On episode #150 Jessica tells us her amazing …
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ISEE Instructor Terri of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to express your unique voice when approaching writing ISEE essay.
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SSAT and ISEE Tutor Terri K. of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you five power strategies and one bonus tip for the SSAT and ISEE Synonym section.
1. When you know the stem word, cover the choices. Think of the word phrase or definition closest in meaning to the stem word. Then look for that word among the answer choices.
2. If you don’t know the stem word, put it in context.
3. If the stem word is positive then the answer choice must be positive. If the stem word is negative then the answer choice must be negative.
4. Use prefixes and suffixes to provide clues to figure out the meaning of words.
5. Use all the power strategies to help you eliminate. Cross out answers that are farthest from the meaning of the stem word. On the ISEE always guess. On the SSAT guess after eliminating at least two answer choices.
BONUS TIP: The best way to excel on the SSAT and ISEE synonyms is to READ and look up unfamiliar words right away to increase vocabulary knowledge.
Full Word-for-Word Transcription
Power Strategy #5: Eliminate. Use all of the power strategies to help you
eliminate. Cross out answers that are farthest from the meaning of the stem
word. This is a real timesaver and will keep you on track. Remember on the
ISEE, always guess. There’s no penalty for guessing so you can even take a
wild guess if you don’t know the answer. On the SSAT, guess after
eliminating at least 2 answer choices.
Here’s a bonus tip for you: Of course, the best way to excel on the SSAT
and ISEE with synonyms is to read all kinds of material, whether it be
literature, magazines, editorials, newspapers. Look up unfamiliar words
right away and add them to your growing vocabulary. You never know, you
might see one of those words on the ISEE or SSAT synonym portion. I hope
these power strategies will help you to get your best score on the synonym
section of the ISEE and the SSAT. Power-up and good luck.
Are you preparing for the SSAT or ISEE? Which of Terri’s power strategies did you find most helpful?
Post your tips/comments below.
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Terri K. ISEE/SSAT Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you a four step strategy for mastering the ISEE and SSAT Reading Comprehension section.
1. Skim the questions first to focus on info you will need.
2. Read the passages quickly to get the big picture.
3. Read the questions and answer choices.
4. Answer every reading comprehension question on the ISEE, even if you have to guess. (on the SSAT-guess if you can eliminate one or two answer choices)
Step number three: Read the questions and answer choices. Do not spend more
time on the passages than the questions. Spend about a minute per passage
and a minute to a minute and a half per question. Focus on answering the
questions, not studying or learning the text. Do not keep rereading
portions that you don’t understand.
If you don’t know the answer, go back to the passage. All the answers to
reading questions can be found in or inferred from the passages. Use line
references to help you locate information. All word-in-context questions
send you back to line reference or a paragraph indicator. Cross out all the
answers that you can eliminate. The answer choice must be both true and
must be the best answer to that particular question. Number four: Answer
every question on the ISEE, even if you have to guess. On the SSAT, guess
if you can eliminate one or two answer choices. Knowing what to expect on
the ISEE and the SSAT is half the battle to gain confidence and get your
best score possible.
One last tip: Familiarize yourself with the kind of questions that you’ll
find on either test, and it will make it much easier to handle the
questions. Is it a main idea question? Is it a supporting idea or detail
question? Is it an inference question? Is it a word context question? Does
it have to do with tone or figurative language or maybe organization and
logic? Knowing these different types of questions will help you to select
the best answer. Well, I hope this information and tips will help you to
get your best score possible. Good luck.
Are you preparing for the SSAT or ISEE? Which of Terri’s tips did you find most helpful?
By Terri K., ISEE Test Prep Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC
The ISEE has a Verbal Reasoning section that contains 20 sentence completions. These questions are designed to test a student’s vocabulary and reasoning ability. Each sentence completion item consists of a sentence with one missing word or pair of words followed by four potential answer choices. The student is the “detective” who must decipher the clues and select the correct word or pair of words that most appropriately completes the context of the sentence (keeping the sentence clear, logical, and consistent in style and tone). Sentence completion questions are arranged in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest. (Tip: Sentence completion questions come after synonym questions in the ISEE Verbal Reasoning section, but you can choose to do these questions first if you find them easier to answer).
Here are some tried and true tips and elimination strategies that will help you to more quickly attack and master the 20 sentence completions, since you only have approximately 30 seconds for each question:
1) A Strong Vocabulary: First and foremost, a strong vocabulary is an essential skill for the ISEE sentence completions. The best way to prepare and to strengthen vocabulary is to read all types of material as part of your daily routine. Take the time to look up unfamiliar words that you encounter and to make flashcards. Making connections with words helps to remember them (include definition, sentence, root, history, and even a picture, synonym or trigger word as a memory aide).
