdom. We knew from the minute we signed that we hit a home run. This feeling first came about when we spoke with Connor's tutor- Benjamin. Ben was an absolute professional who really knows how to convey his talent on strategic and quality test taking. I was impressed on how he explained to Connor the importance of the test taking strategies for each subject. Ben showed Connor how to tackle math equations in ways he was never taught. I say this with extreme sincerity, had it not been for Ben, Connor would have struggled on the HSPT test.
    Andrea and Richard, parents of an 8th grader accepted at St. Ignatius