The Lower Level ISEE’s Quantitative Reasoning section provides more than a mere math review for the young test-taker. Such purely content-focused examination is placed in the Mathematics Achievement section of the ISEE exam. In contrast to this, the Quantitative Reasoning section tests the independent reasoning abilities of the young student, focusing on his or her abilities to reason through mathematics problems that require creative thinking. Of course, this should not be overly surprising, given the name of the section: quantitative reasoning!

The main focus of this section of the exam is therefore not on the ability to perform calculations. Instead, it presents the test-taker with a series of questions that assess his or her ability to use mathematical data in an intelligent way, detecting patterns, comparing values, and interpreting data provided to him or her. These questions are based on several main themes that are assumed to have been covered by the young student’s mathematics courses, including number manipulation, basic pre-algebra concepts, basic geometry, and the ability to measure and analyze data. These basic mathematics categories underlie the problems that are then presented to the student in this section of questions.

Thus, given that this is a mathematical reasoning section, it should not be presumed that the questions will not use mathematics skills and techniques. Perhaps the best rubric under which you can gather these questions together is the general category of “problem solving.” In some cases, the student will be asked to note patterns in numbers and shapes that are provided. In such questions, the skills being tested clearly are not heavily driven by the skills explicitly tested in the mathematical reasoning section. Instead, they test the more general abstract problem-solving abilities of the student.

However, other Quantitative Reasoning problems can have a much more “math question” feel to them. For instance, the student might be presented with a question that gives the perimeter of a figure, noting also the lengths of all its sides except for one. Certainly, this requires some basic mathematical calculations on the part of the student. However, the focus is not so much on the ability to add the lengths of the sides together as it is on the student’s ability to see how he or she should proceed to discover the length of the missing side. Other questions clearly and directly test problem-solving abilities, requiring students to interpret scenarios and stories in order to build the necessary equations for evaluating the data presented in such questions.

If your student is encountering difficulty with a particular type of Quantitative Reasoning problem or keeps having his or her efforts frustrated by a misunderstanding of a mathematical concept, our Learning Tools ISEE Lower Level Quantitative resources can be of assistance in helping your student address the particular obstacles that stand between him and her and success on this section. Our ISEE Lower Level Quantitative help page offers example problems with their correct answers and full explanations displayed. Walking through some of these example questions with your student can help him or her identify patterns in how he or she can approach particular types of problems, and can help you identify and correct any mathematical misunderstandings. Our ISEE Lower Level Quantitative help page is organized such that you can focus on general or specific topics, helping you easily find the questions that best address your student’s studying needs.

On the whole, the Quantitative Reasoning section of the ISEE Lower Level examination presents the student with a difficult set of mathematics questions that test far more than mere math abilities. This section provides potential application review panels with an important metric for assessing the young student’s abilities to solve complex problems that do not have immediately evident mathematical solutions. By performing well on this section, the young applicant can bear evidence to his or her intelligence in a particularly striking way, showing his or her abstract reasoning skills—skills that are quite impressive to anyone considering an application to a competitive academic institution.