I was looking for an equivalent for a type of school that we have in our country (they usually have entry exams) and I faced this phrase "public exemplary schools". Do we have such schools by this name generally? Is it common?

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    In what country or countries?
    – Jasper
    Aug 18, 2017 at 18:02
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    We can't tell you if an equivalent institution exists if you don't describe what the institution is in the first place. Is this a classification, or some kind of ranking or award? How does it fit into the larger education system? Is there a link to a full description of it? Additionally, educational systems and labels vary widely by locale; in the U.S., schools only a short distance apart can be very different because the practices of their school districts or states differ. At some point, this ceases to be a question about English and becomes one of specialist terminology.
    – choster
    Aug 18, 2017 at 18:27
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    @Farzaneh In the U.S., a magnet school is one that teaches a specialized curriculum; it is not a tier or track like a grammar school in the UK or a gymnasium in northern Europe. Indeed, not all magnet schools require entrance exams, and not all are exclusive. To make this question easier to answer, I suggest you edit your question and simply describe the school as it exists in your locale, and what it is called, then ask if there is an equivalent in the specific locale you are interested in (Australia, UK, US, etc.).
    – choster
    Aug 18, 2017 at 19:51
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    What do you mean by "public school"? The term has almost completely opposite meanings in British and American English.
    – James K
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:19
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    Translating school types is usually hopeless.
    – IS4
    Aug 19, 2017 at 0:38

4 Answers 4


I am not aware of any well-known term in US English for a school that has an entrance exam. "Magnet schools" are public schools that serve more advanced students, but the name does not indicate how they decide who to admit. "Exclusive schools" are difficult to get into, but again, whether they select based on an entrance exam, grades in previous schooling, or whether your parents are willing to pay high tuition isn't implied by the name.


In the UK, free state-run schools that require students to pass an exam to enter are called grammar schools. They are relatively rare now, only a few regions of the country still have them, but they have been widespread.

The name is because, traditionally, only at a grammar school could you learn Latin Grammar.

I believe that the term is not used in American English. In American English a "grammar school" is a school for younger pupils aged about 6-12. The terms used in American English are quite different to British English; for example in British English, a "public school" is a school that charges fees and is independent of the government. In America, a public school is state-run and doesn't charge.

What this means is, unfortunately, there is no term that is widely understood across all dialects of English for a "public school with an entrance exam"

  • What about public schools with entry exams? We don't have any name or phrase in general english so a I could use it in may translation?
    – Farzaneh
    Aug 18, 2017 at 20:59
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    In the US, a "grammar school" is school for younger children. When I was a boy, we had "kindergarten"; then "grammar school", also called "elementary school", grades 1 to 6; then "junior high", grades 7 to 9; then "senior high", grades 10 to 12. When my children were in school, they had "middle school" for 7 to 8; then "high school" for 9 to 12. I don't know if this changed over time or if it's different in different parts of the country. Anyway, in the US "grammar school" doesn't have anything to do with whether there's an entrance exam, it's about what grades it teaches.
    – Jay
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:10
  • @Farzaneh Please read the first sentence of my answer, which should answer your question, if you are writing in British English.
    – James K
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:30

There is a term that is used in American English for free, state-run schools that require an entrance exam, but it isn't common or well-known, primarily because this kind of school isn't common in the US. We call them exam schools or occasionally competitive public schools (see, e.g., the definition in The Black Student's Guide to High School Success or this Salon article on the subject).

However, so far as I know the exam is generally peculiar to each individual school—that is, schools have their own tests, and you either get in to that school or you don't; there isn't a tiered system where highest marks send you to one school, and lower (but still high) marks send you to a different school. Even if there were such a scheme in some particular school system, there probably still isn't a widespread name to distinguish the two types of exam schools.


In Australia, those types of schools can be called 'Selective schools', as seen in the article below:


  • I've checked the above link, that's probably what I'm looking for, could you tell me If this phrase is structurally correct "Junior Selective High School" , I mean the selective school for junior students, grade 7 to 9
    – Farzaneh
    Aug 19, 2017 at 5:04
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    @Farzaneh In New South Wales, selective schools are public high schools, and are for years 7 to 12. "Partially selective" schools have both selective and non-selective streams.
    – Irfan434
    Aug 19, 2017 at 7:59
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    @Farzaneh Depending on your location, the junior section can mean different things. I'd say 'Selective High School for grades 7-9', unless, in your area, junior high school is widely understood as those grades. However, if that's the case, I think 'Selective Junior High School' is better worded. Aug 19, 2017 at 8:23
  • "Selective school" would be understood in British English too.
    – James K
    Aug 20, 2017 at 15:12

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