Throughout the Washington DC area, parents often ask us, “When should we take a practice SSAT or ISEE?” or “When should we start SSAT or ISEE prep?” Current 7th graders should take a practice upper level SSAT or ISEE in the spring or the summer going into 8th grade. That’s for students looking to apply for 9th grade entrance to a private high school. The official tests are usually taken during the fall or winter of 8th grade. Taking a full-length official SSAT or ISEE practice test beforehand, will let the student know where to focus. The student may need more math, verbal, or reading support. Furthermore, the practice test will reveal what types of questions the student is struggling with the most. For example, on the SSAT verbal section, the student may do really well on the synonyms, yet have problems with the analogies questions.
Here’s how the private high school admissions process works:
1) Create a school list during 7th grade year. Look over:
o Academic programs
o Co-ed or single gender
o Class size
o Leadership opportunities
o Safety procedures
o Learning center
o Matriculation list
Don’t have too many schools on your list
Have reach schools, middle of the road schools, and safety schools
2) Other factors:
• Schools accept SSAT or ISEE
• Financial aid and payment plans
• Fine arts program
• Student body diversity
• Faculty background
• Test scores
• Campus facilities
3) Application criteria:
• SSAT or ISEE scores
• Student grades
• Campus tour
• Extracurricular activities
• Volunteer work
• Community involvement
4) How to start:
• Attend campus open houses
• Research school websites
• Call admissions offices
• Look at a various schools
• Take a baseline SSAT or ISEE
• Plan for 2 months – 6 months of test prep
• Review admissions deadlines for paperwork and test scores (usually, January or February due dates).
• Offered 8 times per year on predetermined national testing dates.
• Students can also take a flex test one-to-one or in a small group setting (usually setup through an IECA member).
• Students can take all national testing dates and a flex test (meaning they can take the SSAT more than once).
• All students will have the option to test once in each of three four-month long testing windows; meaning, students can test up to three times in a 12-month admission cycle.
• There are no national testing dates. Tests are setup through approved testing site member schools.
• Students may take the ISEE at approved ERB member school test sites, Prometric locations worldwide, or at ERB’s main New York City office.