Admission to the Brooklyn Latin School is solely based on an entrance exam commonly referred to as the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT). All eighth and ninth-grade students in New York City are eligible to take the test, which covers verbal (grammar and reading comprehension) and math (computation and word problems) skills.
In September 2011, approximately 30,000 students took the entrance examination and 14,529 students listed Brooklyn Latin as their first choice on their application. Out of those students, around 572 offers were made by the institution–recording a 3.9% acceptance rate.
Overview of Brooklyn Latin
Founded in 2006, Brooklyn Latin is an educational institution modeled after Boston Latin–the oldest public high school in the country. It is one of the nine specialized high schools in New York City.
Brooklyn Latin is known to be the only school in the city that offers an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, a demanding degree that’s accepted at universities in over 100 nations. Considered as more rigorous than a standard Regents prep curriculum, the IB program requires each student to write a research essay with 15 to 20 pages covering a topic of their choice. Students in the program also need to pass several subject exams and make an oral presentation to pass.
Aside from being the second specialized high school in Brooklyn (alongside Brooklyn Technical High School), it is the only specialized high school that requires students to wear a school uniform. Dominating their logo is the school color, purple, which represents Roman nobility who wore robes in the same hue. Purple is also the color of the Boston Latin School where Brooklyn Latin borrowed its ideals.
The elite high school takes pride in its strong science and math program. In an unusual sequence, freshmen kick off their curriculum with conceptual physics, followed by a year in chemistry and two years of IB biology. For juniors and seniors, they may also be required to take IB physics or IB chemistry.
Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) Cutoff Scores
2019 SHSAT cutoff score: 488 (lowest) and 505 (highest)
2018 SHSAT cutoff score: 483 (lowest) and 555 (highest)
Niche.com and US News Best Public School Ranking
Niche.com 2019 Best Public Schools in New York Rank: 5th
US News 2019 Best Public Schools in New York Rank: 9th
Niche.com 2019 Best Public Schools in USA Rank: 7th
US News 2019 Best Public Schools in USA Rank: 72nd
Student population: 725
Total number of teachers: 41
AP classes offered:
Unlike most specialized high schools, Brooklyn Latin mainly focuses on the classics and humanities. All students are required to take up four years of History, Latin, English, and any modern foreign language.
Instead of offering Advance Placement classes, the school prioritizes International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. It is a certified IB school and offers students the IB Diploma, along with its mandatory classes. Each class holds Socratic Seminars on a regular basis. In these sessions, students lead roundtable question-and-answer discussions. They also take part in public speaking or declamation exercises.
In fields of study like History and English, the school mainly focuses on classical studies. All students get a foundation in historical and literary traditions before they graduate. During the first year, students receive Latin instruction which will continue all throughout their stay in the school.
IB Diploma Programme
The Brooklyn Latin School sets itself from the other specialized schools in New York City by being the sole institution to offer the IB Diploma Programme. The International Baccalaureate’s mission is aligned with the Brooklyn Latin School’s vision.
This relation can be seen through IB’s move to translate its mission into a Learner Profile of ten characteristics (which includes inquiring, thoughtful, expressive, knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring, balanced, risk-taking and reflective). This mission reflects the personal responsibility and moral integrity ideals on which Brooklyn Latin was established.
By joining IB coursework, students can enjoy lots of benefits, particularly during the college admission process. The program enables them to handle college-level work throughout their journey in high school.
Because universities around the world recognize the value and rigor of an IB program, holders of IB Diploma are considered to be more equipped for the difficulties of collegiate life compared to their peers–even the students who have participated in Advanced Placement (AP) work.
A proof of the advantages of the IB program was recorded in 2003, when applicants to major colleges and universities throughout the United States got acceptance offers at an average rate of at least 200% higher, in comparison to applicants without any IB experience.
Several universities also give academic credit if a student finishes the half IB Diploma or obtains successful exam results in certain subject areas.
Graduation rate: 95%
Other Activities and Traditions
The Brooklyn Latin School strongly adheres to the classical belief that anyone who wants to be a leader in any field–academic or otherwise–should be well-spoken. The institution believes mastering the art of speech allows a person to master all of the arts. Individuals who are trained to speak well tend to have more extensive areas of expertise, have sharper memories, and have better skills in writing. In order to enjoy these benefits, Brooklyn Latin students are required to participate in declamation.
In declamation, students need to memorize a certain passage from a text and declaim it in front of their fellow students and the school faculty. Four in-class declamations in History and English are held annually, with four additional public declamations organized for students who want to audition to declaim in front of the whole Brooklyn Latin community.
Prize Declamation is the last of these public events in the school. Being chosen as the declaimer for the said event is one of the highest honors a student could have. Only those who have declaimed and auditioned in Public Declamation can audition for Prize Declamation.
Through these kinds of activities, the school assures that each student can speak with confidence and clarity. It also teaches the students that the key to become an eloquent speaker is through constant practice.
During Prize Night, the school celebrates the special achievements of all students and the entire student body throughout their four-year journey. Usually held the night prior to graduation, Prize Night goes beyond academic praise. The event also celebrates students who have made significant contributions to their own communities, in the arts, and in other specific areas that make them a well-rounded individual.
Every year, the school celebrates Founders’ Day in an effort to recognize the hard work of everyone in the school. This day is dedicated to the students, faculty, parents, staff, and partner organizations who have made and continue to make the school’s building years a success. One of the main traditions of Founders’ Day is prize declamation. During this event, the school reminds its community to remember their roots and inspires them to continue living up to the tradition of excellence of Brooklyn Latin.