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ISEE vs. SSAT: Which is the better choice for your child?

Just like the ACT and the SAT, the ISEE and SSAT exams are suitable for different types of students. This means one of the exams gives your child a slightly better advantage over the other. Finding out whether your child should take the ISEE or the SSAT is a very simple task once you familiarize yourself with the tests.

The ISEE and the SSAT are identical in the broad sense. They are both entrance exams into private and boarding schools with three different levels, according to grade level. They both test five comparable sections: verbal skills, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, math achievement and writing. Another less favorable similarity between the two is the lack of practice material provided for the exams. The schools that require these tests want to maintain their exclusivity, and this is done through their high performance expectations from their prospective students. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you start preparing as early as possible through preparation books or programs.

The ways in which the ISEE and the SSAT vary from each other are similar to the differences between the ACT and the SAT. The ISEE has more straightforward questions like the ACT, focusing more on depth of content than the SSAT.  The SSAT tends to be more creative with its questions, encouraging students to use deductive reasoning to come to an answer.

The risk that is associated with these boarding and private school exams vary immensely. The ISEE is not a good exam for those that are prone to test anxiety. Students are only given one attempt at this exam in a six-month period, which happens to be the entire testing “year” for the ISEE. This means you only really get one shot to get the score you need, which can make some students panic. On the other hand, the Middle and Upper Level SSATs can be taken on all eight standard test dates per testing year. Knowing that they have more than one shot at admittance, some students perform better on the SSAT due to the lower amount of stress put on one exam date.

The differences in the style of questions, point deductions and attempt limits should be seriously weighed when registering your child for one of these exams. Even though it might seem too early to classify your child as a specific type of test-taker at an age as young as nine-years-old, you can use their personality as a guideline. If your child is a creative student and has been known to have test anxiety, the SSAT is a better choice for him. Although less popular, the ISEE exists for those students who are more risk-adverse and require more direct guidelines. Before committing to either of these exams however, you should double check to see which test the schools you are planning on applying to accept.

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