Private and Boarding School Admissions


Q. Where can I send my child if I prepare for this exam?
A. Most competitive private and independent schools nationwide accept SSAT test results to fulfill admission requirements.

Q. How does the test break up into different grade levels?
A. There are three levels of the test: the Elementary Level for students in grades 3 and 4 who are applying to grades 4 and 5, the Middle Level for students in grades 5-7 applying for grades 6-8, and the Upper level, designed for students in grades 8-11 who are applying for grades 9-12.

Q. How is the test formatted?
A. The Middle and Upper Level test is timed and divided into five sections. You will be given 25 minutes for the writing sample, 30 minutes each for verbal, and two quantitative (math) sections, and 40 minutes for the reading section.

Q. What do the subject areas exactly cover?
SSAT Reading
– Skills to interpret literature, poems, and passages about social science and technology is required for this exam.
With given 25 minutes for the test, students are not required to finish all 40 questions, but as much as they can, based upon their proficiency level. Reading passages scale from easy to harder questions.
SSAT Math– Basic arithmetic skills are required for solving word problems on this math section. Heavy algebra and geometry concepts are covered along with very difficult
SSAT Vocabulary and Analogies– There are total of 60 questions to solve in 25 minutes on this section of the test, 40 vocabulary and 20 analogy questions. Vocabulary words range from 7th to pre-college level, similar to SAT words and asks to find synonyms for each word. Analogies also range from easy to medium to very hard esoteric word choices.


Q. What is the ISEE?
A. The Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE) is an entrance exam used by many independent schools and magnet schools in the United States.

Q. How is the test formatted?
A. Like the SSAT, the ISEE has three levels: Lower level, for entrance in grades 5-6; Middle level, for entrance in grades 7-8; Upper level, for entrance in grades 9-12.

Q. What subject areas does the test cover?
A. The test covers:

Verbal Reasoning– This section consists of two parts: synonyms and sentence completions.
Quantitative Reasoning/Math-The Lower Level consists of word Problems, and the middle and upper levels consist of word problems and quantitative comparisons.
All questions found in the two math sections of the ISEE are linked to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards. The ISEE uses the following NCTM strands as a basis for the Quantitative Reasoning and Math section: numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis and probability, and problem solving.
Reading Comprehension– The Lower Level contains five reading passages, each followed by five questions. The Middle and Upper levels contain six reading passages, each followed by six questions. The passages include topics related to history, science, literature, and contemporary life.
The types of questions focus on six categories: main idea, supporting ideas, inference, vocabulary, organization/logic, and tone/style/figurative.
Essay– The essay is not scored, but is photocopied and sent to schools to which the student is applying.


Q. How does it differ from the SSAT?
A. The idea that either test is “harder” is flawed. The SSAT is no more difficult than the ISEE and vice versa. Also, most schools will accept either exam, though it is important to make sure that you know what your target schools expect and prefer. The key difference in the two exams is in their complexity. The SSAT is a more complex exam than the ISEE – however, this does not mean that it is harder.

Q. Which test should I then have my child take?
A. If your child has a mastery of the material, but has issues with timing and with more complex questions, he/she should take the ISEE. The ISEE is a more straightforward and your child lacks logical reasoning skills, the ISEE is the test you will want to go with.

If your child is good at solving puzzles and dealing with complex wording and concepts, then he/she should take the SSAT.

How we help you prepare

We offer tutoring and consulting services for families interested in applying for schools that accept SSAT and ISEE scores: