The ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam), like the similar SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test), is designed to measure a student’s verbal and analytical skills as compared to those of other students in the same grade. While the two tests differ in structure and organization, both are part of the admissions process to independent day schools in New York City. Students may submit results from either the ISEE or the SSAT.
I recommend getting started at least six months prior to the test, but many students begin preparation a full year or more before the exam to help ensure they achieve their greatest potential.
Summer is a vital opportunity to prepare for this important exam and avoid cramming in the fall, which can generate additional anxiety as students experience the pressure of both returning to school and simultaneously adding ISEE preparation.
I understand the ways in which pressure can adversely affect test results, which is why my one-on-one ISEE tutoring approach is effective in building content knowledge and test-taking strategies, as well as diminishing anxiety. At the conclusion of each session, I send a session report to the student and parent(s) with notes about the session that ensures everyone is on the same page with respect to progress.
It is important to recognize that private school admissions are highly competitive, and for many students the ISEE (or SSAT) will be the first time they are taking a standardized test that will likely have a significant impact on their future. It may also be the first time they experience test-taking anxiety, which can play a key role in the outcome. Getting an early start can make a substantial difference in performance and results.
Schedule a complimentary consultation to answer all your questions about test preparation, take the mystery and guesswork out of the ISEE, and get on track to helping your child achieve his or her greatest potential.
While the ISEE and SSAT differ somewhat in structure and organization, both are designed to measure a student’s verbal and analytical skills against those of other students in the same grade. So how do you determine whether your child should take the ISEE or the SSAT? The answer is pretty straightforward: find out what the admission requirement is for the school(s) to which he or she is applying.
There is no hard and fast rule but, in general, the ISEE is typically required by New York’s independent day schools and the SSAT is required by boarding schools throughout the United States and Canada. However, most independent day schools in New York City also accept the SSAT for admissions, and I can assist parents in carefully considering the pros and cons of each exam. Every school is different and many accept either test. If you are applying to a school that accepts either, students should choose the test that better complements their strengths, a decision I can help the student make. In some instances, students applying to a variety of schools will opt to take both.
The ISEE is scored using a percentile and stanine system for each of the four sections. Students’ scores are ranked compared to every student applying for the same grade from the last three years. A student’s place in this list determines their percentile. Percentiles are then ranked according to a bell curve and placed into nine groups called stanines. Each stanine is an important admissions criterion. For more information see What to Expect on the ISEE.
The nature of scoring and purpose of the ISEE make it a difficult test. It is set up to rank each test taker based on all scores in a “norm group” consisting of competitive, intelligent, and often highly-prepared students who are applying to some of the most sought after schools in the country. Scoring 75 percent in a section may only be enough to put a student in the 65th percentile (i.e., having a higher score than 65% of other students) and being awarded a stanine of 6. Only the top 3% of students will receive a stanine of 9.