2) Look for Familiar Word Parts (Roots, Prefixes): Knowing roots of words is a great aid in figuring out correct answers. Again, looking up words in the dictionary and adding roots to your flashcards will make a huge difference. For example: the root MOR (or MORT or MORS) means death in Latin. Now, even if you do not know the definition, you can more confidently guess the meaning of words such as mortuary (dead bodies are kept in a mortuary), mortician (prepares dead bodies for a funeral), immortal (cannot die). Other common roots are sub (under as in subterranean or submarine), extra (beyond – as in extraterrestrial), terra (Earth – as in terrain), geo (earth, ground as in geology), mar (sea as in maritime), anima (spirit as in animated), mal (bad as in malevolent).
3) First Step – Read the sentence to get overall meaning; cover up answer choices until you find the clue(s) in the sentence: Mentally fill in the blank(s) with your own answer that makes sense. Then, find the answer choice that is closest in meaning to your own answer. You might be surprised to find the exact word that you had in mind. Select that as your answer. If the word you thought of is not a choice, look for a synonym of that word. Eliminate any that are definitely wrong; it is often easier to eliminate wrong answer choices than to pick the right choice. If you still have choices left, guess among the remaining possibilities. Sometimes it is enough to know that the blank requires a word that means something good (positive) or something bad (negative). Note: To assist you in finding the right answer among the answer choices, one-word answers are listed alphabetically and two-word answers are listed alphabetically by the first word.
Always ——-, the journalist actively questioned the relevant viewpoints on both sides of the issue.
When reading this sentence, you might recognize that the journalist is fair and unbiased. “Impartial” (choice C) is a synonym for fair.
4) Signal Words: There is almost always a word that obviously points to the correct answer. These signal words are clues that can aid you in figuring out what the sentence actually means.
– Support Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate that the blank continues a thought developed elsewhere in the sentence (examples: and, moreover, in addition, furthermore). A synonym or near-synonym should provide the correct answer. Example:
Mr. Jones is an intelligent and ——– teacher: his knowledge is matched only by his concern for his students.
(choice A) caring is the answer, a synonym for concern.
– Contrast Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate a contrast between one idea and another (examples: but, although, however, even though, despite)
Although much of the worst pollution has been ——- in the United States, traces of many toxic chemicals still ——-.
(A) discussed . . . escape
(B) eliminated . . . persist
(C) exaggerated . . . remain
(D) foreseen . . . arise
(choice B) is the correct answer. “Although” is the clue that indicates a contrast and signals you to look for words with opposite or different meanings (eliminated, persist).
– Cause and Effect Signals – look for words/phrases that show that one thing causes another (examples: because, since, for, therefore, as a result, due to, though).
Because Martha was naturally ——-, she would see the bright side of any situation, but Jack had a ——- personality and always waited for something bad to happen.
(choice C) is the correct answer. “Because” is the clue that indicates cause and effect. Note: The word “but” indicates a contrast between Martha and Jack’s personalities.
5) Take One Blank At A Time: Double-blank sentences can seem daunting, but they are actually easier because they supply more clues. After you read through the entire sentence for meaning, insert the first word of each answer pair in the sentence’s first blank. Does it make sense? If not, you can eliminate the entire pair. Next, check out the second word of each of the remaining answer pairs. Both words must make sense when used together.
The skydiver was ——- to survive after his parachute operated ——-.
(choice D) is the correct answer. It is the only choice where both words make sense.
6) Eliminating/Guessing: Even if you can’t eliminate any choices, you should guess. There is no guessing penalty on the ISEE. Never leave a question blank. Of course, eliminate before you guess using the strategies that you have learned. On sentence completions, you are looking for the best answer, so use the clues that must be there, in order for the question to have one answer that is better than the others. If you only have a minute left and you are not yet done, fill in all remaining sentence completions.
Summary – 6-step strategic plan to answer sentence completion questions:
– Read the sentence to get the overall meaning.
– Look for clue words that show how sentence parts are related.
– Use the clue words to anticipate the answer based on the relationship indicated.
– Read the answer choices and select the best one.
– Check your answer by reading the sentence with your answer choice in place.
– If you still cannot determine the best answer, eliminate answer choices that clearly do not make sense. Then guess from among the remaining answer choices.
Which level of the ISEE are you getting ready for? Did you find these tips helpful?
Terri graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Connecticut, with a dual degree in Education and English. She has 15 years of teaching and tutoring experience as a licensed teacher (Grades 5-12). Terri works with students from elementary school through college, and serves as an incredible resource when it comes to preparing for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, MCAS). em>
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished, LLC uses his online whiteboard to show you which specific level SSAT or ISEE test you need to take.
If your student is currently in 5th, 6th, or 7th grade he or she will take the SSAT Lower Level Test.
