Harvard-Westlake Admissions: The Key to Getting Into Harvard-Westlake

With nearly 20 years of experience, we have mastered admissions strategies to get you into top schools.

TALK TO OUR COLLEGE CONSULTANT TODAY! Call Us Toll Free: (888) 521-5243


Harvard-Westlake School is a private, coeducational, college preparatory school nestled in Los Angeles, California. It has a separate campus for middle school which serves seventh through ninth-grade students, while Harvard-Westlake Upper School caters to tenth through twelfth-grade students. The school campus fosters a diverse and inclusive community and continuously strives to uphold these standards. With a total of 230 classroom teachers, Harvard-Westlake has a student-teacher ratio of 7:1.

Harvard-Westlake’s community is defined by its Honor Code, which entails the promise of its students to lead an upright and empathetic life. Having its foundation rooted in the values of diversity, community, and academic excellence, Harvard-Westlake encourages students to become true leaders with a deep commitment to a meaningful purpose. The school has several community services such as the Righteous Conversations Project which connects the young people of today to Holocaust survivors to expound on the topic of injustice through innovative media projects.

How To Get Into Harvard-Westlake

Acceptance is extremely challenging and selective as the school seeks to keep its class sizes low. Last year, out of more than a thousand applications, Harvard-Westlake only accepted over two hundred students starting in seventh grade. The other entry point, the ninth grade, has fewer opportunities, especially those from other schools. The reason for this is that most middle school students choose to continue at Harvard-Westlake every year. If you want to get your child into Harvard-Westlake, we advise you to start preparing early to have enough time to build a strong and impressive portfolio.  

As your trusted admissions consultants, we will work hand-in-hand with you and your child to develop a bespoke and cohesive strategy to set you up for success and differentiate you from other applicants! We have a dedicated team of tutors, private school admissions consultants, and academic coaches to help you every step of the way.

Harvard-Westlake Application

Harvard-Westlake Upper School admissions begin by completing your admissions inquiry form. It is important to remember that the main entry points to Havard-Westlake are grades 7, 9, and 10. Applications to grades 8 and 12 are scarcely ever accepted. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Fill out the online application form
  2. Complete the student questionnaire
  3. Schedule a visit and interview
  4. Complete a timed 30-minute writing exercise
  5. Submit a standardized test score (optional)
  6. Submit recommendation letters
  7. Submit an administrative recommendation and transcript

Harvard-Westlake School Admissions 

Recommendation Letters

Applicants are required to submit recommendations from their current  Math and English teachers as well as from the head of school, principal, or guidance counselor. 

Recommendation letters demonstrate your differentiating qualities, capabilities, and skills, or in simpler terms, why Harvard-Westlake should accept you. Cardinal Education has been helping students for nearly two decades now, and we can also help you get into Harvard-Westlake Upper School! We will work hand-in-hand with you to find out the best ways to showcase your strengths, scholastic achievements, and interesting qualities in the recommendation letters. However, you must keep in mind that your other credentials, such as GPA, test scores, and participation in extracurricular activities must support these factors.

Do letters of recommendation really matter?

We often find that students and their parents are mistaken that they can get accepted through their outstanding GPAs and academic performance. Bear in mind that the observations of your counselor, principal, and teachers also have an effect on your applications. You should be able to shine as a lot of applicants will have the same, or even better, GPAs and accomplishments as yours. As trusted admissions consultants, we always tell our students that the key to admissions is early preparation. Forming connections will allow you to demonstrate your individuality and character, but it will still take some time to happen. We are more than happy to share with you our strategies on how to obtain shining recommendations.


Grades from the current school year should be submitted electronically through the application portal.

Obviously, your transcript will be a big factor in why Harvard-Westlake should accept you. But what if you don’t have exceptional grades? At Cardinal Education, we utilize a holistic, long-term approach that allows us to craft a bespoke package tailored to you and your family’s needs, values, and vision of success. What differentiates us from other consultants is that we listen! We understand that getting higher grades takes time, so the key to admissions would be to start private school admissions consulting early. For your convenience, we offer both online and in-person tutoring for different subjects as well as diagnostic testing. We also offer academic coaching where our academic coaches help develop executive function skills to enable your child to overcome challenging tasks and ensure successful academic performance.

Admissions Interview

After submitting the application, an admissions officer will set a schedule for a 40-minute interview either in person or on Zoom. Families who submit their application early will definitely have the chance to interview while those who submit later will only be offered an interview depending on availability. 

You will be asked questions about your background, experiences, interests, goals, and why you want to attend Harvard-Westlake. Besides your honest and interesting answers, you should also add personal anecdotes to support your answers. Are you not well-spoken? We have an interview preparation program to help you! As a premier educational consulting firm, we have insider information from elite schools including Harvard-Westlake and you can do mock interviews with our experts to learn how to respond to commonly asked interview questions. Stand out in the interviews with the help of our expert admissions consultants!

