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About ISEE Verbal Reasoning

There are two different types of questions on the ISEE Verbal Reasoning section: Synonyms and Sentence Completion. Both types of questions assess reasoning skills and vocabulary knowledge. The ISEE vocabulary selected for each test is grade appropriate. It comes from a wide variety of sources like standard word lists, academic subjects, literature, current events, and general knowledge. While there is no single published vocabulary list, the test aims to comprehensively evaluate a student's vocabulary knowledge from many areas. 

ISEE Synonym Questions

Synonym questions on the ISEE test the student's vocabulary knowledge directly. Each question presents a word in capital letters, followed by four answer choices. The student must select the word that most closely matches the meaning of the given word. These questions do not provide any sentence context, making them particularly challenging as they rely solely on the student's vocabulary knowledge.

💡Preparation Tips💡

To excel in Synonym questions, students should build a strong vocabulary. Here are some suggestions on how to do that.

  • Read Regularly: Engage with a variety of texts such as novels, newspapers, and magazines. The more you read, the more words you'll be exposed to.
  • Use Vocabulary Lists: Create a list based on literature, history, current affairs, and science terms that students are likely to encounter. Study these lists regularly.
  • Flashcards: Use flashcards (physical or digital) to memorize new words. Write the word on one side and its definition, part of speech, and an example sentence on the other.
  • Context Clues: When encountering new words, try to determine their meanings from the context before looking them up.
  • Exercises: Regularly practice exercises that focus on identifying word affixes, synonyms, and antonyms. This will help you get used to the format of the questions. 

ISEE Synonym Sample Questions 

Middle Level ISEE Synonym Question:

Choose the correct synonym for the following word

A. praise
B. criticism
C. neglect
D. indifference


The correct answer is: A. Praise

Explanation: Adulation means excessive admiration or flattery.

Praise means expressing warm approval or admiration. While praise can be sincere and measured, it can also be excessive, making it a synonym for adulation when taken to extremes.

Why the others are not synonyms:

B. Criticism: This means expressing disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. Criticism is the opposite of adulation as it focuses on negative aspects rather than excessive admiration.

C. Neglect: This means failing to care for properly or giving insufficient attention. Neglect is not related to admiration at all and implies a lack of attention rather than an excess of it.

D. Indifference: This means lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. Indifference is the absence of any strong feeling, positive or negative, and is not related to excessive admiration or flattery.

Thus, praise is the correct synonym for adulation.


Try our free ISEE Middle Level Sample Test and check your results.

Upper Level ISEE Synonym Question:

Choose the correct synonym for the following word

A. explusion
B. fondness
C. persuasion
D. pretense


The correct answer is D. pretense.

To find the correct synonym for the word "AFFECTATION," we need to understand its meaning first.

An affectation is a behavior or way of speaking that someone adopts artificially to try to impress others or appear more sophisticated than they really are. It's like putting on an act or pretending to be someone you're not.

Now let's look at the answer choices one by one:

A. expulsion: This means being forced to leave or being kicked out of a place.

B. fondness: This means having a liking or affection for something.

C. persuasion: This refers to the act of convincing someone to do or believe something. While affectation could be used to try to persuade someone, the meanings are quite different.

D. pretense: This means an attempt to make something appear other than it is, or a false show or display. This closely matches the meaning of affectation, which is about putting on an artificial behavior or way of speaking to impress others.

So, the correct answer is D.

 Try our free ISEE Upper Level Sample Test and check your results

ISEE Sentence Completion Questions

Sentence Completion questions assess the student's ability to use context to determine the meaning of a word that best completes a sentence. These questions may involve one or two blank spaces, and the student must choose the word or phrase from four options that logically and stylistically complete the sentence.

