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SSAT® and ISEE® For Dummies®

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Table of Contents

Introduction
About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Paving the Way to Private School: Introducing the SSAT and ISEE
Part II: Ramping Up for the Verbal, Reading, and Essay Sections
Part III: Tackling the Math Sections
Part IV: SSAT Practice Exams
Part V: ISEE Practice Exams
Part VI: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Paving the Way to Private School: Introducing the SSAT and ISEE
Chapter 1: Getting to Know the SSAT and ISEE
Approaching the SSAT and ISEE
Testing your ability
Knowing what to expect from test questions
Preparing yourself: Practice makes perfect
Getting to Know the SSAT
Exploring the structure of the SSAT
Separating the upper and lower level SSAT
Scoring the SSAT
Registering for the SSAT
Knowing what to bring to the SSAT testing center
Scoping Out the ISEE
Understanding what’s on the ISEE
Comparing the upper, middle, and lower level ISEE
Scoring the ISEE
Registering for the ISEE
Figuring out what to bring to the ISEE testing center
Chapter 2: Picking Up Study Skills and Techniques for Testing Success
Clocking Your Time
Practice, practice, practice
Resist the urge to finish
Skip questions
Using the Process of Elimination
Figuring Out a Guessing Strategy
Guessing on the ISEE
Guessing on the SSAT
Part II: Ramping Up for the Verbal, Reading, and Essay Sections
Chapter 3: Defining Your Vocabulary Skills
Studying Vocabulary
Flipping through flashcards
Memorizing mnemonic devices
Interpreting words in context
Using repetition
Breaking Down Vocabulary Words
Digging up roots
Starting with prefixes
Ending with suffixes
Vocabulary Practice: Lower Level SSAT and Lower and Middle Level ISEE
Vocabulary Practice: Upper Level SSAT and ISEE
Chapter 4: Talking Up Verbal Reasoning
What Verbal Reasoning Looks Like
Making Sense of Analogies
Mapping out your strategy for analogies
Trying your hand at analogy practice questions
Getting the Scoop on Synonyms
Planning your synonym attack strategy
Checking out a few sample synonym questions
Filling in Sentence Completion Questions
Building a strategy for sentence completion
Working through a few sentence completion questions
Chapter 5: Practicing Verbal Reasoning
Tackling Guided Lower Level SSAT Analogy Questions
Practicing Lower Level SSAT Analogy Questions on Your Own
Answers to Lower Level SSAT Analogy Questions
Tackling Guided Upper Level SSAT Analogy Questions
Practicing Upper Level SSAT Analogy Questions on Your Own
Answers to Upper Level SSAT Analogy Questions
Tackling Guided Lower and Middle Level Synonym Questions
Practicing Lower and Middle Level Synonym Questions on Your Own
Answers to Lower and Middle Level Synonym Questions
Tackling Guided Upper Level Synonym Questions
Practicing Upper Level Synonym Questions on Your Own
Answers to Upper Level Synonym Questions
Tackling Guided Lower and Middle Level ISEE Sentence Completion Questions
Practicing Lower and Middle Level ISEE Sentence Completion Questions on Your Own
Answers to Lower and Middle Level ISEE Sentence Completion Questions
Tackling Guided Upper Level ISEE Sentence Completion Questions
Practicing Upper Level ISEE Sentence Completion Questions on Your Own
Answers to Upper Level ISEE Sentence Completion Questions
Chapter 6: Comprehending Reading Comprehension
Ramping Up on Reading Passages
Recognizing the types of reading passages
Reading passages on the test
Checking out a sample passage
Adopting Strategies for Answering Questions about Passages
Getting Familiar with Types of Reading Comprehension Questions
Global content questions
Specific content questions
Word-in-context questions
What-is-true questions
Elimination questions
Inference questions
Chapter 7: Practicing Reading Comprehension
Tackling Guided Lower and Middle Level Reading Comprehension Questions
Practicing Lower and Middle Level Reading Comprehension Questions on Your Own
Answers to Lower and Middle Level Reading Comprehension Questions
Tackling Guided Upper Level Reading Comprehension Questions
Practicing Upper Level Reading Comprehension Questions on Your Own
Answers to Upper Level Reading Comprehension Questions
Chapter 8: Writing a Winning Essay
Exploring Essay Writing and Your Exam
What do essay readers want to see?
How are essays graded?
What Will You Write About?
Exploring common topics
Figuring out how to approach a topic
Organizing Your Essay from Beginning to End
Starting with an effective introduction
Developing effective body paragraphs
Wrapping up with a well-crafted conclusion
Proofing Your Essay
Checking for common grammar problems
Watching out for sentence trouble
Chapter 9: Practicing Writing Essays
Upper Level Essay
Following the example of sample essays
Responding to upper level essay practice prompts
Lower Level and Middle Level Essay
Following the example of sample essays
Responding to lower and middle level essay practice prompts
Part III: Tackling the Math Sections
Chapter 10: Adding Up Arithmetic
Solving Basic Arithmetic Questions
Reviewing Arithmetic
Rules of zero
Order of operations
Number lines
Negative numbers
Fractions
Decimals
Percents
Factors and multiples
Exponents
Probability
Roots
Scientific notation
Chapter 11: Practicing Arithmetic
