ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam)

The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is an admissions test accepted by over 1,200 independent schools around the world for entrance into grades 2 to 12.  The test assesses the skills of each applicant, ranking his or her reasoning and achievement skills among students in the same grade.

Schools use the ISEE as one measure among many – class rank, GPA, extracurricular activities, personal essay, and teacher recommendations – of a student’s readiness to do middle school or high school work. ISEE scores are compared with the scores of other applicants and accepted scores at an institution.  Scores can also be used as a basis for awarding scholarships and merit-based financial aid.

Test Format & Structure (Upper Level ISEE)

SectionTimeNumber of QuestionsContent Covered
Verbal Reasoning20 minutes40 multiple-choice questionsAbility to identify synonyms and complete sentences using vocabulary knowledge.
Quantitative Reasoning35 minutes37 multiple-choice questionsKnowledge of arithmetic, basic geometry, algebra, and mathematical reasoning.
Reading Comprehension35 minutes36 multiple-choice questionsAbility to understand main themes, to extract salient details, and to understand meaning in context. Questions are based on humanities, science, and social studies reading passages.
Mathematics Achievement40 minutes47 multiple-choice questionsKnowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, mathematical comprehension, and applications.
Essay30 minutes1 essay questionAbility to organize and express ideas.

Scoring
Scoring is sent to schools as both a scaled score and a percentile rank. Scaled scores for each section, not including the essay, are between 760 and 940. The percentile rank is based on applicants in the same grade who have taken the test within the last three years. A stanine score is an abbreviated version of the percentile rank and divides students into nine groups based on their percentile.

The essay is not factored into the student’s final score. However, a copy of the essay is forwarded to the schools with the Individual Student Report, which shows scaled scores, percentiles, and stanines. The ISEE does not penalize student for guessing, so students should make their best guess on questions, even if they’re not sure of the right answer.

Test Dates
The dates on which the ISEE is given vary by location.  Visit the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) website to register your student for the test. The ISEE may only be taken once within a six-month period, and it must be taken for admission to a school, not as a practice test.

Cost
When testing as part of a large group administration, the test fee is $105. Small group testing at an office is $175 and an individual administration at a Prometric testing center is $185. Additional fees apply for phone registration, late registration, and walk-in registration. To find a list of test dates and the related cost, visit the ERB website.

Accommodations
Students with documented learning differences or physical challenges may request special accommodations, though only certain test sites may be able to accommodate. Requests for accommodations must be approved prior to registering for a test date.

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