Admissions FAQs

On this page, we have prepared answers to some of the most common inquiries we receive about our school. The questions are arranged in five broad categories: Admissions, Curriculum, Fees, General and Teachers. 


Q. What is the procedure for applying for admission to KIST?
A. As part of the application procedure, we require all families to read our Admissions Handbook in full. Our admissions policies and application procedures are explained in detail in the handbook.

Q. Does my child have to speak English in order to enter KIST?
A. KIST is not an English conversation school. English is used as the language of instruction in the classroom but we do not teach English as a foreign language. With the exception of very young children, applicants must have reached a certain level in English in order to enter the school. In particular, secondary students must have a high level of ability in order to cope with the demands of studying specialized subjects in English.

Q. Is it true that my application may not be accepted even if there are places available?
A. In order to create a balance of nationalities, there is a percentage limit of individual nationalities in any one grade. There is also a percentage limit of students who require language support. So even though there may still be places available in a grade, if the percentage limits have been reached, you may only apply for the waiting list.

Q. Can I submit an application even if the grade is full?
Yes, as long as you understand that you will be placed on the waiting list if you pass the initial screening and subsequent interview and test; however, if the waiting list is already full, we may not be able to accept further applications. Please confirm availability before sending an application.

Q. Are Japanese children eligible to apply for admission?
A. Yes, children of any nationality are welcome to apply to KIST.

Q. Can I apply for my child to enter KIST after graduating from a Japanese primary school?
A. You are welcome to apply; however, due to the demands of our secondary school curriculum, if your child's English ability is limited, it is possible that your application will be unsuccessful.

Q. How can I get my child onto the waiting list?
A. Our waiting list is only for families who have already successfully completed an enrollment interview and assessment test.

Q. Can I send my application through the Internet?
A. No, we accept applications by post or courier. If you live nearby, you may also deliver them in person after making an appointment. We do not accept applications on line or by e-mail.

Q. Can I send my basic application first and then supporting documents later?
A. As we are unable to process an application until we have received all relevant components, including the Application Fee, we ask that you send us a complete application.

Q. Can I apply for a child who has not yet reached eligible age?
A. No, we do not accept applications for children who are not eligible to enter in the current or next immediate school year. Applicants for K1 must be three years old by August 31. No exceptions will be made to this.

Q. Can I apply for a grade outside my child's age eligibility?
A. As far as possible, we prefer to keep students within their correct age group according to their date of birth as indicated in our Admissions Handbook. For applicants for K2 to Grade 1, this decision is based primarily on the child's age appropriate social needs. Experience tells us that being with like-minded peers is a crucial factor in positive social development. Like-minded peers choose the same kinds of games to play, they communicate in similar ways and they respond through predicted patterns of behavior. The best way to create this like-minded environment is in a class of similar age peers. Asking a young child to join a class of older students, creating a situation where they are the youngest in the class, can cause difficulties in making friends, developing social skills and understanding the dynamics of the social group. In particular, when moving from one culture to another, where both the child and family may experience culture shock, we believe that it is important to provide the child with the most secure environment possible. In addition to social needs, we also take into account a child's academic development.

At KIST, our teachers plan and implement curriculum appropriate to the individual needs of students in order to accommodate a variety of needs in one classroom. This means that if a child has already mastered a skill or developed understanding of a concept, the teachers will not insist that he/she repeat this, they will support the child in moving onto the next stage of learning, regardless of the grade level. In certain cases for Grade 1 to Grade 10, however, we may consider requests for enrollment for up to a maximum of one grade level above or below an applicant's eligible grade depending on circumstances in the student's home country. For Grade 11, applications will not be accepted from students who are more than two years above the eligible age.

Q. Can I apply for enrollment if my child is not yet in Japan?
A. If your child is a native or near-native English speaker and is eligible for Grade 1 or above, you may apply for provisional enrollment. If granted, this will guarantee a place in the appropriate class until you are able to attend an on-site enrollment interview and assessment test. If your child is not a native speaker, you must wait until you arrive in Japan. Provisional enrollment is not available for K1 to K3 applications.

