The ISEE Essay is the fifth and final section of the ISEE lower, middle, and upper level tests. This personal essay is not scored; however, a copy of it is sent to each school to which families send their scores. Students have 30-minutes in which to write up to 2 pages in response to one prompt.

Although the ISEE essay is not technically scored, it is nonetheless an important opportunity for students to showcase their unfiltered individuality and convey their excellent communication skills.

Browse through our comprehensive Prep Guides:

ISEE Essay Sample Prompts

  1. What is something you have accomplished that has made a great impact on you?
  2. Who was your most important role model as a child? Describe this person and his or her influence on you.
  3. If you were in charge of a school trip, where would you go and why?
  4. If you could change an action you took in the past, what would you change and why?
  5. What aspects of high school interest you the most?
  6. If you could gain one new skill, what would it be and why?
  7. If you could have dinner with any person (real or fictional) from any point in time, who would you choose and why?
  8. Describe a community service project you have completed or would like to undertake. Explain why this choice has importance to you.
  9. The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted daily life in 2020. Describe some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
  10. The world we live in is far from perfect. Name one issue of importance to you and provide some ideas for how to fix this problem.
  11. Describe in detail a time when you helped a friend or family member in need.
  12. If you could control the weather, what would you do and why?

Example Brainstorming, Outlines, and Responses

What is something you have accomplished that has made a great impact on you?

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about something that you have done that has had an effect on your life in some way. After completing this task, you could be a completely different person, or you are more firmly set on the path towards your goals.

This accomplishment could be big or small, charitable or self‐serving, or serious or hilarious. It doesn’t matter as long as the thing you accomplishment affected you in some meaningful way. For example:

  • Victory or defeat in a sport
  • Award won or lost in a competition
  • Book or book series that you’ve read
  • Vacation you’ve taken
  • Community service you’ve completed
  • Family event you’ve attended
  • Church activity in which you’ve participated
  • Individual (human or animal) that you’ve formed a relationship with
  • Goals that you’ve met in and/or out of school
  • Movie that you’ve seen

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I visited England for the first time in 7th grade.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) I went to Shakespeare’s hometown.
      • (Detail 1) There were lots of small performances.
      • (Detail 2) I felt an immediate sense of history.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) I went to visit Stonehenge.
      • (Detail 1) The ruins were awe-inspiring.
      • (Detail 2) No one really knows their purpose.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) London has lots of great, free museums.
      • (Detail 1) My favorite part was the Rosetta Stone.
      • (Detail 2) I imagined what it was like to first discover it.
  • (Conclusion) My family’s visit to England was eye-opening.

Sample Response

Something that I have accomplished that has made a great impact on me is the vacation I took to England last year, the first time I traveled outside of the country. In English class, we had just learned about Shakespeare and read parts of some plays, and in History class we had been studying Stonehenge and other ruins. My parents thought the trip would be a great connection to my studies. Upon visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, Stonehenge, and museums in London, my interest in the wider world grew immensely.

For me, the trip really started when we drove to Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. At Shakespeare’s house, a woman greeted us with the introduction to “Romeo and Juliet,” and I was impressed with how easily she spoke the words. Then, I felt a wave of goosebumps as we entered his home. By just standing in the middle of his home, I felt a respect for Shakespeare that was greater than anything I had felt in the classroom.

The next day, we went to see Stonehenge. When I looked out at the ruin, I felt the same strange feeling as I did in Shakespeare’s home. It was early, and the sun hit the stones in a way that made them seem mystical. Someone placed these enormous stones here centuries ago for an unknown purpose, and I was walking on the same ground they did all those years ago! I spent the rest of the day thinking about the people who built Stonehenge and what it would be like to meet them.

For the rest of our trip, we visited many museums around London. In the British Museum, I was most interested in the Rosetta Stone, the large stone tablet that allowed us to decipher several ancient languages. The stone was much larger than I anticipated, and I could clearly see the various markings covering it. I suddenly imagined scientists discovering it and marveling at the opportunities it presented to understanding ancient languages.

All in all, my family’s trip to England was an eye-opening experience. Getting to see what I was learning about in school made me truly excited about learning. In the end, visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, Stonehenge, and London’s museums opened me up not only to information but to the desire for that information. I can’t wait for our trip to South America next year!

