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If your child is applying to private or boarding school, the institution may required her to take the ISEE or the SSAT as an entrance exam. Both are standardized tests meant to assess students’ verbal and mathematical reasoning. Take a look below to see some of the differences and similarities of the tests.

SSAT Overview  

The SSAT offers elementary (entering grades 4-5), middle (entering grades 6-8), and upper level tests (entering grades 9-12). It lasts 2 hours and 35 minutes in total and contains the following sections: Writing, Quantitative, Reading, Verbal, and a second Quantitative. Questions do not increase in difficulty but rather appear randomly throughout each section. There are five answer choice options for each question and a ¼ point penalty for incorrect answers. Students may take the test once per month, October through June.

ISEE Overview  

The ISEE offers primary (entering grades 2-4), lower (entering grades 5-6), middle (entering grades 7-8), and upper level tests (entering grades 9-12). For middle and upper levels, the test lasts 2 hours and 40 minutes (2 hours and 20 minutes for lower levels). It consists of the following sections: Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Mathematics Achievement, and Essay. Questions increase in difficulty in each section. There are four answer choice options for each question and no penalty for incorrect answers. Students may take the test once per season.

Choosing a Test

So which test should your child take? If your child is stronger in math, she might want to consider the ISEE. The SSAT combines the two math sections into one score, while the ISEE scores the two math sections separately—effectively highlighting math skills to a greater degree. On the ISEE, basic math skills and mathematical/critical thinking are broken up into two separate sections. The SSAT, however, combines them freely.

In terms of Verbal Reasoning, both sections contain synonyms. However, the ISEE offers sentence completions while the SSAT offers analogies. Your child should try both and see which comes more naturally.

The incorrect answer penalty is also a factor to consider. This test taking model used on the SSAT might cause some students to become increasingly anxious when performing.

If you would like guidance in selecting and preparing your child for the ISEE or the SSAT, contact us today!