The SSAT and ISEE are standardized tests that measure academic performance and are required for admission to most independent schools. Your scores will be used by admissions officers of these independent schools as a supplement to your entire application. Many students tend to perform similarly on these tests because the content is similar. The tests differ in scoring and logistics, so those details will help determine which one a student should take.

SSAT

The SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) consists of five sections: writing (not scored), reading comprehension, verbal reasoning, and two quantitative reasoning sections. There is also a brief, unscored experimental section at the end. The length and difficulty of these sections depend on which grade the student is currently in.

Levels:

  • Elementary Level- students currently in grades 3-4
  • Middle Level- students currently in grades 5-7
  • Upper Level- students currently in grades 8-11

Scoring:

The SSAT gives scores as percentiles (1st through 99th). This type of scoring is called “norm-referencing” because it compares each student to the performances of similar test-takers. It helps schools compare the performance of different applicants. SSAT percentiles compare a student’s performance on the test to students like them (same grade and gender) who have taken the SSAT over the past three years.

This means that students who receive a score of 80th percentile on the Reading Comprehension section have performed better than 80% of the similar population who took the test in those years. The SSAT is particularly challenging because it differentiates between top students. Relatively few students take this test. Many students who are used to performing in top percentiles in state tests, for example, should expect their initial SSAT scores to be lower.

Test Dates:

National test dates for the SSAT are on one Saturday each month, October through June. The schedule is available on the SSAT website. Students may also take one “flex test” per application year, which means they take the test with an approved SSAT administrator and can choose the date and time. We are happy to recommend flex test providers.

Many students take this test more than once. Students may take the SSAT on national dates as many times as they like. Then they can decide which test date scores to send to schools. Scores must be from the same school year as the application.

Elementary Level SSAT Test Dates:

  • December 14, 2019
  • January 4, 2020
  • February 8, 2020
  • March 7, 2020
  • April 25, 2020

Middle/Upper Level SSAT Test Dates:

  • October 19, 2019
  • November 16, 2019
  • December 14, 2019
  • January 4, 2020
  • February 8, 2020
  • March 7, 2020
  • April 25, 2020
  • June 13, 2020

*Student registration for all levels of the SSAT begins August 1, 2019.

Accommodations Request Deadlines: If you are approved for accommodations, you can find a list of accommodations request deadlines and information about accommodations here.

To register for the SSAT, click here.

Accommodations:

Accommodations for the SSAT are available for students who have demonstrated need. Common accommodations for the SSAT include extended time, use of assistive technology, and distraction-free rooms. To request accommodations for the SSAT, create a student account on the official SSAT website. From this account, submit a request and specify which accommodations your student needs. You will also need to provide the contact information of an approver (usually a psychologist or medical doctor) who can provide documentation. The SSAT will approve/deny your request once they receive and process all the required documentation.

Note: This process takes up to two weeks after they’ve received the completed file from you. Do not register for a test date before you receive the accommodations decision. The deadlines for registering for the SSAT with accommodations are earlier than the regular testing deadlines, so plan as far ahead as possible. For more information on SSAT accommodations, click here.

ISEE

The ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) consists of five sections, as well: writing sample (not scored), verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, and mathematics achievement. There is also a brief, unscored experimental section. The length and difficulty of these sections depend on which grade the student is applying to.

Levels:

  • Primary Level-students applying to grades 2, 3, or 4 (online only)
  • Lower Level-students applying to 5th or 6th grade (offered online and on paper)
  • Middle Level-students applying to 7th or 8th (offered online and on paper)
  • Upper Level-students applying to 9th through 12th (offered online and on paper)

Scoring:

The ISEE gives scores as stanines, which are derived from percentiles. This type of scoring is called “norm-referencing” because it compares each student to the performances of similar test-takers. It helps schools compare the performance of different applicants. ISEE stanines compare a student’s performance on the test to students like them (same grade and gender).

This means that students who receive a score of 75th percentile (stanine of 6) on the Verbal Reasoning section have performed better than 75% of the similar population who took the test. The ISEE is particularly challenging because it differentiates between top students. Relatively few students take this test. Many students who are used to performing in top percentiles in state tests, for example, should expect their initial ISEE scores to be lower.

Test Dates:

The ISEE is administered on paper or, as of recently, on computers at Prometric locations worldwide. Online administration happens any time a Prometric center can offer the test. Many students prefer to take the test on paper because it is closer to their school experience. Students can take the ISEE at a test site or in a private office.

Many students take this test more than once. Crucially, students may only take the ISEE once in each “testing season.” These seasons are: Fall (August-November), Winter (December-March), and Spring/Summer (April-July). Due to this logistical restriction, students need to plan ahead.
To register for the ISEE, click here.

Accommodations:

Accommodations for the ISEE are available for students who have demonstrated need. Common accommodations include extended time (1.5x or 2x) and taking the test in a private room. To request accommodations for the ISEE, create a parent account online at the official ISEE site. From this account, submit an accommodations request for your child. Formal documentation is required for this step. Once the request is processed, you will automatically receive the ISEE Accommodations Request Form via email.

Note: This process takes up to two weeks after they’ve received the completed file from you, so plan ahead as far as possible. Do not register for a test date before you receive a decision about the accommodations decision. For more information on ISEE accommodations, click here.

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