Pencil and alarm clock on test sheet on isee test day

Your ISEE test day is almost here! If you’ve been studying for this day, especially if you used the best online ISEE test prep offered through Piqosity, then you are primed and ready to show your top choice private school exactly what you can do. Now that your ISEE test day is nigh, you may have questions bouncing around in your head, such as:

  • What do I bring on ISEE test day?
  • Will anyone help me if I don’t understand what to do?
  • Will there be breaks? 
  • What should I do to prepare myself in the days immediately before the test?

Knowing the answers to these questions in advance can help you mentally and physically prepare for your ISEE test day. We have compiled the answers to all of these questions—and more—below. 

Best Practices BEFORE Your ISEE Test Day

The Week Before the ISEE

Knowing exactly when to start preparing for the ISEE test is an important part of your ISEE test regimen. You might be tempted to cram in a bunch of ISEE practice tests right before the big day. Resist that urge! Ideally, you should have prepared weeks and months prior to your test date; cramming is unlikely to help you improve your score. Instead, prioritize your sleep this week and do your best to support your mental health. Feel free to go over some topics you know you need a refresher on, but do not spend a significant amount time studying and memorizing the week of.

Meanwhile, you should be doing exactly what you’re doing now—learning what will happen during your ISEE test. Double-check that you have your facts straight about when and where you’ll take your test. This information is on your verification letter, emailed to you by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) and found within your ERB portal.

The Day Before the ISEE

The day before your ISEE test, collect what you need to bring with you to the ISEE (detailed below). If you do want to study, do so just a little bit. Consider writing a practice essay to limber up your writing muscles. Concepts are kept freshest in the mind if reviewed right before falling asleep, so if you know that doing so won’t keep you up, do a measured amount of relaxed studying before an early bedtime. 

That’s right—make sure to get a great night’s sleep the night before the ISEE test. This will help your performance and stamina throughout the day. Set your alarm a bit earlier than usual, and think about setting a second if you’re worried that you’ll sleep through the first! 

The Day of the ISEE

The day of your ISEE test, avoid rushing to get to the testing location. Rushing increases anxiety, which can lead to a subpar performance and lower test scores. Instead, rise earlier than you normally would and eat a quality breakfast. Drink some water, too, and calmly go about your normal routine. Consider wearing layers to the test, as the temperature in your testing room may run cold or hot. Finally, you will want to double-check you have everything you need before heading out your front door. 

What do I Bring on ISEE Test Day?

If you’re now asking “What do I bring on ISEE test day?” it’s important to know that there are many items you need to remember for entry into the testing room as well as to take the test itself. Here is a detailed list of everything you must have, along with different variations. 

1. Verification Letter

Every ISEE student must present their ISEE verification letter at their check-in time. As mentioned previously, your verification letter is emailed to you at the time of your ISEE registration. This letter contains your ISEE Identification number and discloses the testing date, the time the test starts, check-in time, and the test location. If you happen to delete or lose the email, a copy of this letter can be found within your ERB portal. 

2. Identification

After presenting your verification letter, you will also need to show proof of your identification. You will be required to do this whether you are taking the ISEE at a school, a testing office, at home, or at a Prometric test center. (Keep in mind, Prometric Testing Centers have slightly different requirements for identification.)

Accepted forms of identification for all forms of ISEE tests done at school, at home, and at a testing office include: 

  • Birth certificates
  • Library cards 
  • Social security cards 
  • School report cards 
  • A school identification card 
  • Your passport or green card
  • A driver’s license, if you have one 

At non-Prometric testing centers, students may present a photocopy of the actual document if you need to.

Special ID Requirements at Prometric Testing Centers

Prometric Testing Centers accept the same forms of identification EXCEPT FOR a student driver’s license. These centers also require that a parent or guardian of the student present their own identification. 

Appropriate ID for a parent or guardian includes: 

  • A passport or green card 
  • Drivers license
  • State-issued ID  

Parents and students must show the actual identification artifact at a Prometric Test Center, not a photocopy.

Finally, some Prometric Test Centers require proof of vaccination from COVID-19. Be sure to check your testing center location before registration to ensure you meet this requirement.

What Happens if You Forget your ID?

If you forget your identification on ISEE test day, you won’t be able to take the ISEE. Furthermore, if your identification comes into question while you are taking the ISEE, the ERB will not release test scores to you or to your schools of choice. The ERB can also share information about your questioned identity to the schools you’d like your scores sent to. So, be sure you have a verifiable, easy-to-read form of identification with you on ISEE test day.

3. Snacks and Drinks

Make sure to pack some light and healthy snacks, as well as a drink, when you head to your ISEE test. Snacks, drinks, and gum are allowed, though they may only be consumed during one of two breaks during the ISEE test. 

If you need access to food or water throughout the ISEE due to medical reasons, you will need to apply for a testing accommodation. This can be done at the time of registration through your ERB portal. 

4. Test Materials (If Taking a Paper Test)

If you have registered for ISEE paper testing, there are a few things you will need.

  • You may bring up to four #2 or HRB pencils. Make sure each is adequately sharpened. 
  • If your pencils do not have erasers, you may bring along up to four additional erasers.
  • You may bring two black or blue ballpoint pens. Erasable pens are allowed.

If you are taking a computer ISEE test, there are no additional test-taking materials you need to bring along. 

What NOT to Bring on ISEE Test Day

Of course, there is an extensive list of items that you are not allowed to bring with you to the ISEE test. These items include:

  • Cell phones
  • Notes
  • Books
  • Scratch paper
  • Smartwatches
  • Test prep materials
  • Rulers

Calculators are also not allowed unless they are approved as a testing accommodation prior to the ISEE test day. If there is anything you absolutely have to have with you during the ISEE outside of what is already allowed in the testing room, you will need to apply for this as a testing accommodation.

