Latin School of Chicago

An Overview of the Independent School Entrance Exam

Created for students nationwide for application into Independent Schools, the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is the entrance exam used by independent schools throughout the country. Students applying to high school (grades 9-12) must take the Upper Level ISEE. Though it may sound unfair that an 8th grader is required to take the same exam as an 11th grader, 8th graders’ scores are only compared to the scores of other 8th graders, 9th graders’ scores are only compared to the scores of other 9th graders, and so on.

Designed by the Educational Records Bureau, this test is approximately two hours and forty minutes long and includes 160 questions. There are four multiple choice sections on the ISEE: mathematics achievement (47 questions, 40 minutes); quantitative reasoning (37 questions, 35 minutes); reading comprehension (36 questions, 35 minutes); and verbal reasoning (40 questions, 20 minutes). Additionally, students are required to complete an essay (30 minutes). The essay, though not graded, is sent to the schools to which students are applying and is used much like a personal statement. A calculator is not permitted and there is no guessing penalty on the ISEE.

The ISEE is administered on Saturdays throughout the year at various independent schools throughout the city. To learn more about how to register for the ISEE, visit the Educational Records Bureau website.

Lastly, dissimilar to the selective enrollment high school process, the ISEE is viewed in conjunction with a student’s transcript. Thus, a student’s score on the ISEE is of similar importance as the score a high school student needs to get on their ACT/SAT to get into college. It’s certainly important, but it isn’t the only thing considered for admission. To learn more about how to prepare for the ISEE, visit

Lauren Lynch, Tutoring Coordinator
(312) 848-1266