Tips to prepare for ISEE SSAT HSPT tests

If your child is applying to attend a private middle or high school next fall, you are probably in the middle of Open Houses, application essays, and helping your child prepare to take either the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE), Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT), or the High School Placement Test (HSPT). Here are a few tips to helping your child prepare for standardized tests:

  • Practice taking the test in multiple locations – unless your child will be taking the actual exam in a room by him or herself, it’s easy to get distracted. Give your child the chance to practice taking timed sections at your local public library or coffee shop. When the test day comes, your child will be less likely to feel unnerved.
  • Review the content that will be covered on the test so that your child can demonstrate his or her skill level – use flashcards for vocabulary in short bursts a few times every week, practice drafting essays using released sample questions, and practice solving the math equations you know your child will encounter. Each test has free, online resources and sample tests to help your child prepare.
  • Review test taking strategies – have your child work with a test prep tutor to learn which tips and tricks work best for the test your child is taking. Group classes tend to require more hours to meet the needs of all of their students, although some companies offer one- or two-day boot camp options. One-on-one sessions with an instructor, however, should hone in on the exact skills your child needs to improve upon fairly quickly and provide the biggest boost for your investment.

Most students register for the December tests, but some schools will accept tests taken in early January. Give your child as much time as possible to prepare for his or her entrance exams. And, don’t forget to be yourself in your applications. The match between your child, your family, and your school should be an authentic one. Good luck completing your applications and good luck to your children on the tests.


Rachel Fisher, MA

Executive Director


Franklin offers specialized academic tutoring, home school, test preparation, and educational therapy in Los Angeles and Orange County.  Contact us for more info!