The Primary Level ISEE: What You Need to Know

The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is a test many independent schools use as part of their admissions process. The Primary ISEE is taken by students applying to grades 2-4. The Primary Level ISEE has three levels: Primary Level 2 for students applying to 2nd grade, Primary Level 3 for students applying to 3rd grade, and Primary Level 4 for students applying to 4th grade.

Primary Level 2

Here’s a breakdown of the Primary 2 test format:

  • Auditory Comprehension: 6 questions, 7 minutes
  • Reading: 18 questions, 20 minutes
  • 5 minute break
  • Mathematics: 24 questions, 26 minutes

Now let’s take a closer look at each section.

1. Auditory Comprehension. During the Auditory Comprehension section, you will listen to a passage; the text of the passage is not displayed on the computer screen. After listening to the passage, you will listen to six questions; the text of the questions is displayed on the screen. The questions are about the main idea and supporting ideas, details, organization, vocabulary, and tone of the passage. Additionally, some questions will ask you to make inferences based on what you read.

2. Reading. The Reading section consists of three passages, both fiction and nonfiction. Each passage has six questions. After reading the passage, you will be asked questions about the main idea and supporting ideas, details, organization, vocabulary, and tone of the passage. Additionally, there will be inference-based questions about the passage.

3. Mathematics. The Mathematics section is aligned with national mathematics standards, so it covers topics that students have learned in school. The topics covered are algebraic concepts, data analysis & probability, geometric concepts, measurement, and number sense & operations.

Primary 3

Here’s a breakdown of the Primary 3 test format:

  • Reading: 24 questions, 28 minutes
  • 5 minute break
  • Mathematics: 24 questions, 26 minutes

Now let’s take a closer look at each section.

1. Reading. The Reading section consists of four reading passages and each passage has six questions. After reading the passage, you will be asked questions about the main idea and supporting ideas, organization and logic, vocabulary, and tone of the passage. Additionally, some questions will ask you to make inferences based on what you read.

2. Mathematics. The Mathematics section is aligned with national mathematics standards. It covers topics that students have learned in school, including algebraic concepts, data analysis & probability, geometric concepts, measurement, and number sense & operations.

Primary 4

Here’s a breakdown of the Primary 4 test format:

  • Reading: 28 questions, 30 minutes
  • 5 minute break
  • Mathematics: 28 questions, 30 minutes

Now let’s take a closer look at each section.

1. Reading. The Reading section consists of four reading passages and each passage has seven questions. After reading the passage, you will be asked questions about the main idea and supporting ideas, organization and logic, vocabulary, and tone of the passage. Additionally, some questions will ask you to make inferences based on what you read.

2. Mathematics. The Mathematics section is aligned with national mathematics standards. It covers topics that students have learned in school. The topics include algebraic concepts, data analysis & probability, geometric concepts, measurement, and number sense & operations.

The Primary Level is only administered on the computer. All of the questions are multiple choice with four answer choices. It is important to note that calculators are NOT allowed for any primary level ISEE exams.

Does your child need help preparing for the ISEE? Boston Tutoring Services can help! Please click here for a full overview of the services we offer.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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