Harvard-Westlake Writing Exercise

The Harvard-Westlake Writing Exercise is necessary for all candidates, whether or not they want to submit their ISEE results. This is a 30-minute timed response to a question or prompt in the online application. Applicants can access the exercise whenever they choose after submitting their application. The exercise can only be done once and must be completed by the application deadline. It can only be performed by the applicant without assistance from parents, guardians, or other adults. This exercise is intended to demonstrate the applicant’s writing ability. 

Our expertise runs deep and wide! Our admissions consultants can provide you with a writing exercise to practice writing under time pressure using different prompts. If your child is not a strong writer and has difficulty organizing ideas, our writing tutors, through the Program in Writing and Reading (PWR), can help develop reading comprehension and eventually unlock your child’s writing ability. 

Standardized Test

In its continued commitment to a holistic admission process, Harvard-Westlake remains test-optional. This means that test scores are not required but applicants may still choose to submit them. Only the latest ISEE scores will be accepted. 

Get the scores you need with the help of our ISEE tutors through our test prep program. Our ISEE practice test is considered to be the most effective and has been proven to generate the best scores possible. We do not only teach concepts, we also focus on test-taking skills and strategies so your child develops the confidence and readiness to take the test.

Famous Harvard-Westlake alumni

Harvard-Westlake graduates have pursued various careers and have become successful in their own respective fields. Some of their notable alumni include: 

  • Lily Jane Collins – a critically acclaimed actress and a nominee for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress
  • Jake Gyllenhaal – an award-winning actor and stage performer, nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play
  • Shirley Temple (+) – was Hollywood’s prized child actress, was named US Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, and also served as the Chief of Protocol of the United States
  • Jason Collins – a retired professional basketball player who played 13 seasons in the NBA
  • Ben Sherwood – writer and journalist, currently the co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney ABC Television Group, formerly the president of ABC News
  • Jessica Yellin – known as one of the most influential women in Washington, was the Chief White House correspondent for CNN from 2011-2013
  • Jason Segel – an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, singer-songwriter, author, and producer
  • Mark Harmon – an American actor best known for his lead role in NCIS
  • Billie Lourd – an American actress widely known for her role in the Fox horror comedy series Scream Queens
  • Danica McKellar – an American actress, mathematics writer, and education advocate

Student Life at Harvard-Westlake

Students of Harvard-Westlake are presented with a wide array of ideas and opportunities. There are several community service initiatives for students to participate in, clubs and activities, speech and debate, class retreats, student media and publications, a student government, and a few more projects and programs. The HW community also has a deep-seated commitment to diversity and inclusion. As such, there are multiple opportunities to learn about the diversity of perspectives and experiences at HW, like the “Humans of Harvard-Westlake” project.

Harvard-Westlake Curriculum

The Harvard-Westlake curriculum fosters independent thinking and diversity while uplifting students to explore the world around them and discover themselves. Aside from the core subjects, it has global education programs and experiential learning opportunities that enable students to develop empathy and expand cultural competence. Students can take courses in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and independent research that expose them to ideas and methods from various or unconventional areas. Additionally, the department provides students with chances for research, in-depth study, and immersion outside of what is typically offered, working in partnership with the other academic departments.

Harvard-Westlake Activities

Harvard-Westlake provides its students with opportunities to get themselves involved in the school community and beyond. There are affinity groups, DEI commitments, Civil Rights Trip, and Pollyanna Conference among many others! A lot of traditions have existed with the long history of the school. This includes homecoming, Spring Festival, Senior Ceremony, Senior Transition Day, the annual Senior Walk, and a lot more. Harvard-Westlake Upper School also retreats to Big Bear at the end of the year to mark the finale of their high school experience.

Harvard-Westlake Athletics

Harvard-Westlake Athletics promotes B.E.S.T. practices and Principles, which stands for balance, excellence, sportsmanship, and teamwork. The school offers a wide variety of sports, including baseball, basketball, football, bass fishing, golf, water polo, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, swimming, track & field, cross country, volleyball, and wrestling for boys. Girls, on the other hand, are offered bass fishing, beach volleyball, field hockey, basketball, swimming, cross country, golf, soccer, lacrosse, softball, track & field, volleyball, tennis, and water polo.

Harvard-Westlake Arts

In arts, Harvard-Westlake gives value to creativity, collaboration, and self-expression. The school teaches its students essential techniques, encourages exploration and cultural awareness, and believes in every student’s artistic potential. Harvard-Westlake Upper School takes pride in its top-notch resources and facilities such as its state-of-the-art glass-blowing studio. From dance and music to drama, painting, sculpture, and film, Harvard-Westlake has it all!

Did You Know?

The average number of students per class is 16 and the student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1.

Client Testimonial

“Thanks to their personalized approach, my daughter gained admission to Harvard-Westlake. I highly recommend Cardinal Education to any student aiming for top-tier schools. When my daughter starts preparing for college admissions, we will definitely work with them again.”