About The Tests

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.

Section Time Number of Questions Content Covered
Verbal Reasoning 20 minutes 40 multiple-choice questions Ability to identify synonyms and complete sentences using vocabulary knowledge.
Quantitative Reasoning 35 minutes 37 multiple-choice questions Knowledge of arithmetic, basic geometry, algebra, and mathematical reasoning.
Reading Comprehension 35 minutes 36 multiple-choice questions Ability 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 Achievement 40 minutes 47 multiple-choice questions Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, mathematical comprehension, and applications.
Essay 30 minutes 1 essay question Ability to organize and express ideas.


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.


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.


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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