ISEE Test Breakdown

When a person commences a journey, he makes plans for his travel before he leaves his house. He obtains the required information so that he is comfortable and doesn’t face unforeseen obstacles. Similarly, when one has to appear for an exam, he should make all sorts of enquiries about the exam so that he can plan his journey of taking the exam and undertake it smoothly.

For this, understanding the test breakdown and the test content is primary. Let us see what benefits you can gain from understanding the test breakdown of an exam.

  • Your efforts get a direction at the outset and you avoid wasting time and energy.
  • You can make good use of the time available by preparing for specific testing items.
  • You are better informed and hence better prepared for the testing experience.
  • It can help you score better as you understand some finer points of the exam.
  • It guards against your missing out any important detail of the exam pattern.

ISEE Test Levels
The exam is conducted for admission purposes for grades five through twelve. There are three levels of the exam.
Lower Level: It is conducted for admission into grades five and six.
Middle Level: It is conducted for admission into grades seven and eight.
Upper Level: This level is for candidates trying to seek admission into grades nine through twelve.
Test Content
There are five sections in the exam classified under three parts.
Part 1: Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning: These sections aim at judging your ability to learn.

  • Verbal Reasoning: For all the levels of ISEE, this section contains 40 questions pertaining to synonyms and sentence completion. For the Lower level ISEE, this section is administered in 25 minutes and for the Middle and Upper levels it is administered in 20 minutes.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: This test contains 35 questions and is administered in 35 minutes for all the levels. The content covered under the three levels is as follows.

Lower Level: comprehension, interpretation/ application, higher order thinking
Middle Level: concept/understanding, applications/higher order thinking, quantitative comparison
Upper Level: arithmetic/algebra/geometry, concept/understanding, applications/higher order thinking, quantitative comparison
Part 2: Reading Comprehension and Mathematics Achievement: These sections are useful for measuring definite achievement levels, strong points and weak areas in the subjects.

  • Reading Comprehension: In the Lower level ISEE there are 36 questions and for the other two levels there are 40 questions in this section. This section is administered in 40 minutes for each level. For all the levels, the passages pertain to Humanities, Science and Social Studies.
  • Mathematical Achievement: In the Lower level ISEE there are 35 questions and for the other two levels there are 45 questions in this section. This section is administered in 40 minutes for each level. For the Lower and Middle levels, the questions are related with knowledge and skills, computation/comprehension and applications.  For the Upper level, the questions are related with arithmetic/algebra/geometry, knowledge and skills, comprehension and application.

Part 3: This section is meant for estimating your ability of effective writing.

  • Essay: There is an essay to be written within 30 minutes in each level of ISEE. A prompt will be given and the essay has to be in response to that. The essay is not scored.

Highlights of ISEE Test Breakdown

  • The main skills that you are tested for in ISEE are those that you should have developed as a result of regular education received in a school. There is no requirement of going through any extra study course for preparation for ISEE, unless you lack certain skills.
  • The questions in all the sections, except for the essay writing section, are multiple choice questions. Thisimplies that there is no need for practicing for subjective questions in mathematics. Also, you need to learn how to arrive at the correct answer from among the choices presented. This calls for practice.
  • The essay response is to be given in half an hour. Thus, you shall have to think of the main points, decide the layout of your essay and pen it down and revise it within a limited time period. If you do not gain enough practice for essay writing, there are little chances of your putting up a good piece of writing.
  • Since the essay is not scored, colleges shall have their own assessment methods for judging how well you write. The essay could be the deciding factor for admission consideration of two candidates with similar scores. Hence, this section could be more important than any other section. Give adequate importance to practice of essay.
  • In the verbal reasoning section, you shall have roughly one minute for answering two questions. You could be unable to complete the test if you do not practice before the exam.
  • In the quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension and mathematical achievement sections, you shall have one minute or lesser to answer each question. Time is thus crucial in these sections. For the reading comprehension section, you shall even require time to go through the passages and in the quantitative sections you will have to make calculations for arriving at the answer. 

The Individual Score Report of each candidate is sent to his parents and to the schools he is interested in. It contains the scaled score, percentile rank and stanine for each multiple-choice test section. The essay section is not scored. A copy of the essay is sent to the schools you apply to.
The scaled score falls within the range of 760 and 940. Percentile ranks range from 1 to 100 and indicate how a student has performed in comparison with other test takers. Stanine ranks also indicate where a student stands in comparative terms. These scores range from 1 to 9.
Besides, the score report also contains a section on Achievement Analysis. This explains how a student has performed in the different subsections of each section.
You can send the score report to up to 6 schools. The test answer sheets are scored by machines and are received by schools within 7-10 working days.
‘What to Expect on ISEE’ – Paid Publication
This is a book published by Educational Records Bureau, ERB, the non-profit organization responsible for conducting ISEE. It contains details about the exam pertaining to the directions to take the exam, the types of questions that shall appear in the exam, and the answer sheet used for filling in the answers.
It contains sample questions for the three levels of the test along with answer explanations. Going through these sample questions shall assist you in preparing for the actual testing experience. The book includes half-length practice tests for the Middle and Upper levels. These practice tests can be taken in a simulated environment for gaining practice for the exam.
The book shall cost you $15 and is the only book endorsed by ERB.

Preparation is the Key to Success
Taking any exam is not a one-day job; years of methodical education and months of dedicated study go behind it. You cannot hope to master all the skills required for scoring high in ISEE within a few days if you have not been trained through your education by qualified and sincere teachers. Nonetheless, with assistance and time in hand, you can definitely increase your chances of scoring higher in ISEE.
ISEE helps you reach out to new opportunities at early stages of education and you can fulfill your educational dreams if you are able to secure admission into a well reputed institution. Make the most of this chance by putting in sincere efforts for preparation.

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