ISEE Prep Tips for Your Child

If your student is thinking about taking the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE), you may wonder how you can help him or her prepare. The ISEE, which is administered by the Educational Records Bureau, has three levels: Lower (grades 5 and 6), Middle (grades 7 and 8), and Upper (grades 9-12).

Since the ISEE may seem lesser known than a test like the SAT, helping students achieve their best ISEE score may seem like an impossible task to parents—but never fear! It is not. Some ISEE prep tips for your child include explaining the makeup of the exam and simulating the test day experience. For a more detailed guide on ISEE prep tips for your child, read on:

Understand the ISEE structure

To help your child prepare, you must first know that the test consists of five sections at all three levels. No matter your student’s age, he or she will be tested on Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and a 30-minute essay.

Talk about ISEE test day with your child

Students who have a solid plan of approach on test day may feel better prepared, so make sure your child knows what to expect. There are many questions your student might be wondering, such as:

  • What do the rooms look like?

  • What will I be asked to do?

  • What is the timing of the test?

Answering these basics will help ensure that your student’s mind is focused on the material the day of the test. You should also talk about basic, overall strategy with your child prior to test day. Encourage him or her to answer all questions, for instance, as wrong answers are not penalized, and think about answers before reading choices. Ensure your child has appropriate sleep and breakfast habits leading up to test day.

The Educational Records Bureau offers a “What to Expect on the ISEE” guide, which can be a helpful place to begin answering questions as well.

Review time management

Remember that the ISEE assesses skills that typically develop over time for students, such as reading comprehension. While you can prepare for the ISEE, it is largely about strategy. Don’t get discouraged—and more importantly, don’t let your child get discouraged.

Instead of trying to cram five years worth of reading comprehension skills into five weeks, focus on developing solid testing skills. Pacing will be crucial for students, so take practice exams and discuss how long to spend on each type of question. Give your student all of the information about the difficulty of the test so he or she is not caught off guard, but also be careful not to pressure him or her.

Teach your child anxiety-coping skills for the ISEE

Perhaps the best thing you can do to prepare your child for the ISEE is to give him or her a way to overcome and deal with test anxiety. Knowing what will happen during the test and being able to manage time will certainly help this. Go a step further and identify two or three strategies that can work to ease anxiety, both before the test and during it, and your student will likely approach the ISEE with more confidence.

These strategies might include small meditations, exercise before the test, or practice of positive reinforcement. Find something that works for your child and consistently use it to overcome anxiety.

The bottom line of ISEE prep

Remember that the ISEE is a difficult test that many students struggle to prepare for. Focus on strategies to make the experience better for your student, and trust that the knowledge your child has (and is acquiring) will be comparable to his or her peers. Embrace ISEE practice tests and other test prep options that can help show your student what the test will be like.

If your student does not score as well as hoped, take comfort in the fact that retaking the test is an option. Surround your student with positivity, build his or her confidence through knowledge, and review test-day coping strategies, and you will have left your student well-equipped for the ISEE.

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