Choosing the Better Test Between ISEE and SSAT

Which is Better - SSAT or ISEE?

The SSAT stands for the Secondary School Admission Test and is conducted by the SSAT Board or the SSATB. It is taken by students from grades 3-11 who want to get admission into private or independent elementary, middle or high schools. Hence, there are three levels of the test according to the grade level: Upper Level, Middle Level and Elementary Level.

The ISEE, on the other hand, is the Independent School Entrance Exam. This test also serves the same purpose as does the SSAT: evaluating students on a common platform so that they can be placed into the right educational institution. This article discusses the differences between these two tests.

What is the SSAT?

As mentioned earlier, the test is conducted at three levels:

  • Upper Level: This level is taken by students who are currently studying in grades 8 to 11.
  • Middle Level: This level is taken by those students who are presently studying in grades 5 to 7.
  • Elementary Level: This level is taken by those school-students who are currently studying in grades 3 or 4.

The content of each of the three levels is the same: Reading, Quantitative, Verbal and Writing. However, it is the difficulty rating that varies from one level to another.

Difference between SSAT and ISEE

The following points highlight the important differences between the two tests:

  • Test Levels:

    • It is taken at three levels: The Lower Level for grades 4 and 5, Middle Level for grades 6 and 7 and the Upper Level for grades 8 to 11.
    • The SSAT is taken at three main levels which vary from the ISEE levels. These are: The Elementary Level for grades 3 and 4, the Middle Level for grades 5 to 7 and the Upper Level for grades 8 to 11.
  • Verbal Content:

    • The ISEE includes questions that will test you on the basis of synonyms and sentence completions in the verbal section. Thus, a lot of questions in this test will check your knowledge of vocabulary.
    • The SSAT contains questions on synonyms and analogies. Additionally, there will a Reading section and an Essay prompt on which you have to develop a well-supported essay.
  • Quantitative Content:

    • The Math section contains multiple-choice based questions with five answer choices each.
    • The SSAT contains multiple-choice questions with four answer options. Additionally, the SSAT also contains quantitative comparison questions with four fixed answer choices.
  • Test Format:

    • There are five sections in the ISEE and the total time is 2 hours and 20 minutes (Lower Level) or 2 hours and 40 minutes (Middle and Upper Level).
    • The SSAT contains 4 sections that have to be completed in approximately 2 hours (duration of the test varies for the different levels). The information on these levels is highlighted below:
      • Elementary Level: 110 minutes
      • Middle and Upper Levels: 155 minutes
  • Scoring Information:

    • In the ISEE, there is no penalty for negative answers. The scores range from 760 to 940 in all sections at all levels.
    • In the SSAT, there is a penalty for each wrong answer (¼ of a mark). The scaled scored range from 440 to 710 (Middle Level) and from 500 to 800 (Upper Level). For the Elementary Level, the scores range from 300 to 600.
    • The percentile scores range from 1st to 99th percentile.

Which Test is Better and Why?

There are undoubtedly a number of differences between the two tests. Depending on these differences and on the features of the two tests, you can decide whether to take the ISEE or the SSAT.

However, it is recommended that you take the SSAT instead of taking the ISEE. The reasons for this preference are enlisted below:

  • If the school you are targeting accepts only SSAT, then you have no other choice except taking this test.
  • The biggest reason why you should opt for the SSAT is that you have the option of taking the test multiple times a year. Additionally, you can combine your scores from different test sections to give the best resulting score.
  • It is not possible to combine scores in the ISEE. Moreover, you can give the test only once in six months and thus, it is not possible for you to submit cumulative scores. Thus, in spite of the negative marking, SSAT is a better option for you to consider.

Hence, based on the information provided earlier, it is evident that the two tests are not similar to each other. So, you must take the decision of taking one of these two tests based on whether the school to which you are applying accepts the SSAT scores or not. However, remember that merely knowing about the tests is not enough. You need to start preparing for your choice among these right away!