What's the difference between these exams? Most private, independent, and boarding schools require either the ISEE or the SSAT for admission - some accepting either exam! The HSPT is specifically used for admission to a Private Catholic High school. Read below for more info on each.
The Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE), developed by the Educational Records Bureau, is an entrance exam used by many private and independent schools in the United States. The ISEE has four levels of examinations: the Primary Level, for entrance to grades 2-4, the Lower level, for entrance to grades 5–6; Middle level, for entrance to grades 7–8; Upper level, for entrance to grades 9–12. All three levels (aside from the primary level) consist of five sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and a 30-minute essay section. The ISEE costs around $100+, depending on registration method & testing location. You can only take the ISEE up to a maximum of 3 times in a 12-month admission cycle. For more information on upcoming test dates, and section breakdown, click here.
The Secondary School Admissions Test, know as the SSAT, is a standardized test used to assess the abilities of students seeking to enroll in an independent school. Many schools will accept either the ISEE or the SSAT for admission. The SSAT measures the basic verbal, math, and reading skills students need for successful performance in independent schools. Results give admission professionals a way to assess and compare applicants, regardless of their experience or background. There are currently three levels of SSAT testing. The SSAT middle/upper level test fee is $127 and the international fee is $247. For more information on upcoming test dates, and section breakdown, click here.
The High School Placement Test, HSPT, is a comprehensive placement test for placement in grades 9-12 at a private Catholic high school. Each school uses your HSPT result to assist with admissions, scholarship selection & curriculum placement. Criteria determined by one school to assist with academic decisions may not be the same for another school. The cost of the test can range from $20 to $40, depending on the school. Schools can also require optional sections that the HSPT offers: Mechanical Aptitude, Science, and Catholic Religion. Results from optional sections are reported separately and not included on the basic HSPT score report. Students should closely review testing requirements at each school in which they plan to apply to. It is strongly recommended that you only take the HSPT once. For more information on upcoming test dates, and section breakdown, click here.
Earlier this week we discussed SAT scores. I looked through the College Board 2018 data, did some calculations and compared the average SAT scores of the colleges that parents most frequently ask me about. What about ACT scores? Over the last few years more students have chosen to take the ACT over the SAT. So let's dive right in! Note: the ACT is scored on a scale of 1 - 36.
National Average: 21
Ivy Leagues: over 75% of students admitted to Ivy Leagues scored above a 31
San Diego State: 26
UC Berkeley: 32
UC Davis: 27
UC Irvine: 28
UC Merced: 21
UC Riverside: 24
UC San Diego: 30
UC Santa Barbara: 28
UC Santa Cruz: 26
It bears repeating that while ACT (or SAT) scores are a big part of the college admissions process, they are not the only part of it. Internship or work experience, sports, volunteer experience and other extracurricular activities also play a huge part! Also, some schools like The University of Chicago are starting to do away with the SAT/ACT exam criteria for admissions decisions.
If you’re interested in our Admissions Consulting services, click here for more information. Click here for more information on our different ACT Prep packages. Let's work together!
This question has many answers. The 'score' question is one of the main questions I get asked by parents of juniors who are about to take the SAT for the first time, or college-bound seniors who are deep in the college admissions process.
This is a tough question to answer because there are a lot of factors that come into play, and it’s a bit subjective. Most parents and students are less worried about the actual score itself, but more so about what that score means in context of their / their child’s chance at admission to certain colleges. Even though there is no cut-and-dried answer, we have data available to help give us some context.
We combed through the 2018 college admissions data from the College Board and did some calculations: The majority of students (over 75%) admitted to Ivy League colleges scored above a 1400 (out of 1600 total) on the SAT exam. This year’s average at Yale specifically, is a 1510. Harvard is 1520. The average SAT score at Caltech this year is a 1560. At USC, it's 1450. Stanford is 1500. San Diego State is 1110.
What about the UCs?
