Frequently Asked Questions about the ISEE, SSAT, and HSPT

Are practice materials available for the ISEE or SSAT?
When should I take the ISEE, SSAT, or HSPT?
How are scores calculated and reported?
Can I use a calculator?
How do I register?


Are practice materials available for the ISEE and SSAT?
Yes. If you are interested in preparing on your own rather than taking a Compass program, you can order materials directly from ERB or SSATB. The ERB offers What to Expect on the ISEE. There are three different versions of this book - one for each of the three levels of the exam (Lower, Middle and Upper). Each version includes item examples and explanations and a full-length practice test. All three versions are available as free downloads in pdf format or for purchase in hard copy format through the What to Expect on the ISEE website. The SSATB produces a book called Preparing and Applying for Independent School Admission and the SSAT which contains two sample Lower Level and two sample Upper Level exams. The book can be ordered through the SSATB website.



When should I take the ISEE, SSAT, or HSPT?
You should start identifying the schools to which you will be applying at least a year before your entry. For example, students entering a grade 7-12 program should begin planning no later than fall of 6th grade. Contact the school admission offices to find out their testing requirements and deadlines. Most students take the SSAT or ISEE in the fall or winter before their year of entry. The tests have very different policies, however. You are only allowed to take the ISEE once every 6 months, and you are not allowed to take it for "practice" - you must be actively applying to a school. The SSAT is offered on 7 dates throughout the year (although not all centers offer all dates). The SSAT also has approved test consultants that are able to offer the test throughout the year. However, you may only take a consultant administered SSAT once each year. The HSPT is generally taken at the school to which you are applying, and they will set the testing calendar.



How are scores calculated and reported?
ISEE
Except for the essay which is not a part of your ISEE score, the test consists entirely of multiple choice problems. Your raw score is determined solely by the number of correct answers that you choose, so you should never leave a question blank on the ISEE. The raw score is converted into a scaled score between 760 and 940. Schools also receive percentile scores so that they can assess where you stack up against other students.

SSAT
You will receive several different scores on your SSAT score report. Unlike the ISEE, the SSAT has a deduction for wrong answers. You receive 1 raw point for each correct answer and lose 1/4 point for each incorrect answer. This deduction is meant to dissuade you from randomly guessing. Instead, you must decide if you have enough information on a problem to make an educated guess.

Your raw score is then converted to a scaled score. Lower Level students (grades 5-7) receive scaled scores of 440-710 on the Verbal, Math, and Reading sections or a combined score of 1320-2130. Upper Level students (grades 8-11) receive scaled scores of 500-800 on the Verbal, Math, and Reading sections or a combined score of 1500-2400.

You will also receive percentile scores in each area which compare you to students who have taken the SSAT over the last 3 years and estimated national percentile scores (grades 5-9 only) to compare you to the entire national population, not just SSAT takers. Finally, students in grades 7-10 receive a predicted 12th grade SAT score.



Can I use a calculator?
No. You should bring several sharpened number 2 pencils, a pen, and a snack to the test administration. You will not be allowed to use a calculator or have access to a cell phone.



How do I register?
ISEE
You can register for the ISEE by phone (800-446-0320), mail, fax (919-682-5775), or online. You can pick up a Student Guide at your school or visit the ERB website. Regular registration ends 3 weeks before the test date; late registration is available for an additional week; and walk-in registration may be available.

SSAT
There is no phone registration for the SSAT. You can register for the test online or pick up a registration form at your school or from the SSAT website and mail or fax it in by the relevant deadlines (generally 3 weeks before the test for regular registration and 2 weeks before the test for late registration). Standby Testing may be available if you miss the registration deadlines.

HSPT
Schools license or purchase the HSPT exam from Scholastic Testing Service and handle all registration and testing themselves.




"As an educator, I am naturally skeptical of the claims of test prep companies and individual tutors. Compass' wealth of knowledge and the talents of their instructors have consistently produced outstanding score increases and helped my students gain admission to the most prestigious schools."

James Skrumbis,
Head of School,
Sierra Canyon School,
previously Director
of Upper School,
Marlborough School