What are the sections of the ISEE?

  • Posted By: Jordyn Vandeleur
  • December 18, 2018
Pizza, sliced into sections (get it?)

Verbal Reasoning

The ISEE’s Verbal Reasoning section has two types of questions: vocabulary and sentence completions. Vocabulary questions give you a word and ask you to choose the most similar word from four options. Sentence completion questions ask you to fill in one or two blanks in a sentence with the best word (or words) from four answer choices. Sentence completion questions on the Lower and Middle Level tests will have one blank to fill in for each sentence, while the Upper Level test will have some questions with one blank and some questions with two blanks.

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning is the first of the ISEE’s two math sections. This section focuses on your logical and mathematical reasoning abilities. Unlike many of the math tests you may have taken in school, a lot of the questions in this section require no calculations or only simple calculations. On the Lower Level test, all of the questions will be word problems. On the Middle and Upper Level tests, the questions consist of both word problems and quantitative comparison questions. Quantitative comparison questions will give you two quantities (A and B) and ask you to evaluate the relationship between them. The answer choices for quantitative comparison questions are always the same:

A. The quantity in Column A is greater
B. The quantity in Column B is greater
C. The two quantities are equal
D. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension section consists of six reading passages (five for Lower Level). Passages are chosen to be grade-level appropriate and interesting. The topic of passages can vary widely, and you may see passages related to science, literature, history, and daily life. After reading the passage you will be asked questions about the main ideas, details, organization, and tone of the passage. Some questions will ask you to make inferences based on what you have read.

Mathematics Achievement

The Mathematics Achievement section aims to test the mathematical skills you have learned in school. The questions and content are made to align with grade level standards determined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The topics covered include numerical operations, algebra, geometry, data analysis, and measurement. Unlike the Quantitative Reasoning section, you may need to do calculations in this section. It is worth noting that while calculations may be necessary, calculators are not allowed, so being quick and careful with calculations is important.


For the final section of the test you will be given a prompt and 30 minutes to complete an essay on that subject. While the essay is not scored, it is sent to the schools you’re applying to. The essay gives you a chance to show schools how you well you can express yourself, organize your thoughts, and address a prompt in a logical manner.