Who was your most important role model as a child? Describe this person and his or her influence on you.

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about the most important individual that you have modeled yourself and/or the things you do in some way and their influence on you. This individual does not need to be someone you have actually met, nor does his or her influence have to have had that great of an impact on you.

However, role models are usually those individuals who have changed or shaped your life in an effective way. Your choice does not necessarily have to be heavy or serious, but you think carefully about your choice. For example, your role model can be a/an:

  • family member (parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, sibling, cousin)
  • friend
  • teacher
  • leader
  • author
  • actor/actress
  • sports figure
  • historical figure
  • fictional character (book, television, comic, video game, etc.)

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) Batman is an excellent role model for me.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) He fights crime.
      • (Detail 1) He puts dangerous criminals in jail.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) He uses his money to help others.
      • (Detail 1) As a philanthropist, he improves the life of Gotham’s residents.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) He thrives in a difficult life.
      • (Detail 1) His parents died when he was young.
  • (Conclusion) Batman has inspired me to fight injustice, help others, and be humble.

Sample Response

My most important role model as a child was Batman. I have always admired his actions, and growing up, many of my birthday parties were Batman-themed, and I was always Batman for Halloween. Batman is a great role model as he always tries to do the right thing as a person and as a crime-fighter, he is charitable to those in need, and he has persevered through a very difficult life.

When Batman lost his parents as a child at the hands of a criminal, he made it his mission to battle crime in Gotham City. Batman utilizes his intelligence and vast wealth to stop criminals. like Ra’s al Ghul, a man determined to destroy Gotham City. Batman always puts himself in danger to help others, so why can’t I do the same? Once, I saw someone being bullied in the hall and without thinking, I got between them. I was shoved by the bully in the process but eventually the bully walked away.

Batman’s alter ego is Bruce Wayne. He inherited a lot of money from his parents, which he uses to help those in need in Gotham City. The Wayne Foundation provides meals for the homeless, funds scientific research, and manages free medical clinics. This inspires me to perform whatever charitable work that I can. Every holiday season, I work in soup kitchens and participate in food and clothing drives with my church. I am also a member of Small Steps, an organization that helps underprivileged young people.

Batman has led a very difficult life, but he has made the most of it. When he lost his family at a young age, he found a father figure in the family butler, Alfred. Batman always selflessly seeks to help those in need. Whenever I feel down about how life is treating me, I think of all the hardships that Batman has faced and try to make the most of the situation, because there are many people who have it worse than I do.

All in all, Batman was, and still is, the most important role model to me as a child. He inspires me to stop violence and wrongdoing whenever I can, strive to help as many people as possible, and to overcome hardships with optimistic thinking. Although he is fictional, Batman demonstrates what it really means to be a good person.

If you were in charge of a school trip, where would you go and why?

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about an eventful school trip that you would like to go to with your friends. This could be a place that would be educational, sports related, or anything that just interests you.

You should think about all of the necessary things that a class must need for this trip. The trip should also be meaningful in some way. For Example:

  • Movie theater
  • Baseball game
  • Science museum
  • The waterpark
  • NASA
  • Washington D.C.
  • The Texas Renaissance festival
  • Rodeo

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I would lead a school trip to NASA.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) NASA might close soon.
      • (Detail 1) NASA’s budget is always getting cut.
      • (Detail 2) We should see it in case it closes.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) NASA’s accomplishments are an important part of history.
      • (Detail 1) NASA astronauts were the first men on the moon.
      • (Detail 2) Examine moon artifacts.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) We can learn more about space science.
      • (Detail 1) Understand what it’s like to live in space.
      • (Detail 2) See astronaut tools and equipment.
  • (Conclusion) A trip to NASA would be historically, culturally, and scientifically valuable.

Sample Response

If I were in charge of a school trip, I would take my fellow classmates to a place that is not only full of excitement and fun, but also must be educational. That is why I would take my class to the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas. NASA would be the best possible trip because it is a historic place for the United States and highly educational. It is urgent to go soon, though, before there are even more budget cuts.

