Method

The Secondary School Aptitude Test (SSAT) and the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) aren't just the two admissions tests used to determine placement into independent and private junior highs and high schools, they're also probably the first standardized tests that your child has ever taken. At Cambridge Coaching, we are careful to customize our test preparation approach to suit younger students who are often encountering their first experience of testing under pressure. We introduce students to standardized test preparation techniques, such as time management and effective ways to answer multiple choice questions.

We tailor all of our curricula to make them unique to each student.  Before your child ever meets with the tutor, we assess his or her strengths and weaknesses with a diagnostic exam. But we believe in doing more than just targeting weaknesses - our tutors' goal is to identify the sections where your child has the greatest potential for improvement, and help him or her wring every last point from them.  That's why, based on your child's results, your tutor will construct a customized syllabus in advance of the first session, and adjust it as needed as the process goes along.  Additionally, instead of just having our students do homework and practice problems, we also take care to explain to our students how the material they're learning here will be useful when they start school, so they have a sense of where all their effort and extra work is leading.

What's on the SSAT? There are two versions of the SSAT: the lower level test, administered to students in grades 5–7, and the upper level test, administered to students in grades 8–11. Both versions of the SSAT contain a verbal section, a reading comprehension section, a quantitative section, and a writing sample.

What's on the ISEE? There are three versions of the ISEE: the lower test for 4th and 5th graders, the middle test for 6th and 7th graders, and the upper test for 8th through 11th graders. All three versions of the ISEE contain a verbal reasoning section, a quantitative reasoning section, a reading comprehension section, a mathematics achievement section, and a writing sample.

Here's what you get when your child studies for the SSAT or ISEE with Cambridge Coaching:
  1. 1

    Cool Teachers

    Preparing for your first standardized test can be hard. For the SSAT/ISEE, the experience of studying is critically important because it gives young students the groundwork for all future standardized test preparation, which are the central components of academic admissions at every level. A cool, sensitive SSAT/ISEE tutor can make all the difference in motivating your child through the test preparation process. Cambridge Coaching SSAT/ISEE tutors understand the foundational importance of the study process for middle and high school students. They are experts at managing young students' attention spans, moods, needs—and sense of cool. They emphasize a highly structured and systematic study process as the best path to a higher score—not just for the SSAT/ISEE, but for all the other tests down the road.

  2. 2

    The Best-Compensated Tutors

    Unlike other companies, we place a heavy emphasis on tutors' pay and their professional development as teachers. As far as we are aware, our tutors earn the highest compensation—and the greatest share of company revenue—of any tutors in the industry. Although it seems like common sense that tutors are the most important part of a tutoring organization, most companies shortchange their tutors in order to reap greater profits. We consider our tutors to be our most important investment, and we have found that caring about our tutors allows us to hire and retain the very best.

  3. 3

    Customized Curricula

    National companies develop general curricula aimed at a broad population, the so called "average students." They do not tailor their curricula based on your child's needs because customization is expensive and time–consuming. We believe that a tailored program is a basic prerequisite for any effective tutoring relationship. We build each tutoring relationship around a unique student. Before your child even meets with a tutor, we will ask that he or she take an official exam and, based on the results, your tutor will create a customized syllabus.

  4. 4

    Tracking Progress

    We typically meet with students once or twice per week for 1 hour each time. The sessions correspond to your child's customized syllabus, which includes homework, practice exams, and in-session methodological drills. Each syllabus is based on the individual student and his or her specific weaknesses, not the weaknesses of an average student. We show our students how to categorize and track their work, so that our approach is adjusted based on a growing base of knowledge about his or her strengths and weaknesses.

    Our programs are intensive, but we have found that they actually minimize and contain the stress of taking a standardized test for the first time. During the course of a Comprehensive Package, our students see between 500 and 800 questions, take 3 to 5 practice exams, and study between 25 and 50 hours. We make sure that our students have raised their scores and maintained them before taking the official SSAT or ISEE. It isn't a coincidence that our students consistently achieve outstanding results.

  5. 5

    Official Practice Material

    Our primary materials consist of the official exams and questions released by the writers of the SSAT and ISEE. Unlike other companies who write their own "simulated questions," our materials prepare your child for what he/she will see on test day. We supplement official material with an evolving list of the secondary sources that we view to be the best means of mastering particular methodologies. Because we are not invested in selling proprietary materials, we prefer to cherry-pick the best materials from as many sources as possible.

  6. 6

    A Holistic Approach

    Because we know that the SSAT/ISEE is only a small component of your child's schedule, we think about all aspects of our students' academic lives.  In everything we do, we think about how we can help your child grow and develop as an individual, finding inspiration in learning and intellectual development.  Towards the end of middle school, this might mean helping with coursework to bring up grades, or helping to organize extracurriculars into a more balanced schedule. Our tutors are not only SSAT/ISEE experts, but also mentors who connect all the dots and keep your child organized, so that he/she can reach his/her best scores in the context of the bigger picture.

Read about the process