What is the ISEE®?

The ISEE is the Independent School Entrance Examination, and it's used for admission to private middle schools and high schools. If you're looking to attend an elite private middle or high school, this is a test you'll need to do well on.

What's on it, and why are there different levels?

Because the ISEE helps test students for admission to private middle and high schools, different levels of the test are offered depending on where you are in your education. The Upper Level is designed for applicants in 9th grade and above. The Middle Level is for applicants in 7th and 8th grade, and the Lower Level is for applicants in 5th and 6th grade. No matter which level of the test you'll be taking, the ISEE will always test the same sections—Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Mathematics Achievement—but there are certain differences within the sections depending on the level of the test. The test also contains an unscored essay that is sent to the schools you're applying to.

When can I take it, and how do I sign up?

The ISEE is given several times throughout the year, but the majority of the testing dates fall during the fall and early winter. The number of available test dates will depend on your location, and you can take the ISEE only once in a six month period. Register now. What's the difference between the SSAT® and the ISEE? Both the ISEE and the SSAT are used for admission to private middle and high schools and test Vocabulary, Math and Reading Comprehension. Many schools will accept either test for admission, which gives you the option of choosing the test that better suits you and your abilities. The major difference between the tests is in how they test your abilities in each section of the exam. The ISEE uses synonyms and sentence completion to test vocabulary, while the SSAT uses synonyms and analogies. The reading passages on the ISEE tend to be longer than those on the SSAT, but the SSAT includes a broader range of genres, including poetry. The ISEE also places a heavier emphasis on mathematical reasoning than the SSAT does. If the schools you're applying to will take either test, choose the one that's better suited to your abilities.

How is the ISEE scored?

Verbal Reasoning

  • 797-935 (Upper Level)
  • 782-926 (Middle Level)
  • 760-903 (Lower Level)

Quantitative Reasoning

  • 815-940 (Upper Level)
  • 791-927 (Middle Level)
  • 766-911 (Lower Level)

Reading Comprehension

  • 825-940 (Upper Level)
  • 799-940 (Middle Level)
  • 764-913 (Lower Level)

Mathematics Achievement

  • 806-940 (Upper Level)
  • 774-907 (Middle Level)
  • 769-899 (Lower Level)


It's not scored, but a copy is sent to the schools to which you apply. All scores are converted to a grade-appropriate “stanine,” which represents a percentile range.

ISEE quick facts

Frequency — Location-specific times throughout the year, with the majority taking place in the fall and early winter.

Duration — 2 hours and 50 minutes (Upper and Middle Levels); 2 hours and 30 minutes (Lower Level).

Sections — Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement and an unscored essay.

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