The Space Center holds some of the most indispensable memories from our past. The history of NASA can show us how the race to the moon inspired the advancement of science and technology. There are displays filled with some of the old space suits, equipment, and moon rocks. The Space Center even has simulation areas, where students can experience high speeds, fly in the old space crafts, or even pretend to be the first astronauts to walk on the moon.

NASA is still developing new and exciting equipment and tools to help possible missions to Mars and other planets. Recently they have launched numerous satellite missions, landed two rovers on Mars, and created countless inventions to help space travel. All of these things can be seen at the Space Center, too! Just by observing these new gadgets and gizmos, students can be inspired to become future engineers, scientists, physicists, mathematicians, and so much more.

We must go to NASA before any more possible budget cuts that could potentially close down the Space Center. The cuts have already stopped the manned missions to space and limited the number of unmanned missions. Most American astronauts now have to go to Russia in order to explore outer space. I would hate to not get the chance to explore this amazing institution that put the first men on the moon.

School trips should also consider important moments in our history. They should also inspire students to explore the fascinating world around us, and show the relevance of our studies. And it is important to think about opportunities that may be missed due to time. In the end, the school trip I would plan would be a mission to NASA, where my classmates and I could learn the history and future of space travel before it’s too late!

If you could change an action you took in the past, what would you change and why?

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about a moment in your life that you may regret. Think of something that you may have done that may have affected another person. Maybe you did something that changed your life in a bad way. What would you change and why? For example:

  • Not studying for my history test and failing it
  • Blaming my sister for breaking the TV
  • Pretending to be hurt during the basketball tournament
  • Forgetting to get my Mom something for Mother’s day
  • Stealing a candy bar from the store
  • Burning my thumb trying to light a firework

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I was wrong for faking an injury during a sporting event.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) I should stand up to fear.
      • (Detail 1) Should not let fear take over.
      • (Detail 2) It’s OK to lose.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) Team effort
      • (Detail 1) It takes a team to win.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Be a good example.
      • (Detail 1) Show my little brother it’s okay to lose and play fairly.
  • (Conclusion) I shouldn’t have faked an injury, but now I’ve learned form my mistake.

Sample Response

The action I most regret happened last year during the 7th grade boys’ basketball championship match. We were down by ten points with eight minutes left and I was frustrated because I wasn’t playing well. So I fell to the floor and faked an injury. I want to erase this from the history books because I should have stood up to my fears, I could still have won the game, and I could have set an example for my brother.

I pretended to be injured because I was afraid to lose. I grew up watching movies where the bad guys are the losers. I never saw myself as a bad person, so when I was losing, I panicked. I wish I could go back in time and tell my old self that it’s OK to lose. If I had faced my fears at that basketball game, I would have had the courage to do other scary things, like ask someone to the 8th grade prom.

I let my team down. It was not my job to win the game alone; it was the team’s job to win. Later that year, I had to work with three other students to write a report on the Civil War. I was not familiar with the Southern side of the war, but one of my group was. We worked as a team and earned an A on the assignment.

Finally, I could have set an example for my younger brother, who was sitting right behind the bench. If I had acted differently, I could have shown the power of teamwork, and that it’s OK to lose. By staying on the ground, I instead made it OK to lie and give up. If I could take back that night on the court, I would have taught my brother a valuable lesson in sportsmanship.

In the end, that night still happened. I still fell on the floor and pretended to feel pain. I cannot take it back, but I can still learn from my mistake. I can now hold my head up when I lose a game. I am extremely proud and grateful to be on a team. And I admitted my mistake to my brother, setting an example about accountability. While I would change this mistake if I could, I am better for the experience.

What aspects of high school interest you the most?

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about the things that you may hope to learn or do in high school. It is something that may be exciting and interesting to you, but not to everyone else.

You could talk about sports, science, theater, or new friends. As long as it interests you. For example:

  • Being on the swim team
  • Acting in a high school play
  • Learning how to play a new instrument
  • Meeting new friends from other middle schools
  • Working in the science laboratory

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I look forward to learning new things.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) Science
      • (Detail 1) Chemistry experiments
    • (Supporting Idea 2) Band
      • (Detail 1) Learn to play trumpet
      • (Detail 2) Dad’s jazz records
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Drama
      • (Detail 1) Learn to act
      • (Detail 2) Compare middle & high school plays
  • (Conclusion) I am excited about all the new things to learn in high school.

