How to Answer Experimental Questions on SSAT and ISEE.

April 5, 2021

As a follow on to our post, What is the Experimental Section on the SAT, ACT, SSAT, and ISEE?, here we will get into the specifics of how to handle the experimental questions in the SSAT and ISEE.

Why Experimental Questions?

  • The experimental questions provide testing companies with statistical data that is used in the design of future versions of the tests. The primary purpose of an experimental section is to make future tests more reliable.
  • An important function of the experimental section is to guarantee fairness on the test across all demographic subgroups.
  • Performing honestly on an experimental section will improve future students’ experiences with the same test.

The SSAT Experimental Section

All levels of the SSAT test contain an experimental section. On the upper- and middle-level tests, the experimental section appears at the very end, in the form of 16 questions meant to be done in 15 minutes. The upper and middle SSAT experimental section is not scored, and will always contain six verbal, five reading, and five quantitative questions. For the lower-level SSAT, the experimental section is also last but may contain 15-17 questions, all to be done in 15 minutes. There will be mixed content here as well, and the section does not count toward reported scores.

What to do?

We recommend students try their best here, even though their performance will not be scored. At the very least, students should be told about the section and that it will not affect their score report. This way they can anticipate it, and won’t experience any unnecessary anxiety when they encounter it at the end of the SSAT.

SSAT Experimental Questions
Students with testing accommodations who take the paper test do not have to complete the experimental questions. Those who take the online SSAT do.
The last section of the test, the “6th Section”.
15 minutes in duration.
Sixteen questions (6 verbal, 5 reading, 5 quantitative).

The ISEE Experimental Section

On the ISEE, experimental questions are spread throughout the test and appear in each section. For this reason, they are largely unidentifiable. On the middle and upper-level tests, a total of 21 questions are experimental and are not scored. Five appear in the verbal section, five in the quantitative reasoning section, six in the reading comprehension, and five in the math achievement.

What to do?

Since there is no reliable way to discern which questions are scored, students should try their best on all questions they encounter on all sections, even though a small subset of each section will not count officially.

ISEE Experimental Questions
Included in all tests.
Questions are spread throughout all multiple choice sections.
21 total questions integrated into each section of the test (5 verbal, 5 quantitative reasoning, 6 reading comprehension, 5 math achievement)

We hope you found this information helpful. Please send your questions via the comment box below or feel free to contact us directly. For more resources on these standardized tests for independent day and boarding schools, visit preparing for the SSAT and ISEE.