How to Prepare for the ISEE & SSAT

How to Prepare for the ISEE & SSAT

So you want your student to get into a great private secondary school.

You head to the school’s website and glance through the admissions checklist, and there you see, looming forebodingly, “Take an Entrance Exam.”

The sound of the word “exam” can elicit a number of reactions in a parent. Some parents relish the opportunity for their student to go toe-to-toe in a standardized battle of wits—just the thought of a percentile ranking is drool-inducing. For others, it’s a grave omen, a feeling of dread, a reminder of tears shed and disappointment on all fronts.

No matter your initial gut feeling, the admissions test is a necessity. So here’s a breakdown of how your student can make the most of their time before exam day.

    1. Take a diagnostic test. It’s hard to get better when you don’t know what needs to get better. Have your student take a realistic, full-length practice test (such as the ones at and in a distraction-free place.
    2. Determine what needs to improve. Is your student taking too long on certain types of questions? Is s/he struggling with geometry problems? There are almost always trends in a student’s results.
    3. Learn strategies for tackling tough questions. Your student should know that there will be questions on the ISEE & SSAT that are designed to be too hard for almost all students. When this happens, it’s best to skip the question and come back later. Other problems are designed to trick you with plausible-seeming answers. Read the question and think up your own answer before looking at the options!
    4. Practice! The more your child is exposed to the test, the better. When your child takes a full-length practice exam, s/he is becoming more comfortable with the test’s particular style, its length, and its difficulty.
    5. Consider tutoring. A professional tutor can be a crucial tool in developing the strategies necessary to defeat any standardized test. It’s best to start early in order to maximize the effectiveness of a tutor, but even a couple of prep sessions three weeks before the test can be beneficial.
    6. Be supported. As a parent, it’s easy to become very invested in how your student performs on this test. Remember, though, that your stress level can transfer over to your child, and stress is not a useful feeling on test day. Support your child with encouragement and love.

Still think you need some help getting through the admissions testing process? Check out for more help, support, and most importantly, practice!

Interested in prepping for the ISEE or SSAT? Drop us line.

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Edan Shahar

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