Sample Response

A big aspect of high school that interests me the most is the opportunity to learn new things. In middle school I was on the football, basketball, and swim teams. It is time to challenge myself with something new and exciting. What is more different from sports than science and the arts? In high school I am most interested in the opportunity to take more science classes, learn how to play the trumpet, and act in a play.

I have always loved my science classes growing up, and every year I enter the science fair. My favorite subject is chemistry, but my middle school did not have the proper supplies for chemistry experiments. This will not be the case in high school. My brother even told me that the chemistry classes use Bunsen burners. The process to become a scientist starts in high school and I cannot wait to start.

Science is not the only new subject I want to learn. I have this urge to play the trumpet. My dad grew up in New Orleans and played the trumpet when he was in high school. Growing up, he would play his old jazz records for me, and sometimes even play along with his trumpet. Some of the records are so old, the labels have fallen off. I am excited to think that, while in high school, I can learn how to play as well as my dad. Maybe I can even play with him one day.

I would also love to act in a play. When my older brother was in high school, I went to his performance as Scrooge in their rendition of A Christmas Carol, and it inspired me. In middle school, our holiday performance was much simpler. In high school, even though I might not get to play Scrooge like my brother, the chance to be part of a big performance is something I am really excited about.

High school is a time for a student to grow and develop into an adult. The adult I want to become will need science, music, and theater classes. With the information I learn in my science classes, I can go on to get a degree in chemistry. Studying music and drama can bring me closer to my dad and brother. High school seems like a very interesting and memorable place.

If you could gain one new skill, what would it be and why?

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about something you may want to learn. It is something that may be exciting and interesting to you, but you haven’t learned yet.

You could talk about a sport that you want to learn, or even a musical instrument. As long as it interests you. For example:

  • learn how to play soccer
  • learn the rules of basketball
  • improve my cooking skills
  • be better at math
  • learn magic
  • take lessons to learn to play the drums

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I want to learn how to cook.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) So I can cook with my dad.
      • (Detail 1) Help him in the kitchen.
      • (Detail 2) Give him a break.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) Good for college.
      • (Detail 1) Save money.
      • (Detail 2) Eat healthy.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Possible career.
      • (Detail 1) Be a television celebrity chef!
      • (Detail 2) Open my own restaurant.
  • (Conclusion) Learning to cook has many valuable benefits.

Sample Response

There are many different skills that I want to learn, but at the moment I would most like to learn how to cook. I have always enjoyed food, and I feel it is time for me to learn how to make it myself. If I learn the skill of cooking, then I can help my dad with dinner, I can take my skills with me to college, and maybe I can even start a career with it.

The main reason why I want to learn this skill is to be able to cook with my dad. Every night he makes an amazing meal with fresh and healthy ingredients, and he always packs me a delicious homemade lunch.. I want to be able to come home from school and help my dad by prepping the necessary ingredients, then he can take over when he gets back from work. Maybe one day my dad can sit back and relax while I cook the whole meal!

Learning to cook is also a skill that I can take with me when I finally get to go to college. I would rather learn how to make homemade chicken noodle soup with organic vegetables than eat microwaved broth out of a cup. I learned in my health class that the body needs a good balance of healthy fats, vitamins, proteins, and carbs. Homemade food is better for providing these nutrients, which will give me the energy to succeed in college.

Cooking could also help me make some money. One day, I could even have my own restaurant! I can take what my dad teaches me and use it at my restaurant. Maybe I would even get a chance to have my own cooking show to share the importance of eating healthy food with other kids. They could pass on what they learn to their brothers and sisters, or even to their own kids in the future.

Learning to cook is a very important skill. It might bring my father and me closer together and give him the break he deserves. I could take this skill with me to college. This skill could even end up being a possible career! In the end, learning the skill to cook would better my father’s life, help with my studies, and even give me opportunities to better my life and the lives of others.

If you could have dinner with any person (real or fictional) from any point in time, who would you choose and why?

