The ISEE (“Independent School Entrance Exam”) is a prime entrance exam for students seeking admission to prep schools. The ISEE measures students’ abilities in four areas, all on a 500 to 850 scale: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics Achievement. The “reasoning” aspects imply that success on these sections is less correlated with knowledge and more correlated with test taking skills.
Verbal reasoning is split into a section based on matching synonyms and a section based on sentence completion. Success on these sections depends on a strong vocabulary, so our tutors introduce and define tough words every session. We further assign words in spreadsheets for students to study at home.
Quantitative reasoning is split into word problems and quantitative comparisons. The latter ask students to compare quantities in one column versus quantities in another. This typically requires basic algebra, or a basic knowledge of comparing variables. Because the task is new to most students, our tutors spend time on both the knowledge and the process.
Reading comprehension tests students’ understanding and navigation of dense passages. The multiple choice questions that follow include many nuanced answers that seem strikingly similar to the correct one. Our instructors work on understanding the true intention of the questions and also scrutinize the tempting-but-wrong answers.
Mathematics achievement tests math that’s expected for the age group. It involves arithmetic, algebra, geometry, number properties, measurement, data analysis, probability, and some math that is not classified into the above categories. The multiple choice wrong answers typically include some trap answers for students who have made a wrong turn in the calculations. Our tutors introduce or reinforce correct math, and point out how to avoid the wrong answers.
Why take the ISEE?
The ISEE is given as a “Middle Level” test for students wishing to enter grades 6, 7, or 8, and as an “Upper Level” test for students wishing to enter grades 9, 10, 11, or 12. The difficulty curve is higher in all test sections for the Upper Level ISEE, but the format remains the same.
Students typically have one of two ISEE goals: get a “threshold score” or an “astounding score”. The threshold is for entering schools that are almost certain to admit you based on grades, athletics, and character, but need to know you are also an adequate standardized tests taker. The astounding score is for entering a highly competitive prep school where your great GPA or really impressive athletics does not guarantee admission.
“Threshold score” seekers typically enlist for just 10 – 12 hours of tutoring. “Astounding score” aspirants typically enlist for 35 – 45 tutoring hours. If a “Form Your Own” session seems preferable, you can tailor the number of class hours to suit your group and you can choose to embed practice test sessions into your schedule. We suggest holding these on Saturday or Sunday mornings.
Some students that will be applying to prep schools prefer the SSAT over the ISEE. Those students will often prep for both tests simultaneously. The skills overlap greatly, so prepping for both tests is a possibility.