ISEE Lower Level

All about the ISEE Lower Level

ISEE Lower Level refers to the ISEE examination that students wanting admission in the 5th and the 6th grades of American schools should take. Students who are in the 4th and 5th grades are eligible to take this test. This test has all the sections that are common to all the three levels of ISEE, namely, the Quantitative section, the Verbal Reasoning section, the Mathematics Achievement section and the Essay section. However, the standard of questions and the number of questions to be answered, differ from those of the other sections. As this section is meant for students of the 5th and 6th grades, the standard of questions is much lower than that of the higher levels of the ISEE. The number of questions of the ISEE Lower Level is lesser in comparison to those of the corresponding sections of the higher level.

A student can take the ISEE Lower Level examination only once a year.

Let us look at the different sections of the ISEE Lower Level examination:

  • Verbal Reasoning- This section consists of questions that need to be answered with grammatically and conceptually appropriate words in the Sentence Completion section, and with Synonyms in the other parts. This ISEE Lower Level test consists of 34 questions that need to be answered in 20 minutes.

  • Quantitative Reasoning - This section, tests basic Mathematics skills. It consists of 35 questions that have to be answered in 30 minutes. The standard of the questions of this section are compatible with those of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). The Lower Level Mathematics consists of questions from a standardized 4th and 5th standard syllabus. For example, order of operations of mathematical signs (addition, multiplication, subtraction and division), Conversions, and Basic Algebra and Geometry.

  • Reading Comprehension - The Reading Comprehension section consists of 25 questions that have to be answered in 25 minutes in the ISEE Lower Level. This section consists of 5 passages that have to be answered with alternatives from 5 answer choices provided at the end of each passage.

  • Mathematics Achievement- This section consists of 30 questions that need to be answered in 30 minutes. Similar to the Quantitative Reasoning section, this section consists of questions from basic Mathematics, but the topics of this section are different from those covered in the Quantitative Reasoning section.

  • Essay- The student has to write a sample essay on a topic that is allotted at random in this section of the test. This essay is not scored by the ISEE evaluators, but by the schools in which the student wants to take admission.

Tips to Answer the ISEE Lower Level Questions

This section consists of strategies for coping with the questions of the different ISEE Lower Level sections:

Verbal Reasoning Section:

Synonyms- The answer alternatives of this section are listed out alphabetically. To answer a question fast, one can think of a synonym of the question in the alphabetical order and look it up for its presence in the list.

Sentence Completion- One of the best ways to tackle this section of the ISEE Lower Level is to first guess the overall meaning of the sentence and then try to fill it in with the given answer alternatives. Special attention should be paid to words that express relationships in sentences, such as though, even, if, because, etc. as these will help you in deducing the intended meaning of the sentence with the blank better, before completing it with one of the given answer choices.

Quantitative Reasoning

This section of ISEE Lower Level involves very less mathematical calculations, though the questions of this section are based on Mathematical reasoning. This section requires one to find out exactly the intent of the question asked, elimination of irrelevant information, working with the relevant information to find out if the question requires mathematical estimation or actual calculations, and actually working with the problem to arrive at the correct solution.

Reading Comprehension

In this section of the ISEE Lower Level, the student should be trained in identifying the main idea of a given passage and its supporting facts. The line numbers, given with the passage, can be used for referring to sections of the passage, as and when required.

Mathematics Achievements

The same approach as in the Quantitative Reasoning section can be used to answer this section of the ISEE Lower Level. The answers are all listed in logical order and one can keep this fact in mind while answering questions of this section.

Essay Section

Writing a good essay requires one to first read the topic carefully, plan out its contents, mentally organize them into logical and sequential units and then finally write the essay.


The ISEE Lower Level examination is meant for students of lower grades, but its content areas are quite tough. Hence, a student should be first trained for taking this test by his teachers and parents to perform well in it.

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