Private schools use the test scores for about ⅓ of their admission decision. They typically consider grades, scores, and extracurriculars/recommendations all equally. Remind your child that this test is not the end of the world, and will not be the only indicator of their ability to get into a good school. A perfect score is not necessary, and schools are looking for well-rounded students, so the test is just one part of the application.
Private schools are looking for test results that are consistent across the different sections, which means that it’s better to have similar math/verbal/reading scores than to have much higher scores in one section than another. This is why we customize our instruction to focus on the areas that need the most improvement.
We recommend that students take the test multiple times to get the best score. A student may take the Middle/Upper Level SSATs on all 8 Standard test dates; the Elementary Level SSATs may be taken twice per testing year. Students may take the ISEE (all levels) up to 3 times in a 12-month admission cycle, once in any or all of 3 testing seasons. The seasons are Fall (August through November), Winter (December through March), and Spring/Summer (April through July). For both tests, students may review scores before sharing them with a school.
For the ISEE, students receive one point for every correct answer. For the SSAT, students receive one point for every correct answer and then ¼ of a point off for every wrong answer. Remind your child that if they are on the lower end of the grade spectrum for their test (for example, if they are taking the middle level ISEE in 6th grade) there will be content on there for 7th graders as well, and they will only be scored with other students in their grade level.
When scoring practice tests, it’s best to focus on the amount of raw points the child received, in order to measure progress. This is the most important indicator of how well they will perform on the test, because it shows how many questions they got right or wrong. When your child takes the real test they will be scored within the pool of the other real applicants. Therefore, we focus on using practice tests as an assessment tool, to show the tutor and the student which areas of the test need the most attention.
Confidence is the most important indicator of performing well on this test, so we build your child up and emphasize how much improvement they are making and how proud we are of them for all their work. Our ISEE and SSAT test prep program is customized to address each child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and we will develop a customized preparation plan to arm your child with powerful and up-to-date strategies for all sections of the test.