ISEE Essay Prompts

Understanding the ISEE Essay

The ISEE, Independent School Entrance Examination, is an entrance test conducted by the ERB (Education Records Bureau). It is used by numerous independent and magnet schools across the USA. You can visit the official website of the ISEE test to gather more information pertaining to this test (

There are three levels of this test: Upper level, Middle level and Lower level; and five sections for each level of the test. One of these five sections is the essay section, which requires the students to provide responses for the given essay prompts. This article discusses in detail about the ISEE essay prompts and the section as a whole.

The Essay Section

In the ISEE tests for all the three levels, the students must make an outline and write an essay in order to demonstrate a sample of his or her writing skills to those schools to which the student is applying. The topic that is given is random and the time given to the students is 30 minutes. There is no scoring procedure for the essay. It is photocopied and then directly sent to the schools to which the student is applying.

The test can be given in both paper-based and computer-based formats. In case of a paper-based format, you need to write the responses to ISEE essay prompts by hand. However, in case of a computer-based format, you need to type the essay responses.

About the Essay

As mentioned earlier, the essay section is the last or the fifth section of the test. There are many ISEE essay prompts, out of which one will be assigned to you. One essay prompt is randomly selected for each test date.

The ISEE essay prompts generally include topics that are of interest to the students. These give you an opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills and through these, you can show how well you organize and express your thoughts and ideas. You are expected, within the 30 minutes duration of this section, to:

- organize your ideas and thoughts coherently,
- prepare an outline, and
- write your final draft.

List of ISEE Prompts

Here is a list of ISEE essay prompts that you may use to practice for this section:

  • Of the books you have read in the past year, which one made the biggest impression on you and why?
  • Your school requires you to perform forty hours of community service in order to graduate. Describe which type of community service you would choose and explain your choice.
  • Describe what you would consider a "really successful person." Explain why you consider this person and this person's qualities to be successful.
  • Who is someone to whom you look up? Explain why you feel this way.
  • Describe in detail where and how you would spend your perfect vacation.
  • What would you like to do to make the world a nicer place in which to live? Explain.
  • Who is your favorite relative? Why have you chosen this person?
  • If you were granted the power to change one thing about your community, what would you change and why?

Important Points to Consider

Here are some important points you need to consider regarding the ISEE essay prompts:

  • You need to write on the topic provided. Any essay on another topic is unacceptable.
  • How well you write is more important than the quantity of what you write.
  • In case of a paper-based test, write in the handwriting that will be legible for any reader.
  • You need to copy the ISEE essay prompt in the top section of the answer sheet.
  • You may write in a cursive handwriting or you may even print.

Hence, it can be concluded that the ISEE essay prompts must be practiced well in advance to get a fair idea of how you are supposed to write the essay. Remember that the essay should be well-planned out and should be written in a good legible handwriting. Also, you cannot use a pencil and have to use either blue or black ink while attempting this section of the test.

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