The Independent School Entrance Examination is used for admission to private middle and high schools.
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The ISEE is often required for admission to private schools for grades 2-12. The ISEE students take depends on the grade level for which they are applying.
Appropriate Test Levels
Grades 2-4: Primary Level
Grades 5 and 6: Lower Level
Grades 7 and 8: Middle Level
Grades 9-12: Upper Level
ISEE Primary Level
The Primary 2 Exam is 53 minutes long and is for students entering second grade.
The Primary 3 Exam is 54 minutes long and is for students entering third grade.
The Primary 4 Exam is 60 minutes long and is for students entering fourth grade.
All tests include an untimed writing prompt.
ISEE Lower Level
The Lower Level Exam is required for students applying to enter fifth or sixth grade. It is 2 hours and 20 minutes in length.
ISEE Middle and Upper Level
The ISEE Middle Level Exam is required for students applying to enter seventh or eighth grade.
The ISEE Upper Level Exam is required for students applying to enter ninth through 12th grade, though the PSAT, ACT, and SAT can often be used for grades 11 and 12.
The Middle Level and Upper Level exams are both 2 hours and 40 minutes in length.
Primary Level (candidates for grade 2-4)
(depending on grade level) plus untimed writing sample
Lower Level (candidates for grade 5 and 6)
Middle/Upper Level (candidates for grades 7 and 12)
Unscored Essay (sent to all schools)
The ISEE is available to take on paper or on the computer. An on-demand, at-home test is now available for students taking the lower, middle, or upper level tests.
Test Dates and Fees
The ISEE has three testing seasons. Students can take the test once each season and up to three times in a 12-month period.
Fall Season - August through November
Winter Season - December through March
Spring/Summer Season - April through July
The test is offered numerous times each month at participating schools, small testing offices, and Prometric test centers. The on-demand, at-home testing option is run by Prometric, and spots are widely available.
Test Fees range from $125 (large group testing at schools) to $200 (Prometric testing).
You can see available test dates and register to test via the official ISEE website, but you must create a parent account before registering.
How is the ISEE scored?
The ISEE converts your raw score (number of correct answers) to a scaled score ranging from 760 to 940. The ISEE reports scaled scores, percentiles, and stanine score (a range of percentiles), for four sections:
ISEE or SSAT?
The ISEE and the SSAT are both used for admission to private schools, and they both test Vocabulary, Math and Reading Comprehension. Most schools will accept either test, so you can choose which test you prefer.
The major difference between the tests lies in the types of questions they use to assess your abilities. The ISEE, for example, uses sentence completion to test vocabulary, while the SSAT uses analogies. Additionally, the reading passages on the ISEE are usually a bit longer than those on the SSAT, but the SSAT tests a more extensive range of genres, including poetry.
Finally, the ISEE also emphasizes mathematical reasoning more than does the SSAT.