You’ve taken your first practice ISEE test and you’ve scored it, but you’re not really sure what your scores mean. Since the ISEE isn’t scored the same way as tests you’ve taken in school, understanding your scores is confusing for most students and parents.
Before you can understand what is considered a good score on the ISEE, you should have an understanding of how the ISEE is scored. To learn more about how the ISEE is scored, read our blog post How is the ISEE Scored?
Unfortunately, there is not one answer for what is considered a good score on the ISEE: it really depends on the school(s) you’re applying to. However, the average ISEE score for students who are accepted into private schools is around the 60th percentile. While some schools tell students that a stanine of 5 on each section of the ISEE is enough to be considered for admissions, more competitive schools may look for students who score in the 7 to 9 stanine range.
What if my child’s scores aren’t very high?
Parents are often worried that their child’s ISEE scores are not high enough. So what should you do if your child’s scores don’t seem very high?
First, it’s important to remember that the ISEE is taken by a competitive pool of test-takers. The exam is very difficult and covers content that most students haven’t seen before. The majority of students who take the test fall in between the 4 to 6 stanine range on each section of the exam. It's important to remember that these scores are not similar to test scores in school.
Second, standardized test scores are only one part of a student’s application; schools consider a variety of factors when deciding who to admit, and the importance placed on standardized test scores can vary depending on the school. While some schools have a strict cut-off score, other schools take a more holistic approach and look at the entire student when making admissions decisions.
Finally, admissions directors are looking to build a diverse and well-balanced class of students. For many schools, this means accepting students with a wide range of academic abilities, extra curricular activities, personalities, and interests. In our experience working with students in the Bay Area, we’ve found that students with lower test scores (in the 4 to 6 stanine range) can be admitted over students with higher test scores (in the 7 to 9 stanine range) if the rest of their application is strong. For example, if a student has strong teacher recommendations, good grades, and is culturally a good fit for the school, the school may overlook his/her low test scores.
If you’re interested in learning more about what scores are considered acceptable at a certain school, reach out to the school’s admissions department. Most schools will provide parents with information about how much test scores affect an applicant’s application.
If you’re looking for practice material to help your child improve his/her ISEE scores, check out our comprehensive workbooks, each with over 2500 practice problems and three-full length practice tests, for all three levels of the ISEE: ISEE Upper Level Workbook, ISEE Middle Level Workbook, ISEE Lower Level Workbook