Comparison of ISEE and SSAT Test Content

The ISEE SSAT (i.e. ISEE & SSAT) tests are two primary entrance tests held in the U.S for the students who are seeking admissions to private schools. Some schools recommend one of these tests over the other, while some schools accept either one of them based on the student's choice. Hence, it is important that the parents and students check with their preferred private schools on which test they mandate. This article primarily concentrates on the differences in the content of the ISEE SSAT tests, so that in cases where there is a choice between the two, you may help your child pick the one that is suitable to him or her.

The 5 Key Differences in the ISEE SSAT tests:

  1. Test Categories

    The differences in the test categories of ISEE SSAT tests are listed as follows:

    • The ISEE test has 3 levels, namely; Lower-level, Middle-level and Upper-level. Each level is meant for students who are looking for admission into different grades; hence, the Lower-level ISEE test is for Grades 5 and 6, the Middle-level ISEE test is for Grades 7 and 8 and the Upper-level ISEE test is for Grades 8 up-to 12.

    • The SSAT test has three levels; namely, Elementary, Middle-level and Upper level. The Elementary SSAT test is for the students who are currently studying in Grades 3 to 4, the Lower-level SSAT test is for the students who are studying in Grades 5-7 and the Upper-level SSAT test is for the students who are in Grades 8-11.

  2. Test Sections

    The differences in the design of ISEE SSAT tests are listed as follows:

    • At all levels, the ISEE test includes 5 test sections i.e. Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics Achievement, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Essay sections.

    • At the Elementary level, the SSAT test consists of 4 test sections; namely, Math or Quantitative, Verbal, Reading and Writing sections. The Middle and Upper level SSAT tests consist of 5 test sections namely; Writing, Verbal, 2 Quantitative sections and one Reading section.

  3. Test Content

    The differences in the skills and knowledge-areas that are tested and the question types that appear in the ISEE SSAT tests are summarized as follows:

    • In the ISEE test, the following questions are included:

      • Verbal Reasoning - Synonyms and sentence completion questions.

      • Quantitative Reasoning - Quantitative comparisons and problem-solvng questions.

      • Reading Comprehension - Questions on Reading comprehension, analysis and evaluation skills.

      • Mathematics Achievement:

        • Lower-Level ISEE: Questions on Arithmetic, Geometry and Algebra.
        • Upper and Middle-Level ISEE: Questions on Geometry, Probability, Numerical Concepts such as Decimals, Whole numbers, Fractions, Percentages and so on.

      • Essay: An essay topic that includes a simple, open-ended question or scenario.

    • All sections of the test except the Essay section include multiple-choice questions with 4 answer options.

    • In the SSAT test, the following questions are included:

      • Verbal Section - Synonyms and Analogy questions.

      • Quantitative (Math) Section - At the elementary level, questions regarding concepts such as Numbers, Mathematical Operations, Algebra, Geometry etc. are included. At the other levels, the questions revolve around the grade-specific Math syllabus and everyday Math problems.

      • Reading Section - At the elementary level, one reading passage with four questions on that passage is provided. At the other levels, 7 reading passages and a total of 40 questions on those passages are provided. The skills tested in the SSAT Reading test are similar to the ones assessed in the ISEE test.

      • Writing Section - At the elementary level, a picture is provided to the students based on which they are required to write a story. At the other levels, 2 prompts are provided to the students from which they could choose one and write an essay on it.

  4. Test Format

    The ISEE SSAT tests vary in their formats as well. At all levels, the ISEE test is available in both paper-based and computer-based formats. However, the SSAT test is offered only in the paper-based format.

Thus far, we have discussed the chief differences between the ISEE SSAT tests. We hope that this information has provided the students and their parents with a clear distinction between the content of the ISEE and SSAT tests. For more details, you may visit the official ISEE website - and the official SSAT website -

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