What is the ISEE Private School Exam?

What is the ISEE?

The ISEE is the most popular Independent School entrance exam in the country. It’s offered three times per year: Fall, Winter and Spring.  Students are permitted to take the test three times but only once per season. Many private schools require their applications be completed by the Winter which means that Spring/Summer is often late for the application.  Be careful to check when your private school application is due.    

Why take the ISEE? 

If you are thinking about applying to private school, the ISEE is the most heavily used entrance exam.  It is important to contact the list of private schools you are thinking about applying to in order to determine which tests they accept.  If you need assistance contacting private schools, or want more information about which private schools accept this exam, contact us directly at 310.684.2543.    

What is on the ISEE?

There are five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Math Achievement, and the Essay.  Although the essay is not graded, the private schools you apply to review the essay and use it to gauge your student’s writing abilities.   

Verbal Reasoning: This section focuses on knowledge of vocabulary, synonyms and sentence completion.  

Quantitative Reasoning: Math; numbers, algebra, geometry, statistics and measurement. This section asks students to evaluate word problems as well as compare and equate two different math equations to find an answer.  

Reading comprehension: This section tests your child’s ability to read effectively. 

Math Achievement: Math; numbers, algebra, geometry, statistics and measurement. 

The Essay: This section includes a personal statement that asks students to comment on an area of their life. 

When can your child take the ISEE? 

It is offered in three (3) different seasons per year: Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer.  


Students may only take it once per season. Make sure you don’t sign up twice in one season.  We recommend taking it once in the Fall and once in the Winter. We often suggest to our families to take their first exam in November after the student has had enough tutoring in the Fall after summer break to be refreshed on all the material.  

When should your child start studying for the ISEE?

We recommend starting as soon as possible as the ISEE often tests math that is one or two levels above your student’s current grade level. What this means is that if your student is rising into 6th grade and just completed fifth grade that the test includes seventh and eighth grade math topics.  

What is the difference between the ISEE AND ERB 

These two tests are similar but serve different purposes.  The ERB is testing performance by the school and the other is assessing your child’s ability to gain entrance to the school.   

For more information or to register for the test, please head to www.iseetest.org.