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.