families / Family Resource Center / The ISEE

Overview of the ISEE

Learn more about who takes the ISEE, the various testing levels, how schools use ISEE scores, and more.

Registering for the ISEE

Learn more about the ISEE registration process, test pricing and fee waivers, and more.

Preparing for Test Day

Learn more about the resources available to students preparing for the ISEE, including sample questions, and see the test-day checklist with everything you'll need to bring.

overview of the isee

Meet the world's premiere admissions assessment.

Who takes the ISEE?

The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is an admissions test taken by students around the world applying to select independent, private, and public schools for entry in Grades 2-12. This standardized test helps schools identify candidates who are academically suited to their unique environments. 
Students register for the ISEE at one of six levels based on the grade to which they are applying (not the grade they are currently in).
Primary 2: Students applying to Grade 2
Primary 3: Students applying to Grade 3
Primary 4: Students applying to Grade 4
Lower Level: Students applying to Grades 5-6
Middle Level: Students applying to Grades 7-8
Upper Level: Students applying to Grades 9-12

What does the ISEE measure?

At the lower, middle, and upper levels, the ISEE assesses students on four interconnected categories: (1) Quantitative Reasoning; (2) Mathematics Achievement; (3) Verbal Reasoning; and (4) Reading Comprehension. The comprehension and achievement sections measure knowledge, or things that have been learned. The reasoning sections measure students’ ability to think, and their capability to learn. There is also an essay component to the ISEE, which assesses each applicant’s writing ability. 

Primary Level subtests differ. Please find more details in our What to Expect Guides.

Students receive scores on each category (Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, etc.); however, there is not a composite or “total” score. Each section of the test shares meaningful information about the tester’s performance, and that information can get lost when schools and families look at a combined, total score.
The essay component is not scored, as it is intended as a writing sample for schools to review.

How do schools use the ISEE?

Schools around the world use the ISEE as an academic screening tool to help identify students that are likely to thrive in their unique academic environments. Typically, the ISEE is just one piece of the application process; many schools also require applicants to submit academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements and essays, and more.

Why the ISEE?

With multiple admissions tests available, why do so many schools and families trust the ISEE by ERB? Because independent school leaders helped develop the exam! Since the first ISEE, educators have helped to write and update the test to ensure that it remains relevant, fair, and as reliable as an exam can be.
ERB also maintains an active Admissions Advisory Group to keep the ISEE and our admissions program cutting edge.
So why the ISEE? Because it's the exam trusted and preferred by educators, and can open the doors of possibility for your student.

registering for the isee

What you need to know to secure your test seat on your schedule.

How do I register?

Or register by phone by calling
1 (800) 446-0320

9:00am - 5:00pm EST

Registration for the ISEE is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students are encouraged to register early to ensure they are able to take the test at their preferred times and locations. Exams do fill up quickly!

After registration, parents will receive an ISEE Verification Letter via email from ‘no-reply@erblearn.org,’ confirming the date, time, and location of their test. If you do not receive this email, please check your SPAM folder and contact ISEE Operations at 1 (800) 446-0320 if needed.
The ISEE registration fee depends on the setting in which students choose to test.
Many schools and test sites offer fee waivers for students with financial aid needs. All fee waiver inquiries should be made to the school(s) to which candidates are applying, not to the ISEE Operations Office or ERB. Only schools that are ISEE test sites may issue a waiver. To check whether the schools to which you are applying are current ISEE test sites, please click here.
Full details on the ISEE registration process can be found in here.

*There are additional fees for registering over the phone. Please register online to avoid this fee. For full registration guidelines and explanation of fees (including how to avoid them), please consult our Quick Facts Guide, available for download here.

2020_0310 Glenn Milewski_6456
Glenn Milewski, Ph.D. | Chief Program Officer, ERB

Expert Tips

For students seeking fee waivers: If you contact a test site that cannot provide a waiver, try another test site. You can still send your scores to all of your desired schools (or other recipients).

Avoid paying extra fees by registering for the ISEE online at least two weeks ahead of your desired test date.

Ready to register or already preparing for the ISEE? Download our Quick Facts brochure for additional information.

Ready to register or already preparing for the ISEE?

Download our Quick Facts brochure for additional information.

What are my testing options?

Students at the Lower, Middle, and Upper Levels can take the ISEE online or via paper and pencil in a variety of settings, including at schools, at home, at private offices, and at Prometric Test Centers. At the Primary Level, testing is only available online.

LocationFormats OfferedGroup Types
School Test Site
Paper
Online
Group
Testing Office
Paper
Online
Small Group
Individual
ERB Satellite Test Site
PaperSmall Group
Prometric Test Center
OnlineSmall Group
At Home Testing
OnlineIndividual
The test is the same across modalities. Regardless of whether students take the test on paper or on a computer, they answer the same number of questions, have the same amount of time, and the same opportunities to check and change answers. Students can register for the exam site and modality that best suits their needs and availability. The location and modality in which students test is not indicated on score reports.
Students may take the ISEE as many times as they like, but only once per testing season.

