The ISEE, or Independent School Entrance Examination, is a test that many students have to take to gain admission into private middle and high schools in the United States. That means that if you want to attend a private school—or if you want your child to attend a private school—there's a good chance you'll have to register for the ISEE as part of your admissions application.
In this article, we're going to explain everything you need to know about ISEE registration, including:
- Which test level to register for
- How to choose ISEE test dates
- A step-by-step guide to ISEE test registration
- A quick look at what to expect from the ISEE exam
Keep in mind that ISEE test registration—which includes choosing ISEE test dates, locations, and paying for the exam—must be done by a legal adult.
Now, without further ado, let's talk about the ISEE exam!
COVID-19 2020 Test Cancellation Update
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Prometric test centers will be closed until May 31st, 2020. Some students who have registered for Winter or Spring/Summer tests may be affected by these cancellations.
For more information about the cancelled tests and what that means for you, please visit Prometric's COVID-19 response page.
Making sure you pick the right test for your grade level is the first step in registering for the ISEE exam.
ISEE Registration: Choosing the Right Exam
There are three levels of ISEE exams: Lower Level, Middle Level, and Upper Level. Which test you take depends on what grade you're in. Here's how the tests break down by grade level:
- Lower Level: for entering 5th and 6th graders
- Middle Level: for entering 7th and 8th graders
- Upper Level: for entering 9th graders and above
That means you'll need to make sure you're registering for the right exam, otherwise you'll have to change or cancel your registration (which comes with an additional fee of $35-$45). The trick is to register for the test that corresponds with your current grade level. So for example, if you're in 8th grade and want to apply to a private high school, you need to register for the Upper Level exam.
No matter which exam you take, your test will have the same general sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics Achievement. Additionally, there's also an unscored essay portion that's sent to the schools you apply to.
ISEE Registration: Picking an ISEE Test Date
Once you've figured out which test to take, it's time to pick an ISEE test date. There are three steps to this process: picking your testing season, choosing a testing location, then picking an actual date.
ISEE Testing Seasons 2019-2020
Although the ISEE offers testing dates year-round, students can only take the exam one time per testing season. There are three testing seasons throughout the year.
August to November
December to March
April to July
The Educational Records Bureau (ERB) which administers the test allows students to take the ISEE exam up to three times a year, or once per testing season. However, the ERB doesn't recommend that students take the exam more than once.
With that in mind, it's important that you take some time to choose the testing window that works best for you. If you think you want to take the exam more than once, then an early testing window is best. But it's also important to consider your schedule, too.
Here's what we mean. Marcus is an 8th grader who wants to go to a private high school in his city which has an application deadline of June 1st. He also plays football for his middle school varsity team, and they have games every Friday in the fall. For someone like Marcus, taking the ISEE test in the winter testing season may make more sense. That gives him time to prepare for the test...and he can still take the ISEE again in April or May!
Choosing an iSEE Testing Location
Once you've picked your testing season, it's time to start looking at test locations. The ISEE test is offered in three different types of venues:
- Large Group Testing at a School
- Small Group Testing at a Testing Office
- Small Group Testing at an ERB Satellite Test Site
Because the ISEE test dates are different at each location, it's a good idea to decide where you want to test before you start looking at specific dates.
Let's take a look at the different testing sites so you can choose the location that works best for you.
Large Group ISEE Testing at a School
The ERB offers ISEE test dates at many ERB schools around the nation. The ERB does this to make testing more accessible and convenient for students. For many students, large group testing may be the only ISEE testing option available in their city or state. As a result, most students take their ISEE exam in a large-group setting.
ISEE testing dates, the number of students allowed to test, and the test's format (either online or on paper) vary between test locations. You'll need to pay close attention to these variables before your ISEE registration to make sure your test location offers the accommodations that are best for you.
Having said that, there are some definite benefits to large group ISEE testing. First, it's the least expensive option: early ISEE registration starts $125-$150, which is about $70 cheaper than the next most affordable testing option. Second, these locations can be more convenient--in some cases, students might take their ISEE test at the school they're applying to! And lastly, since students will be taking the exam in a familiar school environment, taking the ISEE test in a large group setting can be less intimidating.
But that doesn't mean that large group ISEE testing is right for everyone. If you're easily distracted by other students, for example, you may do better in a small group test setting. Additionally, there are fewer large group test dates available, so you'll have to start looking at ISEE test dates in advance.
Small Group Testing at a Testing Office
If there is an ISEE testing office in your city, you may have the option of taking the ISEE exam in a small group setting at the office itself. Here's a list of states and cities that offer small group ISEE testing.
Cities With ISEE Testing Offices
The number of students allowed to sit for each exam and the type of exam (online or paper) varies by location. But generally speaking, there will be fewer students allowed to take the test on each testing date. There's also an option for students to take the ISEE exam individually at these locations for an additional fee.
