If you’re planning to take the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Examination), you will want to pick ISEE test dates and locations that are convenient for you and your family. Especially for first-time ISEE test-takers, this process can be very involved; an added pressure is that spaces often fill up quickly. Set yourself on a low-stress path to ISEE test success by following our six-step guide to navigating the complexities of choosing ISEE test dates!
Note that for the purposes of this blog, we will focus on testing dates and locations in four major U.S. cities known for their prestigious private school options: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Step One: Choose the Correct ISEE Level
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of choosing the best ISEE test dates, you need to understand exactly which ISEE level you (or your child) must prepare for. The ISEE is designed and developed by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB), which offers three levels of the ISEE:
- Lower Level (Applicants to 5th and 6th grade)
- Middle Level (Applicants to 7th and 8th grade)
- Upper Level (Applicants to 9th-12th grade).
The structure of each test is the same, but time limitations and test difficulty vary depending on the level of the test.
Set yourself up for success by choosing test preparation materials that match the ISEE level you will be taking. Piqosity offers an in-depth ISEE Lower Level Prep Guide to help prepare the youngest cohort of students, and an equally comprehensive ISEE Upper Level Prep Guide, which covers both the Middle and Upper Level ISEE.
Step Two: Choose an ISEE Testing Season
You may have heard that you (or your child) may take the ISEE up to three times each year. While it is true that there are three testing opportunities each year, there is an important stipulation.
Each calendar year is broken up into three testing seasons:
- Fall – August, September, October, and November.
- Winter – December, January, February, and March.
- Spring/Summer – April, May, June, and July.
A student may only take the ISEE once per testing season. So while you CAN take the ISEE test three times in a year, to accomplish this requires careful advance planning. For example, you could schedule ISEE test dates in August, December, and April, but you could not take the ISEE in August, September, and October.
Choosing the Best Testing Season for You
To choose the best ISEE test dates, you will need to think ahead to the upcoming year, especially if you are active in extracurricular activities.
Here are ten important questions to consider when planning:
1. How many times would you like to take the ISEE test?
2. Do you struggle with test taking, and would like to ensure you have the most amount of chances at a good score?
3. Do you struggle with test taking, and hope to only take this test once?
If you want multiple chances to take the ISEE test, register for your first ISEE sometime in the Spring/Summer months. That way, you can test again in the Fall, and in the Winter, getting the best possible score to your school of choice before their application deadline closes.
If you hope to take this test only once, consider booking your test date farther out, giving you more time to study and prepare.
4. What is the busiest time of my sports season?
5. When is the fall play, or spring musical?
6. When is this year’s choir tour, orchestra festival, or marching band trip?
If you participate in athletics or other extracurricular activities, you will want to plan your ISEE testing date in such a way that you do not add the stress of (and preparation time for) an intimidating and important test into an already busy semester.
For example, if you play basketball in the Winter, consider taking the ISEE in the Spring/Summer testing season, and again in the Fall, so that you may commit to your basketball season without feeling too overwhelmed. Similarly, if you will be acting in your school’s Spring musical, you may wish to delay your first ISEE until the Fall so that you are not pulled in too many directions.
7. Do you have any important family events coming up within the next year?
8. Will you need to work this school year? How far in advance does your job need for time off requests?
9. Is your family taking a vacation this year?
You may have a regular work schedule, or perhaps you pick up seasonal jobs. Either way, you should make sure to consider these potential conflicts when choosing your ISEE testing dates.
Also, be sure to cross-check possible ISEE testing dates against your family’s calendar. If you’re planning to take a cross-country road trip in the Summer, or a ski vacation in the Winter, it may not be in your best interests to also schedule an ISEE test during that time.
10. Are you a transfer student entering private school this upcoming year?
Finally, know that if you are transferring schools and your school(s) of choice allow for late registration, the Spring/Summer testing season is available to you, and may offer an advantage: getting your test results in before the fall can help to ensure a better chance at transferring into the perfect school.
Step 3: Find an ISEE Testing Location
Now that you have learned which ISEE level is appropriate, and have a general idea of which testing seasons would work best for you and your family, it’s time to choose an ISEE testing location. You have several different options to consider.
Large Group ISEE Testing
The ISEE can be taken in both large and small groups. Large group testing is held at schools; most students take the ISEE in this fashion. One reason that this is the most popular format is that tests in larger groups are cheaper. Another reason is that there are simply more seats available in larger groups. Some students, however, find this setting distracting and intimidating.
