What is a Good Score on the ISEE?

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The ISEE, Independent School Entrance Exam, is a test many students through 2nd to 12th grade take to get admitted into a private institute. It is a standardized test that evaluates the level of knowledge a student possesses. Hence, if you aim to enroll in a private high school or prestigious institute, you might have stumbled upon the ISEE.

However, these exams are notoriously known for their extensive reports. The score you receive comes before the analysis section. Hence, many need clarification about what the data on the paper entails. People also want to know how to make sense of it all. This article dives into the details behind the ISEE scoring and what a good score is.

How Does the ISEE Scoring Work?How Does the ISEE Scoring Work?

Before understanding the ISEE score, explaining the exam’s content is essential. First, the exam consists of various levels according to the grade you are applying to. These levels are below:

  • Upper Level: for students applying to a school in 9th grade or higher
  • Middle Level: designed for applicants between the 7th and 8th grade
  • Lower Level: this one is for individuals who are currently classified to be in the 5th or 6th grade

Regardless of the level you are testing for, the content of the ISEE exam revolves around four main subject tests and one that is unscored but is still vital:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Mathematics Achievement
  • Essay Section (Unscored)

Understanding ISEE Scores

Understanding ISEE Scores

The essay part is required. However, it will not be graded. Instead, the people who grade the papers send them to the school you are applying to as a reference.

However, the question persists; how does the ISEE scoring work, and what is on the report? Below is a sample ISEE student report and an in-depth analysis of what each represents.

The table below is an explanation of what you see in your report. That includes the ISEE score percentile. Stanine grade, scaled score, and the Stanine analysis.


Test Profile

Part of the Report


Scaled Scored

Percentile Rank


Stanine Analysis


As the exam consists of 4 parts, each subject is graded separately.

The scaled score represents your raw score. The raw score is the sum of all correct answers. The scaled score will factor in the difficulty of the exam.

The percentile rank score is the easiest way of finding out where you stand compared to other test-takers. The percentile is provided by factoring all students from that particular grade who took the exam within the last three years.

Stanine, which translates into a score out of 9, provides nine different categories in which students can be classified to determine whether they have performed well. A percentile rank of 1-3 represents a Stanine of 1. The midpoint is 5, which is a percentile of 40-59.

As you can see in the image above, the Stanine Analysis allows whoever is reading the report to compare the student’s performance on different sections of the exam.


Four subjects are graded (math, verbal reasoning, reading, and quantitative) – the essay is not graded

760 – 940

1 – 99

1 – 9

1 – 9, but represented in a more visually appealing manner

ERB learn administers the ISEE exam. According to the institute, the scaled score range varies according to the exam level. A further illustration is below:

Upper Level

  • Mathematics Achievement: 806 – 940
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 815 – 940
  • Verbal Reasoning: 797 – 935
  • Reading Comprehension: 825 – 940

Middle Level

  • Mathematics Achievement: 774 – 904
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 791 – 927
  • Verbal Reasoning: 782 – 926
  • Reading Comprehension: 799 – 940

Lower Level

  • Mathematics Achievement: 769 – 907
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 766 – 911
  • Verbal Reasoning: 760 – 903
  • Reading Comprehension: 764 – 913

Below the “test profile” section is the “analysis” segment. This part of the report reflects the number of correct answers you got. It also reflects which specific answers were wrong and which were correct. This allows you to discover your mistakes and hone your skills in particular subjects.

What is an Average ISEE Score?

What is an Average ISEE Score?

Generally speaking, what is an average score? A middle grade is what 50% of test-takers managed to score. That reflects what most students achieved on their exams but could be a more accurate representation.

Since the ISEE student report provides information about percentile rank and Stanine scores, one can extrapolate the ISEE average score. Referring to the table illustrated above, you will see that a Stanine score of 5 reflects students within the 40th – 59th percentile rank.

Hence, a Stanine score of 5 often represents the average score. However, that does not mean it is a good one. Most institutes seek to admit top-achieving students who will contribute to their schools. Hence, it is advised to aim for something much higher than the average ISEE score.

A better illustration of the average generally can be found below, as shown in the graph. The stanine grades are placed against their equivalent percentile ranges. The highest point on the curve, the stanine 5, reflects what most students achieve on the exam.

What is Considered a Good Score on the ISEE?

What is Considered a Good Score on the ISEE?

If you refer to the graph above again, the score that places you within the 96th to 99th percentile is a stanine grade of 9. Now, that is a perfect score; only 4% of individuals achieve a score within that small margin.

Hence, many ask what a good score on the ISEE is. It all depends on the private school you are applying to. On average, schools will accept grades that are five or higher. However, more prestigious and competitive schools will require you to achieve a stanine score of at least 7.

Do you need clarification about whether the school of your dreams requires a high score to get into its institute? Test Innovators provides an extensive list of schools with the average accepted ISEE score. You can check out the complete list on their website.

That said, it is generally a wiser idea to contact the institute and inquire about their accepted scores. The data you find only cannot always be accurate. Moreover, it is constantly subject to change. Hence, getting adequate information from a good source is vital.

Do ISEE Scores Matter?

Do ISEE Scores Matter?

ISEE is one of two crucial standardized tests that schools reflect upon. The other is the SSAT. Hence, if you are wondering whether ISEE scores matter, they do. These standardized exams are tools used to evaluate whether you are prepared for the curriculum and pressure the school presents.

While every school will say there is no cutoff score, many truly have them but need to share them with the public. Hence, keep the ISEE score conversion chart in mind to find out what score you should be aiming for. You can do so after contacting the school of your dreams and asking them what scores they are looking for.

To recap, a five-stanine score is considered to be average. If you are applying to a competitive institute, they will expect higher scores. Any average score of 7 or higher is a great one and is impressive enough to get you considered for a spot.

How to Improve Your ISEE Score?

How to Improve Your ISEE Score?

If you want to ensure you improve your ISEE score, following the tips below will assist you by giving you pointers and general assistance.

Never skip a single question

Like the SAT exam, the ISEE does not penalize you for incorrect answers. Hence, even if you are hesitant about a solution, fill it in, as that will decrease your chances of getting a higher grade.

The middle and upper ISEE levels include 160 questions and an essay section. You will have precisely 160 minutes to complete the exam. That is why you should avoid getting stuck on one question, as that will drain away from the time you have left.

Learn how to manage your time

To achieve your highest ISEE score, learn how to solve the exam in excellent time. It would help if you built a strategy to tackle the exam efficiently. For example, since you do not have spare time to spend on each question, attempt to answer all of them.

If you cannot answer the question, give it your best shot and mark it. If you have extra time at the very end, you should circle and consider it.

Remain focused and patient

It is no secret that the exam requires a lot of practice and concentration. For example, ISEE scores for Exeter admit students within the 96th percentile or higher. That means you should dedicate 2-3 months of studying and practice if you want to be accepted into such a competitive place.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Good Score on the ISEE?

In a nutshell, the ISEE is essential for almost all admissions into a private school. It is part of every student’s admission process. However, there are various levels. The one you belong to depends on the grade you are enrolling in.

The ISEE score is essential to get into a prestigious or competitive private school. While it is similar to the SATs, it is not a piece of cake. The recommendation is to spend at least two months studying and preparing for the exam, especially if you are aiming for high grades.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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