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  • Darian M. Parker, PhD

When Should My Child Take the ISEE-Upper Level?

Updated: Aug 20, 2018

The Upper Level ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) is an important part of your child’s application to independent and private high schools. In deciding when to take the test, timing is everything! If your child takes the test too early, she or he may not have covered enough academic material to do well. Taking the test too late might mean your child only gets to take the test once, which means he or she may not get a chance to improve. Even worse, taking the test too late might cause your child to miss the application deadlines. Below are the three most important factors to consider in deciding when your child should take the ISEE.


1. Application Deadlines

After you generate your school list, visit each institution’s website to determine when applications are due. You can then work backwards to determine when your child should have all testing completed. Most applications are due in December of the year prior to enrollment. Some schools allow tests and other supplemental information to be sent after the main part of the application. We advise making a chart that includes all deadlines. Below is a chart of deadlines for the 2018-2019 school year for four of New York City’s most competitive private schools.

School



2. Limited Number of Test Dates

Your child is only able to take the ISEE once for each of the three testing seasons:



For example, between the months of August and November, your child is only able to take the test once. The same goes for the Winter and Spring/Summer seasons. Thus, you have to be very strategic about planning. Beginning preparation in the 7th grade year would be ideal so that your child can take the test for the first time in the Spring/Summer season. Prepping this early ensures that your child is able to take the test a second time in the Fall season, and possibly a third time in the Winter. The more times one takes the tests, the better the odds for getting an optimal score.


3. Test Preparation

Ultimately, your child should take the test when he or she is prepared. If your child is not well-prepared before taking the test, the entire experience can be discouraging, increasing the chances of test-related anxiety. Furthermore, because there is a great deal of continuity among the ISEE, ACT, SAT and even graduate-level exams (GRE, GMAT), preparation for the ISEE is a rite-of-passage, priming your child to do well on future standardized tests.


Putting It All Together

Based on the three previous considerations, let’s construct a schedule for a hypothetical student; we’ll call her Susan. Let’s say that Susan is a rising 7th-grader and would like to attend a private high school in New York City. Her dream school is Horace Mann. Susan needs a testing plan that optimizes her chances of getting a good score on the ISEE. Below is one possibility.



In summary, advanced planning is key. Make a school list and determine application deadlines (and deadlines for tests/supplemental information) as early as the 7th grade year. Your child will then have ample time to prepare for the ISEE, and will be able to take the test multiple times, thus increasing her or his chances of receiving an optimal score.


As always, we wish you much success!


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