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How to Pass the ISEE Test Middle Level in {YEAR}

How to Pass the ISEE Test Middle Level in 2023

Updated November 20, 2023

By Lauren Jobling
Lauren Jobling

If your child is looking to attend a private middle school or high school, then it is more than likely they will have to take an admission exam – cue the ISEE.

The ISEE stands from the Independent School Entrance Examination. It is used as a common entry test for elite schools and given on a grade level.

This is so the school can gain a better understanding of a potential student’s knowledge. It is quite important to ensure you are prepared for the test, as it could determine whether your child can attend a school.

Within this article, you will learn about the ins and outs of the ISEE, the different levels it contains and how it tests potential pupils for their school applications.

What Is the Middle Level ISEE Test?

The ISEE Middle Level exam will test students on the following sections, which you will see on all levels on the exam. These are:

  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Mathematics Achievement
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Verbal Reasoning

However, there are differences within each of the sections, depending on the level of the test you take.

For example, your child might be in the 10th grade, so the test will the upper level. The middle level, which this article is going to be touching on, is for students in grades 7 and 8, whereas the lowest level is for grades 5 and 6.

As well as completing the examination, the student will have to write an essay that will be sent directly to the school they’re applying for. You will learn more about the essay later.

When Can You Take the Middle Level ISEE Test?

Usually, the exam will take place multiple times throughout the year, so if the student is unable to take it during the fall/winter season (when it is normally taken), there will be other times they can sit the test.

The precise times and dates will depend on your location – you will need to check this before you book the exam. You will only be able to take the exam once in a six month period.

Is the ISEE Test Middle Level the Same as the SSATs?

Most private schools and elite middle schools will accept either test, which will give the student the opportunity to decide which test will work better for their skill set.

For example, the SSAT will measure analogies and use synonyms while the ISEE will examine synonyms as well, but it will also investigate analogies.

The ISEE test looks more thoroughly into maths than the SSATs do, so if you feel stronger on this subject, then the ISEE might be best for you.

What Does the ISEE Middle Level Test Contain?

The Middle Level ISEE comprises a total of 160 multiple-choice questions that will cover the sections we mentioned earlier:

  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning

The test will be split into these sections, which will then be divided into sub-categories. Results will be scored into ranks of percentile.

The Verbal Reasoning part of the examination will come first, then quantitative, reading, math and lastly, the essay.

Here is some information about each part and what questions they might contain:

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ISEE Test Middle Level Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section has 40 questions that are split into two sections. Each segment of the test will aim to measure a pupil’s skills when it comes to vocabulary and the use of words.

It will also concentrate on two sub-sections, the first of which is the sentence completion questions, which will highlight a student's knowledge on the structure of sentences and how to use words in context.

Then, they will have to look at synonym questions, which will test their ability to understand the connection between words and other words they would associate with them.

ISEE Test Middle Level Verbal Reasoning Example Question

Example Question

Pick the word (in CAPITALS) that is mostly associated with the word below:



ISEE Test Middle Level Sentence Completion Example Question

Example Question

Lisa is on the way to the shop, but on the way there she ______ her purse, so she could not pay for her shopping.


ISEE Test Middle Level Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning part will focus more on numerical questions and test how students think mathematically.

There are 37 questions in total, which will include quantitative comparisons and word problems. They will have 35 minutes to complete this section of the examination.

ISEE Test Middle Level Quantitative Reasoning Example Question

Example Question

Tom buys a jumper for $28. There was 20% off the price of the jumper. How much was the original price of the jumper?

a) $35.00
b) $44.34
c) $38.57
d) $50.65

How to Pass the ISEE Test Middle Level in 2023 (Guide + Tips)
How to Pass the ISEE Test Middle Level in 2023 (Guide + Tips)

ISEE Test Middle Level Mathematics Achievement

The Mathematics Achievement section will examine a student’s knowledge of mathematics and the terminology they have heard at school.

Although you might think it is like the Quantitative Reasoning section, this part will ask the examinee to make real math calculations – they will touch upon geometry, algebra, probability, data analysis, problem solving and number operations.

It will contain 47 questions featuring all the above and will last 40 minutes.

ISEE Test Middle Level Mathematics Achievement Example Question

Example Question

40% of a number is 58. What is 10% of that number?

a) 14.5
b) 14
c) 15
d) 16

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ISEE Test Middle Level Reading Comprehension

For this section of the exam, the student will be given a text to read over – this could be from a well-known book or an essay. They will then have to answer questions based on their understanding of the passage.

This part of the test consists of 35 multiple-choice questions all split into separate questions per text. They will get 36 minutes to complete the Reading Comprehension section.

ISEE Test Middle Level Reading Comprehension Example Question

Example Question

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

What do we learn about Alice in this excerpt?

a) She is shy and nervous
b) She hates her sister
c) She is inquisitive and adventurous
d) She doesn't know how to read

ISEE Test Middle Level Essay

The essay is the final section of the ISEE Test Middle Level. It is not scored, but will be sent to the school to help them understand a bit more about the candidate. It will also give them a chance to see the applicant's handwriting.

