How to Prep Your Child for the ISEE Test

If you are a parent of a child whom you wish to be educated at an independent middle or high school, then you should be aware that in order to be accepted, it is likely that your child will have to pass the Independent School Entrance examination, or ISEE as we will call it from now on.

As with any exam, prepping is essential, and as a parent, you should be making sure that your child preps in the most effective way possible to ensure that they pass. You could start researching how to prep, but we’ll save you time and suggest you visit www.iseeprep.com where you’ll find lots of information, resources, tutoring, and a practice test.

ISEE Basics

The first thing you need to establish is whether the private school you are considering for your child, use the ISEE as part of their selection process. While it is the entrance examination used by most of these independent schools, there are a few schools who do not use it. This is due to each school having its own entrance requirements.

If your chosen school does use the ISEE test, then it will be beneficial if you understand what it involves, how it works, and the ways in which you best help your child prepare to sit, and hopefully pass it. By knowing what to expect, your child can be more relaxed as they enter the examination room, rather than nervously wondering into the unknown.

The basic premise of the ISEE is to assess a child’s abilities across a range of up to 5 different academic genres. We will look at these in some detail shortly. The test has four different levels, which are based on the child’s age. Children in grades 2- 4, sit the Primary level, for grades 5 -6, it is Lower level, grades 7 -8 sit the Middle level, and for grades 9 – 12,  we have the Upper level.

The ISEE can be sat at various times during the year, with the normal time frames being Spring/Summer (April to July), Fall (August to November), and Winter (December to March). The timing can often depend on which location you are in. It should be noted that if your child sits the ISEE and does not attain the desired mark, they will not be able to re-sit it until 6 months have elapsed.

What Does the ISEE Consist Of?

As we’ve mentioned, there are up to five sections which each test the child on a different competence, with exception of those children on the primary level, who are only tested on only three areas. The number of questions in each section will vary depending on the age grade level the child is in, as will the amount of time the exam will take. At lower it is 140 minutes, and for middle and upper, it is 160 minutes.

The ISEE at primary level differs somewhat from the other levels, both in terms of the duration of the exam and how the child’s abilities are tested. The exam part consists of reading and mathematics, which is for 60 minutes, and there is additional time given where the child is asked to produce a sample of their writing.

For lower, middle and upper levels there are five sections as follows:

Verbal Reasoning: This has two parts. The first is ‘synonyms’ where the child is asked to select from a choice of four words, which is closest in meaning to a seed word. Sentence completion is the other part where an incomplete sentence is presented. The child is asked to complete the sentence by choosing the correct word from a choice of four.

Quantitive Reasoning: For lower level, this will be word problems, and for middle and upper level this will consist of both word problems and quantitive comparisons. Some of the specific areas tested include geometry, problem-solving and data analysis.

Reading Comprehension: This section is straightforward in the sense that the children simply read passages of writing and then have to answer questions relating to them which will test whether they understood it or not. The passage can be on a range of topics including science, history or literature, to name but three.

Mathematics Achievement: Quite simply, this section tests the child’s mathematics ability against several standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Essay: Each child needs to prepare and write an essay on a random, but pre-selected topic which is given to them during the examination. They have 30 minutes to write the essay which does not have a pass score but is instead forwarded to the school they are applying for.

Helping Your Child Prep For The ISEE

It cannot be emphasized enough that one of the most effective ways you can help your child get the desired score on an ISEE, is to prepare them properly in advance. By knowing what to expect, your child will be more confident and relaxed when entering the examination room, rather than being nervous, or even fearful. No prizes for guessing which of those two scenarios lends itself to your child being more likely to pass.

There are numerous resources available which will help you to help your child prep for the ISEE. Here are some of the most effective ones:

ISEE Preparation Books: These books will give you a better understanding of what the ISSE involves, and thus you can explain to your child, what they can expect during the test. If they know exactly what is going to happen, the types of questions they’ll be asked, and how long it will take, they can focus on the answers, rather than wondering what is coming next.

Practice Tests: Even better than knowing what to expect, is being able to experience it beforehand. This will allow your child to go through the questions exactly how they will be presented in the real exam. Not only will it give them confidence in those areas which they get right, but it will also allow you to assess which question types or subject areas they might need further help with.

Tutor: As with any type of examination, receiving guidance, teaching, and encouragement from a tutor can be hugely beneficial. You can have a tutor come to your home, or it can be done online, which obviously gives you a greater choice. With a tutor giving your child one-on-one support, and being able to pinpoint, and focus on, their specific teaching needs, it gives them the best possible chance of passing it first time.

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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