The high school entrance exams are standardized tests that parochial, church-affiliated, Independent, and specialized public high schools use to help them make their admission decisions.

There are a number of widely used standardized high school exams, among the most common are the ISEE and SSAT.

The ISEE, or Independent School Entrance Examination is administered by the Education Records Bureau of New York City. The ISEE exam is accepted by independent schools around the country, especially day schools. The ISEE is accepted by all member schools of the Independent Schools Association of New York City and is the exam used by most of the independent schools in Philadelphia, San Diego, and Nashville. The exam is offered at two levels, first is “middle-level” for students applying to 6, 7, and 8th grade. The second level is the “upper-level” ISEE exam for students applying to 9, 10, 11 and 12th grade.


On the exam you receive one point for every question that you answer correctly. There is no penalty for a wrong answer. It receives no credit, but there is no deduction for the error. As with the SSAT, scoring and percentile ranking is done separately for members of each grade group taking the same exam. You will be compared only with your peers.


The test is administered in five separately timed sections called “tests“. The time limit for all tests is not identical, so all applicants at a given administration take the tests in the same order. However, your neighbor may get a booklet with different questions as a guard against cheating. The ISEE does not include an experimental section; every multiple choice test counts, and every question counts. The essay, which is the final “test” of the ISEE, is not scored and does not count. A photocopy of your essay is provided to each school as a writing sample.

Each multiple-choice question on the ISEE offers four answer choices. These are lettered (A), (B), (C), and (D).



  1. Remember the order of difficulty, that’s where you’ll find the hardest questions at the end of the section, which means that the answers are more complex. Look carefully at the choices and really think about what the question is asking. You Don’t Have to Read the Directions
  2. Don’t read the directions during the test. You should have read and memorized the directions before sitting down to take the exam. So when the exam clock starts ticking, don’t waste time rereading directions you already know. Instead, go directly to Question 1.
  3. Bring a watch, if you’re going to pace yourself, you need to keep track of the time – and what if there is no clock in your room or if the only clock is out of your line of vision? That’s why it’s a good idea to bring a watch to the test. A word of warning : Don’t use a watch alarm or your watch will end up on the proctor’s desk.
  4. Don’t leave any questions blank! As for the ISEE, an educated guess is best, but a wild guess cannot hurt you. Try first to answer each question correctly. If you cannot figure out the best answer, eliminate those that are obviously wrong and make an educated guess.
  5. Keep it moving, it’s hard to let go, but sometimes you have to. Don’t spend too much time on any one question before you’ve tried all the questions in a section. There may be questions later on in the test that you can answer easily, and you don’t want to lose points just because you didn’t get to them.