Many private schools may require potential students to take the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) that is given by the Educational Records Bureau. This exam measures the student's existing knowledge and ability to learn. Some basic understanding of the test is helpful when trying to understand a score.

Understand the 3 levels of the test. The lower level is for those who will be entering fifth or sixth grade, the middle is for those going into seventh or eighth, and the upper is for those entering ninth through 12th grades.

Recognize the different sections in the ISEE. Multiple choice sections include verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension and math knowledge. There is one essay section.

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Know how the score is interpreted. The essay is not graded but is sent to the prospective school for review. The test has no actual pass or fail grade. Each school determines what an acceptable score would be.

Understand how the reported score is calculated. A scale from 800 to 950 is used. The final number of correct answers is calculated without any deduction for incorrect answers. The raw score is converted to a scaled score to adjust for differences in the test forms.


  • A student must wait 6 months before retaking the ISEE.
  • The score is sent to the schools of choice and parents a few weeks after test completion.
  • The total time for the test is 160 minutes.
  • Since there is no deduction for incorrect answers, a student should never leave an answer blank.
  • The different levels of tests will have completely different scores and shouldn't be compared.

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