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Private School Admissions: What to Expect from the ISEE

Landon Funk
February 23, 2021

What is ISEE?

What is the ISEE? So, your child is applying to go to private school, and you have just learned that they are going to take the Independent School Entrance Examination, which is more colloquially referred to as “The ISEE” (pronounced like everyone’s favorite frozen drink). The test varies depending on what grade level your child will be going into, and, for the sake of this article, we will strictly be talking about the ISEE Lower Level test which is used for students going into grades 5 and 6.

Your student will probably take their ISEE at their potential new school. However, they can also take the test at any other ERB member schools, Prometric locations, or ERB’s New York City office. Registration for the test is available onsite, online, by mail, or by phone. To register or learn more about test sites, feel free to visit the ERB website.

What is the ISEE Lower Level?

As aforementioned, the Lower Level test is for students entering the fifth or sixth grade and wanting to go to a private school. The total duration of the test is two hours and twenty minutes long. This time limit will stay the same no matter the testing site.

What is tested on the exam?

Your student will be tested in:

  • Verbal Reasoning for 20 minutes with 34 questions

  • Quantitative Reasoning for 35 minutes with 38 questions

  • Reading Comprehension for 25 minutes with 25 questions

  • Mathematics Achievement for 30 minutes with 30 question

The remaining 30 minutes will be dedicated to an ungraded essay. This essay will be sent to the school along with their application.

How is the ISEE scored?

At the end of the test, a raw score is determined. A student’s raw score is simply the amount of questions they got right. Wrong answers receive no penalty, so it is imperative that you student answer every question even if they are just guessing. The raw score is then converted into a scaled score and percentile score.

Scaled Score

Your student’s Lower Level exam score will be somewhere between 760 and 940. The higher the score, the better your student’s chances are of getting into the school of their desire.

Percentile Score

The percentile score is given to schools so they can see how your student compares to their other students. On the score report that you will receive after the student takes the exam, you will see the student’s scaled and percentile scores as well as an analysis of how they compare to other students.

What do you do to prepare?

There are a lot of practice test and books on the internet and bookstores. However, we recommend booking a lessons with our specialized ISEE test prep tutors. Learn more about GRANITE® Test Prep by clicking this link! Or chat with us now with the button below! 

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