Q. Can I find out why my application was unsuccessful?
A. As indicated in our Admissions Handbook and on the results notification you receive, we are unable to respond to individual inquiries regarding the results of an application. Submission of an application indicates your understanding and agreement with this policy. If your application is unsuccessful, we suggest you review the relevant sections in our Admissions Handbook and reflect on how you may be able to improve a subsequent application.

Q. What is the percentage of unsuccessful applications each year?
A. We are unable to provide details of the rate of success of applications.

Q. Do I have to apply to re-enroll at KIST if I was enrolled previously?
A. Yes, you must apply for admission according to the regular procedure. If your application is successful, the Enrollment Fee and Capital Fee will be reduced.

Q. Does KIST accept short-term enrollments?
A. In general, families coming to live in Japan from overseas enroll their children at KIST for a number of years. Short-term enrollments of less than three months are discouraged; however, applications will be considered on a needs basis and according to space availability. Tuition fees are calculated on a monthly pro-rata basis; however, there is no reduction on other general fees, with the exception of the Building Maintenance Fee which is reduced for students enrolling between April and June only. A full school uniform (summer and/or winter depending on the time of year) and separate PE uniform must also be purchased. Families should consider the costs involved before applying.

Q. Does KIST offer boarding facilities?
A. No, KIST is a day school. We do not have boarding facilities. Families must make their own living arrangements. We are also unable to assist with arranging host families.

Q. Does KIST accept students through any exchange programs?
A. No, we do not offer any exchange programs at this time.

Q. Can KIST assist with obtaining a visa for my child?
A. It is the responsibility of individual families to apply for appropriate visas through the relevant government authority. Upon request, KIST can prepare a Proof of Attendance statement (charges apply) for children who have been offered enrollment and have paid the Enrollment Fee to include with their visa application; however, we are unable to provide advice or offer assistance beyond this. This includes assistance for family members accompanying children to Japan.

Q. Do applications for siblings of currently enrolled students receive special consideration?
A. We encourage families to apply for admission for all siblings; however, enrollment is not guaranteed. Although we may give preference to siblings of currently enrolled students, they must sit for the same assessment test as regular applicants. There are also various other factors that are considered as outlined in our Admissions Handbook. Based on these considerations, it is possible that applications for siblings may be unsuccessful.

Q. Does payment of the Application Fee guarantee an interview and test?
A. As we receive many applications for limited places, all applications are screened by our Admissions Panel. At the screening stage, we carefully consider the comments made by parents/guardians, the background education of applicants, their school reports, their need to attend an international school and various other factors. If, from our considerations, we believe that an applicant will not be suited to our school environment, the application will be unsuccessful and we will be unable to invite you to attend an interview or test.

Q. Can I apply for admission if my parents don't speak English?
A. Yes, you may apply; however, you will need to think about how your parents will communicate with your teachers and other staff members. If your parents are unable to speak either English or Japanese, they must arrange for a translator to attend the parent interview that is part of the initial application process.

Q. Do I have to submit previous school reports in English?
A. Yes, we require English translations of all school reports that are not originally issued in English. For Grades 2 and above, official school reports must be arranged through your child"s current or previous schools. If these are not in English, you will need to arrange for them to be translated. If the school is unable to provide translations, families may do the translations themselves.

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Q. What country is the curriculum at KIST based on?
A. Our school has adopted the curriculum developed by the International Baccalaureate. Although the IB is based in Geneva, the three programs are "international" and are not based on the curriculum from any one country in particular.

Q. Does KIST offer general courses of study other than the IB programs?
A. The IB programs are offered at all levels; however, an English Intensive Class (EIC) is available for students applying for Grades 6 through 8 who need to develop their English skills before transferring to the regular program.

Q. Can children go to a university in any country if they are awarded an IB diploma?
A. A growing number of universities around the world recognize the IB diploma for its rigorous university entrance preparation. In many cases, students who have received an IB diploma are not required to sit for any further entrance examinations; however, the requirements for each university are different. We advise you to contact individual universities directly regarding their specific entrance requirements. Our College Guidance Counselor is also available to provide assistance and advice to students regarding university entrance.

