About the ISEE, SSAT, and HSPT

Private and parochial schools have testing requirements so that students from various schools, geographies, and backgrounds can be compared in much the same way that colleges use the SAT. Although some schools offer their own admissions tests, most schools are members of consortia that accept the same exams. This standardization simplifies matters greatly for students applying to multiple schools. The most popular exams are the ISEE, SSAT, and HSPT. Although some schools accept either the ISEE or SSAT, most use one or the other.

The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is published by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) and the test itself is sometimes referred to as the ERB (actually the ERB produces a number of different exams). The ISEE is offered in three levels: Lower Level for entrance into grade 5 and 6, Middle Level for entrance into grades 6 and 7, and Upper Level for entrance into grades 9-12. In California, the most popular ISEE exam is the Middle Level test used by many secondary schools with grade 7-12 programs. The ISEE predominates in southern California.

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is produced by the Secondary School Admission Test Board. The SSAT is offered in two levels: Lower Level for students currently in grades 5-7 and Upper Level for students currently in grades 8-11. The Upper Level exam is used by a number of California schools with grade 9-12 programs. The SSAT predominates in northern California.

The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is used primarily by Catholic schools and is produced by Scholastic Testing Service. The HSPT is used exclusively for entrance into 9-12 high schools.

"Being able to talk directly to a Compass founder and test expert kept me well informed about my son's progress for the PSAT and also gave me valuable insight into the best testing and preparation plan for the PSAT and beyond."

Joyce L.