Applying to an independent high school can be a very daunting task for parents and students. Preparation and planning during the admissions process is essential. Use this free resource to involve students in the admissions process to give them real life experience using the skills they need for success in high school. Many schools require more than just a simple application. Other requirements include; letters of recommendation, an essay, and scores from an entrance exam. The most intimidating part of the application process is usually the entrance exam. Have no fear; prepare to master the ISEE!

ISEE Format

The Upper Level Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is a test administered to students applying to grades 9-12 by many independent schools as part of their application process. The Upper Level ISEE consists of five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an Essay. Performing well on the ISEE can be a student’s ticket into his or her first-choice high school. The test measures the probable success of mastering concepts taught in schools from 8th to 11th grade. The ISEE is not an intelligence test. Success on the ISEE requires a different set of rules and tactics from those used on tests students are accustomed to taking in school.  It is crucial that students know how to prepare for the ISEE in order to do well on the test. Following the tips below will put students on the path to acing the ISEE.


Be ready to commit

When preparing for the ISEE, studying is absolutely necessary. It is highly recommended that students purchase an ISEE Study Guide to become familiar with the topics on the test. A study guide will provide step-by-step strategies on how to solve problems and answer questions as well as provide practice problems for each topic. Many students also enroll in ISEE prep classes to further prepare for the test. Whether face-to-face or through an online platform, an ISEE prep course will provide students with the instruction necessary to master the test. ISEE prep courses provide an opportunity for a full understanding of all material a student will see on the test and a chance to learn strategies for pacing and accuracy on all questions.

Make notes while studying and find study strategies that work

When a student writes his or her own notes while progressing through study material, he or she will find it easier to review information and commit it to memory. Students should use their notes to try out a variety of study strategies and memory strategies to help prepare for ISEE testing.

Practice as much as possible

Students should do as many practice problems and questions as possible. Exposure to the types of questions and problems on the ISEE can help a student improve his or her score. Students can access our free ISEE practice test here.

Broaden vocabulary

Scoring well on the verbal sections of the ISEE requires a large vocabulary range. To increase vocabulary, read anything and everything and make note of unfamiliar words.

Work math problems by hand

Calculators may not be used during ISEE testing, so it is important for students to become comfortable working problems by hand.

Don’t Stress

Follow the tips above to plan and prepare for the ISEE. The future is bright!