How to Get Into Sidwell Friends School: A Guide for Prospective Students

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Sidwell Friends School, a Quaker day school for students in grades PK–12 with campuses in Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington, DC, was established in 1883. Embodying Christian and Quaker values,  students take part in community and after-school programs so that they may find their passions and learn how to contribute to society where they will have a chance to grow creatively, intellectually, and athletically. Together with a rigorous academic curriculum, students are engaged in various extracurricular activities where they explore and develop their inner passions and skills.  

What are admissions officers looking for? 

Sidwell looks for students who can fulfill demanding academic and personal requirements and add to the school’s vitality. Although admissions officers are more likely to pay attention to applicants with strong grades, excellent references, and active involvement and leadership in extracurricular activities, these qualities do not ensure entrance. To ascertain whether a student would fit into the competitive setting, they will also look into their general demeanor and character. 

Sidwell Friends School Admissions

Our educational consultants can help you through each step of the Sidwell Friends School admissions process which consists of the following:

  • Creating a Ravenna account
  • Submitting the Family Information Form
  • Attending an In-Person Visit 
  • Submitting Teacher Recommendations
  • Requesting School Records
  • Completing the Virtual Student Academic Activity
    • Middle and Upper School Applicants
  • Taking the Math Assessment
  • Completing the Parent and Student Questionnaires

Sidwell Friends Application

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to delegate recommendation letters to the current English and math teachers. Requests and submissions are done through Ravenna only. 

Recommendation letters are vital in the admissions process because they allow the admissions officers at Sidwell Friends School to learn about the students from another perspective before accepting them. Teachers who write these recommendation letters should know the students well enough to speak about them easily. It is ideal for students to build relationships with their current teachers to hopefully gain a shining recommendation letter in return. Our private school admissions consultants know the best strategies to get the best recommendation letters for admission.


The school requires transcripts from the previous school year and the first half of the current school year. These are requested and submitted via Ravenna. 

School records are important for schools to understand a student’s potential. But sometimes, those transcripts might not show the full scope of ability, and it could give admissions counselors a negative first impression. If you begin your application early, Cardinal Education offers academic coaching and tutoring in the subjects your child needs most, boosting grades and chances of getting accepted. Our tutors are professionals in their fields and equipped with effective teaching skills. If your child needs more help with executive functioning like time management, notetaking skills, organizational skills, or writing and reading strategies, our academic coaches can help.

Virtual Student Academic Activity

Middle and upper school applicants will be asked to complete a virtual reading and writing activity via Zoom. This activity is scheduled on a Saturday and administered by an admissions officer. 

Even if you think your child has good reading comprehension skills and is a good writer, virtual activities and assessments are more challenging. Because of the time constraints, it might be difficult to organize ideas and write a powerful response that embodies your child’s character. Our writing tutors can help through our Proctored Writing Sample Preparation which teaches students how to write under time pressure. 

Math Skills Assessment

Ninth-grade students should take the in-person math skills assessment that aims to measure Algebra skills. For out-of-state students, a proctored Zoom session is available. Sidwell has recently changed its science curriculum to a “physics first” program which would be more tightly connected to algebra. 

If math is not your child’s strong suit, we offer math tutoring for basic and advanced classes. Our math tutors have undergone specialized training and use our own company-formulated textbooks, drills, activities, and exercises that have been proven effective over the years. In-person and online tutoring classes are available and schedules are set according to your child’s availability. 

Standardized Testing

Currently, Sidwell Friends School is not accepting ISEE and SSAT tests, but if your child took any other standardized tests during the school year such as ERBs, MAP, SOL, Stanford, IOWA, CTPs, and PARCC, they should be submitted with the transcripts.  

Parent Questionnaire

Parents need to respond to a prompt in 200 words or less. The question should elicit a response that talks about your family’s goals and how you will be a positive addition to the community. 

Gaining admission to Sidwell means your whole family becomes a member of the school, not just your child. This is the reason why admissions officers would want to know about your family’s values to see if they align with those of the school. Our admissions consultants can help you write a parent statement that is truthful and authentic, and at the same time displays traits and characteristics that the admissions team is looking for.

Student Questionnaire/Personal Statement

The student questionnaire is composed of four questions that your child has to answer in 200 words or less. This is a great opportunity to showcase your child’s character and personality which may not be evident in all the other application requirements. Questions about personal experiences, overcoming difficulties, dreams, goals, and aspirations could be very tricky to answer. We will help choose the perfect anecdotes and provide tips for writing the personal statement in ways that will differentiate your child from the rest of the applicants and stand out in front of the admissions committee.

