This topic contains 8 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Dannie 11 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #12489 Reply


    My sister is looking at 6th grade admissions to a Montgomery Co. private school. The school accepts the SSAT, WISC-V or the ISEE. Which one should my nephew take? Is there one that’s better or more “accepted” than another?

    #12509 Reply


    Hi, MHS. I have nearly 20 years’ experience in the admission field, from both sides of the table, as well as nearly a year in my own firm, Arc PD (shameless plug: The DCSH brass asked if I’d take on your question. So here goes:

    1. While Pearson, the publisher of the WISC makes the most recent iteration of the test available for students under 17 years old, I’ve never heard of a school asking for a WISC from applicants past grade 5. I don’t make any judgments about the integrity or the value of the test, but I’d still tread carefully, since most schools will have little experience with it for a rising sixth-grader.

    2. There are several differences between the SSAT and the ISEE that may make it easier for your nephew’s family to decide which one would suit him better. Here are a few:

    a. The SSAT reports two language-based scores (verbal and reading, in addition to an optional essay that is simply passed along to schools), plus one mathematical score. The ISEE reports two language-based and two math-based scores. If your nephew is a strong math student, that may be a reason to consider the ISEE.

    b. A student may take the ISEE only once during an admission cycle. If your sister’s family is likely to want two or three swings at the piñata, so to speak, that’s worth keeping in mind.

    c. The ISEE has many more test date options; the SSAT is usually administered about eight times per year. Be sure the dates work for your nephew.

    d. A student may take the SSAT as many times as he’d like, and report only a single administration (i.e., report December but not October — but you cannot split subtests to submit, for example, math from December and verbal from October). A good counselor should be able to advise your nephew’s family on how to report scores, and on the practice of “super-scoring,” which most schools use.

    3. If your nephew would find a traditional test center challenging, SSAT offers a “Flex Test,” which allows a student to take a test in an individual environment with a qualified administrator (qualified by SSAT, that is). The ISEE does not offer such an option. Note that a student may take only one SSAT Flex Test per year.

    4. Overall, I don’t think I’d make this the biggest “sweat” in the process. Both the SSAT and the ISEE measure the same basic skill — the ability to solve logical, language-based problems quickly — and so a student who scores in, say, the 45th percentile on one test is not likely to score in the 20th or 70th percentile on the other. I’d start by looking at the online practice exercises and determine the one with which your nephew feels more comfortable; that may be enough.

    5. Though it’s a little late, your sister should consider test preparation at any number of good outfits around town. (I mean “consider” as in “consider” — not as in her son must do it.) At the least, the tests are different enough, especially if your nephew hasn’t yet taken them, that he should not go in blind. That said, most students show some gains after preparation, but it is seldom inexpensive. I can provide some names if that would help; see my address below.

    One last thought: There is no reason your nephew could not take both tests. However, I’d advise any family to be careful about doing so. First, it can make the test scores the most important aspect in the family’s mind, rather than what kind of habits the student has, how well he rebounds from failure, and what kind of person he is. I’d argue those are all more important indicators of how he’ll do in school — and beyond. And second, of course, it takes time, costs money, and sometimes it’s not the favorite Saturday-morning activity for an 11-year-old.

    I know there’s a lot to digest here, but I hope this is helpful in identifying some basics. If you’d like any further information, feel free to contact me directly:

    Good luck to your sister and nephew!
    Peter Braverman

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  DC School HUB.
    #12512 Reply


    Dearest Peter,

    I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful response. The detail you provide demonstrates your expertise and commitment to the process. My sister is likely to reach out to you. Thank you for providing contact information.

    Gratefully yours,


    #12513 Reply


    Thanks for your kind note, Melanie. I’d be more than happy to talk with your sister; just point her in my direction.

    #12863 Reply


    Is one of the tests easier than the other? Why don’t schools do it when kids visit?

    #13025 Reply


    The WISC is the most subjective of the three. If your student is a good test taker and knows his/her stuff, I’d suggest the SSAT. But with the WISC you get a better idea of the kind of learner the student it.

    #13026 Reply



    I’m intrigued by your comment that the WISC is more “subjective” than the others. Could you say more about what led you to that conclusion? It’s the one of the three with which I’m least familiar, and I’m always trying to learn more.

    Thanks a lot.

    #13034 Reply



    From my understanding the WISC is “graded” by a professional psychologist. While their is a standard rubric, the tester has some room for personal interpretation of what a student presents. You also must take in the human factor. If the tester or the subject is having an off day it can affect the outcome of the testing.

    Regarding the other two, it’s my understanding that they are more standard pencil/bubble form.

    All of that said, I’m not in the business.

    DCschoolhub – can we get a professional to provide realistic feedback?

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