Master the ISEE, SSAT, and TOEFL (for International applicants)

Test-Taking Skills for ISEE, SSAT, and TOEFL

Done correctly, studying for tests is a slow and gradual process. It involves enhancing your reading skills, math skills, vocabulary skills, and analytical reasoning skills. While test taking can be taught, having a deeper skill base can make the process easier, faster, and more effective. Begin by determining your areas of greatest need (or relative weakness) and commit to a process that will help you improve in these areas. Many pre-assessments and associated test-enhancing study plans are available, including through NC Global. Find more information in the Test Prep section of this website.

Take Admission Tests One, Two, or Three Times

Popular dates for the ISEE and SSAT are in October, November, December, and January. Check for registration and test dates near you. Sign up at least a month in advance, as popular dates and locations can reach capacity. While you can take the SSAT whenever and as many times as you wish, you may take the ISEE only once during each of the three testing windows: August – November; December – March; and April – July, up to a maximum of three times in a 12-month admission cycle. You have full control over the scores that are sent to schools, so the best strategy is to take tests early and often. You may take one Flex Test (private administration) per year for both the SSAT and ISEE. Some students find the private setting less intimidating than large school settings.

The Test Essay for ISEE, SSAT, and TOEFL

Both the SSAT and ISEE require a written essay, and the TOEFL has an entire writing section. While your essay will not be formally graded, it will be read with great scrutiny by admissions officials. The essay is your opportunity to give admissions officials insights into your personality, sensitivity, social awareness, and maturity.

Practice tests and questions are available commercially and some real questions are available at

Vocabulary Skills for ISEE, SSAT, and TOEFL

Strong vocabulary skills will not only help you earn higher test scores on ISEE and SSAT, they will also help you earn higher grades and make you a better conversationalist and interviewee. You can boost your vocabulary through an understanding of basic etymology and through word groupings. In particular, it is very useful to know prefixes and roots, people words, and double-meaning words. ISEE, SSAT, and TOEFL success depend heavily on having strong vocabulary skills.

Reading Skills for ISEE, SSAT, and TOEFL

Strong reading skills allow you to process information more effectively and efficiently. Fast and accurate reading makes everything else about learning better and easier. Focus on the different types of written material as you encounter them. A literature passage does not present information in the same way as does a factual passage. Enhance your comprehension of written materials by reading a wide variety of passages, then by asking yourself questions and answering them. Specific reading strategies for tests can be learned by reading commercial student manuals or by working with a private tutor. NC Global has tutors available for ISEE, SSAT, and TOEFL.

Math Skills for ISEE and SSAT

Strong math skills are needed in order to excel in school and on tests. On SSAT and ISEE, the three most important math skills are 1) the ability to set up and solve equations, 2) using strategies to solve questions more easily and quickly, 3) the ability to translate word problems into actionable equations. As with all subjects, identifying areas of relative weakness and creating a plan to strengthen these areas is the most important step in improving math skills.