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Private School Admissions Tests

June 10, 2015 / Posted by in Blog

When students are applying to private schools, there are certain admissions standards that they must meet. There are a variety of private school entrance exams based on the type of school and its preferences. The High School Placement Test, or HSPT, is designed for eighth graders seeking admission to certain Catholic High Schools. The test consists of 298 multiple-choice questions divided into five sections—verbal, quantitative, mathematics, reading, and language skills. For the English portions of the test, the verbal section covers the topics of language devices such as analogies, logic, and synonyms/antonyms, while the reading section covers reading comprehension skills, and the language section covers grammar and usage. For mathematical skills, the quantitative section covers geometry, statistics, and number manipulations, and the mathematics section covers arithmetic, problem solving, and algebra. A local school that uses the HSPT as its admissions exam is Ursuline Academy for entrance into the upper school only. On the other hand, the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) are administered regardless of religious affiliation, and schools typically do not have a preference for which exam students take. The ISEE consists of three parts: (1) verbal and quantitative reasoning, (2) reading comprehension and mathematics achievement, and (3) an essay section, which is not scored, but photocopied and sent to the desired school(s). The SSAT has a similar format with three multiple-choice sections in mathematics, reading comprehension, and language/grammar, as well as a brief, un-scored written response to a prompt that is sent directly to the desired school(s). Both the ISEE and SSAT have three levels based upon grade level. The elementary level is intended for students seeking admittance to a school for grades 4 and 5 (for the SSAT) or grades 5 and 6 (for the ISEE), the middle level is for those entering middle school, and the upper level is for students entering grades 9 and above.

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