The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is used as an admissions test by independent schools worldwide, including the City of Boston Exam Schools. It is the most widely used entrance examination for independent schools and is accepted by over 1200 such schools around the world.
That being said, if your child is applying to an independent school, being required to take the ISEE is a strong possibility. The best way to prepare is by working through practice tests, which fortunately are available for free online.
So where can you download a ISEE practice test PDF online free? Look no further than the 2016 handbook created by the test-maker itself -- the Educational Records Bureau, or the ERB. The tests in the ERB handbooks are the gold standard for ISEE practice tests.
Though the practice tests released by the ERB do not contain actual questions given to students at previous administrations by the ERB of the ISEE, the questions are written by the same experts who write the ISEE tests. The tests also include answer keys.
Just click one of the buttons below to get an official printable ISEE practice test plus our 5 proven test prep strategies for using official ISEE practice tests to effectively prepare.
These strategies are the ones we use in our test prep practice and have been culled from 16 years of preparing hundreds of students for this challenging test.
As a bonus, we will also send you links to additional free ISEE tests. Please note that the links will give you access to free unofficial tests, which, though not as good as the official versions, can still be effectively used for practice if strategically employed.
Below, we also provide some in-depth information on the ISEE, including test content, scoring, and some additional preparation tips.
The ISEE measures student achievement as well as verbal and quantitative reasoning skills. Scoring is designed to then rank these skills in comparison to other students in the same grade.
The test was developed by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) to be used by its member schools as an entrance examination. Admission to these schools is generally determined using the ISEE in addition to other factors, such as grades, student work, and feedback from teachers.
Test content is based on the standards of leading educational institutions, including the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), International Reading Association (IRA), and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
Paper-pencil and online versions of the test are available at three different levels:
The number of questions and the time limit varies between test versions. The Lower Level ISEE takes 140 minutes to complete and asks 127 questions, in addition to an essay.
Middle and Upper Level students are given 160 minutes to complete 160 questions and an essay.
All students will receive two 5-10 minute breaks during the administration of the test. Tests can be administered individually or in groups at approved ERB member schools, Prometric locations, or at ERB’s New York City office.
ISEE Test Content
At all three levels of the ISEE, students answer questions divided into five different sections. The sections appear in the following order:
The first four sections ask exclusively multiple choice questions. With the exception of the Reading Comprehension portion of the test, each multiple choice section asks questions that increase in difficulty.
The essay is written in response to a provided prompt and is not scored. Instead, it is sent to your child’s school(s) of interest along with your child’s score report. The importance and scoring of the essay will therefore vary between schools. Parents do not receive a copy of the essay.
Although we’ve provided an ISEE Practice Tests Printable, we still want to take some time to explain the types of questions your child will be asked on the test.
The Verbal Reasoning section contains two types of questions: vocabulary and sentence completion.
The vocabulary questions will provide an abstract, grade-level appropriate word and ask your child to select the synonym from a list of four potential answers.
On sentence completion questions, your child will read a sentence that is missing a word or phrase. At the Upper Level, multiple words may be missing.
From four provided answer choices, your child will be asked to select the choice that most logically completes the sentence.
The first of two math sections on the ISEE, Quantitative Reasoning is designed to measure a student’s ability to reason and think logically about mathematics, rather than the ability to calculate. Little or no calculation will be required for the questions on this section.
Questions may measure the ability to estimate values, compare and contrast quantities, analyze and interpret data, summarize graphs, determine probability, understand concepts and applications of measurement, and answer questions relating to geometry.
Middle and Upper Level students answer these questions in two formats: word problems and quantitative comparison questions. Lower Level students answer exclusively word problems.
All quantitative comparison questions offer the same four answer choices: the value in Column A is greater, the value in Column B is greater, the two values are equal, or there is not enough information to determine the relationship.
This section measures the ability to correctly answer curriculum-based Language Arts questions concerning reading passages. Questions are grade-level appropriate according to the standards of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Students read contemporary, high interest passages and answer questions demonstrating comprehension. Questions focus on the following:
Similar to the Reading Comprehension portion of the test, this section is designed to measure your child’s ability to answer curriculum-based questions, this time related to mathematics. Questions are grade level appropriate according to standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
These questions will require one or more steps to solve, unlike the questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section. More calculation is necessary, and knowledge of grade level appropriate mathematical terminology may be required.