Note: You do not have to take your ISEE test at your current school or the school you wish to attend. While some schools do offer closed testing sites for students who are enrolled in or have already applied there, students should also have other locations to choose from.
Small Group ISEE Testing
Small group tests primarily happen at testing offices, but these are usually located only in large cities, like New York City and Houston, TX. This means that these locations are not always easily accessible to everyone. However, if you do live near one of these testing sites and are interested in taking your ISEE there, register soon: seats fill up quickly.
Prometric Test Centers offer a chance for even smaller group sizes. These centers are located in many areas across the United States. However, Prometric Test Centers are not affiliated with the ERB, and so only offer the online version of the ISEE. You will also want to keep in mind that if you take your ISEE at a Prometric Test Center, you will be alongside people taking different tests, not just other ISEE-takers.
Considering this testing option? Some Prometric Test Centers are in the following locations:
You might be wondering, “Can I take the ISEE at home?” Right now, the answer is yes. Since 2020, there is an option for students to take the ISEE in the comfort of your own home. Students who choose this option will take the test online overseen by a virtual proctor.
Remember that each testing location offers different ISEE test dates. So wherever you decide to take your test, we recommend choosing your testing location before finalizing your ISEE test date.
Step 4: Choose Your ISEE Test Date
Now, it is time to choose that initial ISEE test date. When choosing this date, aim for something about six weeks before your personal deadline (whether that deadline is dictated by family schedules, test preferences, etc). Don’t forget to consider the application deadline of the private school(s) of your choice, as you will want to make sure your scores are back in time for you to submit your ISEE scores with your applications.
You can find specific testing dates for your area on ERB’s website and student portal. For your convenience, here are some important dates in the Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City areas, located in the top schools near those cities.
Wondering what to expect on test day? Our complete Guide to ISEE Test Day has you covered!
Upcoming Chicago ISEE Test Dates
Upcoming Houston Area ISEE Test Dates
Upcoming Los Angeles Area ISEE Test Dates
Upcoming New York City Area ISEE Test Dates
Step 5: Register for the ISEE
Once you have your ISEE test dates picked out, it’s time for ISEE test registration. To register, A student’s parent or guardian will need to create an account on the ERB website. From the parent portal, they will be able to view testing dates and times sorted by location, as well as pricing options. Typically, paper testing is $140, while a Prometric or online ISEE averages around $200.
If you need any testing accommodations, it’s important to know that you must apply to have them allowed during your ISEE test. These accommodations must be properly documented and approved before testing day. Applications for testing accommodations are available on the ERB portal.
Know ISEE Registration Deadlines
It’s important to register for your ISEE test as early as possible, as these tests fill up quickly. Plus, there are registration deadlines to keep in mind. Registration deadlines are typically fourteen days (two weeks) prior to the testing date.
After the registration deadline has passed, many sites offer a period of late registration, which is available for a higher price. If you miss this opportunity as well, you will have only one more option: walk-in registration.
What is ISEE Walk-in Registration?
Even though it’s called a “walk-in” registration, this is a misnomer. You cannot actually walk into a testing site and register for the ISEE. Instead, “walk-in” registrations refer to very last-minute, advance registrations. They are only available for select large group testing sites, and are accessible only by dealing directly with the administering school.
To set up a walk-in registration, call the school’s administration office, and let them know you would like to register for an upcoming test. If there are any spots available, they will give you a code, which you can use to gain access to register for their ISEE test date, even if the registration period has officially closed.
Step 6: Use Piqosity’s ISEE Test Prep Materials
Now that you have picked your ISEE test dates and location, and registered for the test, it’s time to start considering when to start preparing for the ISEE test. You might start with an ISEE online practice test to help you get ready for this important day.
Although we may be a little biased, we think Piqosity offers the best online ISEE test prep available. Our ISEE test preparation packages include:
- 10 Full-Length Practice Tests
- Concept Review Lessons & Video Tutorials
- Adaptive, Gamified Practice Questions
- Thorough Answer Explanations
- Realistic Score Prediction and Detailed Analysis
- Options for Parent Consultations and 1:1 Tutoring
- …and much, much more!
Still not convinced? That’s okay—you can register for FREE (no credit card information required) for our Community package, giving you access to a mini diagnostic test, tutorial lessons with videos, adaptive practice questions, and more.
But wait, there’s even more! Our ISEE test prep packages are also now bundled (for no extra cost) with math and English enrichment courses that can provide further remediation, enrichment, and test prep. We currently offer 5th grade math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, 5th grade English, 8th grade English, and 11th grade English!
So what are you waiting for? Get a boost up on your ISEE test prep today with Piqosity!
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