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HIGH SCHOOL TESTING & ADMISSIONS
Explore. Develop. Advance.
HIGH SCHOOL TESTING & ADMISSIONS
Explore. Develop. Advance.

The Exams

The secondary schools admissions process can be daunting. While the test itself is only one part of the process, it can be an important component of the student’s admissions profile. The three most common secondary school tests, the SSAT, the ISEE, and the HSPT employ a variety of tactics and question types designed to sort students for the benefit of high school admissions officers. Our tutors work to help students and their families understand these tests, select the best test where possible, and maximize student performance. Students in our tutoring program will work on verbal and mathematical content as well as test taking strategy. 

Katy Dunn
Patrice Arrington
Shannon Jeffries
Maureen Delaney

The secondary school admissions process can be daunting. The test itself is only one part of the process, it can be an important component of your student’s admissions profile.

Our tutors work with you and your student to understand these tests, select the best test option, and maximize performance. Your student will get feedback on their verbal and mathematical development, address gaps in content knowledge, and gain the priority setting and time management skills of test taking strategy.

The Bigger Picture

Our educational counselors support families in developing a customized plan to set teens up for high school success. 

We provide help with school selection, essays, interview preparation, and navigating campus visits. Together with your tutor, our team of professionals can help lower the stress and uncertainty of the admissions process.

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The secondary schools admissions process can be daunting. While the test itself is only one part of the process, it can be an important component of the student’s admissions profile. The three most common secondary school tests, the SSAT, the ISEE, and the HSPT employ a variety of tactics and question types designed to sort students for the benefit of high school admissions officers. Our tutors work to help students and their families understand these tests, select the best test where possible, and maximize student performance. Students in our tutoring program will work on verbal and mathematical content as well as test taking strategy. 

The Exams

The Bigger Picture

Our educational counselors support families in developing a customized plan to set teens up for high school success. 

We provide help with school selection, essays, interview preparation, and navigating campus visits. Together with your tutor, our team of professionals can help lower the stress and uncertainty of the admissions process.

  •  
Katy Dunn
Patrice Arrington
Shannon Jeffries
Maureen Delaney

Put Us on Your Team

Take the next step by filling out our contact form.

Or, read our resources, then reach us by email or at 301-951-0350 x-150. 

  • The Secondary School Admissions Test is a 3 hour multiple choice exam used by many secondary schools as part of the admissions process. The test includes 60 vocabulary based questions and a section of critical reading. There are two math sections which contain problems containing pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and other topics including functions and probability. There is also a writing sample. PrepMatters tutors help students increase their content knowledge for the test, but also focus on improving students’ decision making strategies for the test, given the time constraints, incorrect answer penalty, and nuance of some the math questions.

The more straightforward ISEE is also a 3 hour multiple choice test containing verbal, math, and reading sections, as well as a writing sample. However, the verbal contains sentence completions instead of the SSAT’s analogies. Similarly, some of the multiple choice math questions challenge students to think beyond the computing to understanding the true value of certain expressions. At PrepMatters, we will work on as much vocabulary and math content as time allows. Additionally, as there is no incorrect answer penalty, we work with students on making efficient decisions and time management to be able to answer all of the questions.

The High School Placement Test is an admissions test for the participating schools in the Archdiocese of Washington. Students take this test in 8th grade. The difficulty level of these questions is lower than that of the SSAT or ISEE. However, students must move much more quickly in order to answer all of the questions in the time allotted. Students are tested on grammar, critical reading, verbal skills, and math. At PrepMatters, we help students understand the best way to answer the test questions in the given time. Additionally, our tutors help students bolster their content knowledge and refine strategies for the different question sections.

High School Admissions Resources

High School Planning Guide

High School Planning Guide

Educational planning is essential to academic success; however, too many students and parents are at a loss for a place to start. Our guide offers a beginning—at any point in the process. Get the guide here.

Townhalls & Other Events

Townhalls & Other Events

We regularly support area parents and students by events, covering topics from accomodations and interviews to college essays and the admissions landscape. Bookmark our events page, and sign up for our mailing list so you don’t miss any in the future.

PrepTalks: Ned Johnson’s Parenting Podcast

PrepTalks: Ned Johnson’s Parenting Podcast

Raising kids is tough. Raising adults is tougher.

Education is one of our most cherished institutions, but it can also be one of our most exasperating. Ned talks with parenting and education experts to bring you the tools you need to help grow resilient, self-driven, and successful young adults. Check it out here or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

 

Families should take a look at the admissions policies of the schools to which they are applying. Many families only need to take either the SSAT/ISEE or the HSPT. However, if none of your candidate schools require a certain test, there is no need to take the test required for that school.

The SSAT and ISEE are typically taken in October, November, and December of the year in which students are applying, usually 8th grade. The HSPT is usually taken one of the first two Saturdays in December for families new to the diocese. If they are already at a Catholic school, they may take the test earlier. Please check with their current school. The SSAT may be taken several times; the ISEE once per testing season; and the HSPT only once in eighth grade outside of extenuating circumstances.

Be sure to become familiar with what it on the test. Ideally, you will take at least one practice test before the actual test. Check with your tutor about a plan. In our experience, you cannot do too much vocabulary study for that part of the test. (Don’t neglect reading and math, of course!)

Students working with PrepMatters tutors receive vocabulary materials, a test workbook, and access to practice test material. If you are working on your own, you should access practice material from the testing site directly. Additionally, you may use a Kaplan or Princeton Review book to familiarize yourself with the test. Alternatively, if you are willing to invest about 10 times as much, both SSAT and ISEE have partnered with Test Innovators to offer a substantial number of practice exercises.

The SSAT is scored 500-800 in each of its three sections, reading, verbal, and quantitative, for a total possible score of 1500-2400. The ISEE is scored in a range of 760-940 for each of its reading, verbal, quantitative, and mathematics sections. Please note that the SSAT and ISEE also provide score percentiles which are useful in understanding how your student performs compared to actual recent test takers. The HSPT is scored on a range of 200-800. 

Students can begin working on their verbal and reading skills now, by reading more on their own and working on vocabulary using books, Quizlet, or other sources. Typically, a family should plan to work for 8-12 weeks to allow for missed weeks due to sports or other activities. Additionally, this will allow time for a few practice tests during preparation.

Of course, there are many factors to consider when selecting a school. It is helpful to think of which school and environment will help your student be his or her best self in 3 or 4 years. If you are looking for more personalized advice, we encourage families to reach out to our Educational Planning Team to discuss your students interests, strengths, as well as where your family would like to join the community.

As of July, 2021, the SSAT and ISEE are available in At Home or paper test format. The specific paper test site availability must be confirmed after August 1, 2021. The HSPT is available in paper format.

Each of the testing agencies provides for students to take the test with accommodations. Usually, accommodations must be approved by the testing agency before a test is scheduled. Typical accommodations include extra time, laptop for the writing sample, answer in book, 4 function calculator, ruler to help with reading, and a reader. Please check with your child’s testing agency and school for additional information.

More and more students are looking into undergraduate institutions abroad, which requires a very different approach from applying to schools in the United States. PrepMatters counselors are well-trained to support you in navigating both the domestic and international application processes.