If you do bring any of the above items along with you into the testing room without an accepted and planned accommodation, you will be asked to leave the test. Your scores will not be counted, and your testing day will be wasted.

What to Expect on ISEE Test Day

Your ISEE test day will not seem too different from any standardized testing you’ve done before. Here’s what you should prepare to encounter once you head to your test location.

When to Arrive for Your ISEE Test

Again, it is best not to rush on ISEE test day. So, be sure of your ISEE check-in time, and consider enough travel time to arrive about fifteen minutes beforehand. This allows for a little extra time for a bathroom break, greeting a friend, or mentally preparing yourself before going into the testing room. 

Curious where you can find out your test’s check-in time? It is listed on your verification letter. At check-in, you will present this letter as well as your identification. Your information will be validated and you will be all set to go. 

If you arrive after testing has begun, you will not be allowed to enter the testing room and begin the ISEE. Instead, you will need to reschedule for another date. 

What Happens Right Before Your ISEE Test

When you enter your testing room, you will notice your test proctor. If the test is done in a school setting, this proctor is usually a teacher or school administrator; you may even know the person proctoring your test. This is intentional; the hope is that students will feel more at ease working before a familiar face. 

Once you are seated in the ISEE testing room, a test proctor will give you testing instructions. If you do not understand these instructions or do not hear them clearly, you are encouraged to ask questions. Be sure to clarify any points you do not fully understand before diving into the ISEE.

What Happens During Your ISEE Test

During your ISEE test, you will put into practice all of those excellent test prep strategies you have learned over the last months. 

First, you will take the Verbal Reasoning section and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the ISEE. Then, you’ll have a short, 5-10 minute break—the perfect time to use the bathroom or have a quick snack and water break. Then, you will take the Reading Comprehension section of the ISEE, followed by the Math Achievement section before another short break. After this break, you will return to write your Personal Essay

Here’s a breakdown of the ISEE testing structure. Keep in mind that the Lower Level ISEE is a bit shorter than the Middle and Upper Level ISEE.

Lower Level ISEE
Section Time
Verbal Reasoning 20 Minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 35 Minutes
Break 5-10 Minutes
Reading Comprehension 25 Minutes
Mathematics Achievement 30 Minutes
Break 5-10 Minutes
Essay 30 Minutes
Total Time: About 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Middle Level ISEE
Section Time
Verbal Reasoning 20 Minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 35 Minutes
Break 5-10 Minutes
Reading Comprehension 35 Minutes
Mathematics Achievement 40 Minutes
Break 5-10 Minutes
Essay 30 Minutes
Total Time: About 2 Hours 45 Minutes
Upper Level ISEE
Section Time
Verbal Reasoning 20 Minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 35 Minutes
Break 5-10 Minutes
Reading Comprehension 35 Minutes
Mathematics Achievement 40 Minutes
Break 5-10 Minutes
Essay 30 Minutes
Total Time: About 2 Hours 45 Minutes

There will always be a clock visible in the ISEE testing room so you can keep track of the time as you work through the ISEE. 

At the end of each test section, the proctor will give you a five-minute warning. This is a great time to go over questions you may have skipped or are not 100% sure of. Remember, wrong answers do not count against you; you will only be scored compared to other students in your grade. 

After the proctor calls the time for each individual section to be over, you must stop taking that section immediately. You cannot return to any sections or use your break times as extra testing time. 

Finally, the proctor will give you a similar warning when you have both fifteen and five minutes left of the essay section. Once the proctor tells you the final essay section of the ISEE is complete, you will be done writing, and the test will conclude.

Remember that you cannot communicate with other test-takers during the ISEE or be disruptive in any way. If you do, your scores will not be sent after the completion of the test.

What to Know about ISEE At-Home Testing Day

It’s no surprise that ISEE at-home testing is a bit different from ISEE in-person testing. However, there are still some basic similarities. 

For example, you will still be able to register for the test (and accommodations) online through your ERB portal. You will also receive a verification letter. Your verification letter will feature times according to your time zone.

In the days before your at-home ISEE testing, download the ISEE testing application, called Secure Browser. This app will lock down access to all other websites and block screenshots of the test. Though all PCs, Macs, and iPads should have the capability to run Secure Browser, you will want to ensure that it works on your device well before your ISEE test day. Then, run a practice session to ensure you are comfortable. 

The check-in process for an at-home test is very similar to that of an in-person test. You will provide your session number and ISEE identification number, as well as your personal identification. 

Then, you will take the ISEE under the watchful eye of a virtual proctor, who is available to explain the test procedure, give you five-minute warnings, and inform you when testing time has concluded. 

Prepare for the ISEE in Advance with Practice Tests and Prep Lessons

With your ISEE test day fast approaching, make sure you are preparing for it adequately! Whether you have yet to take the ISEE or you’re getting ready for a retake, Piqosity’s courses and free online resources can help you take your test prep to the next level.

Along with our full-length, online ELA and Math courses for grades 6-11, we offer full ISEE prep courses for the ISEE Lower, Middle, and Upper levels. Each course includes several practice exams, dozens of concept lessons, personalized practice software, and more. In fact, we’ve just expanded our offerings from 10 to 12 full-length ISEE pratcice tests per level

At the very least, we encourage you to take our mini diagnostic ISEE online practice test, available for free after registration with our Community Plan. When you’re ready to upgrade, Piqosity’s year-long accounts start at only $89. Plus, get a 10% off coupon just by signing up for our mailing list!