The following strategies will help students best prepare for the ISEE to ensure that they are ready to ace the test on exam day.  Follow these tips and their scores are sure to increase!

Tip #1:  Make a study plan

Making a plan is the most important step to increasing an ISEE score.  The earlier students can begin studying the better! Ideally, they should begin studying and practicing for the ISEE at least 3 months before their scheduled exam.  Students should set aside 10 minutes each day to review vocabulary words and 1-2 hours twice a week to practice strategies and complete practice problems. By doing this, they will slowly build their vocabulary and gain new skills without being overwhelmed.  As the exam date approaches, they can practice more than 2 hours twice a week. Consistent practice is the key to increased test scores!

Tip #2: Guessing

There is no penalty for guessing on the ISEE.  Therefore, even if students get a question wrong, their score will not decrease, which makes strategic guessing a great way to gain extra points! There are two scenarios where guessing should occur.  

1. Students come across a question and have no idea what the answer is

No matter how much students practice and study, there is a chance that they will come across a few questions that they simply do not know the answer to.  They’ve tried all the possible strategies and still can’t get to the correct answer. At this point, they should take a guess and move on. Remember, this is a timed test, so they want to try to answer as many questions as possible before time runs out.

2. Students run out of time and still have questions left to answer.

Because the ISEE is a timed test, students must complete each section in a given amount of time.  This is not always possible and they may be left with some questions unanswered in the end. Don’t leave those questions blank because that means they definitely won’t get any points for them! Even if they don’t have a chance to read the question because they ran out of time, they should fill in an answer anyways.  This way, they have a chance of getting the correct answer and gaining points rather than leaving it blank.

Tip #3: Crossing out


Crossing out answer choices is a great strategy to use when students are unsure what the answer is.  The more answer choices they can cross off, the better chance they have of choosing the correct answer.  Typically there will be two obvious wrong answer choices, one close answer choice, and the best answer. If they are able to cross off the two that are obviously wrong, then they have a 50% chance of getting the correct answer with only two options left.  In the verbal reasoning section, use strategies such as prefixes and context to eliminate answer choices. In the math sections, use estimation and working backwards to eliminate answer choices. These strategies will enable students to cross out some answer choices to have a better chance of choosing the correct answer.

Tip #4: Timing each practice test


Each section of the ISEE has a designated amount of time in which students need to complete the questions.  One of the easiest ways to ensure a higher score is to be able to complete all the questions in the allotted time.  Students should time themselves during every practice section to get an idea of how long it takes them to complete each section.  If they finish well before the time is over, they should slow down to ensure higher accuracy. If they are unable to finish the section before the time is over, they should continue to take timed practice tests to ensure that they can finish on time.  

Tip #5: Building vocabulary


Verbal reasoning is typically one of the more difficult sections for students because it contains a variety of vocabulary words that students may or may not have heard of.  One of the easiest ways to improve their score on this section is to learn new vocabulary words. By following a study plan and practicing vocabulary 10 minutes each day, they will start to embed new vocabulary into their memory.  Cramming as many vocabulary words the night before the ISEE is not recommended! Start early and students will be able to recall a higher number of vocabulary words. Another great way to build vocabulary is through regular consistent reading. This will provide exposure to new words in context which will allow for better retention of definitions.  

For registration information and to register for the ISEE please visit the ERB website.

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