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What Is ISEE?

The ISEE is the Independent School Entrance Examination and is used for admission to private middle schools and high schools.  There are 4 ISEE levels: Primary, Lower, Middle, and Upper.  The test level is determined by the grade the student is applying for admission. Students may take the ISEE once per testing season (fall, winter, and spring/summer) for a total of 3 times per year. Strategically, students can time their testing dates and test prep to accommodate a first test during the fall ISEE season and a retake (if necessary) in the winter ISEE season.  Both can be done before most private school application deadlines in December/January. Both online and paper tests are available, plus various test-taking options such as in-school, in ERB offices/centers, and at home. When registering for test dates, families should verify application deadlines with the school(s) to which their student is applying to ensure that score reports are received in a timely manner.


  • Duration: 2 hours and 50 minutes (Upper and Middle Levels); 2 hours and 30 minutes (Lower Level).
  • Sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an unscored essay.


  • Students should set aside approximately 12 weeks for ISEE test prep, preparing for both the math and verbal sections of the test. 
  • ISEE is a lengthy test, so test taking strategies, pacing and endurance strategies should be incorporated into lessons