SSAT vs. ISEE – An in depth analysis of the differences

The SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) and ISEE (Independent School Entrance Examination) are the two most widely used standardized tests for boarding school, private middle,  and private high school admissions in the United States. While the both of the test contents are very similar, before trying to find out what is the best test for you to take, you should double check the requirements of the school(s) that you are applying to. Generally speaking, the verbal questions on the ISEE tend to be more straightforward than the verbal quesitons on the SSAT, and there are also more math questions on the ISEE than the SSAT yet SSAT questions are often a bit trickier. Below are the main differences between these two tests.

 SSAT
(Secondary School Admission Test)
ISEE
(Independent School Entrance Exam)
Test LevelsLower Level: Grade 3-4
Middle Level: Grade 5-7
Upper Level: Grade 8-11
Lower Level: Grade 5-6
Middle Level: Grade 7-8
Upper Level: 9-12
Test ContentVerbal skills, reading quantitative reasoning, math, reading, and writing skills (unscored writing sample)Verbal skills, reading quantitative reasoning, math, reading, and writing skills (unscored writing sample)
Verbal Question Types
Synonyms and analogiesSynonyms and sentence completions
Math Question Types5-choice multiple choice type questions4-choice multiple choice type questions
Test StructureLower Level:
Quantitative / Math Section: 30 questions for 30 mins
Verbal Section: 30 questions for 20 mins
Break for 15 mins
Reading Section: 28 questions for 30 mins
Writing Sample Section: 1 prompt for 15 mins
(Total 1 hr and 50 mins)

Middle and Higher Level:
Writing Sample Section: 1 prompt for 25 mins
Break for 5 mins
Quantitative 1 Section: 25 questions for 30 mins
Reading Section: 40 questions for 40 mins
Break for 10 mins
Quantitative 2 Section: 25 questions for 30 mins
Experimental Section: 16 questions for 15 mins
(Total 3 hr and 5 mins)
Lower Level:
Verbal Reasoning Section: 34 questions for 20 mins
Quantitative Reasoning Section: 38 questions for 35 mins
Reading Comprehension Section: 25 questions for 25 mins
Mathematics Achievement Section: 30 questions for 30 mins
Essay Section for 30 mins
(Total 2 hrs and 20 mins)

Middle and Upper Level:
Verbal Reasoning Section: 40 questions for 20 mins
Quantitative Reasoning Section: 37 questions for 35 mins
Reading Comprehension Section: 36 questions for 35 mins
Mathematics Achievement Section: 47 questions for 40 mins
Essay Section for 30 mins
(Total 2 hrs and 40 mins)
Test ScoringQuantitative
440 - 710 (Middle Level)
500 - 800 (Upper Level)

Reading
440 - 710 (Middle Level)
500 - 800 (Upper Level)

Verbal
440 - 710 (Middle Level)
500 - 800 (Upper Level)
Verbal
760-940 (all Level)

Reading
760-940 (all Level)

Quantitative
760-940 (all Level)

Math
760-940 (all Level)
Marking QuestionsLose ¼ of a point for each incorrect answerDo not lose points for incorrect answers
Percentile Rank
SSAT percentile rank between 1-99%. It compares a student’s performance to other students of the same grade/gender who have taken the test within the past 3 years.
ISEE percentile rank between 1-99%. Stanine score between 1-9. It compares a student’s performance to other students of the same grade/gender who have taken the test within the past 3 years.
Testing DatesOffered 8 times per year in Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Students can take one SSAT Flex test per testing year (August 1st to July 31st), in addition to all eight SSAT Standard tests.
Offered on various test dates throughout the year.
Students may test up to three times in a 12-month admission cycle
More infowww.ssat.orgwww.iseetest.org

If you need to boost your SSAT or ISEE scores, The Edge’s tutors can surely help! Call us today for more details or view our SSAT schedule here.

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