SSAT Elementary Level is for students currently in 3rd or 4th grade, the SSAT Middle Level Test is for students currently in 5th, 6th, or 7th grade, the SSAT Upper Level is for students currently in 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade. The ISEE Lower Level test is for students currently in 4th or 5th grade. The ISEE Middle Level test is for student currently in 6th or 7th grade. The ISEE Upper Level test is for students currently in 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade.
Which level SSAT and ISEE test will your student take? Do you have any questions about the different SSAT and ISEE levels?
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished teaches tricks and strategies for mastering the synonym portion of the ISEE test.
First, figure out the definition of the word before looking at the distracting answer choices. Dissect the word and figure out the roots of the word. If you’re not sure about the roots of the word, then use a positive, negative, neutral strategy to find a matching charge of the word.
Finally, go to the answer choices, and eliminate the three wrong choices.
Hi everyone, Alexis Avila, founder of Prepped and Polished LLC, here in
Boston, Massachusetts. Now one of the trickiest sections on the
independent school entrance examination, the ISEE test, especially for non-
native English speakers, is the synonym sections, but with a bit of help
learning tricks and strategies, you can easily make the ISEE synonym section
your most improved section.
Now the first thing that you want to do, is you want to come up with the
definition of the word before you look at the distracting answer choices.
So it’s okay if you don’t know the exact dictionary definition of each
synonym, as long as you can get the general essence of the word you’ll be
in great shape. So you do that by looking at the word’s roots. So in the
word excavate, there are two roots in this word, ex means exit, and cav,
root of cav means hull. Now if you don’t know the roots of a word, you can
still get the question right, try this approach. You might know that
excavate is not a positive word, like happy, it’s not negative word like
terror, it’s actually a neutral charge word, so if you know that, put a
neutral, a plus and minus, in parenthesis right next to the word, and when
you go to your answer choices, you’re going to eliminate any word that is
not a neutral word.
Okay, so now that you came up with some roots of the word, and you figured
out that excavate is a neutral charge word, let’s eliminate some choices.
Now we can eliminate in fact choice A, which is a negative word, and we can
eliminate C, pardon, which is a positively charged word, leaving us with
display and uncover. We’re going to go with choice D because uncover
closely mirrors the word excavate. So remember, if you take apart the
synonym and look for the roots and the charge of the word before you look
at the answer choices, then you’ll be in prime position to swiftly narrow
in on the correct answer. I wish you good luck and I’ll talk to you soon.
Did you find these ISEE Synonym tips helpful? What is your strongest/weakest section on the ISEE test?
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished talks about the differences between the ISEE test and the SSAT test.
1. The ISEE has sentence completion questions, while the SSAT has analogies.
2. The first ISEE math section (middle and upper level only) has quantitative comparison questions.
3. The ISEE has four answer choices and no guessing penalty, while the SSAT has five answer choices and a ¼ point deduction for wrong answers.
ISEE vs. SSAT expanded
Hi everyone, Alexis here, Prepped and Polished. Now, if you’re applying to
boarding or private school, you’re going to have to take the SSAT, ISEE
test or both. Now, what are the differences between the two tests?
The ISEE test has sentence completion questions. The SSAT test has
analogies. The ISEE test first math section has quantitative comparison
math questions, middle and upper level ISEE test only. The ISEE test has no
guessing penalty and four answer choices.
The SSAT test has a guessing penalty – one quarter point deduction for
questions answered incorrectly and five answer choices to choose from.
Now overall, the ISEE test is a little easier, more straightforward than
the SSAT test. After all, there’s no guessing penalty. However, the second
math section of the ISEE test has 45 questions. You have 40 minutes to do
them. That’s one minute per question – less than one minute per question
and that throws kids off, so be careful with the pacing there. I recommend
the ISEE test for students who aren’t good test takers because there’s no
However, lately, I find that the SSAT test is a more coachable test because
analogy questions are easy to master. Now the ISEE lower level test is for
students currently in fourth and fifth grade. The ISEE middle level test is
for students currently in sixth and seventh. The ISEE upper level test is
for students in eighth through eleventh grade.
The SSAT lower level test is for fifth through seventh graders. The SSAT
upper level test is for eighth through eleventh graders. Now overall, find
a private tutor who will teach you strategies and pacing for all components
of the test.
If you walk into the test knowing exactly what to expect, you’ll be that
much more confident, no matter what test you choose. Now I’m attaching a
link to this that elaborates on these tips.
Good luck to you, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Are you preparing for the ISEE or the SSAT? Do you have other questions about these tests?
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished discusses three ISEE insider tips.
Tip 1. Don’t spend too much time on the synonyms.
Tip 2. Be careful with pacing during the Math Achievement section.
Tip 3. Relax and come prepared.
What ISEE tips have you found useful? Have ISEE prep questions…
Post your questions/comments below.