What is ISEE Test?

Independent School Entrance Examination ISEE Practice Test

The Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE) is a standardized test composed of a set of multiple-choice questions and a written test. It is used for entry to private elementary and secondary schools. You’ll have to take this test if you want to attend an elite private middle or high school.

Since ISEE helps assess students to be admitted to private middle and high schools, different test levels are given depending on what grade you are in your education. The Upper Level is intended for candidates in Grade 9 and above. The Middle Level is for students in grades 7 and 8 and the Lower Level for students in grades 5 and 6.

How long is the ISEE test? All three ISEE levels can be done online or in the conventional pencil/paper format. The entire exam lasts a little shorter than three hours, in which you will be working on five various sections. The writing sample is unscored. The remaining four portions of the test will be graded, and the performance sheet will display the scaled scores.

No matter what level of the exam you are taking, the ISEE will always measure the same sections, but there are some variations within the sections depending on the level of the examination. The exam also requires an unscored essay that is sent to the colleges that you apply for.

Take the ISEE Practice Test Online!

ISEE Test Structure and Format

The ISEE exam is composed of five different portions: ISEE Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and Essay. The three levels use the same scale of ranking. Students are given four scaled scores ranging from 760 to 940.

There are several significant differences between the Lower, Middle, and Upper Level exams. There are, however, some variations in the content; for example, vocabulary on the Middle Level test is less difficult than on the Upper Level test. The Middle and Upper Level assessments incorporate the same basic ISEE mathematical concepts (algebra, geometry, arithmetic, charts, and graphs). However, the Middle Level Test would naturally ask a little easier questions than the Upper Level Test. The Lower Level test is 20 minutes shorter than the others.

● ISEE Lower Level Test

SectionsNumber of ItemsDuration
Verbal Reasoning34 questions20 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning38 questions35 minutes
Reading Comprehension25 questions25 minutes
Mathematics Achievement30 questions30 minutes
Essay (ungraded)1 essay topic30 minutes

● ISEE Middle Level Test

SectionsNumber of ItemsDuration
Verbal Reasoning40 questions20 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning37 questions35 minutes
Reading Comprehension36 questions35 minutes
Mathematics Achievement47 questions40 minutes
Essay (ungraded)1 essay topic30 minutes

● ISEE Upper Level Test

SectionsNumber of ItemsDuration
Verbal Reasoning40 questions20 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning37 questions35 minutes
Reading Comprehension36 questions35 minutes
Mathematics Achievement47 questions40 minutes
Essay (ungraded)1 essay topic30 minutes

ISEE Scoring System

Generally, ISEE scores show what a student has progressively learned over a time period. The score report gives an overview of the student’s performance of each sub-test relative to that of students in the same grade throughout the last three years. The ISEE test results also details the performance of the student on each exam subdivided by subsection. All ratings are translated to grade-appropriate “stanine,” which is the percentile scale. Essays are unscored; however, schools will still obtain a copy of it.


Lower Scaled

Scores Range

Middle Scaled

Scores Range

Upper Scaled

Scores Range

Verbal Reasoning760-903782-926797-935
Quantitative Reasoning766-911791-927815-940
Reading Comprehension764-913799-940825-940
Mathematics Achievement769-899774-907806-940

Scale scores and percentile rankings don’t really count for admissions. The percentile rank is converted into stanines, which range from 1 to 9, with 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest. Around 50% of students would score 5 in any section — over 5 is above average and below 5 is below average. These stanine ratings are what the admissions committees are concerned about.

While raw to scaled score conversions and percentiles may differ slightly depending on when the ISEE was taken, percentile to stanine conversions are still the same. Below is the official breakdown:

Percentile RankStanine

ISEE Registration

To register for the ISEE test online, you must:

       1. Visit the ISEE website, www.iseetest.org.
       2. Set up an online account.
       3. Register for the ISEE.
       4. Select preferred ISEE test site school or Prometric Test Center in your area.

Students can sign up to take the ISEE one time during one or all of the three exam seasons. The ISEE test seasons are characterized as Fall (August – November), Winter (December – March), and Spring/Summer (April – July). Families don’t have to choose schools to obtain ISEE scores at the time of registering; they can add them at no extra cost after the test has been scored. The regular registration period for the ISEE is three weeks prior to the actual test date. The ISEE test registration fee varies by area and test day and can be paid through Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or through check.

● Late Registration

You can register at www.iseetest.org within one week after the official registration date is closed (up to two weeks prior to the ISEE test date). Late registration fees range from $145 (online) to $170 (by phone).

