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What tests are required during the private school admissions process?

When applying to private schools in New York City (NYC), most schools require that students take one of two standardized tests – the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE) or the Secondary School Aptitude Test (SSAT). While the scores children receive on these assessments should not define them during the private school admissions process, parents should know what they entail.

According to the Educational Records Bureau (ERB), the administrator of the ISEE, the test is broken into three levels – lower for students in the 4th and 5th grade, middle for grades 6 and 7 and upper for those in grades 8 through 11. Each of these levels is divided into three sections that measure test takers’ learning capability, reading comprehension, math skills and essay abilities.

After students finish the ISEE, their results can be sent to six schools to which they are applying, according to the ERB website. During the school admission process, these scores are just one factor in helping schools decide which students they will accept.

Parents should know that ISEE preparation materials are available that can help their children prepare to take this test.

Meanwhile, the SSAT is also divided by levels, with students in the 5th through 7th grades taking the lower test and those in the 8th through 11th grades registering for the upper assessment, according to the SSAT’s website.

Much like the ISEE, test takers must complete sections that measure their verbal and quantitative abilities, as well as their reading comprehension and how well they can assemble written responses to essay questions, according to the website. Parents can also help their children prepare for this assessment by purchasing a book of practice tests.

According to the Independent School Admission Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY), prospective private high school students should schedule their required testing between the months of August and October. Then, they should complete these assessments at some point between September and January.

While taking either standardized test can be stressful, it is important for parents and students to remember that their score does not define the type of applicants they are. Even if pupils have never been good at taking tests, they should remember that they still have a chance to shine during their in-person interview and through their personal essay.