The Lower Level ISEE is among the first admissions tests a 4th or 5th grader will take. It’s also the longest. Most of our students have never done anything uninterrupted for three hours straight, let alone a standardized test.
That’s the challenge of preparing students for the Lower Level ISEE - getting them mentally prepared to focus, read carefully, and answer questions from 3 different subject areas.
Here’s how we do it.
Begin with an introduction to independent work. What does it feel like to work without guidance, without the ability to ask questions? What does it feel like to navigate an academic tasks where there is no feedback, no certainty of whether your answers are right or wrong? This is not always familiar to 10 and 11-year olds.
Next, introduce short assignments - read a passage and answer questions, then try some math problems. From there, we add time and content - 20 minutes, 20 questions; 30 minutes, 30 questions, and so on.
The goal is to become familiar with half a section, then a full section, then two sections, finally working up to the four sections students will have to master by test day. And along the way, it’s important to check in with students to hear their feedback - how they’re adapting to the test’s challenges, what they think is and is not working. Our goal is not to teach coping mechanisms that will help them endure the test, but to instill in them a sense of confidence that comes from a strong understanding of the test itself.
Lastly, whether or not you hire a tutoring company for ISEE support, we recommend integrating classroom mock testing.
We offer mock exams to students who are looking for an experience as close to the real test environment as they can get. Our typical mock exam student is a junior or senior in high school - someone getting ready for an SAT or an ACT - or an 8th grader preparing for a high school admissions test. But every once in a while a diminutive but equally ambitious student will take a seat among their older peers. These are our Lower Level ISEE students, and their challenges are sometimes equal to those students whose tests are just as long, and just as complex for their age.