The Content vs. Strategy Dilemma in SSAT and ISEE Prep

One of the most important things you can do to in standardized test prep is to learn the key strategies. This is because the structure of the test is part of the challenge of the test. Knowing all the material that can show up isn’t enough to get a perfect score; skills like pacing yourself optimally and using the multiple-choice format to your advantage are also essential. This is as true for SSAT and ISEE prep as for prep on any other standardized test, but these tests are somewhat unique in that learning strategy alone often isn’t enough to maximize your score. Unlike many other tests, each level of the SSAT and ISEE is intended for students of a variety of ages, but everyone gets the same test; this means that on test day, you may very well be asked about material you’ve never seen before in school.

Seem unfair? Well, the main reason for this is that different schools cover the same material at different times in a class curriculum, and sometimes even in different classes and therefore different years. This means that not every 4th grader will know how to multiply fractions, and not every 8th grader will know the slope-intercept form of a linear equation. However, the SSAT and ISEE don’t adjust their content based on what you’ve learned in school because independent school admissions officers don’t adjust their expectations based on that either.

Because of this, our SSAT and ISEE prep programs focus on teaching content almost as much as strategy. You have to be prepared to tackle concepts that you’ve never seen in math class in order to be on the same playing field as students from other schools. It’s important that you expect this when you get started on your test prep journey. It might take a little more time to prep than you anticipate, but don’t get frustrated – your tutor has your back.