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About the ISEE

Q: What is the ISEE?

A: The ISEE is an admission test developed and administered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) and was developed for ERB member schools. It serves as an entrance exam by several independent and magnet schools (a magnet school is a public school with a specialized curriculum and courses) throughout the U.S. as well as abroad. The ISEE test provides a standard assessment of each applicant’s skills as well as ranking of abilities and achievements compared to other applicants. Click here to learn more about the ISEE Test.

Q: What is the importance of the ISEE Test?

A: The ISEE Test is used for admissions purposes for schools that are members of the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). This includes several independent and magnet schools (a magnet school is a public school with a specialized curriculum and courses) throughout the U.S. as well as abroad. The ISEE test provides a standard assessment of each applicant’s skills as well as ranking of abilities and achievements compared to other applicants. 

Preparing for the ISEE Test

Q: How can I help my child prepare for the ISEE?

A: Help your child become familiar with the content and the format of the ISEE Test through preparation. Practicing for the ISEE is essential to your child’s success, so be sure to allow for plenty of time to practice. Determining the best way to practice may be difficult. With TestPrep-Online’s comprehensive, grade-specific ISEE Practice Test, your child come to the test prepared to succeed.

What is on the ISEE?

Q: What do the different levels mean?

A: The ISEE is administered at five different 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

Q: What are the different sections of the ISEE and what kinds of questions are found in each section?

A: There are five different sections on the ISEE Test:

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

The verbal and quantitative reasoning sections assess the student’s reasoning abilities, while the reading comprehension and mathematics achievement sections assess the student’s ability to respond correctly to curriculum standards.

Sections 1-4 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) for which the student is applying for entry, along with the rest of the ISEE test scores. Therefore, the essay is a very important part of taking tests. To prepare well for writing, you can use resources such as Essay Tigers.

Q: How many questions are on the ISEE Test and how much time is given to complete the test?

A: The amount of questions and time allotted differs between the Lower Level ISEE and the Middle and Upper Levels:

Lower Level ISEE
Section Amount of Questions Allotted Time
Verbal Reasoning 34 questions 20 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 38 questions 35 minutes
Reading Comprehension 5 passages + 25 questions 25 minutes
Math (Mathematics Achievement) 30 questions 30 minutes
Essay 1 Essay Prompt 30 minutes
Total 127 questions + 1 essay 140 minutes (2 hours + 20 minutes)


Middle + Upper Levels ISEE
Section Amount of Questions Allotted Time
Verbal Reasoning 40 questions 20 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 37 questions 35 minutes
Reading Comprehension 6 passages + 36 questions 35 minutes
Math (Mathematics Achievement) 47 questions 40 minutes
Essay 1 Essay Prompt 30 minutes
Total 160 questions + 1 essay 160 minutes (2 hours + 40 minutes)

ISEE Test Scores

Q: How is the ISEE Test scored?

A: The ISEE provides four different scores, one for each section, except for the Essay. The majority of schools take into consideration each separate score as well as the average of the four scores: raw score, scaled score, percentile ranking, and stanine score. The raw score indicates the amount of questions answered correctly and then translates to the scaled score, which has a range of 760-940. The percentile ranking is used to compare students to others in the norm in the same grade and age group who have taken the test of the three years prior. Click here to read more about how ISEE scores are calculated.

Q: When will I receive my child’s scores?

A: Scores will be received either via the mail, 7-10 business days after the test is administered, or, for an additional fee, scores can be posted online the Monday following the ISEE Test. If the test is taken online, the scores will be posted once the test is scored. Click here to read more about receiving ISEE scores.

Q: What ISEE score does my child need in order to be admitted to an independent/magnet school?

A: The ISEE scores required may vary among different private schools, as some schools require higher scores than others. Some schools may not even have a minimum score requirement. Schools generally take into consideration several things when considering a student for admission, such as recommendations, application essays, etc.

Prepare for the ISEE with TestPrep-Online!

Start practicing for the ISEE with TestPrep-Online. We offer sample questions, explanations, and study guides. Plus, with our practice packs' online format and easy access, you can study anytime, anywhere.

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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