What are testing seasons?

There are three testing seasons for the ISEE, during which students can take the test. Students may take the test once per testing season for a total of up to three times per year.

Fall Season

August | September
October | November

Winter Season

December | January
February | March

Spring/Summer Season

April | May
June | July

Are testing accommodations available?

ERB makes every effort to arrange administrations to accommodate students who are unable to take the ISEE under standard conditions because they have a diagnosed disability that necessitates  accommodations implemented in the academic setting. To request an accommodation, families must first create an online account, add their student's information, and then submit the accommodations request where prompted.
We recommend that students apply for accommodations at least one month before their desired test date.
Note that students must be formally approved for accommodations before they can register online for a test date so the approved accommodations are tied to the student's registration. Please go here for more information.

preparing for the isee

Present your best self on test day.

Review free sample ISEE questions.

Students perform better on tests like the ISEE than when they prepare ahead of time rather than cramming just before the test. To get a jump on your ISEE test prep, ERB is pleased to provide our What to Expect on the ISEE guide with free sample questions and other resources to help students get a feel for the exam.

Complete an ISEE preparation program.

For students interested in a more robust ISEE preparation program, ISEE Preparation from Test Innovators (TI) offers personalized resources to help students perform their best on test day. In addition to full-length practice tests, TI offers students real-time feedback as they answer questions, time management insights, and resources to help combat test-related stress and anxiety. Visit their website to learn more about why more than 135,000 students have prepared for exams with TI. 
Students that receive a fee waiver for the ISEE can also access the Test Innovators preparation program free of charge. If you or your student has received a fee waiver, please fill out this form to receive more information.

planning for test day

Everything you need to know to arrive prepared and relaxed for your exam.

Testing at a school or testing office (not Prometric).

Students should arrive at their testing location by the check-in time listed on their ISEE Verification Letter. No one will be permitted to enter the testing room after testing begins. To check in, students must present this Verification Letter and an accepted form of student identification (photocopies are permitted). Acceptable forms of student identification are:
  • Library card
  • Birth certificate
  • Social security card
  • School report card
  • School ID
  • Passport or green card
Do not bring any personal items or materials to the test besides those listed here. Students may not bring any books, papers, rulers, calculators*, beepers, or cell phones of any kind into the examination room. If a student does not comply, he or she will be excused from testing and the test will be invalidated. Families should confirm that they have all the following required materials ready for test day: 
  • Their ISEE Verification Letter.
  • An accepted (see above) form of student identification.
  • A snack and/or drink.
  • Students taking a paper test only must bring four sharpened #2 or HB pencils, for good erasers, (if not part of the pencils), and two black or blue ballpoint pens (erasable pens are permitted).
*Calculators are permitted only if the student was approved for a testing accommodation that explicitly allows for calculator use.

Testing at a Prometric Test Center.

Please note that Prometric Test Centers have their own rules and regulations that differ slightly from other test sites.
Testing at a Prometric office is online only. As it is an online ISEE, the multiple-choice section will be answered online and the essay will be typed on the computer Families should be aware that Prometric testing centers are not reserved for ISEE testing only. There may be students or adults taking other types of online testing at these centers. A parent or guardian is required to stay on-site with the student at the Prometric Test Center for the duration of the test. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Students should arrive at their testing location by the check-in time listed on their ISEE Verification Letter. Students must present this Verification Letter and an accepted form of student identification (photocopies are not permitted). Acceptable forms of student original student identification are:
  • Library card
  • Birth certificate
  • Social security card
  • School report card
  • School ID
  • Passport or green card
Parents and guardians must also have legal identification at Prometric Testing Centers. Photocopies are not acceptable. Approved forms of original parent identification include:
  • State-issued ID
  • Driver's license
  • Passport
  • Green card
Do not bring any personal items or materials to the test besides those listed here. Students may not bring any books, papers, rulers, calculators*, beepers, or cell phones of any kind into the examination room. If a student does not comply, he or she will be excused from testing and the test will be invalidated. Families should confirm that they have all the following required materials ready for test day: 
  • Their ISEE Verification Letter.
  • An accepted (see above) original form of student identification.
  • An accepted (see above) original form of parent identification.
  • A snack and/or drink.
*Calculators are permitted only if the student was approved for a testing accommodation that explicitly allows for calculator use.

Accessing your test results.

After students take the ISEE, their scores will be uploaded to the parents' ISEE online accounts once they are available. To view student’s scores, parents should log in using the credentials chosen at registration. Parents can also request that their child’s scores be sent to selected schools for free through the Parent Portal. Scores will not be mailed to parents at home unless requested, for which there is an additional fee.
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