ISEE Exam Review

If you’re thinking of enrolling your child in a selective private school, you’ll need to be familiar with the ISEE, which stands for Independent School Entrance Exam. This is a test designed by one of the same companies that construct college entrance exams, and your child’s score on the ISEE can play a huge part in determining whether or not he or she is accepted at an elite private school. Because competition for admittance to good private schools is fierce, and because these schools need an objective way of measuring a students knowledge and abilities and comparing them against others, they’ve turned to the ISEE in order to help them qualify and accept students capable of flourishing in tough academic environments.

The ISEE takes about three hours to complete, including breaks, and will usually be given at the school the child is hoping to attend. (If not, the school will have the pertinent information.)

For clarification purposes, there are actually three different ISEE exams, for different grade levels-Lower Level, which is for students hoping to be admitted to either grade 5 or 6; Middle Level, for students applying for admission to either grade 7 or 8, and Upper Level, which is for students hoping to be admitted to grades 9 through 12. The three different ISEE tests are quite similar in design, with the main difference being the difficulty level. We’ll be discussing the Upper Level ISEE, but most (but not all) of the information will apply across the board. One part of the test involves writing an essay-the student will have thirty minutes to demonstrate their writing and reasoning skills. On the verbal reasoning portion of the ISEE, they’ll have 20 minutes to answer 40 questions on synonyms and completing sentences properly. The quantitative reasoning portion will consist of 35 questions on math, geometry, and algebra problems and concepts; higher order thinking, and the ability to make quantitative comparisons. This section of the ISEE has a time limit of 35 minutes. Reading Comprehension will involve 40 questions in 40 minutes, and the student will demonstrate their ability to read and interpret passages from science, social studies, and the humanities. The last section is mathematical achievement, and it’s similar to the quantitative reasoning, but more concerned with actual problem solving abilities than concepts and theory. All questions on these sections are multiple choice. The ISEE is a very difficult test, and if your child does poorly on it they can not take it again for six months. It’s important to get an excellent score the first time. A good prep guide and study materials are highly recommended.

For additional information, we recommend you check out these free ISEE resources:
Test Information
Practice Questions

ISEE Test Questions


Last Updated: June 4, 2019