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The SSAT, ISEE, and CTP are standardized tests that measure academic performance and are required for admission to most independent schools. Scores are used to supplement a student’s entire application. The content for both tests is similar, and many students tend to perform similarly on these tests. However, the tests differ in scoring and logistics, so those details will help determine which test will be a better fit for each student.

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 of each test.

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

Test Format & Timing:

Section Total Test Time/Breakdown Number of Questions/Types Content/Skills Covered
Verbal 30 minutes (one section) 30 synonym questions; 30 analogy questions Vocabulary and Verbal reasoning skills
Quantitative 60 minutes (two 30-minute sections) 50 multiple-choice questions Math computation and reasoning
Reading 40 minutes (one section) 7 reading passages and 40 questions Reading comprehension
Writing Section 25 minutes (one section) 1 essay prompt Writing skills
Experimental Section 15 minutes (one section) 16 Questions Sample questions: 6 verbal, 5 reading, 5 quantitative

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 other test-takers over the past three years.

For example, students who receive a score of in the 80th percentile on the Reading Comprehension section have performed better than 80% of the similar population who took the test in those years.

Students earn one point for every correct answer, lose ¼ of a point for every wrong answer, and get zero points for questions that are left blank.

Test Dates:

National test dates for the SSAT take place on one Saturday each month, October through June. In 2020 there will be an additional date in September. The schedule is posted on the SSAT website. Students may also take one “flex test” per application year. A “flex test” is administered by an approved SSAT administrator, and students coordinate the date and time directly with the administrator.  If you are interested in taking a “flex test”, we are happy to connect you with flex test providers in your local area.

Many students take this test more than once, and there is no limit on the number of tests a student may take. However, submitted scores must be from the same school year as the application. Students can choose which set of scores to send to schools and do not have to send all scores.

Elementary Level SSAT Test Dates:

  • December 12, 2020

Middle/Upper Level SSAT Test Dates:

  • September 12, 2020
  • October 17, 2020
  • November 14, 2020
  • December 12, 2020

Accommodations Request Deadlines: A list of testing accommodations and deadlines can be found here.

Accommodations:

For a complete list of SSAT testing accommodations, please click here. Common accommodations 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. Families will also need to provide the contact information of a psychologist or medical doctor who can provide documentation. The SSAT will approve/deny the request once they receive and process all the required documentation.

Note: This process takes up to two weeks after receipt of the completed file. Students should not register for a test date before receiving the accommodations decision. Registration deadlines for registering SSAT with accommodations are earlier than regular testing deadlines. For more information on SSAT accommodations, click here.

Registration:

To register for the SSAT, click here.

How has this test been affected by the Coronavirus?

In fall 2020, students will have the option to complete computer-based testing at a prometric test center. Paper-testing will also be available, but is largely dependent on schools and test center availability.  The SSAT is working to provide at-home testing and will offer updates over the next few months (please note this will likely only be for Upper Level testing).

As of June 1st, 2020, flex testing is available!  This is dependent on when consultants are open and willing to offer this option.

ISEE

Administered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB), the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) consists of five sections: 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)

Test Format & Timing:

Test Format and Timing for the ISEE is dependent on level.

  • Primary level – Entering Grade 2: 53 minutes + untimed writing
  • Primary level – Entering Grade 3: 54 minutes + untimed writing
  • Primary level – Entering Grade 4: 60 minutes + untimed writing
Section Timing Question Types Content
Grade 2 ONLY: Auditory Comprehension Grade 2: 7 minutes 1 passage (audio only)

6 multiple-choice (text & audio)

Listening
Reading Grade 2: 20 minutes

Grade 3: 28 minutes

Grade 4: 30 minutes

Grade 2: 18 questions / 3 passages

Grade 3: 24 questions / 4 passages

Grade 4: 28 questions / 4 passages

Main Idea

Supporting Ideas

Inference

Vocabulary

Organization/Logic

Figurative Language

Math Grades 2-3: 26 minutes

Grade 4: 30 minutes

Grades 2-3: 24 multiple choice

Grade 4:

28 multiple choice

Several picture problems

Number sense and operations

Algebraic concepts

Geometric concepts

Measurement

Data analysis and probability

Writing Untimed Grades 2-3: Picture prompt

Grade 4: Written prompt

Basic writing skills

 

  • Lower level – Entering Grades 5-6: 2hr 20min
Section Timing Question Types Content
Verbal 20 minutes 40 multiple-choice, Synonym/sentence completion (w/ one blank) Verbal reasoning

Vocabulary in context

Quantitative Reasoning 35 minutes 37 multiple choice and quantitative comparison word problems Math calculation and reasoning
Reading Comprehension 35 minutes 36 multiple-choice, Passage-based questions Main idea

Supporting ideas

Inference

Vocabulary

Organization/logic

Tone/style/language

Math Achievement 40 minutes 47 multiple-choice questions (incl. word problems) Whole numbers

Decimals, percentages, fractions

Algebraic concepts

Geometry

Measurement

Data Analysis and Probability

Essay 30 minutes 1 Essay in response to a prompt Personal essay

 

  • Middle level – Entering grades 7-8: 2hr 40min

 

