The Independent School Entrance Examination, or ISEE, is an entrance exam used by many independent schools and magnet schools in the United States. Developed and administered by the Educational Records Bureau and Durham, North Carolina based Measurement Incorporated, the ISEE has three levels: the Lower level, for entrance in grades 5-6; Middle level, for entrance in grades 7-8; Upper level, for entrance in grades 9-12. All levels consist of five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and a 30-minute essay section. The test is approximately three hours long in total, including time for two breaks.
ISEE Verbal Reasoning
This section consists of two parts: synonyms and sentence completions. On the Upper and Middle Levels there are 40 questions to be answered in 20 minutes. On the Lower Level there are 34 questions to be answered in 20 minutes.
ISEE Quantitative Reasoning
On the Lower Level, there are 38 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. On the Upper and Middle Levels, there are 37 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. The Lower Level consists of Word Problems, and the Middle and Upper levels consist of Word Problems and Quantitative Comparisons. All questions found in the two math sections of the ISEE are linked to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards. The ISEE uses the following NCTM strands as a basis for the Quantitative Reasoning section:
- Numbers and Operations
- Data Analysis and Probability
- Problem Solving
ISEE Reading Comprehension
On the Lower Level, there are 25 questions to be answered in 25 minutes. On the Middle and Upper levels, there are 36 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. The Lower Level contains five reading passages, each followed by five questions. The Middle and Upper levels contain six reading passages, each followed by six questions. The passages include topics related to history, science, literature, and contemporary life. The types of questions focus on six categories:
Main Idea, Supporting Ideas, Inference, Vocabulary, Organization/Logic and Tone/Style/Figurative Language.
ISEE Mathematics Achievement
There are 30 questions to be answered in 30 minutes on the Lower level, and 47 questions to be answered in 40 minutes on the Middle and Upper levels. As with the question in the Quantitative Reasoning section, this section will include questions from NCTM standards.
On all three levels, candidates must plan and write an essay to provide a sample of his or her writing to schools to which the candidate is applying. A random topic is distributed, and students have 30 minutes to write an essay using a black or blue pen. The essay is not scored, but is photocopied and sent to schools to which the student is applying.
Incorrect Scoring of Lower Level Test Fall 2010 Exam
On April 6, 2011, ERB (Educational Records Bureau) sent out a letter which started "Dear Parent, ERB has confirmed and sincerely regrets that on some Independent School Entrance Exams (ISEE), our contractor incorrectly scored 1-3 questions out of 110. Your child's score report was affected and we have enclosed the revised report." The letter was signed by the President and CEO of ERB, David F. Clune, Ph.D. and the Executive Director for the ISEE at ERB, Elizabeth Mangas. The letter did not mention Measurement Incorporated or its President, Henry H. Scherich, Ph.D. Presumably Measurement Incorporated was the contractor who incorrectly scored the test. As the corrected scores for the 2010-2011 admission year were sent after most independent schools had completed their admission process for the year, the revised reports had no effect on the admission process of the students whose tests were incorrectly scored. The future effect of this on Measurement Incorporated's business as a testing contractor is unknown.