The advantage to small group testing is...well, the small group. Fewer students means there will be less distractions in the testing environment. That can be a huge benefit for students who struggle to focus when there are lots of people around. If there's a testing office in your city, then you might consider taking advantage of the smaller test setting.
Unfortunately, there aren't very many ISEE testing offices in the United States. Unless you live in one of the cities listed above, a small group ISEE testing location isn't available to you. Additionally, this testing option comes with a higher price tag, too: early ISEE test registration costs $195 to $225.
Small Group Testing at an ERB Satellite Test Site
The ERB is starting to expand its small group testing opportunities. These satellite testing sites also limit the number of students taking the exam, so you'll still get a relatively distraction-free testing environment. There's no difference in the test content, difficulty, or format if you choose this option—you'll just be sitting for the exam in a non-ERB affiliated location.
Small group satellite testers enjoy the same benefits as those who take the exam at an ERB testing office. The biggest downside to taking the ISEE test this way is that only New York City and Los Angeles, California have satellite testing sites.
Here are the ISEE satellite testing locations by city:
ISEE Satellite Testing Locations
New York, New York
Downtown Manhattan Prometric Center (Test Center 4237)
Courtyard Hotel Times Square, 114 West 40th Street
Los Angeles, California
Glendale Prometric Center (Test Center 5863)
Courtyard Hotel Los Angeles, 901 West Olympic Boulevard
There aren't very many satellite testing facilities at the moment, which means this isn't a viable testing option for most students. Also, it costs more to take the ISEE exam this way: the registration fees for the ISEE test at a satellite testing site range from $200 to $255.
Selecting ISEE Test Dates 2019-2020
Once you have your testing season and your ideal testing location sorted out, it's time to check out the ISEE test dates that are available.
Like we mentioned earlier, the number of testing dates available varies between testing locations. So while an ERB Testing Office will likely offer the exam multiple times per testing season, most ERB-affiliated schools will only proctor the exam once.
Having said that, ISEE tests are only administered on Saturdays and Sundays. So at least you know that you'll have to take the ISEE test on the weekend!
Because of the variability in ISEE test dates, we recommend you start looking at test dates at least six weeks before you'd like to take your exam. That gives you the most flexibility to choose a date and location that works best for you. (It also ensures that you'll have open seats at your test facility...sometimes they can fill up fast!)
But how do you find ISEE test dates and register for an exam? That's what we'll talk about in our next section!
This is your Parent Dashboard, which is where you'll start your ISEE test registration process.
ISEE Registration: How to Register
Finding an ISEE test date and registering for the exam all happen on the ERB website. We're going to walk you through how to register for the ISEE test start to finish!
(Quick note: you have to be of legal age to register for the ISEE exam. That means your parent or legal guardian will have to do the next steps for you.)
Step 1: Create a Parent Profile
The first step in registering for the ISEE exam is creating a parent profile. To do that, click on this link. On the right-hand side of the page, you'll see a button with the words "Create Account" on them. This is where you'll be able to set up your parent profile.
You cannot register for the ISEE exam without having a parent profile, so go ahead an enter your information here. Once you've confirmed your registration, you'll be taken to the next step in the process: setting up a student profile.
Step 2: Create a Student Profile
Since only your student can sit for the exam, you'll have to create a profile for them, too. There are two ways to do this: immediately after finishing your Parent Profile when you're redirected to your home page, or by clicking the "Home" tab at the top of the ERB page. This takes you to the Parent/Guardian Dashboard, which is where you'll set up your student profile.
Once you're on your home page, you should see a button marked "Add Student" on the right side of the page. When you click this button, you'll be redirected to a profile page where you can input all of your student's information, like their name and date of birth. Once you save the information, your student's profile will be added to your dashboard.
If you have more than one student who needs to take the ISEE exam, you can add them to your account, too. Just follow the steps outlined above to add as many students as you like to your dashboard page.
Keep in mind that registration will happen through your student's profile page (not your parent profile page!), so you'll need to have a separate profile set up for each test-taking student.
Once you've set up your parent and student profiles, you'll be able to search for test dates on the test search page, which looks like this.
Step 3: Register for an Exam Testing Date
At this point, you should have your Parent Profile and your Student Profile set up. If you're not already there, click on your student's name on your dashboard—this will open up their profile in your browser.
Once you're on their profile, you'll see a "New Registration" button on the right side of the page. When you click it, you'll be taken to the registration search portal. (There's an image of this right above this section.) This is where you'll be able to look for specific test dates and actually confirm your registration!
You'll notice that there are lots of search options to choose from, including looking for specific test sites, consortiums, and/or testing methods. To begin, we recommend you search by state and testing season. This will give you the largest number of returns on your search...and more testing dates and locations to choose from.
