Is Your Child Applying to a Private School?

ABOUT THE ISEE AND SSAT

Many private elementary and secondary schools in the Seattle metropolitan area require applicants to submit scores for the Independent Schools Entrance Exam (ISEE) or the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT).

Nearly all independent schools in the Seattle metropolitan area now accept both the SSAT and the ISEE, so many students will only need to take one of these two exams. However, there are a few schools–Lakeside, Overlake, and Eastside Prep–that have indicated they prefer the SSAT, even though they are willing to accept the ISEE. If your child is applying to enter the 6th grade, and is not considering any of these three schools, then we recommend preparing for the Lower Level ISEE, as the content of this exam is generally easier than what is found on the Middle Level SSAT. But if your child is applying to enter 4th or 5th grade, then we recommend preparing for the Elementary Level SSAT, since this exam is generally easier than the Lower Level ISEE.

For a list of which area schools require which exams, click here.

Scores on these exams, along with a number of other factors, are considered in the admissions process. By themselves, high scores do not guarantee admission, but low test scores can sometimes be sufficient grounds for rejecting a student’s application for admission – particularly at some of the most competitive schools.

ISEE/SSAT – Frequently Asked Questions

Sandweiss Test Prep realizes parents may have many questions before deciding upon which test to take and how test results fit into one’s academic plan. Please call us if you need further information.

Both the ISEE and SSAT are offered at three different levels, depending on the grade to which you are applying. Both exams feature sections testing vocabulary, mathematics, and reading comprehension skills, and both exams include an unscored essay that is sent directly to the schools.  Preparing for one exam will help prepare your child for the other exam, but there are important differences, as outlined below:

SSAT

  • Elementary Level for applicants to grades 4-5
  • Middle Level for applicants to grades 6-8
  • Upper Level for applicants to grades 9-12
  • Verbal Section includes synonyms and analogies
  • All math questions are in multiple choice format
  • Quarter-point deduction for incorrect answers (middle and upper levels only)
  • Five answer choices to choose from
  • Can be taken more than once in an application cycle

ISEE

  • Lower Level for applicants to grades 4-6
  • Middle Level for applicants to grades 7-8
  • Upper Level for applicants to grades 9-12
  • Verbal Section includes synonyms and sentence completions
  • Some math questions are in quantitative comparison format (middle/upper levels)
  • No penalty for incorrect answers
  • Four answer choices to choose from
  • Can now be taken more than once in an application cycle

Both the ISEE and the SSAT are offered on multiple dates throughout the fall and early winter. The SSAT is offered on only one test date per month from October through February, while the ISEE is generally offered two or three times per month during the same time period.  You should generally allow one to three months for the preparation process, depending on diagnostic results, admissions goals, and scheduling availability, as well as on whether your student is preparing for one or both exams.