How to Choose Whether to Take SSAT or ISEE?

The SSAT stands for the Secondary School Admission Test and is conducted by the SSAT Board (SSATB). Students who are studying in grades 3 to 11 take this test and use the scores attained in it to get admission into independent or private elementary, middle and high schools. There are basically three levels of this test depending on the grade levels: Elementary Level, Middle Level and Upper Level. This test is written in English and is administered across USA and Canada at various designated test-centers. There are a number of other test-centers for this test in various countries too.

In contrast to the SSAT, there is another entrance exam that is used by various independent schools in the USA. This test is the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam). The purpose solved by both these tests is the same: providing a platform where various applicants can be evaluated and then selected for admission. This article differentiates between these two tests: SSAT ISEE and also highlights how to make a choice among these.

What is SSAT?

As mentioned earlier, the SSAT is a standardized entrance test. There are three levels in the test:

  • Elementary Level
    • The Elementary level is given by students in grades 3 and 4 who are going to apply for grades 4 and 5.
  • Middle Level
    • This level of test is taken by those students who are presently studying in grades 5 to 7 and are going to apply for grades 6 to 8.
  • Upper Level
    • The SSAT test in this level is taken by students in grades 8 to 10 who are going to apply for admission into grades 9 to 11.

Difference between SSAT and ISEE

It is very important to know the information about SSAT ISEE and thus, it becomes imperative to have knowledge regarding their differences on the basis of various parameters, which are highlighted as follows:

Parameter SSAT ISEE
Test Levels

The Elementary Level of the SSAT is for students who are studying in grades 3 and 4. The Middle Level of the SSAT is for the students studying in grades 5 to 7. The Upper Level of the SSAT is for the students studying in grades 8 to 11.

The ISEE has three levels. The Lower Level is for students who are studying in grades 4 and 5. The Middle Level is for students who are studying in grades 6 and 7. The Upper Level is for students who are studying in grades 8 to 11.

Test Content The topics covered in the SSAT test are Writing, Verbal, Reading and Quantitative. The ISEE covers Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement and Writing (Essay) sections.
Format There are four sections in the SSAT that have to be completed within approximately 2 hours (Duration varies from one level to another). The tests for the Middle and Upper Levels go on for 155 minutes. The Elementary Level test goes on for 110 minutes. The ISEE test has five sections that have to be completed in approximately 2 hrs and 30 minutes. To be exact, the Lower Level goes on for 2 hours and 20 minutes. The Upper and Middle Levels go on for 2 hours and 40 minutes each.
Scoring Scale The score scale for the SSAT ranges from 300-600 for the Elementary Level (percentile scores vary from 1 to 99). For the Middle Level, the scaled scores range from 440 to 710 and total scores range from 1320 to 2130. For the Upper Level., the scaled scores range from 500 to 800 and the total scores range from 1500 to 2400. There is a penalty for each wrong answer - ¼ of a mark. The ISEE score scale ranges from 760-940 for Verbal, Reading, Quantitative and Writing sections. Percentile ranks for the test range from 1 to 99. There is no penalty for wrong answers.
Test Options There are 8 National test dates for the SSAT. There are various test dates for the ISEE throughout the year; however, you can take the ISEE only once every six months.

How to Choose Whether to Take SSAT or ISEE?

Hence, it has been established that the two tests: SSAT ISEE, are completely different from one another. However, here are a few points that will help you in deciding which test to take:

  • The material, content areas, timing and pace of these two tests SSAT ISEE is completely different. Hence, you cannot substitute one test with another on the basis of these features.

  • The SSAT is harder than the ISEE to begin with. The reason is that the SSAT has negative marking for guessing whereas the ISEE does not.

In case you need to decide between these two tests, you must try the following approach:

  • You may begin by trying out some questions pertaining to each of the two tests; SSAT ISEE in order to check which test seems difficult to you.

  • For this purpose, you must practice questions from the internet or the official websites such as The official website for the ISEE test is

Hence, it can be concluded that the two tests: SSAT ISEE are two completely different tests that are conducted for the same purpose: evaluating applicants for their admission prospects in private or independent. However, you must go through the differences between these carefully and then take a call regarding which test you want to take in the future.

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