ISEE Upper Verbal Review Course


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The upper level version of the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is a rigorous test that measures a student’s verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, math, and essay writing skills. Many independent schools require prospective students to take this test as part of the admissions process.

How Much Does the ISEE Cost?

The exam fee depends on when and where your student takes the test as well as when you register for it. The fee schedule is as follows:

  • $120 to sign up for a large group testing at the school your student is applying to ($145 if you register less than 3 weeks before the test date).
  • $195 to sign up for a small group testing at the ISEE testing office.
  • $220 to sign up for an individual testing session at the ISEE testing office.

How Should Students Prepare for Test Day?

Students will have just 20 minutes to answer 40 questions. So it’s important to make sure your student is relaxed and confident on the day of the test so that they can remain calm despite the strict time constraints.

Here are a few tips for making sure your student is prepared to do their best:

  • Make sure they get a good night’s rest before the test.
  • Wake up early enough to prepare a nourishing breakfast (preferably with their favorite food to put them in a good mood).
  • Arrive to the testing location at least 30 minutes early to make sure you have enough time to check in, find the exam room, and generally get the lay of the land.

What Kind of Questions Are on the Verbal Reasoning Section?

The 40 questions will be split between vocabulary questions and sentence completion questions. For the vocabulary questions, students will be given a word and then asked to choose a synonym from a list of four possible choices.

The synonym might not always mean exactly the same thing but will be the closest in meaning of the choices available. In some cases, there may be more than one answer that seems to be a correct synonym. This is where it is useful to know the minor differences between words so that narrowing in on the most accurate answer is possible.

For the sentence completion questions, students will see a sentence with either one or two words missing. They will then need to choose the most appropriate vocabulary word from a set of four possible choices (for each missing word) to complete the sentence in a way that makes sense.

What Scores Do Students Need to Get on the Verbal Reasoning Section?

The verbal reasoning section will be given a scaled score ranging from 760 to 940. There is no minimum required but the higher the score, the stronger the overall application to the school will be.

The score report that both you and the school where your student is applying receive will include the score for each section of the test along with the percentile ranking. The percentile ranking represents how well the student performed in relation to other students applying for the same grade level.

Along with the scaled score and the percentile ranking, you’ll also be able to see the raw score (the actual number of correct answers) for each section. It’s helpful to keep this report on hand so that your student can use it later to create a customized study plan when preparing for the SAT or ACT since those college entrance exams measure the same skills (albeit at a more advanced level).

How Should Students Prepare for the ISEE Upper Level Verbal Reasoning Section?

For the verbal reasoning portion of the ISEE, students need to work on expanding their vocabulary with a special focus on learning the subtle differences between words with similar meanings so that they can deal with questions that might have multiple answers which seem correct.

The best way to gain the level of vocabulary skills necessary is to use the Mometrix Study Guide. It not only provides definitions of the words most likely to appear on the test but even includes tricks for figuring out the definition of a word just by breaking down the parts of the word itself. It will also help students learn how to narrow down the choices on questions when they aren’t really sure what the answer is.

Another great study tool for this section is a set of Mometrix Flashcards. These flashcards are a great way to review a large set of vocabulary terms in a more engaging and interactive way than just reading through a page full of vocabulary terms. It’s also a great way for you to provide additional support since you can use them to do pop quizzes and play study games with your student.

Upgrade your studying with our ISEE Upper Level study guide and flashcards:
ISEE Upper Level Study Guide
ISEE Upper Level Flashcards
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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: January 14, 2021