Step 1: Take a full-length practice test.
This initial practice test serves as a benchmark, or diagnostic test, and is the jumping-oﬀ point of the preparation process. We generally recommend taking this test as early as possible, but it is never too late.
No matter how close it is to your oﬃcial test date, taking a practice test will familiarize you with the testʼs style, diﬃculty, and content so that you know what to expect on test day.
The most important thing about a practice test is its accuracy ‒ if the practice test does not reﬂect the content of the oﬃcial test well, the beneﬁts of taking that practice test are limited. There are many sample tests and practice resources available, and we encourage you to research them. We have spent a great deal of time making our practice as accurate as possible, and we continually ask for feedback every year to make sure our content is up to date. You can ﬁnd our practice materials at https://ISEEpracticetest.com
Step 2: Identify strengths and weaknesses based on results.
Look at overall trends ﬁrst. Which sections went well, and which sections would you like to improve? Then dig deeper. What speciﬁc question types or subject areas went well, and which ones could use improvement? Do geometry concepts need brushing up, or are the algebra problems tripping you up?
At this point, consider time management as well. Did you manage your time eﬀectively on each section? Did you run out of time to answer all of the questions on any of the sections?
The most successful students take comprehensive diagnostic tests throughout the preparation process, and these will give them three critical pieces of data to evaluate:
1) Which subjects are you ready for, and which ones still need work?
2) How did you manage your time? Are you consistently spending too long on some types of questions?
3) How do your scores look in the context of the schools you’re interested in?
Step 3: Focus on any weak areas identiﬁed from Step 2.
This is the step at which all of the learning takes place! Review every question that you answered incorrectly or skipped. Make sure that you would know how to answer them correctly if you saw them again. This means that you should not only know why the correct answer is correct, but also why the answer you chose (and the other incorrect answers) is wrong.
For verbal questions, add words you donʼt know to your vocabulary list. This includes words from the answer choices.
For math questions, identify the concepts and skills being tested in the questions you missed. Study those concepts, starting with the topics and question types you have seen before but may need review. After mastering those, delve into the unfamiliar content.
For reading questions, practice ﬁnding textual evidence (see reading strategies for more information): ﬁnd line numbers to support every correct answer, and determine what information in the passage made each incorrect answer wrong.
To help students practice speciﬁc skills in the Test Innovators platform, we have additional practice exercises linked to each question so that students can follow up with relevant work.
Tip: Whatever materials you choose to work with, be sure to include targeted practice of the speciﬁc question types you are missing. This approach will be much more impactful than simply taking full-length test sections.
Step 4: Take another full-length practice test, and repeat.
The preparation process is an iterative one. Each practice test should serve as a benchmark of progress. Studying between practice tests allows you to see growth and improvement between tests.
After you have reviewed and reﬂected on test results, learn everything about the questions you missed, and then take another practice to gauge your progress and determine what you need to work on next.
Tip: Make sure that you have access to normative scores for your practice tests! Remember that answering 75% of the questions correctly on a given section may be a great score or an average score depending on the grade level and diﬃculty of the section.