Interpretation of the ISEE Scores

Breakdown of ISEE Scores

Understanding the scoring process of ISEE refers to the formation of an opinion about the performance of a student in the ISEE, based on the scores he/she secured in this test. The Independent school entrance Examination is an admission test, conducted by independent and magnet schools, in America for students seeking admission in grades 5th-12th. This test is conducted in three separate levels for admission to the lower, middle and upper grades, and consists of objective-type questions, all of which carry equal marks. The Essay section, which contains questions requiring long answers, is not scored by the official test evaluators, but by the school authorities to whom the students send their score report for admission evaluation.

Breakdown of ISEE Scores

Let us take a look at the different types of scores awarded to the  examinees after they appear for this test:

  • Raw Scores- These are the marks secured by a student in the ISEE. It is a simple sum of all the correct answers of this test.

  • Scaled Scores- These scores are obtained by projecting the raw scores of a test on a number scale ranging from 760-940.

  • Percentile Scores- These scores are calculated on the basis of a comparison of the performance of an examinee with other examinees for the same test over a period of 3 years.

  • Stanine Scores- The Stanine score represents the percentile range in which an examinee scored in the ISEE. The Stanine score is a number from 0-9, which is awarded to a student based on his/her percentile.

How to Interpret the test Scores

Understanding the scores helps in knowing the performance level of an examinee, and also his/her ranking in the test in comparison to his/her contemporaries. It is not enough to obtain high scores, but it is equally important to get a competitive score in order to secure admission in a high standard independent or magnet school of America. It should be borne in mind that there is no standardized rule that can be used to categorize the ISEE result as good, bad or mediocre. In fact, the analysis of the result depends on the standard of the evaluating authorities. For example, even if you have attained a 92 percentile, your score can be interpreted as medium in a situation where there is very high competition and many students have secured a percentile higher than you.

Given below are some basic guidelines which you could follow during interpretation of scores:

  • Generally, an overall percentile of 87 or higher, is viewed as a good percentile by schools of a high standard to grant admission to students. However, one should always try to be in the top 1-2 percentile ranks by securing a percentile above 98. Once achieved, this score will greatly help a student in the competition that he/she will be involved in for securing a seat in a high standard school.

  • The percentiles scored by students are normally seen to be higher than the public school percentiles.

  • Though not always, it is generally observed that it is tough for one to secure a percentile higher than 90 percent in all the sections of the test. Hence, one should not be disheartened if one scores 90 percentile in some subject and lesser than that in other subjects. The student still stands a chance of securing admission in a good school. However, one should always aim to secure top percentiles while preparing for this examination, whatever the general performance statistics may be.

  • The Achievement Analysis section at the bottom of the ISEE score report will explain the scores secured by a student. One can even take the help of a counsellor for accuracy in their understanding about scores.


The admission of a student in an independent or magnet school of United States of America is dependent to a major extent on the student's analysis of scores by the admission authorities of the school in which he/she seeks admission. Thus, the interpretation of this score as good, bad or mediocre is purely based on individual judgement.