Sidwell Friends School Famous Alumni

  • Chelsea Clinton – daughter of President Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton, American writer, and global health advocate
  • Julie Nixon Eisenhower – youngest daughter of President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon, was the assistant managing editor of The Saturday Evening Post, named one of the “Ten Most Admired Women in America” 
  • Tricia Nixon Cox – daughter of President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon, serves on different medical research institutions and the Richard Nixon Foundation
  • Malia Obama- eldest daughter of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Harvard University graduate
  • Sasha Obama – younger daughter of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, USC graduate 
  • Archibald Roosevelt – fifth child of President Theodore Roosevelt, a distinguished U.S. Army officer and commander of the U.S. forces in WWI and WWII
  • Setsuko, Princess Chichibu- a member of the Japanese Imperial Family
  • Walter Gilbert – biochemist, physicist, molecular biology pioneer, and Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry 
  • Alida Anderson – widely published academic researcher, co-editor of The Journal of the Arts and Special Education  
  • Nana Meriwether- American philanthropist, former professional volleyball player, and Miss USA 2012

Student Life at Sidwell

To supplement classroom learning, there are various activities to keep students engaged with one another and with the world around them. Professional health professionals ensure the physical, mental, and psychological well-being of students through special programs and counseling sessions. There are over 65 clubs to choose from that are focused on a variety of interests, hobbies, and extracurricular activities. Students, parents, and faculty often gather at The Fox Den, a cafe and store, a place to hang out and commune with one another. 

Sidwell Friends Academics

The curriculum at Sidwell Friends is designed to challenge and inspire students at every level. It is based on a student-centered approach where each student’s needs and interests are taken into account to provide a personalized learning experience. It boasts an exceptional computer science and engineering program where students learn coding, build websites, design games, and become active members of a competitive robotics team. The classical and modern language classes offer intermediate and advanced classes in Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish.

Sidwell Friends Athletics

Boasting one of the largest school bodies in the District of Columbia, Sidwell Friends School has a well-equipped athletics department with access to baseball, softball, track, tennis, basketball, dance, weightlifting, soccer, wrestling, soccer, and football. Middle school students engage in various sports and are encouraged to participate in varsity teams. Competitive athletics begins in 7th grade where students learn and develop athletic skills and learn the values of teamwork, sportsmanship, and healthy competition. 

Sidwell Friends Activities

With access to more than 65 clubs and activities, students never have a lack of options to choose from. Unique clubs like the Outing Club, participating in climbing, kayaking, camping, and hiking, or Friends Environmental Action Team (FEAT), studying global environmental challenges and exploring solutions for them. There is a club for everyone, whether they are interested in robotics, tea, microfinance, women empowerment, language, and so many more. 

Sidwell Friends Arts

Lower school students perform concerts and annual plays, oftentimes written by students themselves, including singing, dancing, and playing instruments. Middle school students take classes in vocal and instrumental music and drama, participating in an annual play and musical. Upper school students have the option to explore theater arts such as acting and technical theater, the jazz ensemble or chamber orchestra, chorus and chamber chorus, and dance as a part of their phys ed program. 

Sidwell Summer Camp

The summer program at Sidwell is widely participated by students from grades 3 through 12. Campers can choose from a variety of enriching activities that foster intellectual and personal growth. The DC campus offers The Handwork Studio, Baseball Skills Camp, Boys Elite Sidwell Soccer Camp, Chess and Bridge, Field Hockey, Lacrosse Camp, Tennis, Wrestling,  Codemoji, Discovery Day and Junior Camps, and LEGO Play-Well TEKnologies. The Bethesda campus offers an Art & Literature Camp, Culinary Arts Studio, LEGO Play-Well TEKnologies, Robotics, Coding & Creativity Studio, Business Academy, and Woodworking.  

Did You Know?

Sidwell does not compute GPAs or assign class rankings. It does not grant academic awards or honors in compliance with the Quaker philosophy of equity. 

Client Testimonial

It has always been our dream to send our son to Sidwell Friends. We heard about Cardinal Education from an acquaintance and started working with them when my son was in 7th grade. With their outstanding coaching, tutoring, and mentoring, our son got accepted into 9th grade, two years later.”

Parent of a 9th-grade student