All About ISEE

The ISEE exam (Independent School Entrance Exam) is an entrance test for the students who are seeking admissions into independent schools in the U.S. It is administered by an educational services organization called ERB. It provides standardized evaluation and scoring of the skills and academic knowledge of these candidates against their peers in the same category and therefore, helps the independent schools pick the students that suit their mission. This article provides a comprehensive guide to this exam and its chief aspects.

The 5 Important Aspects of the ISEE Exam:

  1. Test Types

    There are 3 categories in the ISEE exam, listed as follows:

    1. Lower-Level ISEE - This is meant for the students who are seeking admissions into Grades 5 and 6.
    2. Middle-level ISEE - This is meant for the students who are seeking admissions for Grades 7 and 8.
    3. Upper-level ISEE - This exam is a requirement for the students who are seeking admissions to Grades 8 - 12.
  2. Test Sections

    At every level, the ISEE exam comprises of the following components:

    • Verbal Reasoning: This exam section assesses the vocabulary skills of the candidates through synonyms and sentence completion questions.

    • Quantitative Reasoning: In this exam section, the quantitative skills of the students are tested through word problems and quantitative comparisons.

    • Reading Comprehension: This ISEE exam section measures the reading skills of the students, including their ability to analyze, interpret and evaluate the given passages.

    • Mathematics Achievement: Most schools give a lot of emphasis to the scores in the ISEE exam section, wherein the difficulty level of the problems will correspond to the grade of the test-takers. A broad classification of the types of questions that will appear in this section is listed as follows:

      • Math Concepts Tested at Upper and Middle Levels: Fractions, Percents, Decimals, Whole numbers, Geometric Measurements, Principles and Connections and Probability.
      • Math Concepts tested at Lower Levels: Arithmetic, Algebra and Basic Geometry.
    • Essay Writing: In this section, simple open-ended topics are provided as essay prompts. However, the essays are not evaluated. Instead, they are sent out to the preferred independent schools for their autonomous evaluation.

  3. Test Format

    The ISEE exam is offered in both paper-based (PBT) and computer-based (CBT) formats. The test sections, duration, question types etc. are exactly the same in both the formats. The only difference between the 2 formats is that the essay has to be typed in the CBT exam, while it needs to be handwritten in the PBT exam.

  4. Test Duration

    The total duration of the ISEE exam varies across the different levels, as follows: Lower-level - 2 hours and 20 minutes, Middle and Upper levels - 2 hours and 40 minutes. Moreover, there are time limits for the individual test sections in each level of the test, which are summarized as follows:

    • Lower-Level Exam: Verbal Reasoning is 20 minutes, Quantitative Reasoning is 35 minutes, Reading Comprehension is 25 minutes, Mathematics Achievement is 30 minutes and Essay section is 30 minutes in its duration.

    • Middle and Upper Level Exams: Verbal Reasoning is 20 minutes, Quantitative Reasoning is 35 minutes, Reading Comprehension is 35 minutes, Mathematics Achievement is 40 minutes and Essay section is 30 minutes long.

  5. Test Registration

    For the PBT ISEE exam, you may register by any one of these methods; namely, phone, email or online registration method. On the other hand, for the CBT exam, you may register via the online registration facility at

  6. Test Centers

    There are 3 types of ISEE exam centers, listed as follows:

    1. Group Testing Centers: These are also known as consortium testing centers, wherein a group of like-minded independent schools come together to form a combined testing program. The exam registration and rules are established and governed by the consortium.

    2. Individual Testing Centers: A few private schools have an agreement with the ERB to administer this exam in their own campuses. Some of these schools may allow any student to appear for this exam. Other schools may allow only students currently enrolled in, or applying to, their schools to appear for the exam at their campuses.

    3. Testing Offices: The students may also appear for the ISEE exam at certain ERB testing offices.

To view a complete list of the different types of ISEE test centers, you may visit this link -

We hope that this article has provided all the prospective candidates and their parents with the essential information regarding the ISEE exam. For more information on the scoring patterns, preparation information and other details about the ISEE exam, you may visit the official ISEE website -

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