Last Updated On: January 7th, 2020

The Independent School Entrance Exam. Used by many prestigious independent schools in Los Angeles to evaluate their applicants, the ISEE is considered by many to be one of the most competitive assessment tests for students under the age of eighteen. The ISEE not only covers content well beyond what most would consider grade-appropriate material, it also asks students to answer complicated questions in an unfamiliar format in a timed environment for approximately 2 ½ hours. To top it all off, students previously had only one chance to take this test, adding to the already enormous amount of pressure.


As of 2016, however, ERB has announced that they will allow students to take the ISEE multiple times without any penalty! There are a couple of restrictions, however. ERB has split up the year into three testing seasons: Fall (August – November), Winter (December – March), and Spring/Summer (April – July). Students may take the test up to three times per year, but can only take the ISEE once per each testing season. Additionally, families don’t have to select a recipient school at the time of registration, which means that you can see your score before you send it to a school. In fact, score reports will not show how many times the student has tested.

What does all this mean? When should you take the ISEE?

That depends! Tackling the test early in the Fall testing season might be a good idea if you are confident that you’ll score relatively high (90th percentile or higher) with little or no preparation. Even students who score in top percentiles on grade-level school tests often find the ISEE challenging, so scoring in the top 10% of ISEE test takers is very difficult to accomplish. That being said, the majority of students will fall into a category where there is still improvement to be made. In lieu of these new changes, students should use the summer to prepare for the ISEE and take their first test in the latter half of the Fall testing season. This allows for the most preparation time, and students may also learn new content during the school year that could be relevant on the ISEE. If you have an off-day or just aren’t happy with your score, you still have another opportunity to retest during the Winter testing season. Most schools’ deadlines fall anywhere between late December and mid-January, so students can retake the ISEE with a renewed focus on any problem areas identified in their previous test.

When should I send my scores?

Since you don’t have to designate the schools that will receive your scores before taking the test, we recommend that you don’t commit to sending scores anywhere until you get a chance to review them. There really isn’t any benefit to sending multiple scores, so it’s in every family’s best interest to avoid sending weak scores to any prospective school. Wait until you’ve gotten a set of scores you’re happy with. If you feel like the first scores you receive are competitive, then go ahead and send the scores out. If not, wait until you get your second test results before deciding which set of scores you want to send.

Overall, this announcement from the ERB helps relieve some of the pressure from independent school applicants during the application process. It is now more beneficial than ever to begin preparing early so you can take the test by November; this way you have the option of retaking the test in January if you’re unable to reach your goal score the first time.If you have any questions or would like a free consultation, contact an education specialist at LA Tutors online or by phone at (213)622-1155 today.

Eric Kim

Author Eric Kim

Eric is the Program Director at LA Tutors and has over twenty years experience as a private tutor. He has served as an academic counselor, college counselor to hundreds of students and now uses his experience across all areas of academia to help develop new curricula and programs designed to help students achieve their individual goals.

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