SSAT vs ISEE: Do they Cover the Same Topics?

So you’re deciding whether to take the SSAT or ISEE. But how do you decide which one to take? Many secondary schools in the US will accept either exam, so your decision to take one or the other largely depends on the exam material. Overall, the SSAT and ISEE are very similar and so preparation for both is very similar. Therefore, it is recommended that, if you have the time, you take both exams to maximize your chances of getting a good score. In this article, however, we will break down the major differences between the SSAT and ISEE in terms of content. For a detailed description of the structural and organizational differences between the SSAT and ISEE please see our FAQ page.

So how does content differ between the exams?

The SSAT Middle and Upper Level is broken up into five parts: Writing, Reading, Verbal, and two Quantitative Sections. The ISEE is also broken up into five parts: Verbal, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading, Mathematics, and an Essay.


Unlike the SSAT, the ISEE math section is divided into two sections with different labels. While the ISEE “Quantitative Reasoning” section focuses heavily on word problems, there is little difference with the SSAT in terms of content.


The biggest difference between the SSAT and ISEE is in the verbal sections. The SSAT Verbal section is evenly divided between Synonyms and Analogies whereas the ISEE replaces the Analogies section with Sentence Completions. The key to success for both is rigorous vocabulary practice.


SSAT and ISEE reading are slightly different. ISEE passages are longer but are generally more modern and relevant to the present day. SSAT passages are shorter but contain a greater variety of passage types including poetry and pre-20th century literature.


The essay varies by level but generally speaking SSAT essays are story-based whereas ISEE essays are more argument-based. A creative writing approach is, therefore, the best way to approach the SSAT essay while an analytical approach is more relevant for the ISEE.

Need help deciding whether you should take the ISEE or SSAT? Get in touch with us today!