Once you decide which testing date and location works for you, just click the green "register" button under the exam price on the right side of the page. This will take you through the final steps of registration, which include selecting the schools your student's score will be sent to and paying for the exam.
Early vs Late Registration
You may notice that there are a few dates listed on each search result. Each result will give you the exact date and time of the ISEE exam in the top left corner. On the right side, you'll find two other important date ranges: the late registration period and the last day to register for the exam.
Usually, the last day to register for an exam is 14 days before the ISEE test date, and the late registration period occurs the week before all registration closes.
Let's look at an example: you're trying to register your student for a test that happens on Sunday, January 26th. The last day to register for an ISEE test is 14 days prior to the test date, which means the last day to register for this particular ISEE exam is January 12th.
The difference between early and late registration all comes down to price. The ERB assesses a late registration fee for students who sign up for the ISEE test the week before registration closes. The fee for late registration is $25. However, it's a good idea to register as early as possible since some testing sites can fill up quickly.
If your student has a diagnosed disability, they may qualify for additional testing accommodations. To secure these for your student, you'll have to submit a testing accommodation application through their student profile page. Once you've opened their profile on your dashboard, click the "Accommodations" tab at the bottom of the page.
You can only receive accommodations if you've been approved for them prior to registering for a test date. So if your student needs additional testing support, you should start the accommodation approval process eight or more weeks in advance of your anticipated testing date.
You can find more complete information about registering for (and receiving!) special testing accommodations by clicking here.
If you've let ISEE test registration fall through the cracks, the walk-in registration option gives you one last-ditch chance to take the exam on your preferred date.
Step OMG: ISEE Walk-In Registration
Let's say you've put off ISEE registration and come to find that the registration period for the date/location you need has closed.
Don't worry: you still have a shot at taking the exam. Some testing locations will allow you to do what's called "walk-in registration." While the name makes it sound like you can just walk into a testing facility the day of the exam, it's a bit more complicated than that.
Walk-in registrants are students who are trying to register for a specific ISEE test date after the last day of registration has passed. Walk-in registration is only available at some large group testing sites, and it's limited to just a few students per exam.
If you need to register as a walk-in, the first step is to contact the Admissions Office of the school that's administering the exam. If there's space available for your student, the office will give you a walk-in code. You'll then be able to use this code to register online.
The process you'll follow to complete a walk-in registration is slightly different from the one we outlined above. Luckily, the ERB has step-by-step directions for you!
Preparing for the ISEE Test
Once you've gone through the ISEE test registration, it's time to prepare for the exam! Thankfully, there's a whole page of the ERB website dedicated to helping students get prepared for the test.
The best way to get ready for the exam is to read through the test handbooks provided by the ERB. These guidebooks give you a comprehensive overview of the material covered by each level of the ISEE exam. Each one also includes a practice test, practice questions, and information about any additional preparation a student may need.
Here are links to the ERB guidebooks for all three levels of the ISEE test:
The last step to taking the ISEE exam is making sure you're prepared to do your best on test day!
What to Expect on ISEE Test Day
Finally! You've registered and prepared, and now it's test day! There are three things you'll need to bring with you to the testing center: your registration verification letter, identification, and materials for paper testing.
Once you complete your ISEE registration, you'll receive a verification letter via email. (You'll also have a copy sent to your online account, too.) Print out the letter and bring it with you on the day of your exam. Your verification letter serves as your "ticket" to the test, so don't lose it!
Along with your verification letter, you'll have to present valid identification at your testing site. Luckily, the ERB accepts many different types of identification, including:
- Library card
- Birth certificate
- Social security card
- School report card
- School ID
- Passport or green card
While the ERB only requires you to present one of these forms of identification, we recommend that you bring two different types of ID with you on exam day. It's always better to be over-prepared!
Materials for Paper Testing
If you're taking the ISEE exam on paper (rather than digitally), you'll need a few extra supplies to take your test. If you're taking the paper test, you should bring:
- Four, sharpened #2 or HB pencils.
- Four good erasers (if not part of the pencil).
- Two black or blue ballpoint pens (erasable pens are permitted)
Keep in mind that you can only bring these things into the exam room if you're taking the ISEE test on paper. If you're taking the test digitally, leave your pencils at home.
While the ISEE exam is accepted at many private schools as part of the admissions process, others might require you to take the SSAT instead. Not sure what the SSAT is? Don't worry: we've got you covered.
If your school accepts both the ISEE and the SSAT, you'll want to take some time to choose the exam that works for you. One great way to do this is by checking out some practice exams.
You can find ISEE practice tests in the article above, and you can find SSAT practice exams here.
If you decide that you're going to take the SSAT, it's time to get some studying in. Here are our top eight tips for preparing for the SSAT, and here's our guide to studying for the vocabulary section.
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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.