Questions focus on Numbers and Operation, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis and Probability, and Problem Solving.
Your student will be provided with a 1-2 sentence contemporary, high interest writing prompt. Prompts are randomly selected from a pool of over 100 topics, so many different subjects may be addressed.
At all three levels, students are given 30 minutes to craft a written response. Two pre-lined pages for writing the essay are provided, and students may not exceed two pages. Scratch paper for notes is also available.
10-14 days after your child takes the ISEE, an Individual Student Report (ISR) will be posted to your parent account.
You can also request to have your child’s scores sent to a variety of schools at no cost, either before or after testing.
The ISR is divided into two main sections: a Test Profile and an Analysis section.
The Test Profile provides information about your child’s performance on each section of the ISEE (excluding the essay). Scores are reported in four ways:
Scaled scores and percentile ranks are based on ISEE norms, which are determined using independent school applicants in the same grade who have taken the test within the last three years.
Keep in mind that your child’s score may appear lower than on other assessments that use standard national norms. This discrepancy is due to the fact that the ISEE is mostly administered to high-achieving or gifted students seeking admission to highly competitive schools.
ISEE scaled scores range from 760-940. This score is converted from the applicant’s raw score—the number of questions answered correctly.
However, the scaled score is more useful because it takes into account the slightly different versions of the ISEE administered throughout the year, providing you with a score on a common scale.
The percentile rank shows your child’s standing in comparison to students who have taken the same test in the last three years. The percentile rank ranges from 1-99.
For example, a percentile rank of 80 indicates that your child scored as well or better than 80% of all students in the norm group.
A stanine is a score from 1-9 that is based on your child’s percentile rank.
1-3 is considered below average, 4-6 is average, and 7-9 is above average.
The reasoning sections (Verbal and Quantitative) of the ISEE measure what a student is capable of learning and achieving. On the other hand, the Math Analysis and Reading Comprehension sections indicate how well a student has grasped already studied concepts.
The Stanine Analysis section of the score report compares these scores to determine how well a student is working to potential.
For example, if scores are relatively close on both the reasoning and curriculum-based sections, the student is working according to potential. If scores are much lower on curriculum-based portions than on the reasoning portions, the student is not reaching her full potential.
After the Test Profile, the score report also includes an Analysis section.
For each test section, the Analysis report indicates the number of questions answered correctly, the number answered incorrectly, and the number omitted.
A plus sign indicates a correctly answered question, while a minus sign means the question was answered incorrectly. The letter S means your child skipped the question, and N means your child did not reach the question within the time provided.
This information is broken down into the type of questions in each section (such as Main Idea and Inference questions in the Reading Comprehension section), giving you a better understanding of your child’s relative strengths and weaknesses.
How to Prepare for the ISEE
Downloading the printable ISEE Practice Tests from the buttons above will ensure you also get five useful tips on effectively using those practice tests to prepare for the ISEE. In addition, here are a few general tips you can use to ensure your child is fully prepared to perform well on test day.
Throughout the school year, remind your child to pay attention in class and keep up with class notes, homework, and classwork. This is particularly important in classes related to math and English, since curriculum-based questions about both subjects appear on the ISEE.
It can also be helpful to have your child read a certain amount of minutes or pages weekly in order to expand vocabulary and improve reading comprehension.
Helping your child avoid test anxiety is crucial, both to prevent unnecessary stress and to allow your child to perform her best on the ISEE. Express confidence in your child’s ability to succeed on the exam, and keep practice sessions positive and encouraging.
Most importantly, help your child complete practice questions and full length practice tests in order to build confidence and familiarity with test content. The ISEE Practice Tests Printable is a great way to get started!
Of course, don’t forget to be sure your child gets a solid night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast prior to the test.
With the information and practice tests here, your child should be well on her way to a successful performance on the ISEE.