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you who in the world, from history, literature, or even TV you would most like to meet. Maybe this is a person you have always admired, or perhaps it is someone who could teach you a new skill. Maybe they could answer a question about the past you have always had, or maybe you would just like to be their friend.

Start by considering a wide range of possible people, both real and fictional, then narrow it down to the one you are most excited to write about. Your choice of guest does not necessarily have to be heavy or serious! For example, your dinner guest could be a/an:

  • world leader (current or historical)
  • religious figure
  • personal ancestor
  • famous athlete
  • explorer
  • author, actor, artist, performer
  • favorite book or TV character
  • superhero or action hero

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I would want to have dinner with Gandhi.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) To ask about non-violent protest.
      • (Detail 1) Studied about him in school.
      • (Detail 2) Learn about his inspiration.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) How to be a good leader.
      • (Detail 1) Led a movement, so inspirational.
      • (Detail 2) How to handle disagreement.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Ask for advice about today’s world.
      • (Detail 1) A lot of conflict today.
      • (Detail 2) Want guidance for how to improve.
  • (Conclusion) Gandhi could inspire me to become a better person.

Sample Response

If I could have dinner with any person from any point in time, I would choose to share a meal with Mahatma Gandhi. I have always found him to be an inspiring figure and am drawn to the way he was both a spiritual and political leader. If we had dinner together, I would want to learn more about non-violent protest and about how to be an effective leader, and I would be curious to see if he had advice about how to live in today’s world.

In school, we studied Gandhi’s non-violent protest, or satyagraha. If I had dinner with Gandhi, I would ask him more about this so I could learn his personal perspective, not just what others wrote about him. I want to know where he got his inspiration from, and how he stayed focused on his non-violent goals. Finally, I want to understand why he always promoted non-violence, especially when it seems like violent action might be easier.

I also want to talk to Gandhi about how to be a good leader. He led a huge movement in India to help end British rule, and was central to establishing the new government during a stressful period of time. Leadership is hard, and I want to know how he managed to get through it all, particularly when handling disagreements between his followers. I have been very interested in leadership since I became involved in student government.

Finally, I want to ask Gandhi for advice about living in today’s world, which is split by so many disagreements and everyone is always so angry. I really believe that Gandhi’s peaceful approach to events in the past could be a model for us today. I would be so interested to hear his suggestions for how to solve conflict, and especially what advice he might have for me personally about how to live more peacefully.

Ever since I learned about Gandhi, he has been a big source of inspiration. That is why he is the historical figure I would choose to have dinner with. I would learn more about his approach to non-violence and leadership and get advice for living in the present. Of course, I cannot have dinner with Gandhi, but I can study his life and teachings by reading or watching documentaries and he can still be a valuable role model.

Describe a community service project you have completed or would like to undertake. Explain why this choice has importance to you.

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about community service or service learning projects you have completed, or perhaps hypothetical projects you would like to participate in. You may have volunteered with your family, through a community center or religious organization, or even at school. If you have not had a chance to do one of these projects, this is a good opportunity to come up with an idea you feel passionate about.

There are many kinds of community service—you may work directly with people, or you might work “behind the scenes” to ensure that a community has what it needs. For example:

  • volunteering at a soup kitchen/food bank
  • tutoring or teaching struggling students
  • weeding a community garden or park grounds
  • helping a non-profit with admin/mailing/filing tasks
  • cleaning school classrooms
  • participating in a fund drive for charity (read-a-thon, bake sale, charity run, etc.)
  • cleaning graffiti off of buildings
  • building homes in another country

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I volunteered at a food bank.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) My youth group helped serve a meal.
      • (Detail 1) Fun bonding activity.
      • (Detail 2) People were so grateful.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) We are all the same.
      • (Detail 1) Everyone needs to eat.
      • (Detail 2) Important to provide.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Want to keep volunteering.
      • (Detail 1) Other ways to help out.
      • (Detail 2) Bathing/beauty/health supplies.
  • (Conclusion) Volunteering made me want to help solve inequality.