Attacking Guided Lower and Middle Level Arithmetic Questions
Practicing Lower and Middle Level Arithmetic Questions on Your Own
Answers to Lower and Middle Level Arithmetic Questions
Tackling Guided Upper Level Arithmetic Questions
Practicing Upper Level Arithmetic Questions on Your Own
Answers to Upper Level Arithmetic Questions
Chapter 12: Acing Algebra
Attacking Algebra Questions
Battling Basic Algebra
Solving equations
Knowing the rules of expressions
Solving inequalities
Determining absolute value
Working with Statistics, Percents, and Ratios
Exploring mean, median, mode, and range
Calculating percentage changes
Using ratios and proportions
Working with Rules, Patterns, Ordering, and Counting
Discovering the purpose of functions
Seeing the pattern in sequences
Arranging permutations and combinations
Matching up numbers in matrices
Chapter 13: Practicing Algebra
Practicing Guided Lower and Middle Level Algebra Questions
Attacking Lower and Middle Level Algebra Questions on Your Own
Answers to Lower and Middle Level Algebra Questions
Practicing Guided Upper Level Algebra Questions
Tackling Upper Level Algebra Questions on Your Own
Answers to Upper Level Algebra Questions
Chapter 14: Jamming with Geometry
Gearing Up for Geometry Questions
Reviewing Geometry Concepts
Lines, angles, and perimeter
Triangles
Rectangles, squares, and other polygons
Circles
Solid geometry
Coordinate geometry
Miscellaneous geometry
Chapter 15: Practicing Geometry
Practicing Guided Lower and Middle Level Geometry Questions
Attacking Lower and Middle Level Geometry Questions on Your Own
Answers to Lower and Middle Level Geometry Questions
Practicing Guided Upper Level Geometry Questions
Tackling Upper Level Geometry Questions on Your Own
Answers to Upper Level Geometry Questions
Chapter 16: Cracking Word Problems and Quantitative Comparisons
Checking Out Some Basic Word Problem Strategies
Calculating Arithmetic Word Problems
Working through Algebra Word Problems
Finding the average
Discovering the distance, rate, or time
Interpreting Graph and Chart Problems
x- and y-axis graphs
Tables
Answering Quantitative Comparison Word Problems
Part IV: SSAT Practice Exams
Chapter 17: SSAT Upper Level Practice Exam
Answer Sheet
Section 2: Quantitative, Part 1
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Verbal
Section 5: Quantitative, Part 2
Chapter 18: Answers to SSAT Upper Level Practice Exam
Section 1: Writing Sample
Section 2: Quantitative, Part 1
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Verbal
Section 5: Quantitative, Part 2
Answers at a Glance
Chapter 19: SSAT Lower Level Practice Exam 1
Answer Sheet
Section 2: Quantitative, Part 1
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Verbal
Section 5: Quantitative, Part 2
Chapter 20: Answers to SSAT Lower Level Practice Exam 1
Section 1: Writing Sample
Section 2: Quantitative, Part 1
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Verbal
Section 5: Quantitative, Part 2
Answers at a Glance
Chapter 21: SSAT Lower Level Practice Exam 2
Answer Sheet
Section 2: Quantitative, Part 1
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Verbal
Section 5: Quantitative, Part 2
Chapter 22: Answers to SSAT Lower Level Practice Exam 2
Section 1: Writing Sample
Section 2: Quantitative, Part 1
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Verbal
Section 5: Quantitative, Part 2
Answers at a Glance
Part V: ISEE Practice Exams
Chapter 23: ISEE Upper Level Practice Exam
Answer Sheet
Section 1: Verbal Reasoning
Section 2: Quantitative Reasoning
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Mathematics Achievement
Section 5: Essay
Chapter 24: Answers to ISEE Upper Level Practice Exam
Section 1: Verbal Reasoning
Section 2: Quantitative Reasoning
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Mathematics Achievement
Section 5: Essay
Answers at a Glance
Chapter 25: ISEE Middle Level Practice Exam
Answer Sheet
Section 1: Verbal Reasoning
Section 2: Quantitative Reasoning
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Mathematics Achievement
Section 5: Essay
Chapter 26: Answers to ISEE Middle Level Practice Exam
Section 1: Verbal Reasoning
Section 2: Quantitative Reasoning
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Mathematics Achievement
Section 5: Essay
Answers at a Glance
Chapter 27: ISEE Lower Level Practice Exam
Answer Sheet
Section 1: Verbal Reasoning
Section 2: Quantitative Reasoning
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Mathematics Achievement
Section 5: Essay
Chapter 28: Answers to ISEE Lower Level Practice Exam
Section 1: Verbal Reasoning
Section 2: Quantitative Reasoning
Section 3: Reading Comprehension
Section 4: Mathematics Achievement
Section 5: Writing Sample
Answers at a Glance
Part VI: The Part of Tens
Chapter 29: Ten Tips for Test Day
Get Organized
Pack a Snack
Catch Plenty of Zzz’s
Rise and Shine
Eat a Good Breakfast
Resist the Urge to Study
Review the Test Order
Get out the Door on Time
Arrive a Bit Early
Take a Deep Breath and Dive In
Chapter 30: Ten Ways to Calm Your Nerves
Check Your Breathing
Do Some Pacing
Use the Muscle Tension/Relaxation Technique
Sing a Song (To Yourself Anyway!)
Use Your Pencil as a Pointer
Slow Down
Skip a Question
Stretch Your Neck
Move Your Feet
Keep Everything in Perspective
Cheat Sheet

