Did grade level affect performance on ISEE practice tests?

  • Posted By: Sam Coulter
  • August 7, 2015

This is the first in a three-part series of data analysis posts. We wanted to investigate how a student's grade level affected their performance on our ISEE tests. {C}In the first part, we'll show you our findings about fifth versus sixth grade performance.

On both the official ISEE and our ISEE practice tests, students take tests based on their grade level: current fourth and fifth graders take the Lower Level, sixth and seventh graders take the Middle Level, and eighth through eleventh graders take the Upper Level. As a result, students in different grades are taking the same test content within a given test level. We know that older students have had additional learning time and, as a result, they should see increased performance on the ISEE versus their younger counterparts.

Here at Test Innovators, we were curious which types of questions saw the greatest performance increase between older students and younger students within a given test level.

The implications of this are important for students, parents and educators. For younger students, it provides insight into areas where additional practice could give them a leg up on their peers. For older students, it may emphasize areas where less focus is necessary because their additional schooling has already helped to fill gaps in these specific content areas

ISEE Practice Test Section-by-Section Analysis

Perhaps unsurprisingly, sixth graders surpass fifth graders on all the sections of the Lower Level ISEE practice tests, improving by over nine percentage points in each section. The area where sixth graders have the greatest advantage over fifth graders is the Mathematics Achievement section, where sixth graders perform over 11 percentage points higher than fifth graders. That is a significant performance increase from fifth to sixth grade!


So it's clear that sixth graders have an edge on fifth graders. Now let’s break this analysis down more by looking at specific question types.

Question Family Analysis

We measured students’ performance in terms of Question Families—broad subject types that fall under the mathematics umbrella. On the Lower Level ISEE, sixth graders outperformed fifth graders by the greatest margins on: Digits (25.3 percentage points), Angles (21.1 percentage points), and Simplifying Expressions (20.5 percentage points).


Question Group Analysis

A more granular analysis of question types shows that sixth graders outperformed fifth graders by the greatest margins on: Computation with Time (27.6 percentage points), Solving for Remaining Angles (26.1 percentage points), and Value of Digits (25.3 percentage points).


What do these questions look like?

A typical question from our Lower Level ISEE practice tests that exemplifies the Computations with Time question group looks like this:

3.75 hours is how many minutes less than 5 hours?
(A) 30
(B) 55
(C) 75
(D) 100

Did you solve it? The answer is C, 75 minutes. By focusing on question types like these, fifth grade students can help to boost their scores relative to other fifth graders. By labeling this question type as review, sixth grade students can improve their scores by focusing their preparation on different, less familiar topics.

Find all of our ISEE practice tests at ISEEpracticetest.com!

Looking for more ISEE secrets? Subscribe to our weekly updates: