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If you’re planning on applying to an independent or private school, you’ve probably heard about the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and may have a few questions.

How do you sign up?
How long is the test?
How is it scored?

Let’s start from the very beginning…

The ISEE is broken down into 4 main levels – Primary (for entrance into 2nd – 4th), Lower (for entrance into 5th – 6th), Middle (for entrance into 7th – 8th), and Upper (for entrance into 9th – 12th) and is used by over 1,200 independent schools for admissions purposes. Fees range from $120 – $200 depending on registration and test type.

Categories & Timing
Each test is broken down into five categories – Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics, and an Essay (unscored). The Lower Level has fewer questions and takes only 2 hours 20 minutes, while the Middle and Upper level tests take 2 hours 40 minutes to complete. (The Primary level is computer only and has a different format. This test is not as common; more information can be found here.)

When it comes to scoring, many people are confused by the ISEE. While the Education Records Bureau (ERB), the organization which produces the ISEE, provides a scaled score, most institutions look primarily at the stanine score to asses each applicant. Stanines (scored from 1 – 9) are a statistical term used to denote what percentile bracket the test score fell under; a score of 9 translates to a testing score that is better than 96% of all other scores, an 8 would indicate that the score was better than 89-95% of all other scores, and so on. The biggest bracket is a stanine score of 5, which indicates that the score was better than 40-59% of all other scores.

Competitive Schools
With so many independent schools around the nation, it can often be overwhelming to narrow down your school choices. Check out the list below of 8 highly competitive independent schools in the Los Angeles area along with relevant enrollment information. Remember, your ISEE score is only one part of your admissions application!

Final Thoughts
Preparing for the ISEE and knowing what’s involved can be a complicated, overwhelming process. We’ve created this handy infographic in order to help you understand the most crucial components of the ISEE, so feel free to explore it below and share it with friends! Want more ISEE info? Check out our blogs on ISEE test prep, pacing practice, and more!

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