The ISEE is an exam used to gain admission into private schools for grades 2-12. If you or your child is looking to take the ISEE and doesn’t know how to begin prepping, then you’ve come to the right place.
What Test Should I Be Taking?
There are multiple levels of the ISEE. The first and most important step is to make sure you or your child is prepping for the right exam and using the right resources based on their level.
What grade level should I (or my child) take?
- If currently in grades 1-3, take the primary exam for entrance into grades 2-4
- If currently in grades 4-5, take the lower level exam for entrance into grades 5-6
- If currently in grades 6-7, take the middle level exam for entrance into grades 7-8
- If currently in grades 8-11, take the upper level exam for entrance into grades 9-12
How Many Times Can One Take the ISEE Exam?
The ISEE divides one year into three seasons. The exam can only be taken once per season. Most students will take the exam in the fall season (which ends in November) and one more time in December or January.
Be aware of the schools you are applying to’s deadlines. Your calendar may be different, for example, if you are applying to a school mid-year or changing private schools.
How To Prepare for the ISEE
1. Take a Practice Exam
This step will help determine where you or your child is at. There is a free ISEE available from ERB (the company that administers the exam) and a link to the ISEE site can be found here.
Grading an ISEE exam is not like a typical exam. The practice test will only show a range of where you may score on the real test. Also, note your math score may be lower than you expected. This is due to the fact that the ISEE math tends to be a grade level above where you are at. This means you may have to prep for the math section more than the other sections.
2. Figure Out What You Need to Work On
For the Verbal Section: It’s all about vocabulary and sentence completion. Most of the time when students miss a question, it’s usually due to the content they didn’t know or memorize. Creating a vocab list can significantly improve one’s score. For studying sentence completion, it will help to get an ISEE specific prep book for that section since it’s unique to the ISEE exam.
For the Math Section: There are two sections – math achievement and quantitative reasoning. the latter requires fewer steps and is less tricky but there are certainly hard problems in both sections. You can prep both together using study materials and books. Make sure if you get an ISEE prep book, it is for the right grade level.
For the Reading Section: ISEE specific books will help with ISEE questions on reading comprehension.
Additionally, if you are studying for an upper level ISEE exam, it can be beneficial to use SAT/ACT books for practice. SAT/ACT questions will be more difficult and make the ISEE questions seem like a piece of cake. The only section you can’t use SAT/ACT books for is the verbal section.
For the Essay – This section is unscored. Some private schools will take it into consideration while others don’t. Look at whether your school looks at this to determine the amount of time you put into practicing the essay.
3. Plan the Prep
You can go down the route of private tutors (which we offer at Supertutor!), classes, or self-study. No matter what route you take, you will need to purchase test prep books.
Most of the books will be combo books. Many books prep you for the ISEE as well as the SSAT, a different private school admissions test. You will probably have to buy multiple books since no one single books are comprehensive enough to get through everything. You will also want to purchase books from different test prep brands since the ISEE does not make as many books and practice tests as Princeton Review or Kaplan.
4. Start Studying
Target your original diagnostic test. See what questions you were getting wrong and work to make sure you can answer every question by the end of your studying.
Keep Studying and Good Luck!