The Lower Level ISEE’s Verbal Reasoning section examines the general linguistic skills of your young student, providing an important metric for late elementary and middle school evaluations of potential applicants. The sub-test is divided into two major portions, with a total of 34 questions given over just 20 minutes. This means that students have less than one minute to select the correct answer for each problem. The first part of the Verbal Reasoning section is comprised of vocabulary questions that ask students to identify a synonym for a given word. The second part examines students’ abilities to infer the appropriate missing word for a specific sentence. Many fourth and fifth grade students encounter sentence completion and vocabulary questions in their daily schooling. Weekly vocabulary tests, for instance, may draw on synonyms, while sentence completions are an integral part of language arts classes. Despite this fact, learning more about the Lower Level ISEE assessment can help you and your student properly prepare for the test.
Synonym questions on the Lower Level ISEE measure two components of your student’s verbal abilities. On the one hand, they provide an overall measure of his or her vocabulary acquisition. This metric can sometimes seem as though it proves little else than that your student has strong memorization skills. However, a large vocabulary is often indicative of a number of other factors at play in a young student’s schooling. For instance, it can indicate that he or she is an avid reader. Perhaps he or she has acquired this verbal knowledge during the course of reading books for pleasure (or as a result of his or her parents’ persistence). This potential engagement with reading would be a very positive indicator for most admissions boards at competitive schools. After all, an active mind (i.e. a student who reads regularly) is much more likely to succeed in a wide variety of academic subjects and on a wealth of tasks.
In addition to a love of reading, a strong vocabulary can also indicate that your student has the ability to note similarities and differences within verbal clusters and cognates. Vocabulary skills are often augmented by the ability to recognize when a term shares roots with another word. The ability to match synonyms can also suggest that your student has a faculty for verbal reasoning, which is a skill that he or she will use for many years to come - in middle school, in high school, on the ACT or SAT, in college, and even in the workplace.
The sentence completion questions on the Lower Level ISEE also examine your young student’s ability to use logic when approaching verbal structures. These problems test vocabulary and recognition of context clues. The inferential skills central to these questions offer a further indicator of verbal aptitude, and they likewise help to provide a metric for examining a student’s capacities for logical reasoning.
If you are helping your student prepare for the Lower Level ISEE and are unsure of how to assist in helping him or her better understand Verbal questions, the ISEE Lower Level Verbal Help page on Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools site can provide you with materials that can help you student progress in his or her understanding. We organize our ISEE Lower Level Verbal Help page by question type, so you can quickly navigate to the particular material over which your student is stumbling. From there, we provide solved and explained model questions; reading through these with your student can help him or her recognize patterns in how a given type of problem can be approached and solved. The ISEE Lower Level Verbal Help page can provide a solid foundation from which your student can work to develop his or her mastery of ISEE Verbal material.