Independent School Entrance Exam
USINFO | 2014-01-03 17:19
The Independent School Entrance Exam is used as an admissions test as part of the entry screening process. Independent schools are not regulated by the government, churches or synagogues and therefore may set their own admission standards. Many of these non-public schools choose to use the ISEE to determine aptitude and knowledge of the child seeking admission. However, this exam usually comprises a part of the admissions requirement; although doing extremely well on the ISEE may help your child get into your school of choice, doing poorly on the exam may not bar him entrance. Check with the school to learn more about their individual admission requirements.

The ISEE has three competency levels: low, mid and upper. Regardless of which level the child takes, all tests will cover the same five categories of mathematics achievement, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and an essay. However, the questions will vary depending on the child's level of learning ability. For instance, the low, mid and upper level questions are constructed as age-appropriate and will only test on what the child should already know based on national averages. The ISEE essay is not graded. This portion of the exam is forwarded directly to the school where you are applying for their consideration.

The Educational Records Bureau, or ERB, is the governing body for the ISEE test, content, applications and testing results. The ERB provides a wealth of information including sample questions and practice tests online. Preparation for this exam may be harrowing due to its' nature - aptitude examinations do not always test items from rote memory, they test the ability to apply what you already know. The test cannot be taken merely for practice; it must be taken in conjunction with a school application and cannot be taken more than once every six months. For more information take a look at the article, "Preparing for the ISEE". Your child may take her cues from you - if you are anxious about their impending examination they may fear it as well.

The low competency version is administered to fourth and fifth graders seeking admission to fifth and sixth grade. The ISEE is not available to children in lower grade levels; independent elementary schools have standardized tests that are more appropriate for children of a younger age. If your child has just completed elementary school and you are considering private schooling, an academy or an independent school, you need to check and see if that school uses ISEE testing.

The mid-competency level exam is administered to children who are in sixth or seventh grade and seeking entrance to seventh or eighth grade. The ERB does not allow grade-level skipping; a fourth grader cannot sit for the mid-level examination regardless of their proven intelligence level. If your child is exceptionally gifted, you might want to look into other tests or discuss the options of grade skipping with the school administration. However, keep in mind that your child's ISEE test results will be scored based on other children's top performances over the last three years at the same testing level. Scores might be higher or lower in reflection of that three-year trend.

Children in eighth through eleventh grade must take the upper level ISEE for entrance into ninth through twelfth grades. Due to the large span of knowledge between these grade levels your child is scored against their peers in the same age group. Your eighth grader is not expected to score as highly as a tenth grader taking the same ISEE examination. 

ISEE Content
Knowing the content of an examination will give your child confidence and the ability to prepare in the right areas of focus. The Independent School Entrance Examination, or ISEE, is an aptitude test for which the focus of material is very broad. Learning about the five testing categories and content may minimize wasted study time. This test can only be taken once every 6 months and there are no refunds for retakes. Proper preparation is the only way to ensure your child does his best on the ISEE.

Verbal Reasoning
Verbal reasoning contains content that will test your child's vocabulary and language abilities. The questions will either ask for a synonym or a sentence completion. For younger children taking the low and mid exam types the sentence completion may only include one-word answers, whereas high level testing students may need to pick the correct grammatical phrase to complete sentences appropriately.

The questions involving synonyms test your child's vocabulary. The words chosen represent school word lists appropriate for your child's age and grade level. Some of the four possible answers may be close to, but not exactly the best synonym for the given word. Children with limited vocabularies may find these questions challenging, as the ISEE does not place the synonym questions in a context - it lists the word and then the four possible matches.

Quantitative Reasoning
Created using the standards from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the quantitative reasoning section tests your child's ability to understand math, not complete the arithmetic, algebra and equations. Questions may focus on interpretation, estimation, analysis of a problem or even reasoning and logic. The difficulty of this section is determined by which test level your child is taking, including the low, mid or upper versions.

Although there are no exact calculations needed in quantitative reasoning, the student must know how to identify what would be used such as division or addition. Some of the questions may produce a problem and ask your child how the problem would best be solved based on the answers given. Other questions may ask about mathematical properties, such as the distributive property, in assessing your child's understanding of number representation.

Reading Comprehension
The ISEE reading comprehension section will test your child's ability to verbalize an understanding of the material they read. The level of test your child takes will determine the number of passages and questions in this section. The concepts tested include an understanding of main versus supporting ideas, vocabulary and usage, conclusions and inference, organization, tone and style. Each passage will have a set of questions inquiring about one of these testable concepts.

Mathematics Achievement
Your child may not use a calculator for the mathematics-testing portion, although calculations may be required to solve problems in this section. Students must display knowledge of mathematical terms, such as sum or dividend, to solve problems correctly. Math problems may involve algebra, geometry, number placement or even probability questions. The ERB encourages students to double-check their work if they have the time.

The essay portion consists of an essay topic or question, which the student must answer in no more than two lined pages within 30 minutes or less. The topics are generated by the ERB and can change daily. Topic examples are listed on their website, so you can help your child gain an appreciation for the types of questions they may be asked to answer. Most essay-type questions usually evoke an opinion and the child's answer and supporting rationale become the essay body. This is the only portion of the ISEE that is not graded; the essay is sent directly to the independent school where you are applying.

ISEE Preparation
The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is an aptitude test that measures your child's abilities against her peers at the same grade level. The test is used as part of an admissions process for qualifying independent schools, which are non-public schools that do not fall under government or religious affiliations. Although the test covers what your child should know to this point, preparation is essential to help your child maximize their scoring potential and gain admission into their grade school of choice.

Where to Start
The ISEE is composed of five different sections including quantitative and verbal reasoning, mathematics, reading comprehension and a timed essay. The actual ISEE test directions are available online - review them with your child and stress the importance of following directions closely. You may also want to inform your child that they can guess if they do not know the answer to a question. There is no penalty for guessing incorrectly, however skipped questions will show up in their ISEE grading report. They will need to understand that this is a timed test with minutes allotted for each section.

Parental Involvement
Your involvement is vital to your child's ISEE success. There are many ways you can help your child relax and do their best on the exam. Start by reading through the testing guidelines and learning about the examination. You can arrange for your child to take a practice test, either online or a pencil-paper exam, to learn where you must focus your studying efforts prior to the actual test day. Match up the practice exam with the real test as much as possible; do not have your daughter take a pencil-paper exam if she will be taking the real ISEE online. Both practice test formats are widely available either through online sources or the Educational Records Bureau.
©2012-2014 Bywoon | Bywoon