May 09

International School of the Sacred Heart Review


Sacred Heart, or International School of the Sacred Heart, is an all-girls K-12 school located in Hiroo. It is one of a global network of schools and colleges under the direction of the religious order of the Sacred Heart, and incorporates Catholic value principles into its curriculums and character development frameworks.

Sacred Heart is a small school, with a graduating class size of around 50 pupils. The school maintains a typical US-based progression, offering AP classes in High School, although this is mixed with elements of the International Baccalaureate curriculum.


Sacred Heart is dedicated to serving the educational needs of the daughters of foreign nationals in the Tokyo area. The school offers programs for Pre-K (ages 3-4), Kindergarten (age 5) and Grades 1-12. Boys aged 3-5 years are accepted into the Pre-K and Kindergarten programs. The school community is predominantly made up of internationally mobile families for whom the Japanese education system is not an option. The school accepts students transferring from accredited International Schools in Tokyo on a case by case basis. For K-8 applicants, at least one of the parents must be able to speak and read English.

The application process consists of a written application, followed by a parent interview and a student screening. The Admissions Board considers factors such as language, educational ability and background as part of the admissions process to ensure diversity and balance throughout the student body.


The all-English curriculum at Sacred Heart brings together a mixture of different educational philosophies. Fundamentally following the standard US progression, the curriculum builds to AP classes and exams as the focal point for the last two years. However, elements of the IB system are also incorporated with ToK, or Theory of Knowledge, being a required class for graduation.

The smaller size of the school means that timetabling can be limited, and therefore course selection at Sacred Heart is a big deal. Almost all AP classes are offered as electives, and electives are broken down into 3 blocks (A, B, and C). Within each block is a combination of courses, and in each term students can only select one elective from each of A, B, and C (ie, it is not possible to select 2 or more electives from any one block). Because of this, if you are considering Sacred Heart then it’s a good idea to think about what courses you are interested in, and checking that they aren’t all in the same blocks. 

With the exception of Physics, a lot of AP classes at Sacred Heart have corresponding pre-AP classes, so that you have to take the pre-AP classes in your junior year and then cannot take the corresponding AP class until your senior year. This means that your AP class and exam performance will be meaningless for your college application process, unless you are applying to Universities in the UK.

Sacred Heart is well-covered across STEM, offering AP Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Physics. While it offers AP European History and AP World History, it does not offer AP US History, which is typically a core class considered a mark of our capabilities for students applying to colleges within the US system.


Leadership, Extracurriculars and Sports

Sacred Heart takes a holistic approach to opportunity and character development, offering students a range of activities in sports, the arts, volunteering and leadership. Leadership positions in clubs are cycled at least one time each year, meaning that while you are almost guaranteed to get some leadership experience on your resume, you might have to focus on developing extracurriculars outside of school for examples of deep and lasting leadership experience.

Choir is a very significant part of the experience at Sacred Heart, and many students find that they are able to build this out into a meaningful extracurricular for their resume.


In 2020, approximately 100 pupils at the school sat AP® exams with a total of approx. 300 exams administered. Sacred Heart reports that 100% of AP® students received scores of 3+. The percentage of AP® students receiving scores of 4+ or 5 was not reported on their website.

Most Sacred Heart Alumna go on to attend Japanese or Tier 2 international universities. Notable college acceptance offers to recent graduates (2018-2020) include:


  • Keio University
  • Nagoya University
  • Temple University
  • The University Of Tokyo
  • Waseda University

United Kingdom:

  • Durham University
  • London School of Economics
  • University College London
  • University of Manchester

United States:

  • Boston College
  • New York University
  • UCLA

The information in this report comes from the experiences of Sacred Heart students, the expertise of Tokyo Academics educators who work with students from Sacred Heart on a regular basis, The Good Schools Guide International and The International School of the Sacred Heart webpage.

AP® is a trademark owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse Tokyo Academics.

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