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About the ISEE Test

The ISEE is an admission test developed and administered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). It serves as an entrance exam for several independent schools, as well as magnet ones (public schools with specialized curriculums and courses). The use of the test is widespread, administered both throughout the U.S. and abroad.

ISEE provides a standard assessment of each applicant’s skills as well as ranking of abilities and achievements compared to other applicants. Preparing for this test places your child at a great advantage in comparison to other candidates for specific programs, especially since many schools place greater value on ISEE test scores than student grades.

If you are a teacher looking for the perfect practice experience for their students, click here!

The Five Sections of the ISEE

Below, you can find a brief overview of the five sections of ISEE.

ISEE Verbal Reasoning

This Verbal Reasoning section is designed to test a student’s vocabulary and reasoning skills. The section is divided into two parts. The first is synonyms: this section requires a knowledge of vocabulary to recognize connections between words, as well as reasoning ability to discern which word is closest in meaning, even if more than one option may seem accurate.

The second is sentence completion: this section contains a question type that requires the student to understand the functions of words. He or she is required to choose a word, a pair of words, or a phrase (depending on grade level) that best fits the context of the sentence provided in the question. Once again, the correct level of vocabulary and reasoning is necessary to do well on this question type.

Learn more about the ISEE Verbal Reasoning section.

ISEE Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section tests the student’s mathematical reasoning skills. The section is mostly made out of word problems, but also contains quantitative comparisons, depending on grade level.

This section differs from the second mathematical section on the test in that this one has to do with innate math ability, and not necessarily how much math the student has learned in the past. Most of the questions involve little to no calculations at all. The content of questions complies with the national mathematics standards.

Learn more about the ISEE Quantitative Reasoning section.

ISEE Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension section is comprised of 5-6 short passages, usually related to history, science, art, or contemporary life. Within a limited time frame, students are required to answer questions about these texts. These questions involve factors such as tone, vocabulary, and main and supporting ideas of the text.

Find out more about the ISEE Reading Comprehension section.

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ISEE Math Achievement

Unlike the first math section of the test, the Math Achievement section does involve calculations, and requires knowledge of math processes and terminology learned in the student’s past school years. Questions are based on the national mathematics standards, and require the student to determine the problem and figure out the solution. 

Read more about the ISEE Math Achievement section.

ISEE Essay

In the essay section students are given a randomly chosen writing prompt. In 30 minutes, students are required to write an essay based on this prompt.

Get more information on the ISEE Essay section.

ISEE Question Types

The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics sections are completely made up of multiple-choice questions. ISEE scores are reported in percentile ranks. The essay, however, is not graded. Rather, it is sent to the school (or schools) to which the student is applying for entry, along with the rest of the ISEE test scores.

Learn more about ISEE scores here, or have a look at the table below to see how each of the five ISEE sections are divided in each level.

ISEE Section Question Type(s) Total Amount of Questions
Lower Level Middle + Upper Level
ISEE Verbal Reasoning Synonym + Sentence Completion 34 questions 40 questions
ISEE Quantitative Reasoning Word Problems + Quantitative Comparisons 38 questions 37 questions
ISEE Reading Comprehension Passages + Relevant Questions 5 passages + 25 questions 6 passages + 36 questions
ISEE Math (Mathematics Achievement) Word Problems 30 questions 47 questions
ISEE Essay 1 Essay Prompt 1 essay 1 essay


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The ISEE Is Administered at Four Levels

Level Grades Total Amount of Questions
ISEE Primary 1-3 (entry to grade 2-4) 48-56 Questions
ISEE Lower Level 4-5 (entry to grades 5-6) 127 questions + essay
ISEE Middle Level 6-7 (entry to grades 7-8) 160 questions + essay
ISEE Upper Level 8-11 (entry to grades 9-12) 160 questions + essay

ISEE Online Test Prep

In order to be successful on the ISEE test, it is important to set aside time to prepare. TestPrep-Online offers level-specific, child-friendly ISEE practice test packs to help your child be prepared for test day. The ISEE practice test pack includes realistic practice tests and helpful tips, allowing your child to become familiar with the test structure.

Help your child prepare for the ISEE test with TestPrep-Online so that s/he can come to the test confident and ready to succeed.

Click here for free ISEE Sample Questions

The ISEE and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with TestPrep-Online or this website.

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