What is the ISEE?

The ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam), provided by the ERB (Education Records Bureau), helps a private school determine enrollment for a child. The result of a student’s performance on the ISEE, however, is only one factor that a school considers in determining a candidate’s acceptance for enrollment. Nevertheless, for any child engaging in assessment activities, it is always advantageous for the child to be prepared.

The ISEE determines the student’s capabilities, in addition to his or her strengths and weaknesses, in a 2 hour and 20 minute exam comprised of three sections. Students entering 6th grade must take the Lower Level exam. Knowledge of vocabulary and its contextual usage helps determine a student’s verbal reasoning. Determining a student’s level of reading comprehension is based on his or her responses to questions regarding main ideas, inferences, supporting details, organization, and writing style. Additionally, two sections of math help to determine a student’s quantitative reasoning, which is the applicant’s ability to reason mathematically. In these sections, a student must be able to read graphs, make estimates, interpret and analyze data, predict probabilities, and determine measurements. Finally, a student’s response to an essay prompt is assessed on its organization, content, support, and adherence to conventions. A student is given 30 minutes to provide a handwritten response in ink on lined paper that is provided.

A student can best approach a testing situation if he or she is familiar with the test and has had time to practice. It is best to start with the free ISEE practice test at the ERB website. As with any standardized test, there is a specific format. Once a student understands the wording and the syntax of the questions, he or she will be more confident in responding. In addition, learning test taking skills will help a student demonstrate his or her academic strengths. These skills are acquired over time, and after repeated guidance and practice, the student will be able to reflect his or her true capabilities.

ISEE test prep often requires one-on-one tutoring services so that the instruction can be tailored to a student’s specific needs. The tutor can also determine the best techniques that will enable a student to grasp concepts and apply his or her knowledge to specific prompts. For instance, a student may depend on visual, auditory, or kinesthetic abilities to learn. Each student, however, should have the cognitive skills to function independently. An ISEE tutor should have background in teaching as well as subject knowledge, and should be able to teach students unexpected study strategies. Bloom’s taxonomy has been the cornerstone for identifying the skills each person needs. In order to be successful, each student should be able to recall learned information, comprehend a problem and state it in his or her own words, apply new concepts to real world situations, analyze information, evaluate ideas or materials, and create new ideas or plans based on information from different sources. It is the job of a tutor to help develop a student’s overall cognitive skills and abilities.

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