How to Prepare for an Independent School Entrance Exam

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Independent schools are known for their high academic standards, which are supported by excellent teachers and motivated students. At these schools, the small class sizes allow individualized attention for every student. Due to the positive and disciplined learning environment, independent schools are quite popular among many parents.

For certain independent schools, taking a standardized test may be required as part of the application process. One of these tests is the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE), an internationally recognized assessment for students. Comprised of multiple subjects, the ISEE is used to evaluate candidates applying for independent schools. A high score on the ISEE will be viewed favorably by the most competitive schools.

Are you helping your child prepare for an Independent School Entrance Exam? There are different ways to equip students with the best academic resources and maximize their success on exam day. In the following guide, you can learn about the best ISEE test prep tips for parents.

What to Expect in the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE)

The Independent School Entrance Exam is available for a wide spectrum of students, including those in the junior grades (Primary and Lower Levels), in middle school (Middle Level), and in high school (Upper Level). With many dozens of questions and an essay component, the typical ISEE takes around 150 to 180 minutes for a middle school student to complete.

The ISEE evaluates candidates on math, reading comprehension, verbal skills, and writing expertise. Out of all the subjects, the ISEE places extra emphasis on mathematical ability. The test questions range from standard calculations to complex quantitative reasoning. Students who excelled in math classes or math enrichment programs are likely to find this portion of the exam easier.

In addition, students are tested on their ability to complete sentences using the best words in various contexts. Advanced language is frequently involved in these questions, so students must be prepared with a vast vocabulary. Students will also be asked questions based on reading lengthy passages. Those who can decipher the text clearly and concisely will fare well in the scoring.

ISEE vs. SSAT: What’s the Difference?

It is important to distinguish the ISEE from other similar standardized tests. One of its common counterparts is the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT), which differs from the ISEE in the writing sample, the verbal section, and the guessing strategy. Some independent schools prefer results from either the ISEE or the SSAT, while others may weigh both evaluations equally.

Take ISEE Test Prep Classes

The test questions on the ISEE are designed to be academically challenging. These questions demand strong problem-solving skills, sharp analytical ability, and a comfortable grasp of the English language. If the students approach the test totally unprepared, they may be caught by surprise at the overall difficulty.

Before taking the exam, ISEE test prep is highly recommended for students. Your child may want to enroll in one of the ISEE test prep classes at EAGLES/EDGE, which has an extensive curriculum targeting each component of the exam. Taught by experienced instructors, these programs are available for students taking the Lower Level ISEE (Grades 5 & 6) and the Middle Level ISEE (Grades 7 & 8).

Consult an ISEE Tutor

For additional help, students may also benefit from one-on-one tutoring sessions to strengthen their academic foundation. The tutors are experienced in preparing students for an assortment of tests. They will guide your child through complex topics for easier comprehension, while answering any questions that need clarification. They will also offer their professional studying tips and test prep advice.

Take a Diagnostic Exam

Exams are set for the sole purpose of testing your knowledge. They recognize your proficiency and expertise, but also help to identify areas that need more work. Taking a diagnostic exam is a great way to prepare for the ISEE, helping students determine what their strengths and weaknesses are. Based on the test results, your child can focus on studying more in specific subjects before the actual exam.

The practice exam is one of the best ISEE test prep resources since it gives direct feedback about your child’s studying progress. It also puts the students at ease during the exam if they have already encountered somewhat similar questions.

Use Flash Cards

For the vocabulary component of the ISEE, consider using flashcards as part of your child’s studying strategy. Aim to learn at least twenty new words each day. In most instances, students will be tested on their ability to complete sentences or analogies. Without a strong vocabulary, this part of the ISEE can be quite the challenge. The more words students learn, the better their chances of passing the exam.

Relax Before the Entrance Exam

On the night before the ISEE, the best test prep advice is to maintain your child’s stress level. This is perhaps easier said than done. However, your child must get some rest before taking the test on the following day. Even if you feel like more studying is needed, do it in the late afternoon and not too close to bedtime. Encourage your child to do something fun to relax, at least two hours before going to bed.

Also, keep in mind that students can retake the ISEE if their initial scores are not optimal. While the next attempt will have to be scheduled later, it may help to relieve a lot of the pressure and anxiety. All students should head to the ISEE with a positive attitude, feeling confident about themselves and their ability to succeed.

Does your child need guidance to prepare for the Independent School Entrance Exam? EAGLES/EDGE offers an extensive selection of ISEE test prep resources for students. Contact our EAGLES/EDGE specialists to learn more about the enrollment details!