When applying to an independent or private school, parents often feel pressured to have their children do well in order to earn a coveted spot at a top elementary, middle or high school. The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is a standard entrance exam, which scores certain skills to determine if students will gain admittance into a private school of choice. To better understand ISEE testing modules, levels of testing and score interpretation, academic experts explain what you need to know about the ISEE to help foster student’s success.

Levels of The ISEE

Depending on the age of students, the ISEE consists of into the following four main grade levels:

  • Primary level- entrance into the 2nd-4th The primary level test follows a different format than the others and is administered via computer. This testing is also not common compared to the other exams.
  • Lower level- entering the 5th-6th The lower level contains fewer questions and takes 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete.
  • Middle level- entrance into the 7th-8th This test also allows students 2 hours and 20 minutes to finish.
  • Upper level- entering high school. Upper level exams allow 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete.

ISEE Test Content

Each test can be broken down into five categories. The subject matter is administered in the following order: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics, and an unscored essay. Each section consists of multiple-choice questions with four answer choices along with an unscored essay. During the exam, the proctor allows two short breaks period– one following the Quantitative Reasoning section and another following the Mathematics Achievement section.

How To Interpret ISEE Scores

The ISEE provides a score for each section, except the essay. This scoring is filled with statistical and technical terms like “raw score”, “scaled score”, “percentile rank” and “stanine”.  Test results are reported in percentile ranks, which means that unlike other common standardized tests, performance is measured against a norm of all students taking the test. For example, a student scoring a 75 is the equivalent of the 75th percentile of students for that age group.

The raw score represents the exact number of questions a student answered correctly. The scaled score comes from the raw score, but can be converted to a different numerical scale consisting of higher numbers. This provides a score that is on the same scale for all students, and takes into account small differences in various versions of the tests. The percentile rank compares students to each other and the norm of the average ISEE test taker at the same level. The stanine score is used to simplify scores on a 1-9 scale. It is derived by taking percentiles.

Keep in mind that students do not pass or fail the ISEE; in fact, there is no cutoff or recommended score by the test developers. The notion of doing “well” on the exam differs based on various schools. The test, after all, assesses each student’s academic foundation, child development, and ability, rather than determine their mastery on the subject matter.

When To Take The ISEE?

Students are permitted to take the ISEE once per testing cycle. There are 3 testing cycles: August to November (Fall), December to March (Winter), and April to July (Spring/Summer). Students may retake the test a total of 3 times in twelve months. Also, parents may review test scores online the week following the grading process.

Test Prep Methods That Can Boost ISEE Scores

It is unlikely that young students have taken tests like the ISEE, so it is important to prepare them for the experience. Ensuring the student is comfortable with the length and format of the test is a key element in preparing them. Working on pacing can be crucial to success. Furthermore, since incorrect answers are not penalized it is encouraged to make educated guesses.

Teaching students study habits and coping methods for handling anxiety can greatly help children prepare for the ISEE. Encouraging students while familiarizing with the test structure and duration of a test can go a long way in achieving success.

Strategies For ISEE Success

The ISEE test is designed to test cumulative skills, which means students cannot prepare academically. If a student feels challenged by standardized test taking, there are other redeeming aspects of the application process to success such as application essays, teacher recommendations and admissions interviews. Also keep in mind, a high ISEE scores could mean very little if the student or family is not a good match for a school. For more information on the ISEE, contact a professional tutoring center near you today.