The Last Ride On SSATs & ISEEs

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Massiha Habibi

December can be a busy month, a special time of year full of significant holidays and traditions. One of the less celebrated aspects of December is that it usually marks the end of the high school admissions testing period.

December Test Dates

For students taking a December SSAT, ISEE, or HSPT, it is often the last step of a long trek. It’s always important to put your best effort in for the test, but it can be particularly hard when you’re worn out and just holding on for winter break. Here are some final pointers:

  • You’ve already done the work. If you want credit for all the time and effort you’ve already put in, you have to give the test your full effort and focus. Get a good night’s sleep, eat a full breakfast, and show up ready to finish strong. Remind yourself of the strategies you’ve picked up and stick to them.
  • For students who have already taken one of these tests, it’s important to come into these final tests with the right attitude. You’ve already done it, so no need to be nervous anymore. You know exactly how these tests work. But if you’re thinking "Let’s just get this over with," the test will gobble you up. You can get comfortable with the test, but NEVER think of it as easy. You always have to work your way through. Don’t guess or take shortcuts unless you absolutely have to. Instead, grind your way to the answer step-by-step. You can get to the answers, but it always takes effort.
  • Listen to your hype song, or watch famous sports speeches. For some students that can be Rachel Platton - Fight Song, Drake - Started from the Bottom, Katie Perry – Roar, Miley Cyrus - The Climb, or listening to the coach from Friday Night Lights say “Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose”. My recommendation is Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. In Rocky I, a guy fights the world champion and gets a draw (a tie). In Rocky III, he listens to Eye of the Tiger and he wins. The lesson is clear.

January Test Dates

For students who know they can do better and are willing to give it one more try, the SSAT and ISEE both offer a January test date, as well. Particularly with free time that comes with winter break, that can mean a lot more time to get ready. For families consider those test dates, make sure to reach out to the admissions offices of the schools you’re interested in and verify that they will accept scores from those dates. Even schools with earlier application deadlines often accept scores coming in after the deadline date, just make sure to check with the individual admissions office and coordinate with them (for instance, they may ask that the score be sent directly from the testing company to expedite the process).

Flex Tests

If you have not been able to take a test on one of the national dates offered, both the SSAT and ISEE offer alternatives. The SSAT offers the flex test which allows families to take a test on a date that is not one of the national dates. Families will have to locate a proctor on the SSAT website who is able to administer the test at a time that's convenient for both the family and the consultant. Please note that there is an extra fee for from the consultant as well as the fee from the SSAT Registration site. The consultant will give the family a special registration code to be entered in the SSAT website.
The ISEE offers testing at a Prometric Test Site. This is a third-party test site that may administer tests for not only the ISEE but many other standardized tests. Students should know that in addition to middle school students, there may be high school students, college students, or even adults testing along with them. A Prometric test is a much more formal operation, as adults are required to stay with the student or stay in the office where the students testing throughout the length of the test (whereas adults are generally free to leave the SSAT test center once a student is admitted). Students will take the test on computer at the Prometric site. Students are also given scratch paper, to jot notes or work out math problems.   

The benefits of the flex SSAT and Prometric ISEE tests are that family can find a more convenient time to take a test, in the event that a student was ill or is traveling during a national date. Please be sure to check with the consultants and the testing center when making arrangements for these exams. Additionally, you want to confirm that your school will accept the results: according to the timeline, SSAT results are usually returned within 10 to 14 days, while flex test results are usually within 7 to 10 days sometimes even sooner