5 Key differences between SSAT and ISEE

Private schools in the United States have made it mandatory for all students who want to join their schools to take an entrance exam. The admission committee uses two exams in their high schools, elementary and middle school, including the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISSE) and Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT).

What Are ISEE And SSAT

The Independent School Entrance Examination is a regulated test that assists the school’s admission committee in assessing applicants’ possible performance.

ISEE boasts of four levels:

  • Primary which consists of grade 2 to 4
  • Lower (rate 5-6)
  • Middle (grade 7-8)
  • Upper (grade 9-12)

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is a set test that measures potential secondary school students’ math, reading, and verbal skills. Its main aim is to determine your independence capability in school.

The exam has three tiers:
  • Elementary (grade 4-5)
  • Middle (grade 6-8))
  • Upper (grade 9- postgraduate)

ISEE and SSAT tests are administered on paper or computer. You can either take the computer-based exam from home or the paper-based at a given test center, school, or office. Now, you might be wondering which test to take.

Well, if you have the option to choose either of the two, consider doing both or seek advice from private tutors such as Landon Schertz. The tests resemble each other a lot, and once you prepare for one, you can also do the other successfully. However, note that many private schools in the United States prefer ISEE exams.

Your age and grade are also a determinant of the test you are going to do.

Although the two tests share a common goal, they differ in the following ways:

Score Report

The ISEE report consists of four score sections: quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, math’s achievement, and reading comprehension. On the other hand, SSAT consists of only three score reports, which are reading, quantitative, and vocal scores.

ISEE converts its applicants score into a percentage of each section while in SSAT, you will get three scores results and your two math’s scores are merged into one score report.

Writing Sample

Both SSAT and ISEE have unscored writing samples and essays. Although the schools forward the exams to the admission committee so that they can use them to make admission decisions, the exams are not included in your final score.

ISEE and SSAT have different writing samples. ISEE requires you to write expository essays. In contrast, in SSAT, you have to choose between creative and expository causes at the upper level or creative writing prompts at the middle class.

Verbal Section

The ISEE focuses its verbal questions on sentence completion and synonyms. The synonym part focuses on how good you are at recognizing words with the same or close meaning. Sentence completion tests your ability to comprehend words and their purpose.

SSAT Verbal section requires you to identify synonyms in the multiple questions and also interpret comparisons. The synonym questions test your vocabulary vigor, and the analogies measure your capability of relating ideas together logically. You might think that the verbal section of either test is easy, but it is way easier to fail.

However, Landon Schertz, an academician, can help you with your English skills at small fees.

Guessing Strategy

In SSAT, you have to take on a guessing penalty, where you are awarded one point for each right answer, zero points for unanswered questions, and 0.75 for each incorrect answer.

The ISEE does not engage you in a penalty, so no points are taken away from you for wrong answers.

What it usually has is the quantitative section, which shows the growth of your development skills. ISEE assesses your capability to use your mathematics understanding to develop your ideas of solving a mathematical problem.

However, it does not test the level of math you can master but how competent your mathematical thinking is, with little or no calculations.

Available Test Dates

You can sit for the SSAT tests eight times since it is offered every month throughout the year.

You can take the computer-based SSAT which is offered every Saturday and one Sunday each month, five times. If you opt for the Prometric, you can only test twice and flex the site only once.

If you are interested in ISEE, you can take the tests three times, once during each testing season.

The seasons include spring, fall, and winter.

Since you can take either the SSAT or ISEE tests more than once, it helps to know when the admission board will first administer the first test. Avoid signing up for the last accessible day before the previous requests are due.

If you fail in one test, take some time to prepare yourself well before booking another. You can also consult Landon Schertz for advice on the best time to take up tests.


Although ISEE and SSAT differ in several ways, they serve the same purpose. To be successful in both or either of the two, you must prepare yourself early, probably six months before the exam date.

If you face challenges in math, you can contact Landon Schertz for some private tuition that will help you to succeed in the exams.

Read a lot to improve your reading understanding and boost vocabulary. Pinpoint all your strengths and weaknesses to Landon Schertz, and let him teach you test-taking skills and strategies.

The tuition will help you manage your exam-time, eliminate wrong answers, and apply well to what you have learned.