ISEE Guide

ISEE Summary
What: The ISEE is the entrance exam used by many private middle and high schools.
Who: Students applying for admission to independent schools are often required to take this exam.
Where: Test locations are available at various schools and test centers throughout the country.
When: Test dates vary depending on the school.
How: The test measures students' knowledge and abilities in reading, verbal reasoning and mathematics.
Type: The test is a paper and pencil exam.
Why: Test scores are used in evaluating a student during the admissions process.
Time: The test takes approximately two hours to complete.
Language: The test is offered internationally and is offered in many languages.
Preparation: Students can prepare using workbooks and other practice materials.
Cost: The exam costs between $89 and $180, depending on the test location and any accomodations required. The registration fee is $89 for mail and online registration and $109 for registrations done over the phone or via fax.
The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is administered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) and is used by more than 1,000 private middle and high schools in the admissions process.

The exam is offered in three different levels:
  • ISEE Lower Level for grades 4 and 5
  • ISEE Middle Level for grades 6 and 7
  • ISEE Upper Level for grades 8 through 11
Each exam includes five sections:

Verbal Reasoning
Students have 20 minutes to complete this section. There are 34 questions on the ISEE Lower Level test and 40 questions for Middle and Upper Level exams.

Reading Comprehension
Students taking the Lower Level exam have 25 minutes to complete this section, while the Middle and Upper Level exams offer 35 minutes. There are 25 questions on the Lower Level exam and 36 on the Middle and Upper Level exams.

Mathematics Achievement
The Lower Level exam gives students 30 minutes for this section, while Middle and Upper Level exam takers have 40. The Lower Level exam includes 30 questions, while the Middle and Upper Level exams ask 47 questions.

Quantitative Reasoning
Each exam offers 35 minutes for this section. Lower Level exam takers are asked 38 questions, while Middle and Upper Level test takers are asked 37.

Students have 30 minutes to complete the essay. It is not scored, but copies of the essay will be sent to requested schools.

Test Registration and Locations
Test locations and dates are determined by the school administering the exam. ISEE test centers are located in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Shanghai, China, and Seoul, Korea.

Students can also be tested through a test consortium in which several schools in a designated location collaborate to test students applying to many schools. Such consortiums are located in most major US cities. Additionally, many open test sites at area schools are located throughout the country. Students and parents can find their test center at

Registration costs $89 and can be done online at or through the mail. Test takers can also register over the phone or via fax for an extra $20 fee. The cost to take the exam varies depending on location and accommodation but ranges from $89 to $180. Registration should be completed at least three weeks prior to the test date.

A score report is issued that includes a Test Profile, which offers an overview of the test taker’s performance in comparison to other test takers, as well as an Analysis that indicates the test taker’s performance on each test section. Score reports are sent to schools and parents after about 10 business days following the exam. Students may retake the exam but cannot take the exam more than once in a six month period.

To find ISEE test preparation materials, visit our ISEE Test Directory.


Bookmark Page