ISEE Examination

Everything That You Should Know About ISEE

The ISEE Examination is an admission exam for many private and charter school applicants in the U.S. Most private schools either administer the ISEE or the SSAT exam for screening their applicants (based on their scores in those exams). This article focuses on the key facets of the ISEE exam, along with the ways in which it is administered.

The Key Aspects of the ISEE Examination:

  1. Intent

    The main intent of the ISEE examination is to render an assessment mechanism for independent schools in the U.S, which they could apply to evaluate whether their applicants possess the necessary academic skills to perform well in a private-school environment or not.

  2. Test Design

    There are 3 levels in the ISEE examination, namely; Upper-level, Middle-level and Lower-level. They are each meant for the students who are aspiring for admissions into specific grades in private schools (as listed below):

    Grades 5 & 6 - Lower-level ISEE
    Grades 7 & 8 - Middle-level ISEE
    Grades 8-12 - Upper-level ISEE
  3. Test Components

    The ISEE examination is divided into 5 test components; namely, Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics Achievement, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Essay Writing. The question types that may appear in each test component are listed as follows:

    Verbal Reasoning - Synonyms and sentence completion questions.
    Quantitative Reasoning - Quantitative comparisons and problems.
    Reading Comprehension - One or more reading passages, followed by questions on reading evaluation, comprehension, analysis and inference.
    Mathematics Achievement - Grade-specific Mathematical aptitude questions.
    Essay - Essay topic(s) appropriate for the grade of the students.
  4. Test Format

    At every level, the ISEE examination is offered in one of these 2 formats - paper-based or computer-based. All characteristics of both these formats are exactly similar, except the mechanism in which the Essay test component is delivered. In the computer-based exam, the essay must be typed out. On the other hand, in the paper-based format of the exam; the essay must be hand-written.

  5. Test Duration

    In the Lower-level ISEE examination, the students are given 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the exam. On the other hand, in the Upper and Middle-level ISEE examinations, the students are given 2 hours and 40 minutes for completion. Within this stipulated time, each test component also has a fixed time limit. For more details on the time limits for each test component, you may refer to this document -

  6. Test Scores

    All the sections of the ISEE examination that consist of multiple-choice questions are scanned electronically. Thereafter, the number of correct answers is computed, the total of which is noted down as the raw ISEE score. This raw score is converted into a scaled score, using a proprietary ISEE methodology that is based on the weight-age and difficulty level of the sections of the test. Each scaled score is further represented in percentile and "stanine" ranking systems, which are based on the comparison of the scaled score of an applicant to those of a peer group of applicants. The "stanine" ranks are widely used by the selectors in private schools for interpreting the performance of students and thereafter, selecting them if they have achieved minimum-recommended ranks.

  7. Test Registration

    For the paper-based ISEE examination, the parents/students may choose from the following 3 methods of test registration; namely; email, phone and online registration. On the other hand, for the online ISEE exam, all parents/students must use the online registration method only. This exam can be taken in any one of these ISEE test centers; namely, ERB offices, Consortium or Individual Test Centers. A complete list of ISEE centers, along with available test dates, rules, fee requirements and other considerations is available in the ISEE student guide - While registering for the exam, the parents or students must authorize a list of schools to which they would like to send their ISEE score reports.

  8. Study Resources

    The official website of ISEE ( provides loads of free material, in the form of study manuals and other resources, for ISEE exam prep. It offers a group of study manuals called "What to expect in the ISEE test" for every category of the ISEE examination. Apart from these, it also offers a host of well-proven test-taking strategies and a free ISEE prep test, along with an answer guide.

Thus far, we have addressed all the chief aspects of the ISEE examination. We believe that this article has provided the parents (and students) with a complete picture of everything they need to know about this exam. Hence, we hope we have also helped them draw up a future course-map for ISEE exam application process and its preparation.

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