Q. What second language subjects does KIST offer?
A. All students learn Japanese as a second language at all levels. For students in the Diploma Programme, we may be able to provide limited support to highly motivated students who wish to study a second language other than Japanese; however, this would involve students studying the language through a self-study situation and is dependent on parents agreeing to purchase any necessary learning materials and resources that are not covered by the general school fees.

Q. Do my children have to go to a Japanese cram school (juku) to keep up with the work load?
A. For students who entered KIST with certain enrollment conditions regarding the level of their English language or mathematics skills, it may be compulsory for them to attend after-school LEAP support classes at KIST to develop their skills to a suitable level. Some students may be recommended to attend LEAP at KIST or another similar program outside school. For other students, we encourage them to participate in after-school club activities offered by KIST, or to further their interests by joining sporting or cultural clubs outside school.

Q. Do students use textbooks?
A. Yes, students use textbooks in most subjects in the Middle Years Programme (Grades 6 – 10) and the Diploma Programme (Grades 11 – 12); however, textbooks are not used in the Primary Years Programme (K1 – Grade 5). In general, the aim of many textbooks is to present content information designed for students to increase their factual knowledge; however, in the Elementary School, students learn through units of inquiry that require them not only to learn factual information, but to go beyond the facts to research concepts through various sources and to consider these concepts at a much deeper level than is usually presented in textbooks. For this reason, textbooks are too limiting in what they allow students to learn.

Q. How does the academic level of the programs offered at KIST compare with other countries?
A. The programs at KIST have been written based on a range of curriculums from around the world. The standards in our curriculum documents are equal to, if not more rigorous, than those from other countries. In standardized tests for mathematical literacy, reading and writing, our students clearly function around the same level, if not higher, than the average 60% of students from around the world who sat the same examinations. It is important to note that our programs are concept based rather than content based. This means that our students are expected to function at a higher cognitive level to learn about various concepts rather than simply learning factual information. For example, elementary school students learning in a content-based curriculum may encounter a topic on "dinosaurs" and learn various facts about the different kinds of dinosaurs that existed; however, in a concept-based curriculum, they would learn about the concept of "extinction" and its causes and effects.

Q. How does the school make sure the work is rigorous enough? How does it keep raising the bar to find out what students can do?
A. Successful school are never content with what they are doing - they continue to seek ways to improve student achievement by questioning exisiting practice. At KIST, we deliver the rigorous IB programmes at all levels of the school and collect data to objectively measure student progress. Research shows that students who are strong in mathematics and English perform better overall at school. As the end goal of our efforts is for student success in the Diploma Programme, and beyond, we set our expectations for performance in mathematics and English high and direct resources to supporting all students in attaining them. 

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Q. Why are the tuition fees lower than other international schools of similar size?
A. KIST aims to keep fees as low as possible in order to provide students from various socio-economic backgrounds with an opportunity to access an international education. One of the ways this is possible is through our compulsory School Support Program that requires parents to participate in particular duties throughout the year. This helps us to offset the cost of hiring ancillary staff.

Q. Does KIST offer scholarships or financial assistance?
A. Unfortunately, we are able to offer scholarships or consider requests for financial assistance for new enrollments; however, students currently enrolled may apply for scholarships through the Founders' Awards program.

Q. Are there any discounts available on school fees?
A. A discount of 1% is offered to families who wish to pay annual school fees in full before the start of the school year. This applies only to students enrolled for the full year and only to families who will pay tuition fees in full themselves. It does not apply in situations where tuition fees are paid by an employer. A 30% reduction on tuition fees is offered to families with three or more children who entered the school from January 2008. In order to qualify, at least one child must be in Grade 1 or above. The discount applies only to tuition fees. It does not apply where tuition is paid by an employer.

Q. Why is there an additional fee for the Diploma Programme?
A. In the Diploma Programme, most of the exams are assessed externally. Part of the fee is used to cover international courier charges for sending and receiving exam papers for several subjects.

Q. Can I get my Enrollment Fee refunded if my child is unable to attend KIST?
A. As stated in our Admissions Handbook, the Application Fee and Enrollment Fee are non-refundable for any reason, except that in the case where a child granted an initial provisional enrollment is ultimately unsuccessful at the time of the final interview and assessment test, the Enrollment Fee will be returned on request. Parents of children offered a place at KIST should consider their family situation very carefully and find out everything they need to know about the school before accepting an offer of enrollment through payment of the Enrollment Fee.

