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ISEE Prep Details

Lower Level

ISEE: Students in grades 4-5

SSAT: Students in grades 3-4

Middle Level

ISEE: Students in grades 6-7

SSAT: Students in grades 5-7

Upper Level


Students in grades 8-11

What is the ISEE? 

The ISEE is the Independent School Entrance Exam. Like the SSAT, it is a standardized test used by private schools to assess their applicants' math and language skills. 

When do most students take the ISEE? 

Most students take the test in November, typically the week before Thanksgiving. This schedule allows students to have their scores back in time to apply for the following school year. 

Why is ISEE preparation so helpful? 

Like any standardized test, the ISEE can be tricky for students who have not practiced with the test's timing, structure, and question forms. Even if a student's grasp on language and math content is very strong, it is still helpful to give the student time to practice with test strategies unique to this particular test. 


For one example of the importance of test prep, the following is a set of instructions for one portion of a math section. This form of a question can be very confusing to students, regardless of their math skills, right?! But with practice, students can quickly improve!

QR math example.PNG

When should I register for the actual test? 

Once you know the season in which you want your student to take the test (see below for "season" explanation), we recommend you register as soon as possible. Test sites and dates fill up quickly. The link to register is here. 


NOTE: If you feel confused and overwhelmed during the registration process, you are not alone. Take it one step at a time and reach out for help if you need it. 

How do I decide when, where, and how my student should take the test? 

Start by identifying when applications are due and work backwards from there. For example, let's assume that a school's application deadline is January 15...


The ERB (the company that administers the ISEE) allows students to take the test ONE time in each "testing season," which are as follows:

  • Fall (August, September, October, November)

  • Winter (December, January, February, March)

  • Spring (April, May, June, July)

  • Summer (None)


So if your student's application is due January 15, I would recommend he/she take the ISEE once in the fall season and (if necessary) one more time in the winter season. For example, she could take it before Thanksgiving and then once more after the new year. 

This testing schedule is ideal because it would allow the student to study for the test from late September through mid-late November, and then study a bit more in December using the November test results for a final attempt in early January. I have found the best results come from a schedule like this one. 

As for location of the test, it's really the student's preference that matters most. If your student is not an especially anxious kid, in-person test sites can be best. If your student has anxiety around test taking, he may prefer the at-home test. If you have stable internet at home and a quiet space to work, the at-home test is a nice option. 

When will we get the scores? 

Tests taken online will have scores available in 3-5 days.

Tests taken on paper will have scores available in 5-10 days. You will receive an email as soon as scores are released.  

What do the scores mean? 

Click here for a simple and helpful explanation of your score sheet.

How important are the scores?

In the big scheme of life, ISEE scores probably matter very little; I hope nobody's health or happiness depends on a standardized test score. At the same time, admission to the most elite private schools will likely be impacted by the ISEE score. So I leave the final answer to this question up to you!


What can I do to support my student while they are being tutored?  

Love them, feed them, and remind them to do their ISEE homework. Oh, and help them set a schedule so that they arrive at tutoring sessions and complete assignments on time. In my humble opinion as a parent and a teacher, you can best support your student by making sure they know that the world does NOT depend on this test and that smiling, sleeping, and studying will be good for them. 

More questions?

Email Tara anytime at


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