It might seem like a disadvantage for a younger student to be taking the same test as older students, but it’s a little more complicated. The ISEE is scored based on the grade for which a student is applying, so students are only compared to others applying to the same grade.
So, a student applying to grade 9 will not be competing against a student who is two years older, applying to grade 11. However, an 8th grader will be taking a test with questions designed to identify the top 11th graders. Knowing not to dwell on these difficult questions is critical to success on the ISEE.
ISEE Score Reports
Admissions departments and parents usually talk about ISEE scores in terms of stanines. For each section of the test, except for the unscored essay section, students receive a stanine score from 1 through 9. Since stanines are a normalized score (more on that below), they depend only on how a student performed compared to others applying to the same grade.
Hereʼs an example of what an ISEE score report looks like. At the top of the report, youʼll see overall scores for each section of the test:
Note: Although percentiles provide more speciﬁc information about how a student's performance compared to others of the same age, the most commonly referenced ISEE scores are still the stanines.
Underneath the overall scores on the score report, you will see a more detailed breakdown. Each section is broken into question types, and to the right, + signs and - signs indicate which questions were answered correctly and incorrectly.
ISEE questions are ordered by diﬃculty within each section, except for the reading section, and the score report reﬂects this. Thus, the ﬁrst question within a subsection was the easiest one, and the last question was the hardest. Score reports show whether students missed easy questions (toward the beginning of a subsection) or harder questions (toward the end).
Score Report Insights
Here is a breakdown of the diﬀerent scores presented on the ISEE score report, and their importance:
Scaled Score: The scaled score for each section is a number between 760 and 940. This contains the same information as the percentile, but in a less straightforward way. Focus on the percentile instead.
Percentile Rank: This is the best number to use to understand student performance, and relates directly to the stanine (explained below), which is the measure that schools primarily use.
The percentile compares a studentʼs performance to all other same-grade students taking the same test. For example, a 20th percentile indicates that a student answered more questions correctly than 20% of students applying to the same grade.
Stanine: The primary numbers referenced by schools to describe ISEE scores are the stanines. Each stanine correlates to a percentile range, as shown in this chart:
Notice that the percentile ranges for the middle stanines of 4-6 are far larger than the ranges for the extreme stanines of 1, 2, 8, or 9. This means that most students taking the ISEE achieve scores in the middle range. Only the top 3 percent of all test takers receive a stanine of 9 on any given section.
Raw Score: This simply indicates the number of questions a student answered correctly out of the total number of questions. This score is not very meaningful because, unlike on in-school tests where students are always aiming for a high percent of correct answers, on the ISEE, performance is all relative. On a hard test section, answering 50% of the questions could be great. The comparison with how other students did on each test section is all that matters.
How soon will I receive my score report?
You will be able to see your score report through your online account with ERB within about two weeks of the test date.
Can I see the score report before sending it to schools?
Yes! Especially if you test (or may test) more than once, we strongly recommend that you wait until you see the score report(s) before determining the schools to which you would like to send them.
If I test more than once, can I send only the best score for each section?
No. Though some schools may choose to do this as they review student score reports, the admissions offices will be able to see the complete score report for each test you choose to send.
Why are my ISEE scores lower than my usual standardized test scores?
ISEE test takers tend to be high performers, and a 50th percentile score means that you’re testing right in the middle of this talented pack. The competitive nature of the test is, however, a very good reason to practice before sitting down for the official exam.