The Upper and Middle Level ISEE is a 5-part, 2 hour and 40-minute test with two breaks lasting between 5 and 10 minutes each. The ISEE Lower Level is a 5-part, 2 hour and 20-minute test with two breaks lasting between 5 and 10 minutes each.
Students will be tested on their knowledge of vocabulary, reading, writing, and math.
High achieving students at competitive schools should have already learned most of the tested concepts by the end of their first semester in 8th grade (Upper Level) or the end of their first semester in 6th grade (Middle Level) or 4th grade (Lower Level).
However, there will be some questions that ask about concepts that students have not learned as the Upper Level ISEE is taken by students applying to grades as high as 12, the Middle Level is taken by students applying to both grades 7 and 8, and the Lower Level is taken by students applying to both grades 5 and 6.
The ISEE is both an achievement and a reasoning test. Achievement tests strive simply to determine if a student has learned something they were taught. A reasoning test goes a step further to determine if a student can leverage what they were taught to reason their way through related but new and novel concepts.
To this extent, there are four, scored sections of the ISEE – two that test reading and vocabulary skills (Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension) and two that test math skills (Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics Achievement).