Sample Response

One of the most impactful community service projects I participated in was volunteering to help at a local food bank. That experience made me reflect about how people who might not be able to afford food are really no different from you or me. It helped me to understand that everyone deserves equal treatment whatever their circumstances, and it made me want to help my community more in the future.

At the food bank, my church youth group was put in charge of a special Thanksgiving meal for the homeless, with turkey and all the side dishes. I helped prepare the mashed potatoes. After they had eaten, some of them shared with us how they became homeless, and I was struck by how many of them were just unlucky. I was also really affected by how grateful they were for a square meal, and to be treated like everyone else. Many of them said how meaningful it was just to be treated with kindness.

We are all the same, even if some of us cannot afford food. That is just an external thing, and it doesn’t mean anything about how much value someone has. Homeless people are people, too, and if my family had been as unlucky as some of them, we could be homeless too. That is why it’s so important that we try to provide services for people in need, whether it’s food or clothing or shelter.

After my experience at the food bank, I really want to help more often. Talking to one of the homeless guests, they said that one of the hardest things to find are bathroom products like shampoo or soap or deodorant. So this year, I want to organize a donation drive of those kinds of products to give out to the guests at the Thanksgiving dinner. It would be so meaningful to be able to provide things that they actually need and want.

It is easy to ignore a problem like homelessness, or pretend that if people can’t afford food it’s somehow their fault. After my experience volunteering at the food bank, I realize that this is not true. We have a responsibility to our fellow citizens, especially if we have more resources than they do. I am really looking forward to future community service projects because I think that it is so important to try and combat inequality.

The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted daily life in 2020. Describe some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about how a global pandemic affected you personally. Your response may vary depending on where you lived and how your family coped with the pandemic. Remember that the prompt is also interested in how you adapted to the changes and, where possible, made the best of difficult situations.

Because the prompt is asking for more than one example, it’s good to brainstorm a wide variety of possibilities. For example:

  • attending school online
  • having private music lessons online
  • not being able to see friends or family in person
  • not being able to go on planned trips
  • worrying about the health of family and friends
  • facing personal fears about illness
  • facing personal fears about vaccines/needles
  • not having personal space because of parents working at home

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) The pandemic altered my life, but I was able to learn new things.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) Taking music lessons online.
      • (Detail 1) Really hard to work with my teacher.
      • (Detail 2) Learned to be more self-motivated.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) Couldn’t take family vacation.
      • (Detail 1) Disappointed not to go to Europe.
      • (Detail 2) Family cooked dinners together.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Couldn’t see my grandparents.
      • (Detail 1) Really sad because they are getting old.
      • (Detail 2) Taught them to use new technology.
  • (Conclusion) I am now able to see some good things that came out of the pandemic.

Sample Response

The COVID-19 pandemic definitely impacted my daily life in 2020. Before the pandemic, I was expecting to have a normal year a lot like the year before, but once COVID began, everything changed. Three of the biggest changes were that I had to start taking music lessons online, my family’s trip to Europe was canceled, and I couldn’t see my grandparents in person. But I overcame each of these challenges and had new experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I have been taking clarinet lessons for three years. When the pandemic hit, my teacher taught lessons using Zoom, but it really wasn’t the same. We realized that it would actually be more helpful if I made a recording before each lesson for us to talk about. In order to make the recording in time, I had to be independently motivated. That motivation is something I’m glad to have found because it has helped me improve much more quickly.

Another big change from the pandemic was that my family’s summer trip to Europe was canceled. I was so sad, because I had been really excited to visit all of the different countries. But my parents realized that we could still experience being abroad at home, so every Friday night, we cooked dinner together as a family, picking a different country’s recipes to focus on. It is a new tradition that we will continue even when the pandemic is over.

The saddest thing about the pandemic for me was not being able to see my grandparents. Their health is not always good, and I really missed seeing them. When it was clear that the pandemic was lasting a long time, though, they said they wanted to learn how to video-chat and text with us. I got to teach them how to use their smartphones. It was a double blessing: I got to bond with them, and now we text almost every day.

Although no one could be happy that COVID-19 happened, I have come to see that there were some silver linings to my experience. I discovered how to self-motivate myself to practice clarinet, my family became closer as a result of our cooking dinner, and I deepened my relationship with my grandparents. Although the pandemic has had many negative impacts, I am glad to be taking these positive changes forward into my life.

