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The Independent Schools Entrance Exam (ISEE)

The ISEE is a standardized test for admission to independent schools, developed and administered by the Educational Records Bureau.(ERB)  


LOWER LEVEL is for students in grades 4 and 5 (applying for admission to grades 5 and 6.)

MIDDLE LEVEL is for students in grades 6 and 7 (applying for admission to grades 7 and 8.)

UPPER LEVEL is for students in grades 8 to 11 (applying for admission to grades 9 to 12.)

 4 Sections:

Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning (math), Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics Achievement - students are assessed by comparison to test takers in their grade level only. 

More difficult questions, which appear toward the end of each section, are designed to be too challenging for younger students in each exam level. 

The ISEE essay is submitted directly to the admissions office of the school(s) to which a student applies and is not evaluated by the ERB. The essay may be the only chance a school has to see a student's unedited writing and is, therefore, considered an important component of the exam. Regardless of the essay prompt given for a particular exam, the standards for judging excellence in organization and structure in a student's response are more or less the same for every school. Reassuringly, those general principles can also be taught.

  • It is the test of choice for the majority of independent day schools and is the most daunting of all standardized admission exams. 

  • Consequently,  families concerned with getting their children into the best private schools, are seeking the finest test preparation programs for their children. 

  • Students who take the exam are self-selecting and most have grown up in a highly competitive independent school environment.

  • Students who frequently perform well above the national average, may only produce average ISEE scores.

  • Effective August, 2016, students may take the ISEE test three times during a twelve month admission period: Fall (August–November); Winter (December–March); and Spring/Summer (April–July).


ERB Testing

The Educational Records Bureau (ERB) offers the  Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) which is an in-school achievement assessment for students in grades 1-11. Academic achievemnet areas assessed include reading, listening, vocabulary, writing, and mathematics. Verbal and quantitative reasoning skills measure a student's reasoning abilities. ERB results provide private schools with helpful information about how the students at a particular independent school perform in comparison to other schools and whether their curriculum is meeting the needs of their students. 



Catholic School Entrance Exams

In order to attend a Catholic high school, students must take one of three Catholic high school entrance exams: HSPT, COOP, or TACHS.

The High School Placement Test (HSPT)

The HSPT is a comprehensive admissions test that is required for students in 8th grade who are applying for 9th grade at a Catholic high school. Some high schools test independently which means that the scores are only sent to that location. Others, test collectively which means that scores will be sent to several different schools. Open HSPT® provides national norms for the following cognitive and basic skills areas:

Verbal Skills (60questions), Quantitative skills (52 questions), Reading(62questions),Mathematics(64questions),and Language

(60 questions). It is usually only offered once a year.


The Cooperative Admissions Exam (COOP)

The COOP one of the tests offered for admission to participating Catholic high schools.

The COOP examination is composed of two separate components:

  • The aptitude component contains five sections of assessment:

    • verbal reasoning —  word 

    • verbal reasoning –  context

    • sequences

    • analogies

    • quantitative reasoning

  • The achievement component comprises three sections of assessment:

    •  reading comprehension

    • mathematics concepts and applications

    • language expression.


Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools (TACHS)

The TACHS is another entrance exam for eighth grade students who are interested in attending a Catholic high school. The test is administered in November and each student’s information will be sent to three Catholic high schools of his/her choice.

The TACHS is not the test of choice for Catholic high schools in California.

Academic Skills Tested:

  •  Verbal Skills section includes: Word Roots, World Lists, Synonyms and Antonyms, Verbal Reasoning.Measures academic achievement in reading, language arts, and mathematics, along with general reasoning skills. 

  • Mathematics section focuses on several math categories including:Integers, Fractions, Decimals, Percents, Algebra, Plane Geometry, Polygons, Circles, Measurements, Graphs and Tables, Word Problems, Sequences, and Analogies.


  • Ability section of the test focuses on the student's ability to find patterns and sequences that can be used for  higher reasoning skills.





One-to-One or Small Group Test Preparation Programs

Test Preparation Boosts Scores

Individualized Test Preparation Programs for ISEE, SSAT, ERB, and Catholic School Entrance Exams including HSPT, COOP, and TACHS

Competition for gaining acceptance to an elite middle or high school is fierce because doing well on middle and high school admissions tests is essential to assure acceptance at a sought-after private school . That is why personalized preparation by an expert who can customize a program around your child's unique needs and learning style is paramount to ensure excellent results.

Strategies on How to Approach Test Materials by Using Logical Reasoning and Efficient Time Management

What Standardized Testing DOES NOT tell us...

It is important to remember that standardized tests do not measure a student's motivation, initiative, organization skills or creativity. Performing well on standardzed tests isn't always an indicator of which students will be most successful in life.

Accommodations for Students with Learning Differences:

Students with verified learning differences are eligible to apply for accommodations depending on their need. The student must currently receive and utilize the requested accommodations, due to the disability, on a regular basis for school-based testing in the student’s present school environment. Eligibility must be verified by an evaluator with state certified credentials.

  • Time-extended time(usually time and a half, frequent breaks

  • Presentation-questions read aloud, instructions repeated, enlarged print

  • Response-calculator for math, computer with or witout spellcheck, speech-to-text dictation or note taker

  • Location-quiet room away from distractions/room with students receiving similar accommodations.  

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