UC Berkeley: 1450
UC Davis: 1250
UC Irvine: 1250
UC Merced: 1100
UC Riverside: 1100
UC San Diego: 1320
UC Santa Barbara: 1350
UC Santa Cruz: 1180
Remember, while SAT (or ACT) scores are a big part of the college admissions process, they are not the only part of it. GPA, work / internship experience, volunteer experience, sports and other extracurricular activities all play a huge part as well. Also, some schools like The University of Chicago are starting to do away with the SAT / ACT exam criteria for admissions decisions.
If you’re interested in our Admissions Consulting services, click here for more information. Click here for more information on our different SAT Prep packages. Let's get to work!
“Mora, what about ACT scores?”, you ask. I got you! Stay tuned for Part II, coming later this week.
How is it possible that you got more questions correct on the October SAT exam, compared to the April exam, but your score went down? Is this fair?
I read hundreds of comments on Reddit from students who sat for the October 2018 SAT exam, and were disappointed with their results. Many of these students improved in all sections, but received a lower score than before. What gives?
ACT and SAT exam scores ARE curved, but not in the traditional sense. Contrary to somewhat popular belief, your exam score is not based on the performance of your fellow test-taking students in any way. In other words, even if your exam date has many high performing students, this will not affect your score.
So where does the ‘curve’ come in? The SAT and ACT exam curve is calculated based on the specific difficulty of the test that you’re taking. For example, if the Math section on the August SAT exam is easier than normal, 5 wrong answers might put you at a 730, whereas on the harder December SAT exam, 5 wrong answers may get you a 750. So in this case the August SAT exam had a harder curve, because the exam itself was easier. A score on one test will always indicate the same level of ability as that same score on a different test date.
Legend has it that October exams usually have a harder curve – this is when many seniors are taking these exams for the final time. Make of that what you will.
The University of Chicago will no longer require SAT/ACT scores as part of their admissions process.
Big news! Last month, The University of Chicago sent shock waves through the country when they announced that students vying for a spot at the university are no longer required to provide their SAT or ACT exam scores. With this move, U of Chicago joins the “test-optional” movement: it is the first top-ten research school to do so.
There has always been criticism surrounding the SAT and the ACT exams. Many argue that these exams are not an accurate depiction of a student’s prior or future success: a straight-A student may not do well on the exam, even though they excel in school. Conversely, a C-student might score very highly on the exam. Also, many feel that the exams place an unfair cost and burden on low-income students, especially those who wish to re-take it to try for a higher score. There is also the argument that the exams include content that can be seen as discriminatory towards certain groups, and that requiring these exams ultimately hinders diversity on campus.
The University of Chicago will now be accepting video auditions! (Remember Elle Woods’ video audition for Harvard Law School in Legally Blonde?). They will also be accepting other nontraditional materials to supplement applications. It’s time to get creative! Note: they will still accept SAT/ACT exam scores, it’s just not required.
Keep in mind, the SAT and ACT exams are still a vital part of the college admissions process, unless you plan to attend a “test-optional” school. I expect more universities join the movement in the coming years.
AP exams have changed a lot over the years. When Advanced Placement (AP) exams were introduced in the 1950s by College Board (who are also the makers of the SAT), it was to cater to the widening gap between high school and college: AP exams show colleges how ready and serious a student is for the tasks ahead. You can also easily earn college credits while still in high school by taking the courses, which can help you qualify for more advanced classes when you eventually get admitted into college.
For a lot of reasons, AP exams are quite important. Over the years, colleges have taken the exams seriously, and exam results have contributed greatly to their admission decisions. As should be expected, AP exams experienced some changes and improvements, perhaps too drastic. Records have shown that the changes have brought about a serious drop in the top scores among exam takers.
This is especially more frustrating for students because many colleges are becoming more insistent on top scores, with students getting a high passing score of 5 usually getting a preferential treatment when it is time to make admission decisions. Even those who get a passing score of 4 are getting less noticed.
But why all the changes?
According to College Board, this is to help keep the AP courses relevant and consistent with what is expected by colleges. These changes, which are made with the help of teachers and professors, have brought about 9 overhauls out of the 20 AP exams taken in just the last 5 years alone.
The deadline to register for the June 9th ACT is this Friday, May 4th! Make sure you sign up by the deadline if you plan on taking the June ACT. You can register and find out all of the details on the official ACT website, linked below.
Official ACT Website & Registration