The world we live in is far from perfect. Name one issue of importance to you and provide some ideas for how to fix this problem.

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about an issue you feel the world is facing, and how you would try to solve this problem. It may be helpful to think of both global and individual solutions. Consider both what a country’s government could do to help and what actions an individual (like you or one of your friends) could take to help.

It will probably be easier to write this essay if you choose a topic that you feel strongly about. Remember that you don’t have to solve all of the world’s problems, just focus on the one you feel most drawn to. For example, you might consider:

  • violence/war
  • poverty/hunger
  • climate change
  • political polarization
  • racism
  • sexism
  • disability rights
  • LGBTQ+ discrimination
  • immigration/refugees
  • animal extinction

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) One of the biggest problems in the world is racism.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) The importance of education.
      • (Detail 1) Watched a documentary in school.
      • (Detail 2) Discussion groups to learn more.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) Individual accountability.
      • (Detail 1) Speaking up for people.
      • (Detail 2) Helping friends and family.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Governmental role
      • (Detail 1) Make laws that prohibit discrimination.
  • (Conclusion) It will take hard work, but we must try to end racism.

Sample Response

The world faces many big problems, but I think one of the most important to solve is racism. Racism exists everywhere, and we need to work to end it if we want to build a better world. There is not just one approach, because it is a complicated issue. The best way to try and solve this problem is to approach it on many different levels, such as in school, through individual actions, and from governmental policy and guidance.

An important first step towards ending racism is to educate people. In my school, we watched a documentary about racism through history, and about how it shapes society today. We split into discussion groups with our classmates, and I was really moved by some of my peers’ stories. My understanding of racism completely changed after these experiences, and I think everyone should have a similar curriculum so that we can all learn more.

Another important strategy is individual accountability. That means both making sure that I am not saying racist things but also that I try to help my friends or family be less racist, too. When my grandparents were using the word “Oriental” to describe an Asian person, I explained to them that it is not appropriate to say that any more. Now, they don’t use that word. If everyone watches out for this kind of behavior, the world can become a less racist place.

The government also has an important role to play. They can make laws that prohibit discrimination, like not hiring non-white people. They can also make sure the punishments for acting in a racist way are severe. Although I think most people probably don’t want to be racist on purpose, there are still some who might not want to change their behavior unless they will be punished. That is where the government comes in and can act as a “bad cop” influence.

Racism is a vast problem, and it will not be easy to end it. But I think it is one of the most important issues facing our world and we must work to make racism a thing of the past. It makes me so upset to think that there are people whose lives are so much harder than my own just because their skin is not white like mine. We are all the same, even if we look different.

Describe in detail a time when you helped a friend or family member in need.

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about a time you helped out a family member who needed it. It will probably be easier to write about a time that you remember clearly. Start by thinking about all the times you can remember when a family member was in need and how you helped them. Keep in mind that helping someone in need can mean a lot of different things. For example, you might consider writing about:

  • offering emotional support to a family member in a difficult situation
  • taking care of an family member when they were injured or sick
  • doing something kind for a family member to cheer them up
  • helping a sibling study or understand homework they struggled with
  • taking care of extra chores to relieve some of your parents’ stress
  • doing yard work for you grandparents who might not be able to

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) I helped my sister when she sprained her ankle.
    • (Supporting Idea 1) Carried her stuff at school.
      • (Detail 1) Made it easier for her to get around.
      • (Detail 2) We got to spend more time together.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) Decorated her crutches.
      • (Detail 1) The surprise cheered her up.
      • (Detail 2) I got to use my art skills to help.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Got all her friends to sign a get-well card.
      • (Detail 1) Friends were happy to help.
      • (Detail 2) Meant a lot to her.
    • (Conclusion) I’m closer to my sister after helping her through her injury.

Sample Response

One time that I helped a family member in need was last year when my sister sprained her ankle playing soccer. She was upset because she couldn’t play for eight weeks while she was in a cast. It was also hard for her because she had to use crutches to move around. I wanted to make things easier for her, so I carried her backpack for her at school. That way she didn’t have to deal with carrying it or opening doors. It also helped strengthen our bond because we don’t usually spend time together at school. However, we were able to talk between classes, and we still walk together even though I don’t have to carry her stuff anymore. 

