ISEE Lower Level Exam

The Independent School Entrance Exam Lower Level is taken by
students in grades 5 and 6 who are applying to admission into an independent
school. This exam is the admission test of choice for many independent schools
worldwide. It is developed and maintained by the Educational Records Bureau or
ERB for its member schools.

Who is Eligible?

If you or your student is planning on attending an independent school in the near future, chances are they will have to take this exam as part of the admission process. Not all independent schools use this exam, but many do. The admissions office or department for your school will know what requirements or prerequisites must be completed if any before you take this exam.

Registration fees are assessed and vary depending on how you register and when.

When and Where is it Taken?

Your school will also have information about how and where to schedule and take the ISEE Lower Level.

The ISEE can be taken on a number of dates throughout the year at individual school test sites, ISEE testing offices, and/or Prometric Test Centers.

The exam, depending on where and when it is taken, can be administered using paper and pencil or can be taken online. Be sure to check with your school to know how and when to schedule your exam.

If you should be in need of special accommodations for children with disabilities, please be sure to request this upon your application. Supporting documentation will be required.

What Should I Bring?

You will be sent a verification letter once your application to test has been approved. You will need to bring this with you to the testing site, as well as, at least one form of identification such as a school ID, library card, passport, report card, social security card, or birth certificate.

Your verification letter will include a check-in time. This is the time you will need to arrive by. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to test that day.

If you are taking a pencil and paper version of the exam, you are allowed to bring four #2 pencils and two pens (black or blue ink only). Study materials such as books, paper, calculators, protractors, and dictionaries are strictly prohibited. Cell phones and other electrical devices are not allowed as well.

What is Covered?

This exam is made up of five main sections. the first four are all multiple choice, while the fifth is an essay. This section is not scored but does require a response to a preselected writing prompt.

Below is a brief description of each section, as well as, the number of questions and time given for each.

Verbal Reasoning (34 questions/20 minutes)

This section includes vocabulary and sentence completion questions. You will be given a word and be asked to choose the best corresponding answer, or you will be given a sentence with a missing word or phrase. You will have to choose an answer that best completes the sentence.

Quantitative Reasoning (38 questions/35 minutes)

In this section, you will be word problems. These, unlike the questions found in the mathematics achievement section, will consist of no or very simple calculations.

Reading Comprehension (25 questions/25 minutes)

You will be given five age and length-appropriate passages to read. You will then have to answer multiple choice questions about those passages. The material will be contemporary and may cover a wide variety of topics including history, science, arts, and contemporary life that students at this grade level are interested in.

Mathematics Achievement (30 questions/30 minutes)

These questions will test your ability to identify mathematical problems and correctly find a solution for them. Most will involve one or more steps in your calculations.

Essay (1 essay/30 minutes)

You will be given a one or two-sentence contemporary writing prompt and be asked to respond it in the form of an informed essay. The topics will differ much like the reading passages in the Reading Comprehension section. This section is not scored but a copy is sent to the independent school selected on the registration information.

There will be a scheduled 5 to 10-minute break after the Quantitative Reasoning section and another after the Math Achievement section.

How it is Scored?

Scores are based on your raw score (the number of correctly answered questions). This score is then converted to a scaled score on a range from 760-940. This is based on the difficulty of the questions on that test version.  An unanswered item and wrong answer are equally counted.

This is considered to be an aptitude test, and as such, there is no minimum passing overall score. However, each independent school sets its own standards on what is deemed as acceptable or not. You will want to check with your school for information on how they use your scores.

Your test will be sent to the ISEE Operations Office to be scored after you have completed it. Once it has been scored, your Individual Student Report or ISR will be posted online on your families ISEE account. An email will also be sent to notify you that it is available.

The essay, along with your test results, is posted online to ERB member schools. There, your individual school will be able to access it.

It is important to remember that your individual independent school does not base your acceptance on your exam scores alone. Such things as your past school records, your application, and possibly an interview are all weighed as well.

How Can I Prepare for the ISEE Test?

We believe that different learning styles require different tools for success. We have compiled a list of the best study guides, flashcards, and practice tests that we’ve found on the market. Some of these guides have review videos, for you visual learners out there. Others have practice tests, which have been proven to increase student scores by a whole letter grade (in some cases more than that)!

Top Study Guides:

Best Flashcards:


Last Updated: November 9, 2023