SSAT® & ISEE® For Dummies®

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About the Authors

Vince Kotchian is a private test-prep tutor, admissions consultant, and freelance writer. Vince has worked with hundreds of students and has authored a variety of test-prep material for several different companies. Originally from Connecticut, Vince attended Boston College and now lives in San Diego. In his free time, he enjoys running, paddleboarding, and many other outdoor activities.

Curt Simmons is a professional educator and freelance writer. Curt holds a master’s degree in education and has taught 6th through 12th grade students as well as adult learners. He’s the author of numerous books about computers and technology and several test-prep titles on a variety of topics, including many For Dummies titles. Curt has also developed iPhone applications and has written custom courseware for several U.S. companies. When Curt isn’t teaching or writing, he spends his time with his wife and two daughters and is perpetually remodeling his 100-year-old Victorian home. He lives in Texas, loves hanging out at his family cabin in Arkansas, and visits Hawaii as often as possible.

Dedication

Vince and Curt would like to dedicate this book to all the students who love learning and are constantly striving to do well in school. We’re depending on you for the future!

Authors’ Acknowledgments

Vince and Curt would like to thank Tracey Boggier for the green light for this project and for working so hard to bring this book to life. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Elizabeth Rea, our project editor, who gave us helpful guidance along the way and who kept everything moving in the right direction. Also, thanks to Jennette ElNaggar for the fine copyediting work and Anne Clark and Alan Gerstle for the technical review. Finally, thanks to Margot Hutchison, our literary agent, for bringing the book concept to us and for working out the details.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at http://dummies.custhelp.com. For other ­comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Vertical Websites

Project Editor: Elizabeth Rea

Acquisitions Editor: Tracy Boggier

Copy Editor: Jennette ElNaggar

Assistant Editor: David Lutton

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editors: Anne Sutherland Clarke, Alan Gerstle

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistant: Alexa Koschier

Cover Photos: © iStockphoto.com / Steve Shepard

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (www.the5thwave.com)

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Patrick Redmond

Layout and Graphics: Carl Byers, Carrie A. Cesavice, Joyce Haughey, Sennett Vaughan Johnson

Proofreaders: Lindsay Amones, Laura Bowman, Susan Moritz

Indexer: Potomac Indexing, LLC

Special Help: Caitlin Copple

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Kathleen Nebenhaus, Vice President and Executive Publisher

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services

Introduction

When you first heard you needed to take either the SSAT or ISEE in order to gain admission to a private school you want to attend, your first thought probably wasn’t very enthusiastic. On the other hand, you’re a student, so you know a thing or two about taking tests, and you may be thinking, “Just another day, another test — no big deal.”