My sister also didn’t like her crutches because she thought they were uncomfortable and didn’t match any of her outfits. So, I asked my mom to take me to the store, and I got fabrics in her favorite colors to make cushions for her crutches. That way they didn’t hurt her arms so much and matched her backpack. I liked doing this because it made her happy and she didn’t mind using her crutches as much. It was also nice to practice my art skills. Another thing I did to help my sister was that I got all of her friends to sign a get well card for her. This took a lot of planning because I wanted it to be a surprise, but it was worth it because my sister really appreciated knowing so many people were thinking of her. 

In conclusion, it was really sad when my sister hurt her ankle, but I’m glad I was able to help her by carrying her backpack at school, decorating her crutches, and getting a get well card for her. I think that everything I did helped her feel better and made us grow closer. I also learned that it’s important to show your family members that you’re there for them when something goes wrong.

If you could control the weather, what would you do and why?

Start by Brainstorming

The prompt is asking you about what you would do if you had the ability to control the weather. It may be helpful to think about the weather on both a local and global scale. Consider both what changes you would make to the weather in your area and around the world.

It will probably be easier to write this essay about a weather change you feel most strongly about. Remember that you don’t have to talk about each aspect of the weather that you could change, just focus on the one you feel most drawn to. For example, you might consider:

  • temperature
  • humidity and dryness
  • types of weather (ex. sunny, raining, cloudy)
  • natural disasters
  • seasonal weather

Then Write a Quick Outline

  • (Thesis) If I controlled the weather, I would lower the global temperature to reduce global warming.
    •  (Supporting Idea 1) Global warming harms the environment.
      • (Detail 1) Ice in the Arctic Ocean has melted.
      • (Detail 2) If the sea was colder, less ice would melt.
    • (Supporting Idea 2) Global warming has endangered many species.
      • (Detail 1) Animals in arctic environments are losing their homes.
      • (Detail 2) Colder temperatures would help preserve their natural habitats.
    • (Supporting Idea 3) Humans are also negatively impacted by global warming.
      • (Detail 1) The heat makes spending time outdoors less enjoyable.
      • (Detail 2) Regulating the heat would make being outside more pleasant and safe.
  • (Conclusion) If I controlled the weather, I could reduce the negative impacts that global warming has had.

Sample Response

If I could control the weather, I would make the temperature colder all around the world to help fix global warming. Global warming has had significant negative effects on the environment, harmed many species, and caused problems for humans. By regulating the temperature, I could help to reduce some of these negative impacts.

I would make the global temperature a few degrees cooler and prevent huge changes in the temperature throughout the year. This would have a positive impact because global warming has greatly harmed the environment. For example, global warming has caused a lot of ice in the Arctic Ocean to melt which has led to rising sea levels. But, if I controlled the weather I would make sure that the ocean was cold enough so that this ice would stay frozen.

Another problem I would address if I could control the weather is the harm global warming has caused for a lot of animal species. For instance, polar bears live in the Arctic where a lot of ice is melting. When this ice melts, it destroys the polar bears’ natural habitat and creates a dangerous situation for them. However, if I controlled the weather, I could ensure that Arctic animals’ habitats remain suitable for them.

Finally, if I could control the weather, I could help limit the negative effects global warming has had on humans. Many people dislike when it gets very hot outside, and too much heat can even be dangerous. For example, it can be dangerous to play sports when it’s super hot outside because of the increased risk of dehydration and overheating. Therefore, making sure that the temperature never gets dangerously high would allow everyone to safely enjoy spending time outdoors.

In conclusion, controlling the weather would allow me to lower the temperature across the world and lessen the negative impact that global warming has had on the environment, endangered species, and humans. If I controlled the weather, I  would regulate the temperature to ensure that these issues don’t worsen.

Full-Length ISEE Practice Tests

Piqosity offers up to 12 full-length practice tests each for the ISEE Lower, Middle, and Upper Levels. Learn more and and take a free diagnostic test at