● Walk-in Registration

Walk-in enrolment is applicable at a limited amount of ISEE test sites on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be guaranteed given the limitations on testing materials and personnel. There is an extra $40 charge for this service. If you are an applicant for a walk-in application, you should contact the school on the testing site directly to see if you could be accommodated.

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ISEE Questions

What are acceptable ISEE scores?

What is perceived as a “strong” ISEE score varies on the schools you apply for. A stanine score of 5 or more is enough for many decent private schools to enter. Nonetheless, some of the most successful private schools usually like to see stanines of 7 or above.

Which one has more takers between SSAT and ISEE?

The quick and simple response is most definitely the SSAT from all the proof online. The 70,000 or so SSAT exam-takers a year would be more than enough to fill most of the places in most schools. Unless the number of boarding schools is more than 140,000 yearly, you can safely conclude that the SSAT is dominant.

How much does it cost to take the ISEE?

The ISEE test fee varies from:

       ● $120 to $195 for mail-in or online registration
       ● $145 to $220 for phone registration
       ● $200 for online testing at a Prometric Testing Center

Which is better for Phillips Exeter Academy: ISEE or SSAT?

As Phillips Exeter will consider either the ISEE or the SSAT scores, it is up to you to decide which one is suitable for you. Furthermore, there are various sites that can provide an overview of problems for both ISEE and SSAT, and then you can determine which one is better for you.

How many times are you allowed to take the ISEE?

Students can apply to take the ISEE up to three occasions in a 12-month admission period, once in one or more of the three test seasons.

How should I prepare for the ISEE upper-level test?

With thousands of students competing for a few hundred spots in U.S. private schools, it’s evident that ISEE means cut-throat rivalry. Passing the ISEE isn’t easy, however with the right ISEE exam preparation, you’ll reap the benefits of going to your school of choice! Preparing for the ISEE upper-level test requires effort and self-discipline. You can take the help of ISEE tutors or take a self-paced study by using accessible ISEE study guides and ISEE online practice tests:

       ● ISEE practice test upper level
       ● ISEE upper level practice test
       ● ISEE practice test upper level PDF
       ● ISEE upper level practice test PDF

Best ISEE Test Prep Online and Tips

The ISEE exam tests even the smartest of graduates. Questions are hard, competition is tough, and the exam also covers advanced material not yet learned at school. By reviewing in an effective yet comprehensive manner and taking advantage of the variety of available ISEE resources, you can find holes or deficiencies in your ISEE knowledge and work to fill them; you can choose to take free practice tests organized by concept for each portion of the ISEE. The duration of the exam can be quite frightening, so here are a few tips that will make the students’ minds more comfortable:

1. Before reading the answer choices, come up with your own answers. The traps of the test are not in the questions  but in the answers. Avoid falling into the test makers trap by thinking of your own answer before reading the choices provided. Once you have determined your answer, pick the answer option closest to the one you’ve come up with.

2. Reading helps hone your brain, broaden your knowledge, increase your people’s understanding, extend your ISEE vocabulary practice, and improve your thinking skills. Make sure you read high-quality ISEE test prep books regularly like best ISEE prep books. Consider exploring a few that can improve your reading.

3. As you read, search for the meaning of unfamiliar words. Learning words in context will help you to remember what these words mean when you see them again at the ISEE.

4. Make yourself familiar with the format of the test and how it is scored. Take some time to review the sample tests so that you know how and what questions you would expect in the test.

5. The set of questions and the length of each segment varies depending on your grade, although the essay is always 30 minutes long. Do research in your ISEE test preparation to know how much time you will get and know what to expect. Make sure you’ve got time to do each segment and plan accordingly. It means that if you get stuck on a question, guess, and move forward. Don’t spend a considerable amount of time on a single question.

6. There is no deduction for an incorrect answer, and given that the test is a multiple-choice, there is no need to leave anything unmarked. If you don’t know the answer, make smart assumptions whenever possible or use the elimination process. Keep an eye on the time. If you run out of time on a segment, make sure that you put answers, or casually fill in the answers to the remaining questions. After all, you have a 1 in 4 luck of choosing the right one!

7. Prepare yourself physically and mentally for the test day by:

       ● Taking free ISEE practice test online or enrolling yourself in an ISEE tutoring session.
       ● Taking a day off before the test.
       ● Getting a good night’s sleep.
       ● Eating a good breakfast.
       ● Wearing comfortable clothes.
       ● Wearing a watch to help keep you on track with time management.
       ● Bringing extra pencils.
       ● Leaving your cell phone at home to avoid the risk of invalidating your ISEE test score.