But hang on to that thought. The SSAT and ISEE aren’t like exams you’re used to. The SSAT and ISEE are designed to test your achievement in school thus far — they’re not subject matter exams or simply exams where you can study a few pages of notes and then hit the test with your short-term knowledge. No, the SSAT and ISEE are exams that find out how much you know about reading, writing, and math. The content can span all kinds of subjects and questions, and the goal isn’t to see whether you know a block of material; the goal is to see what potential you have for success at a private school.

The good news is the SSAT and ISEE don’t test little details about little details. You won’t find any direct questions about science, history, music, art, and a whole host of potential topics. But don’t misunderstand; the SSAT and ISEE aren’t easy tests. They determine how well you read and write and how well you can solve math problems based on your grade level.

The worst thing about all of this is that you’re under stringent time limits on each test, so you need some specific skills and tactics to do well. That point brings us to why we wrote this book: to help you prepare to take the test so you can do as well as possible. After all, scoring well on the test isn’t just about what you know; it’s about what you know about taking a test like the SSAT and ISEE. The good news is you’ve come to the right place to prepare. With SSAT & ISEE For Dummies, you discover how to tackle the test, manage your time, answer questions quickly and accurately, and get the best score possible. That, after all, is the goal.

About This Book

The SSAT and ISEE are two different exams that basically do the same thing. They’re created by different companies that provide these standardized tests to private schools all over the United States. The exams help school officials and admissions officers determine your current ability, as compared to other students your age around the country. They then use this information to determine your likelihood of success at their school.

So what’s the difference between the SSAT and the ISEE? Which one should you take? Your school may require one test over the other, so you may not even have an option. Be sure to check out the admissions requirements at your school so you know for sure. If you can take either one, you’ll find that the two exams are very similar because they cover the same basic type of content: math, reading, language comprehension, and writing. You can find out more about the content on each exam in Chapter 1. So if you’re on the fence about which exam you should take, check out that chapter before you do anything else in this book.

The SSAT provides lower and upper level exams, and the ISEE provides lower, middle, and upper level exams. Which exam you take depends on what grade you’re in because they’re designed for different grade levels. (Check out Chapter 1 for more info about the different levels of the SSAT and ISEE.)

Because the SSAT and ISEE consist of the same basic content, covering both exams in one book makes sense. We’ve organized this book to focus on different areas of the exam, such as reading, language, writing, and math. Throughout this book, you can find plenty of techniques, tools, and tips to help you get the best score in each section. We also include a bunch of practice questions and full-length practice exams because we believe that perfect practice makes perfect performance.

Conventions Used in This Book

To help you navigate this book, we use the following conventions:

check.png We use italics to introduce new terms. We especially use this in math and language chapters.

check.png Boldface shows you the action part of a list of steps or is used to highlight a main point or idea.

check.png Monofont is used to indicate a web address. If a web address is long, it may wrap to the next line in your book, but we don’t include any extra dashes or anything if it breaks to a new line. In other words, just type the web address as you see it in the book, and it’ll take you where you need to go.

check.png Some words appear in this font. These words are vocabulary words we’ve chosen to shine a spotlight on to help you prep for the exam.

check.png From time to time, you’ll see sidebars, or blocks of text in shaded gray boxes, in various chapters. This extra info isn’t critical but usually consists of additional information or stories that can help things make more sense. You can skip these sidebars if you’re short on time, but do read them if you can.

Foolish Assumptions

We wrote this book for students like you, so we’ve assumed a few important things about you:

check.png You want to do well on the SSAT or ISEE, but you’re not excited about having to take a standardized test. We get that (we’ve taken a bunch of tests over the years and aren’t too excited about them either).

check.png You have lots of things you need to do each day, and studying for another test isn’t exactly how you want to spend your time. The good news for you is we didn’t fill this book with a bunch of stuff you don’t need to know. If it’s in here, it’s important. In other words, we’re not here to waste your time.

check.png You’ve taken English and math classes, and you have some writing experience, based on your grade level. With that thought in mind, our goal isn’t to teach you everything there is to know about English, math, and writing (otherwise, this book would be the size of a car), but our goal is to show you what you need to know for the test and help you practice your skills.

check.png You’re no dummy. In fact, we know you’re already a successful student and you know a lot. You do well, and you want to continue doing well — after all, that’s why you’re reading this book.

