Private School Exams
In a time of public education decay, demand for high ranks on private school exams has risen steadily. While many critics believe public education is a failure, nothing is being done to improve the standards for our children. This lack of vital change in our school system has many parents seeking alternative solutions within the private sector.
The only solution for concerned parents is to enroll their children in a private school. Private institutions generally hold higher standards by their staff and students. Parents interested in enrolling their children in a private school must place high emphasis on either the ISEE or SSAT examination. Each school will have their own standards as far which test to take. Parents are encouraged to contact the schools they’re interested in to see which test their child should take.
The Independent School Entrance Exam is an integral piece of the admissions process used by most private schools. Look at the ISEE as the MCAT to someone interested in becoming a doctor or the LSAT to a lawyer. The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is equally as important and is used in the admission process of most boarding and military academies, however a number of private schools also accept this as their standard.
How Important Are These Private School Exams?
With limited spots available, your child’s performance on either of these private school exams is crucial to the admission’s process. It’s a dog eat dog world and the best of the best will be admitted. Because the demand for private education is so high, most schools have no issues with filling all available spots. In fact, most parents that care about their kid’s future will go above and beyond, by hiring a tutor. Usually very expensive, private tutors are usually the best option to condition the child to perform at their highest ability. Tutors usually charge anywhere between $100-$200 an hour for their services. Depending on the child, some may require over 20 hours of preparation. Needless to say, the price of even being considered for admission can fall out of reach for some.
Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) FAQ
The ISEE is a private school admission exam consisting primarily of three different levels.
Lower Level – is for students in the 4th and 5th grade who are eligible for admission into 5th and 6th grades, respectively
Middle Level – is for kids in grades six and seven who are eligible for admission for the 6th and 8th grade.
Upper Level – for children in grades 8-11 who are eligible for admission into grades 9-12.
Depending on which level test your child will take, the test itself has three parts consisting of; (1) verbal and quantitative reasoning, (2) reading comprehension and mathematics achievement, and an (3) essay. While two of the three sections are scored, the essay is just photocopied and sent to your desired private school’s admissions department.
The first level of the ISEE is timed at 2 hours and 20 minutes. The middle and upper levels have an increase of 20 minutes for a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes.
ISEE Timing Breakdown
Lower Level – Students eligible for grades 5 and 6
Test Section # of Items/Questions Time (Minutes)
Verbal Reasoning 34 20
Quantitative Reasoning 38 35
Reading Comprehension 25 25
Mathematics Achievement 30 30
Total Time : 2 hours 20 minutes
For a Total Breakdown for all three levels please visit the ISEE Sections and Timing page. As with any standardized entrance exam, practice with similar questions is the key to achieving the most favorable results.
During the exam, test takers will receive a time alert, 5 minutes before the end of the section. The essay portion contains two warnings, one at the 15 minute interval and the other at 5 minutes. As with any standardized exam, timing is extremely important. To improve your child’s timing, practice questions and tests are highly encouraged. Unfortuntaley the ISEE testing policy states that practice tests are not permitted, that’s why many parents feel the need to hire a tutor or seek outside help. In addition, the child may test only once in a six month period. If the child takes the test before the six month waiting period, the ISEE will not report the results nor refund your testing fee.
Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) FAQ
The SSAT is used as an admissions barrier by some private schools and most military and boarding academies. The exam is for grades 5-11 and consists of 3 multiple choice sections; Verbal, Quantitave Analysis, and Reading Comprehension. In addition the test also includes an ungraded essay portion which is sent to the school you’re trying to get your child into. Unlike the ISEE which has 3 tiers of testing, the SSAT only has 2.
Lower Level – for students in grades 5-7
Upper Level – for students in grades 8-11
The SSAT exam is administered two different ways. You have your choice of the National Test or the Flex Test. The National SSAT Test is held at numerous sites across the USA, Canada, and other countries on eight saturdays every year. To see the test calendar please visit http://www.ssat.org/ssat/info/test-calendar.html
The Flex Test is administered on any date other than a national date. Most individuals who take the flex test usually have a requiremetn to take it with an educational consultant. Before you choose the right test for your child, please note that the Flex Test can only be taken once.
The SSAT Private School Exam Format
The test is divided into a total of five different sections and is timed accordingly;
Writing Sample – 25 minutes
Verbal – 30 minutes
Quantitave 1 – 30 minutes
Quantitave 2 – 30 minutes
Reading – 40 minutes
Although the writing sample is not scored, it will be sent to the schools you’re applying to. The schools will then use it to determine if your child appropriately supported or argued the topic statement using specific examples. The verbal sections contains 30 synonyms and 30 analogy questions in multiple choice format. To assess your child’s abilty to comprehend material, 40 questions for Reading will be presented. In this section the questions will be based on 7 different passages that your child has to read and quickly answer the respective questions. With only 40 minutes on the time clock, your child will have less than 1 minute to read and answer a question. To increase the time to answer questions one must have the ability to read a passage once, quickly and understand the main point.
How To Increase Your Child’s Private School Exam Score
There is no doubt on how important your child’s results to the tests are. Whether or not your child understands the level of importance it’s up to you, the parent to make sure they do well. With the decline of standards in the public school system, a brighter future your child might receive with a private school entrance is much too big a gamble. Preparation and practice for the ISEE or the SSAT is everything. The more practice problems performed and passages read the quicker your child will get at logically moving through this very important exam. This mental conditioning will undoubtedly make your child a great contender to face any private school exam with confidence.