Q. What happens if I don't pay school fees by the due date?
A. You will be charged a late fee of 2,000 yen. For payments considerably overdue, if you have not notified the school of a delay in payment, your child will not be permitted to attend classes until your account is clear.

Q. Can I pay more than one invoice together if I am making a money transfer?
A. Yes, you may pay the total amount for multiple invoices together at the same time if you wish. Please be sure to include your child’s name to help us identify your payment.

Q. How can I make a payment to KIST from an overseas account?
A. Please contact us to receive details of our account for receiving overseas payments. At the time of the transfer, please be sure to include all bank charges for both the sending and receiving bank to ensure that the amount we receive is exactly the amount shown on your invoice.

Q. Why was the amount of my payment from overseas different from the amount received by KIST?
A. Banks usually charge a fee when you transfer money from overseas. The receiving bank in Japan also usually deducts a fee upon receipt of your transfer. In general, this is 2,500 yen; however, it may be higher depending on the route your bank takes to enact the transfer. All transfer fees incurred are the responsibility of the sender and must be covered at the time of payment to ensure that the amount received by KIST matches the amount on your invoice. Please consult with your bank at the time of transfer to determine the amount you need to pay to cover all fees.

Q. Can my employer pay my child's fees on my behalf?
A. Yes, at the time of your child’s first enrollment, please inform us which fees your employer will be responsible for. Please also provide us with your employer’s contact details and information on where to send invoices.

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Q. How is KIST different from other international schools in Tokyo?
A. KIST was the first school in Tokyo and the Kanto region, and the second school in Japan to be fully authorized by the International Baccalaureate to offer the three IB programs: PYP, MYP and DP. KIST offers a continuous education from kindergarten to Grade 12. School fees are considerably lower than other similar-sized international schools in the region.

Q. Is KIST an accredited school?
A. Yes, KIST is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS). As an IB World School, the programs at KIST are also reviewed by IB staff every few years to ensure the continuation of excellence and high standards. In addition, KIST is certificated as an educational corporation by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Q. How can I contact my child during school hours?
A. We cannot connect you with your child during class hours except in an emergency. Please leave a message at the office and we will pass it on to your child at an appropriate interval during the day.

Q. Are there any fees or tests to move up from one area of the school to the next?
A. Yes, an Internal Admissions Review Fee applies when students moves from K3 to Grade 1, Grade 5 to 6, and Grade 10 to 11. As part of the re-enrollment process, we will conduct an enrollment review. This will involve considerations of a student's general behavior, attitude and compliance with school rules and policies since their first enrollment as well as their demonstrated cognitive ability and whether they will be able to cope with the demands of the next stage of our academic program. Factors such as a history of repeated overdue payments as well as the degree of parental support and involvement in school activities may also be considered. On some occasions, we may ask families to attend an interview with the relevant Area Principal. If there are issues of concern that cannot be resolved, we may recommend that the student enrolls at another school.

Q. What is the meaning of "K" in the name of the school?
A. "K" is the initial letter of the family name of the school founders.

Q. Are KIST students eligible to receive discounts on public transportation?
A. Yes, as a certified educational corporation, all students enrolled at KIST may apply for concession passes for their commute to and from school.

Q. Is it compulsory for all families to participate in the School Support Program?
A. Yes, the School Support Program is compulsory. All families must complete certain duties according to the number of children they have enrolled. Families who are unable to commit their time to completing duties are required to pay a fee in lieu of duties. If your child will live with a guardian, the guardian may complete the necessary duties on your behalf. If this is not possible, you must pay a fee in lieu of duties.

Q. If my child lives with a guardian in Tokyo, how can I participate in the School Support Program?
A. If your child's guardian is unable to complete the necessary duties on your behalf, you will be required to select the fee option instead.

Q. Are there any other times when it is compulsory for parents to participate in events?
A. Yes, all families must attend the annual school festival, KISTival, and provide assistance in various ways such as organizing and running the booths and various other duties. It is also compulsory for parents to attend our Parent Welcome Nights held at the beginning of the school year. In addition, parents must attend our Student Led Conferences which are part of each child’s assessment cycle.