How This Book Is Organized

Because this book covers two different exams that each have different levels, we took great care in organizing this book so you can make the most of it. We’ve organized it in such a way that you can find what you need quickly and easily. We also want this book to help you prepare for the SSAT and ISEE without wasting a second of your time, so we’ve included only what’s really important for the exam. Here’s what you’ll find in this book.

Part I: Paving the Way to Private School: Introducing the SSAT and ISEE

This part gives you an overview of the SSAT and ISEE. You find out what’s on each exam, the different levels available, how to register for an exam, and some practical issues about getting ready for the test. You also discover some global test-taking skills, such as managing time limits and how to deal with questions you don’t know or aren’t sure about. This part gets you in on the ground floor and provides a solid foundation for the rest of your SSAT and ISEE study.

Part II: Ramping Up for the Verbal, Reading, and Essay Sections

This part explores what you need to know about the language parts of the exams. Here, you find a vocabulary primer, content chapters, and practice chapters for verbal reasoning, reading comprehension, and essay writing. The chapters explore content, how to answer questions, and how to improve your scores on these sections of the exams.

Part III: Tackling the Math Sections

If math isn’t your strong suit, this section is for you. In this part, you focus on the kinds of math content you’ll see on the exam, so you find content chapters and practice chapters for arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and word problems. We also help you know what kinds of math questions you’ll see on the exam level you’re taking, and what you can ignore, especially if you’re taking a lower or middle level exam.

Part IV: SSAT Practice Exams

This part contains an upper level practice exam and two middle level practice exams for the SSAT. You find full-length exams with the exact number of questions and section time limits you’ll face on the real test. Also, after each exam, we include a chapter that gives you the answers to the exam as well as an explanation for the correct answer.

Part V: ISEE Practice Exams

In this part, you find full-length practice exams for the upper, middle, and lower level ISEE. Each exam contains the exact number of questions and time limits you’ll face on each section of the ISEE. We also include a chapter after each exam that contains the correct answers and an explanation for each correct answer.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Every For Dummies book includes a Part of Tens. Here, you find two short chapters, each containing ten important tips about how to prepare for test day and how to calm those test jitters that affect so many of us.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout the book, we include icons in the margin that direct your attention to content you should really pay attention to. We don’t use icons just to make the page look cool, so if you see an icon, it’s there for a reason — pay attention to it!

tip.eps This icon points out information you should keep in mind. We often use this icon to note test-taking strategies, so be sure to pay attention when you see a paragraph accompanied by this icon.

warning_bomb.eps Every standardized test has potential pitfalls in both strategy and content. We use Warning icons to alert you to common mistakes students make when they solve problems, answer questions, or even manage time limits.

remember.eps Everything in the book is important, but some content is really important to remember. We add this icon next to content that you really need to remember for the test. Remember icons also accompany test-taking strategies you need to keep in mind for test day.

example_gre.eps When you see this icon, you know you’re going to practice the particular area of instruction covered in that section with a question like one you may see on the test. Each example question is followed by detailed explanations of how to most efficiently answer questions and avoid common pitfalls.

Where to Go from Here

Like every For Dummies book, you don’t have to read this book in order from front to back cover, and you don’t necessarily need to read the entire thing. Instead, you can skip around and spend more time on areas where you need additional work. For example, if you’re a math whiz but you’re not too great with vocabulary and answering reading comprehension questions, you can spend more time in Part II and less time in Part III. Also, because you’re taking only one exam and this book covers two different exams based on different exam levels, you don’t need to take every practice exam; however, the more practice you get, the better, so we recommend that you do. For example, if you’re taking the upper level SSAT, consider taking the upper level ISEE practice test, too, because the exams are similar, and the extra practice certainly won’t hurt.

Part I

Paving the Way to Private School: Introducing the SSAT and ISEE

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In this part . . .

Part I helps you get your feet on solid ground by exploring the SSAT and ISEE as well as some study skills and techniques. We give you an idea of what to expect, how to register for an exam, and how the exam is structured, and then you explore some foundational test-taking principles and tactics that apply to all sections of the exam.