Section Timing Question Types Content
Verbal 20 minutes 34 multiple choice, Synonym/sentence completion Verbal Reasoning

Vocabulary in Context

Quantitative Reasoning 35 minutes 38 multiple choice, Word problems Math calculation and reasoning
Reading Comprehension 25 minutes 25 multiple choice, Passage-based reading questions Main idea

Supporting ideas

Inference

Vocabulary

Organization/logic

Tone/style/language

Math Achievement 30 minutes 30 multiple choice questions Whole numbers

Decimals, percentages, fractions

Algebraic concepts

Geometry

Measurement

Data Analysis and Probability

Essay 30 minutes 1 Essay in response to a prompt Personal essay

 

  • Upper level – Entering Grades 9-12: 2 hr 40 min
Section Timing Question Types Content
Verbal 20 minutes 40 multiple-choice, synonym/sentence completion (w/ one and two blanks) Verbal reasoning

Vocabulary in context

Quantitative Reasoning 35 minutes 37 multiple choice and quantitative comparison word problems Math calculation and reasoning
Reading Comprehension 35 minutes 36 Multiple-choice, Passage-based reading comprehension questions Main idea

Supporting ideas

Inference

Vocabulary

Organization/logic

Tone/style/language

Math 40 minutes 47 multiple-choice questions (includes word problems) Number sense

Algebraic concepts

Geometry

Measurement

Data Analysis and Probability

Essay 30 minutes 1 Essay in response to a prompt Personal essay

Scoring:

The ISEE gives scores as stanines, which are derived from percentiles.
Percentile Rank Stanine
1-3 1
4-10 2
11-22 3
23-39 4
40-59 5
60-76 6
77-88 7
89-95 8
96-99 9

This type of scoring is called “norm-referencing” because it compares each student to the performances of other test-takers.

For example, 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.

There is no wrong penalty for wrong answers on the ISEE.

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.

Accommodations:

Common accommodations for the ISEE include extended time (1.5x or 2x) and taking the test in a private room. For a full list of accommodations, please click here.

To request accommodations for the ISEE, create a parent account online at the official ISEE site. Formal documentation is required, and once the request is processed, students will automatically receive the ISEE Accommodations Request Form via email.

Note: This process takes up to two weeks after the ERB has received the completed file. Students should not register for a test date before receiving a decision about the accommodations decision. For more information on ISEE accommodations, click here.

Registration:

To register for the ISEE click here.

How has this test been affected by the Coronavirus?

In-person testing options for the ISEE are still closed for the remainder of the testing season.  As of June 1st, prometric, computer-based testing options are available, but this depends on center availability. In Connecticut, the Norwalk Prometric center is open and available for testing. There are a few centers open in New York and New Jersey for “essential” tests.

As of July 14th, the ISEE has opened at-home testing resume using ProProctor, a secure proctoring platform. Students can register for at-home testing through their ISEE account.

The ISEE is planning for fall registration to be live and active beginning on August 1st.

CTP 5

The Comprehensive Testing Program is an exam used by many private and public schools in order to measure student levels of academic achievement, and used in some states (such as Connecticut) as an entrance examination. It is administered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). The CTP 5 is the paper-based test and the CTP Online is the computer-based test.  Students take different levels of the test that correspond to their grade levels.

Schools in the Connecticut area largely use the CTP 5, the paper-based test.

Levels:

There are 10 levels of the CTP. Each level is composed of multiple-choice and open-ended questions including the following topics:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing Mechanics
  • Writing Concepts and Skills
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Mathematics

The online version of the CTP also includes Science.

Scoring:

Scoring for both the CTP 5 and the CTP Online tests provide both percentile and stanine comparisons directly to schools.  Similar to as you will see on the ISEE, this type of scoring is called “norm-referencing” because it compares each student to the performances of other test-takers.

For example, 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.

It is up to each school as to whether parents receive a copy of their student’s test scores.

There is no wrong answer penalty on the CTP 5 and CTP online. Students are encouraged to answer every question.

Test Dates:

The CTP 5 is administered at several participating independent schools in the Greenwich area. Families may register to test at any school serving as a test site and request that scores be sent to any of the participating schools. CTP 5 testing should be completed by January 15. Early registration is encouraged as space is limited at all test sites. These dates are generally in November, and are to be announced by the schools. Click here to see last year’s information about test dates and participating independent schools.

The CTP Online test dates operate by season, and are listed below. Black out dates indicate periods where the CTP portal is down for maintenance.

Spring: March 2, 2020 – July 24, 2020

Black-Out Dates*: July 25, 2020 – August 2, 2020

Accommodations:

Discretion for accommodations is largely left up to the school.  Schools are typically advised to follow existing accommodation protocols that a student may receive for other in-class assignments or tests.  Where applicable, schools should also follow a student’s 504 or IEP plan for guidance on what accommodation to provide.

Registration:

To register for the CTP 5, please check with the school of interest.  In Greenwich, many independent schools collaborate to provide testing options, and will announce them in the beginning of the academic year.  Click here to see last year’s information about test dates and participating independent schools.

To register for the CTP Online, click here.

How has this test been affected by the Coronavirus?

While the CTP Online is set up to begin at-home testing options, it is unclear which schools will accept this format.  Please contact the interested schools for further information.

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