What do you get when you cross a challenging math concept with a question format that no student has ever seen before because it doesn’t show up on any other standardized test? The correct answer is ‘an ISEE quantitative comparison,’ but if you said ‘confused’,  you’re not alone.

The defining feature of the ISEE is the difficult blend of content knowledge and mastery of technique that it requires from students. That’s why our ISEE test prep programs blend content and strategy in whatever proportion is optimal for each individual student – all while using the best online learning tools available. 

The Independent School Entrance Exam is used for admission to private elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States. There are four levels of the test – Primary, Lower, Middle, and Upper – and each level is taken by students representing a range of ages, with the Middle Level test taken by students applying into grades 7-8 the most common.

Inspirica’s approach to tutoring the ISEE starts with the fact that a student’s experience with the test will vary significantly depending on their age, which means that the optimal course of preparation will vary as well. Your tutor will determine the best way for your student to prepare and then use that plan to ensure that they’re in the best possible position going into test day.

An OVerview of the ISEE


The ISEE is administered using a testing seasons calendar that divides the year into three 4-month periods: August-November, December-March, and April-July. A student may test once in each of the three seasons for a maximum of three times per calendar year, and it’s generally to the student’s advantage to test more than once. Tests can be taken at a variety of ERB-approved sites that include both schools and Educational Consultants’ offices. To register, visit the ERB’s website and follow the corresponding instructions. If you’d like to request accommodations for your student due to documented learning differences or physical challenges, you’ll need to create a parent account and submit your application directly through the ISEE website. Complete instructions can be found here

For advice on navigating the complexities of the scheduling process, check out our blog post on the subject, or make an appointment to talk to one of our Program Coordinators.


Each level of the ISEE is composed of four multiple-choice sections – Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics Achievement – followed by an essay prompt; however, the length of the sections, in terms of both the number of questions and amount of time allotted per section, differs significantly across the three levels. Head over to the ISEE’s website for detailed information on the level of the test that your student will be taking.


First, your student’s raw score, which is just the number of questions they answered correctly, will be calculated for each of the four multiple-choice sections. The ISEE will then produce a scaled score for each section; these scaled scores take into account the difficulty level of the sections that your student completed relative to the difficulty levels of sections that previous test-takers have completed. Next, the ISEE will compare your student’s scaled scores to those of previous test-takers and produce a percentile and a stanine for each section. ‘Stanine’ is a made-up term for a score from 1 to 9 that relates a student’s raw score to its position on a bell curve. More than half of all students will score in the 4-6 range, with progressively fewer students obtaining a given stanine as the scores get further from the mean of 5. For example, a student with a stanine of 8 will be among the top 11% of testers, while a student with a stanine of 9 will be among the top 4%. Finally, the ISEE’s essay is unscored and will simply be included as a timed writing sample available to schools along with submitted scores. 

For a more detailed breakdown of ISEE scoring, check out our blog post on the subject here!

Schedule a Free Consultation

The application process can feel like a whirlwind: you’ve got a lot to think about, and things move fast. Fortunately, our Program Coordinators are experienced, knowledgeable, and ready to help – whether this is your first kid through the process or your fifth, our team will help you craft a program timeline that fits your schedule and maximizes your options when it comes to applications. Choose the day and time that work best for you and a member of our team will call to discuss your needs and begin customizing a program designed to achieve your goals. Calls typically last 20 minutes.