Q. Do I have to buy all items for the school uniform through KIST?
A. Most of the compulsory school uniform items feature a number of unique elements and must be purchased from the school reception counter.

Q. How can I contact my child's teacher?
A. All teachers have access to e-mail throughout the day. Teachers may also be available to speak with you by telephone after school if they are not involved in after-school activities or meetings.

Q. How does the school measure its success?
A. Our mission is to deliver quality international education that is accessible. Our mission drives everything that we do. We thereby measure our success by how well we are attaining our mission.

To assess the quality of our education, KIST collects data from testing in standardized conditions to objectively appraise the academic performance of our students.

Students in Grades 4 to 8 sit the UK curriculum Key Stage mathematics diagnostic tests three times per year, and students in Grades 9 and 10 sit past IGCSE exams as a diagnostic three times per year. School set expectations for performance on mathematics diagnostics are communicated clearly and test results are e-mailed home to parents after each sitting. Results are also used to direct resources and provide additional support to students as needed. Similarly, students in Grades 1 to 5 sit UK curriculum Ket Stage English (Reading and Writing) diagnostics twice per year.

Students in Grades 6 to 8 sit the International Schools' Assessment (ISA) each February, and in May they sit the UK cuuriculum Ket Stage Reading and Writing diagnostic. Students not meeting school published expectations for diagnostic testing are encouraged to attend school provided summer school classes during the first two weeks of August and may be assigned to support classes that take place during the school year before and/or after school.

Aside from mathematics and English, KIST analyzes student report card performance in all courses each semester and policies are in place to further support students who are not meeting expectations for performance.

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Q. How do you choose your teachers?
A. KIST hires only professionally certified teachers. Many of our teachers have advanced degrees in their specialty and many have additional certificiation in areas such as supporting Engish language learners. However, advanced degress and/or ESL credentials are not recognized as sufficient to become a teacher at KIST. Our hiring policy requires that all teachers have professional certification as a teacher and that they have proven themselves as a teacher through their past employment experiences, preferably at IB schools.

We attend overseas international school recruitment fairs to identify candidates for teaching vacancies at KIST. However, we also look to hire quality teachers located in Japan as we believe that such teachers bring stability to our staff context and long-term commitment to the school. Currently, we have many locally hired professional teachers whose children are also enrolled at KIST - their hard work not only benefits the school but also the education of their own children.

We believe that attaining our mission is dependent on us hiring great teachers. Regardless of where are teachers are coming from, we demand from them a commitment to our mission to deliver quality international education that develops caring and competent individuals able to make meaningful contriutions to our global community.

Q. How do you make your teachers better?
A. As educational professionals, we believe it imperative that we hold an incremental approach to intelligence. We believe that through a continuous cyclical process of increased awareness and understanding, reflection and action, anyone is able to improve regardless of their role in the school. KIST aims to employ teachers who are never satisfied with the present and always reflecting about how to improve their practice and student learning.

To measure teacher effectiveness, all KIST teachers participate in our Teacher Appraisal and Support System (TASS), an appraisal system designed to measure teacher effectiveness on a number of performance standards. TASS is a holistic process that involves teachers, students and administration in appraising teacher practice.

While many schools take a top-down apprach to teacher appraisal, TASS is designed to be teacher centered and to empower teachers in objectively analyzing their effectiveness and planning for further improvement. Each year, KIST teachers analyze data from school administered student surveys, observe other teachers and reflect on observed practice, keep a record of professional deveiopment, and receive documented observational feedback from administration and other members of our instructional leadership team. Teachers build a Professional Portfolio that records their TASS experience and submit it with a self-appraisal against the five TASS perfornace standards which is verified, using the contents of the portfolio, by the respective Area Principal and the Head of School.

KIST aims to employ teachers who demonstrate proficiency (or beyond) against all the TASS performance standards. To further involve teachers in being accountable for their professional responsibilities, teachers identified as less than proficient against any of the standards design and, upon approval, implement a performance improvement plan aimed at strengthening practice in the identified areas. TASS results are considered when making contract renewal decisions.

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