What’s a good SSAT/ISEE score?

Scores on the SSAT and ISEE are coming in, and our most frequently-asked question at this time of year is: how do I know if my score is good enough?

Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer (yes, you knew that one was coming). Score expectations vary almost as much as scores themselves, and every school has a different way of factoring test scores into their applications. Some applications are little more than “Name, date of birth, test scores,” while others strongly resemble college applications in their depth and breadth.

One thing’s pretty certain: percentiles are more important than raw scores. Percentiles are separated by grade (and by gender, actually), whereas raw scores are not. An incoming freshman might have the same raw score as an incoming senior, but the freshman will have a much higher percentile compared to classmates in the same grade.

The percentiles are a little skewed, though. You might be used to seeing percentiles on the ERBs or other statewide standardized tests. But if your student scores in (say) the low ninetieth percentile on the ERBs, he or she may not score as highly on the SSAT and/or ISEE. That’s because the entire state doesn’t take those tests; students applying to private schools tend to all have fairly high grades and statewide percentiles. Because your student may be an “average A” or “high B” student, he or she may get a 50th percentile (or lower) on their first SSAT or ISEE. Don’t panic. There is certainly room to improve, but it isn’t a failing grade. Being in the middle of great students still makes you a great student.

Of course, some schools have very high average percentiles for their admitted students; some care more about extracurriculars, class grades, and recommendations. Each school, and each student, is different!

If you’d like to schedule a consultation to discuss your student’s SSAT and/or ISEE scores, please contact us, and we would be happy to schedule a meeting. Even if you’re not in our area, we can have a quick conversation about your situation and the direction that’s best for you/your student. And, you may want to check out our SSAT and ISEE Podcast, which gives free information on the test, testing strategies, and what we consider to be the best (and worst) test-prep books available. Resources for the SSAT and ISEE aren’t as readily available (or reliable) as they are for larger tests like the SAT, so please feel free to use us as a resource for you!