ISEE Preparation

The ISEE is an independent school (elementary, middle, and high school) admissions exam that is administered either on a computer or in paper format.

Our ISEE Program

We take an educational approach to the ISEE, recognizing that it may be a student’s first significant standardized test. By teaching the core concepts—verbal reasoning skills, math concepts, critical reading methods, and vocabulary—that appear on the test, our students become confidently prepared for the test and for their future academic work.

Our tutors initially focus on the academic substance of the ISEE, with close attention to how the content relates to each student's prior schoolwork, strengths, and weaknesses. As the program progresses, students learn to apply this knowledge and problem-solving strategies through drills, homework, and full-length, proctored practice tests.

Contact us to speak to a program consultant to discuss your student’s goals and schedule a diagnostic ISEE.

Program Length

We recommend that students start preparing for the ISEE several months before they intend to take the official test. We tailor our programs for each student based on diagnostic test scores and the student’s needs and goals.

While the test format is relatively consistent, three versions of the ISEE are offered to students in different grades:

  • Lower Level is for students currently in grades 4–5
  • Middle Level is for students currently in grades 6–7
  • Upper Level is for students currently in grades 8–11

Before deciding on whether to take the ISEE or SSAT, check the specific admissions requirements at the schools to which you are considering applying. Some independent schools accept either test, but many schools insist on one or the other.

Many of our students have benefitted from preparing for and taking both the ISEE and SSAT. Though the two tests have slightly different histories, they are similar in content and in purpose. We will help you decide which test to take given your student’s strengths, weaknesses, and application goals.


Number of Questions

Minutes per Section


Verbal Reasoning

Lower: 34 Questions

Middle / Upper: 40 Questions

20 Minutes

Synonyms and vocabulary-based sentence completions

Quantitative Reasoning

Lower: 38 Questions

Middle / Upper: 37 Questions

35 Minutes

Arithmetic, basic algebra, and basic geometry

Reading Comprehension

Lower: 25 Questions

Middle / Upper: 36 Questions

Lower: 30 Minutes

Middle / Upper: 35 Minutes

Passage-based critical reading

Mathematics Achievement

Lower: 30 Questions

Middle / Upper: 47 Questions

Lower: 30 Minutes

Middle / Upper: 40 Minutes

Arithmetic, basic algebra, and basic geometry


1 Prompt

30 Minutes

Student-produced response to a given topic

How is the ISEE Scored?

  • The Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, and Math sections are each scaled from 760 to 940, with corresponding percentile ranks and stanines. Stanines are another ranking system in which the numbers 1–3 roughly represent below average, 4–6 average, and 7–9 above average.
  • The essay is not scored but rather sent to schools along with the ISEE score report.
  • The ISEE does not deduct points for incorrect answers.

When is the ISEE Taken?

The ISEE can be taken up to three times in an admission cycle, once per window: Fall (August–November), Winter (December–March), and Spring/Summer (April–July). Most independent high schools require students to take either the ISEE during the academic year in which they submit their application, so we recommend that most students take the test in the Fall and Winter windows.

The ISEE is given frequently throughout the year, both on a computer and in pencil-and-paper format. You can find dates at locations near you on the official ISEE website.

Tutors in Washington DC

Jordan Schwartz

Jordan Schwartz

Tutor of: SAT, ACT, Math Level 1, Literature, U.S. History, World History, LSAT, GRE, SSAT, ISEE; and more

B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University.
Harvey S. Bodker Outstanding Leadership Award.

See ISEE tutors in all locations