• 19 May 2024
How To: Tutor For The ISEE

How To: Tutor For The ISEE

Jan 24, 2017

The ISEE — or Independent School Entrance Exam — can be confusing, so here’s how tutors can best prepare their student for test day.

What is the ISEE anyway?

The ISEE is a test administered to any student who is hoping to qualify for entrance to an “independent school,” i.e., a non-public school. It costs $185.00 to register for the test, but that isn’t discouraging parents from signing up.

Students taking the ISEE typically fall into three categories:

  • Lower Level — Entrance into grades 5 & 6
  • Middle Level — Entrance into grades 7 & 8
  • Upper Level — Grade 9 & above

The tests cover the same material, regardless of the level you’re going for. The only difference between levels is an increase in difficulty and length in accordance with grade level. However, the subject matter generally remains the same. Every test consists of five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an essay.

Tutoring for the ISEE
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: While the test is standardized, it is also skill-based, so you can’t be expected to know the actual material that will appear on the exam — but you can predict the general subject matter for the purposes of your tutoring sessions. In this way, the test can be compared to an SAT or ACT. Verbal Reasoning focuses on synonyms and sentence completion while Quantitative Reasoning focuses mostly on wordy math problems. And while the essay portion is not scored, a copy will be sent to the applicant’s school.

  • Focus on the Format: The best way to ensure your tutoring sessions are set up to provide good practice for the ISEE is by focusing on the format of the test itself. Depending on what level your student is taking, the test could take between 2–3 hours. It’s unlikely that your student has ever had to sit through such a long exam, which especially holds true for younger students. It’s important to build their stamina as their tutor.

  • Building Stamina: In order to do so, you’ll need to have your student complete plenty of practice tests, but not so much that they risk burn-out by test day. Between practice tests — and/or tutoring sessions — try having your student complete an entire section or a handful of questions as opposed to a full test. A few questions from each section would be ideal for younger students, while a full Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning section will do for an Upper Level student or a diligent Middle Level tester. You can also occasionally do interactive drills like using flashcards to go over questions together.

As a tutor, it might be helpful to go over some ISEE test-prep material yourself. Fortunately, many test-prep companies sell practice tests and informational books. Have your students build up stamina and brush up on their math, reading, and grammar skills and they should be in good shape for test day.

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