As for the subject? There will be a prompt to give them guidance on what the essay should be about, but the rest of the writing will be up to the student to complete.

The allotted time for the essay is 30 minutes.

Tips to Help Your Child Prepare for Writing the Essay ISEE Test Middle Level

Here are a few ways you can help your child prepare for this section:

  • Ensure they take a five-minute break between the essay and Quantitative Reasoning section. It is important that they feel prepared and ready for the essay, as it is a break away from the multiple-choice parts of the test.

  • Think about different topics the essay could be about and see how this can be structured into an essay. If they have a rough format of how the essay starts and finishes, then they can apply this to whatever prompt they are given – for instance: A beginning, middle and conclusion/end.

  • Make sure they are in a quiet space without any distractions. They will need to stay focussed and be able to complete the essay.

  • Practice handwriting beforehand. This is so the essay is clear. If the school cannot read their writing, then they will not be able to fully understand the essay.

  • Do not rush the essay. They will be given 30 minutes, so they should try to use some of this time to think about what they are about to write.

How Is the ISEE Test Middle Level Scored?

The ISEE test is ranked into five different scoring criteria:

  • Raw score
  • Scaled score
  • Percentile ranking
  • Stanine score
  • Stanine analysis

The ISEE test percentile ranking is each pupil’s activity compared to the norm age group made up of students applying to the same school as them, in the same grade (based on a three-year period). This will provide an average mark for them to be measured against.

The exam will also consider the number of questions that have been answered correctly, as well as comparing the individual results against their cohort – this is known as the raw score.

They will get a raw test score that is scaled and ranked into the percentile of the relevant number of test-takers – this is known as a stanine group.

The stanine analysis will normally determine whether someone has passed or failed the ISEE test. It can be difficult to determine which score will ensure they ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, as it will depend on what grades are needed to gain admission to a certain school.

The scaled score considers the different iterations of the ISEE exam the child has taken throughout the year. This is applied to each of the sections.

This is a good way to take into account any differences within their varying exam results. The Educational Records Bureau will use this information to give a score on the same scale for test-takers.

As mentioned earlier, the essay is not scored and will be sent directly to the independent/private school to which they are applying.

Overall, they will have to exceed the minimum raw score required and essentially outperform their age group.

How to Pass the Middle Level ISEE Test in 2023

If you are wondering how to improve your chances of passing the ISEE Test Middle Level, then here are a few tips that might help you, or your child, prepare:

  • It is imperative that your child gets plenty of rest the night before the exam. Try to help them relax the night before and encourage them to have an early night.

Step 1. Familiarize Yourself with the Test Format

Start by understanding the structure and content of the Middle Level ISEE test.

Review the sections, such as Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement and the Essay.

Step 2. Study and Review

Dedicate ample time to study and review the topics covered in the test.

Utilize study guides, textbooks, online resources, and practice tests specifically designed for the ISEE Middle Level.

Identify your weak areas and focus on improving them.

Step 3. Create a Study Schedule

Develop a study schedule that allows you to cover all the sections of the test.

Set aside regular study sessions and allocate time for each subject. Consistency and regular practice are key.

Step 4. Practice with Sample Questions

Make use of sample questions and practice tests to become familiar with the types of questions you will encounter on the actual test.

Practice under timed conditions to simulate the test environment and improve your time management skills.

Step 5. Focus on Vocabulary

Build a strong vocabulary as it plays a significant role in the Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension sections.

Learn new words, their meanings, and how they are used in context. Practice with flashcards, word games and reading challenging texts.

Step 6. Develop Problem-Solving Skills

The Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics Achievement sections require solid problem-solving skills.

Practice solving a variety of math problems, understand the underlying concepts and learn different problem-solving techniques.

Step 7. Enhance Reading Comprehension

Improve your reading comprehension skills by reading a wide range of texts, such as fiction, non-fiction and academic articles.

Practice summarizing main ideas, identifying supporting details and making inferences.

Step 8. Time Management

Since the ISEE is a timed test, practice managing your time effectively.

Allocate specific time limits for each section during your practice sessions to ensure you can complete all questions within the given timeframe.

Step 9. Review Mistakes

After completing practice tests or answering sample questions, carefully review your mistakes.

Understand why you got a question wrong and learn from it.

Identify any recurring patterns of errors and work on improving those areas.

Step 10. Take Care of Yourself

Prioritize self-care during your preparation.

Get enough rest, eat well and exercise regularly. A well-rested and healthy mind performs better during exams.

Step 11. Seek Additional Resources

If you need extra help or clarification on certain topics, consider seeking assistance from teachers, tutors or online resources.

They can provide guidance, explain difficult concepts and offer additional practice materials.

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Final Thoughts

A private education is a huge step towards fulfilling a young person’s aspirations, so if you think this is the right step for you, or your child, then researching the ISEE exam is a great place to start.

The test involves knowledge and familiarity and will assess knowledge they have learnt up until the point of examination – so even if you decide not to attend an independent or elite school, then it is still worth their while to take the test.

To get prepared for the ISEE test, practice is key. Take on some practice questions to get ready for the test and understand what type of questions you might see.

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