💡Sentence Completion Exam Tips💡

Here are some tips for tackling ISEE Sentence Completion questions:

  • Understand the Context: Read the entire sentence to grasp its overall meaning before looking at the answer choices. Understanding the context helps in identifying the correct word or words that complete the sentence logically.
  • Look for Clues: Pay attention to keywords and phrases in the sentence that provide hints about the missing word(s). Words like "although," "because," "but," and "therefore" can signal the relationship between different parts of the sentence.
  • Identify the Tone: Determine whether the missing word should have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation. This can often be inferred from the context or other descriptive words in the sentence.
  • Use Process of Elimination: If you’re unsure, eliminate answer choices that clearly do not fit the context or tone of the sentence. Narrowing down your options increases your chances of selecting the correct answer.
  • Fill in the Blanks: Before looking at the answer choices, try to come up with a word or phrase that makes sense in the blank. Then, see if any of the answer choices match your prediction.
  • Watch for Synonyms and Antonyms: Recognize that sentence completion questions often test your understanding of synonyms and antonyms. If a sentence has a contrast clue, the correct answer might be an antonym. If there’s a similarity clue, look for a synonym.
  • Check for Consistency: Ensure that the chosen word(s) make the sentence grammatically correct. The right answer should fit seamlessly into the sentence without altering its structure.

ISEE Sentence Completion Sample Questions

Middle Level ISEE Sentence Completion Question:

Choose the single best word from the four answer choices to complete the sentence.

He considered himself so high above his peers that he rarely_________to speak to them anymore than was absolutely necessary.

A. deigned

B. refused

C. groveled

D. failed


The correct answer is: A. deigned

First, read the sentence carefully and think about the sentence:

  • The person in the sentence thinks he is better than everyone else (his peers).
  • Because he thinks he's so much better, he doesn't speak to them much.

Next, we need to find the word that fits this idea. Let's look at the choices one by one:

  • Deigned: This means doing something that one considers to be beneath one's dignity. This fits perfectly. If he rarely deigned to speak, it means he thought speaking to them was beneath him, so he didn't do it often.
  • Refused: This means to say no or to reject. This doesn't make sense because if he rarely refused, it means he often talked to them, which is the opposite of what the sentence says.
  • Groveled: This means to act in a way that shows too much respect for someone, often in a way that seems weak or desperate. This doesn't fit because groveling means acting in a humble way, and someone who thinks they are superior wouldn't grovel.
  • Failed: This means not to succeed in doing something. This means he usually talked to them, which again is the opposite of what the sentence says.

Upper Level ISEE Sentence Completion Question:

Choose the best pair of words from the four answer choices to complete the sentence.

The _________ of the ancient ruins provided _________ insight into the lost civilization.
A. restoration, misleading
B. preservation, minimal
C. excavation, invaluable
D. demolition, negligible


Correct Answer: C. excavation, invaluable

Here's why:

A. restoration, misleading: Restoration means to repair or renovate something to its original condition. Misleading means deceptive or giving a false impression. This option is incorrect because it does not make sense in the context of studying ancient ruins.

B. preservation, minimal: Preservation means to maintain or protect something from decay or damage. Minimal means very small or insignificant. This option is incorrect because the excavation of ancient ruins typically provides more than minimal insights into lost civilizations.

C. excavation, invaluable: Excavation means the process of digging and uncovering archaeological remains. Invaluable means extremely valuable or priceless. This option is correct because the excavation of ancient ruins can provide invaluable insights and knowledge about lost civilizations that would otherwise be unknown.

D. demolition, negligible: Demolition means the act of destroying or tearing down a building or structure. Negligible means so small or insignificant as to be negligible. This option is incorrect because demolishing ancient ruins would destroy the opportunity to study and learn from them, and the insights gained from properly excavating ruins are typically significant, not negligible.

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ISEE Verbal Reasoning Prep

Remember, succeeding in the Verbal Reasoning section requires both expanding your vocabulary and developing strategic reasoning skills. Consistent practice with a variety of resources is key. Prepare for the ISEE Verbal Reasoning section with TestPrep-Online! We offer a variety of ISEE practice test packages for Upper Level students and Middle Level students. The ISEE Practice Test Packs include realistic practice tests and helpful tips to help you become familiar with the test structure.

Click here for free ISEE Sample Questions


Learn more about the ISEE Lower Level Test

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