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What's a "Good" SSAT or ISEE score?

If your child is applying for boarding school or private school, they will likely have to take either the SSAT or ISEE test for the admissions process. The results of these tests can be difficult to interpret, though, if this is the first time your child has taken this type of test.

For the SSAT, students receive +1 point for correct answers, -1/4 point per incorrect answer, and -0 points for questions that are left blank. Once the raw scores are calculated for each section, they are transformed into a scaled score. Scaled scores range from 500 - 800 and will be calculated for Verbal, Math, and Reading sections and summed for a total score. The essay does not receive a score, but a copy of it does get sent to each school admissions committee.

The scaled scores will also be translated into a percentile rank, which describes how your child did compared to other students of the same age and gender. For example, if your 5th grade daughter scored in the 85th percentile, 84 percent of students her age and gender would have scored below her, and 14 percent above.

For the ISEE, students receive +1 point for correct answers, and -0 points for wrong or unanswered questions. Scaled scores range from 760-940 for each section. Like the SSAT, the ISEE converts the scaled scores to percentile rank, which are further translated into stanines, which is a 9-point scale.

Typically, for both tests, the percentile rank is the piece of information that is the most important. One thing to keep in mind is that your child's scores may be in a lower percentile rank than what you are used to seeing on other standardized tests. The reason why this happens is because the population of students taking this test is different from a large state or national exam. That is, only a small pool of high achieving students who want to go to private school take this test each year. As a result, a "good" score on these tests may be lower than what you might expect.

For example, scoring around the 65th percentile can be a good, solid score. Very exclusive boarding schools and private schools are often looking for students scoring at the 85th percentile or above, but many other strong schools have a lower threshold. As always, though, test scores are simply one part of the equation when it comes to admissions decisions.

Wondering how to help your child get those dream scores on the SSAT or ISEE? Sign up for a free, no-obligation Strategy Session below to get started today.

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