BCA Prep: Overview of Bergen County Academies

USA Today has recognized Bergen County Academies as the #2 Best Public High School in New Jersey. Also, US News and World Report ranked it as the 4th Best Stem High School in the nation!

Every year, around 1,600 students apply to BCA and only around 15% are accepted. Other magnet schools in Bergen County are similarly competitive and the application process can feel overwhelming. Luckily, MEK Review has a proven record of guiding students successfully through this progress. Let’s start with some basic information you need to know.

Bergen County Magnet Schools

In addition to BCA (in Hackensack, NJ), there are two other prestigious magnet/technical schools in Bergen County:

  • Bergen County Technical Schools – Teterboro, NJ
  • Academies at Englewood – Englewood, NJ

Academies and Programs

Unlike a typical high school, these schools have specific Academies or Programs that students apply to that will heavily focus on and prepare students for certain fields or career paths. When you apply for admission to the high school, you must also apply for a first choice and second choice Academy or Program.

For instance the 7 Academies at BCA are:

  • Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (AAST)
  • Academy for Business and Finance (ABF)
  • Academy for Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration (ACAHA)
  • Academy for Engineering and Design Technology (AEDT)
  • Academy for Medical Science Technology (AMST)
  • Academy for Technology and Computer Science (ATCS)
  • Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA)

All 3 schools have two overall focal points:  College Prep and Career.

These schools heavily focus on preparing students for college success and thriving in a particular area. They all have strong college prep programs that are geared towards getting students accepted to top tier colleges.

Of course, not every teenager is certain of their career choice at fourteen years old, so students will also experience many electives during their 4 years of high school to help them pinpoint and develop their interest. These electives also make students more well-rounded, and therefore, more attractive candidates for competitive universities.  Overall, the academies are great place to plan out a student’s career path.

BCA’s current application process

This May 2023, we are hosting a BCA Prep Seminar where Head Academic Counselor Ann Ahn will answer all your BCA Prep and application timeline questions! We have 4 event dates: 5/11 and 5/25 at our Palisades Park campus and 5/13 and 5/27 at our Closter campus. 

After the initial application process, around 600 students will receive an interview invitation for BCA. Final acceptances are around 270 at BCA and 170 at BT. Academies at Englewood will accept 110 students every year.

Applications must include:

  • 7th grade report card
  • First marking period of 8th grade report card
  • NJ PARCC Score – advanced proficiency in both subjects (with exceptions for COVID-19 disrupted testing)
  • Teacher recommendations – English, Math, and Science
  • Application Essay
  • Admission Exam
  • Portfolio (for certain programs) & Interview

Applications for BCA and BT are completed through the same online portal. They portal opens during October and closes in mid-December. You can alter and change you application up until the final day in December. A@E application is submitted here. Unlike BCA and BT, the application and essay are completed through different links both found on this page. The portal closes at the very beginning of December.

It is best to start the application process early, so you have to time gather all the necessary documents, and your child has plenty of time to complete the application essay.

About the entrance exam

Success on the entrance exam requires strong problem-solving skills, which is not often taught in middle school classrooms. From 2011, BCA eliminated open-ended questions on the math exam. After 2011, the exam added more word problems and challenging questions. The English section asks students to analyze a complex text and write a high school level 5-paragraph literary analysis essay from the prompt given. The entrance exam is the same for BCA and BT. However, the A@E test is slightly different, but has very similar content and skill requirements as the BCA and BT test.

Entrance exams don’t measure an applicant’s achievement, but rather comprehensively evaluates their reasoning skills. It is not just about teaching students the information on the test but teaching them the best strategies for any type of problem or prompt they might encounter on exam day.

MEK Review’s BCA Prep program

Our 20+ year BCA Prep program helps parents successfully navigate the complex admissions process and helps students ace the challenging entrance exam!

Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of students gain admission to BCA.

In 2022, 54 of our students were accepted to BCA, 16 were accepted to BT, and 22 were accepted to A@E.

Get started by joining our May BCA Prep Seminar or contacting us today!

For more BCA tips and general high school admissions advice, check out:


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