Are you looking for a way to simplify the ISEE test prep process? Doing well on the ISEE is crucial for admission into a first-choice school. The ISEE can be challenging, but you can empower your child with the confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary to master the test. The tips and strategies you find here will guide your child to achieve a high score. Let’s dive in!

What is the ISEE?

The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is used for admission into private middle and high schools. Eighth graders take the upper-level exam for admission into high school. Creating the right study plan is the key to success. 


Understand The Test

Understanding what is on the test and how it is formatted is the first step to conquering the ISEE.

About the ISEE

This exam covers content that is taught in school through 11th grade. An 8th grader will be faced with questions about things they have never seen before. I know this seems like the ISEE is an unfair assessment, but keep in mind that one of the goals of the test is to see how well a student can think and work through challenging information. By studying the right way ahead of the test, students become capable of answering every question on the test correctly. 

How Many Questions Are on The ISEE Test?

There are 5 sections on the ISEE:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Mathematics Achievement
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • The Essay

Each section has a different amount of questions. Verbal Reasoning consists of 40 questions. Reading Comprehension is a total of 36 questions covering different reading passages. Mathematics Achievement is 47 questions. The Quantitative Reasoning section asks 37 questions. Students are given one prompt for writing an essay. The essay is not graded, but it may be used to set a student apart from others that score in the same range. 

ISEE Test Time

Students work on one section of the test at a time. Each section is timed. The goal is for a student to answer every question on the test, so pacing is necessary to do well. Students have 20 minutes to complete the Verbal Reasoning section. 35 minutes to complete the Reading Comprehension section. 40 minutes for Mathematics Achievement. 35 minutes for Quantitative Reasoning. 30 minutes to write the essay. 

Chart that breaks down each section of the upper level ISEE by section, number of questions, and amount of time for each section.

Create a Study Plan

Because the ISEE covers material that 8th graders haven’t learned yet, they must spend a fair amount of time preparing for the test. The best way to do this is to use resources and tools to learn test-taking strategies, familiarize themselves with the content, and practice as much as possible.

Get Started With An ISEE Study Guide

Use an ISEE study guide throughout the studying process. There are a variety of options available for purchase that include strategies and short lessons on how to work through each section of the test. They also include practice questions with answer keys so that students can mimic a real test scenario. 

For a simplified study guide, check this one out. It is a comprehensive review of everything students need to know for the ISEE. It includes test-taking strategies and easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to answer every question on the test. There are also some practice questions at the end of every content-specific section. 

This ISEE prep book by the Princeton Review is another great study tool. It also is a comprehensive guide of everything students need to prepare for the ISEE and it includes multiple full-length practice tests. 

Image of an ISEE study guide with a quote that says use a study guide throughout the studying process.

Make Notes 

Students need to write their own notes as they progress through the material from a study guide. When students write information in their own words it helps the information stick with them. It also makes it easy to go back and review specific information when needed.

Practice As Much As Possible

Students need to do as many practice problems and questions as they can. The more exposure a student has to the material and the types of questions that are asked, the better they will perform on the actual test. This helps commit the information to memory and build confidence to do well.

Quote from the blog post that says the more exposure a student has to the material and the types of questions that are asked, the better they will perform on the actual test.

Pay Attention To Time

Remember, pacing is key because each section of the ISEE is timed. Students benefit from setting a timer when they are working on practice questions or taking a practice test. It helps them improve how fast they work and develop a strategy for answering each question.

Find Study Strategies That Work

Every student is unique so finding a study strategy that works may look different for everyone. Encourage students to try a variety of strategies as they study. This will help them to build their flexibility and confidence as they see there are multiple ways to tackle a challenge. 

These tips will certainly help students streamline and simplify their ISEE test prep journey. The goal is to get students feeling more confident and equip them with valuable insights, resources, and strategies to tackle the ISEE with ease. Remember, consistent practice, effective time management, and a positive mindset are key elements to success. Always keep in mind that preparation is not just about the destination, but also about the journey of growth and self-improvement.