Optimizing Your ISEE Testing Schedule

Optimizing Your ISEE Testing Schedule

13 October, 2021

There’s nothing quite like the ISEE testing schedule, and honestly, that’s probably for the best. Until fairly recently, students could only take the ISEE once per school year, which made total sense; after all, nothing says "reliable indicator of your future success in school” like your performance during exactly one three-hour period on a single random day.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case! The ERB now divides the calendar year into three ‘testing seasons', each of which is four months long. Students are generously allowed to test once during each season, with the schedule broken up as follows:

  • Fall: August – November
  • Winter: December – March
  • Spring/Summer: April – July

The seasonal testing structure applies to all test formats and locations, which is more relevant since December 2020, when the ERB introduced an online version of the ISEE in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ISEE testers can now choose to take the test online or on paper, and they can register to test at school, at a testing office (usually the office of an Educational Consultant who is approved by the ERB), at a Prometric testing center, or even at home.

It’s important to note that different locations may offer the test in different formats; for example, students can take the paper or digital test at most testing offices, but they can only take the digital version when testing at home.

With this shift to a seasonal structure, the ERB appears to have conceded what many people already knew: only testing once is a detriment for most students. It’s often very difficult for a student to perform at their best when put into a testing environment for the first time, as test anxiety, pressure to do well, and other fears can impact their ability to perform. This can be even harder for younger testers to cope with, especially if it’s the first standardized test they’ve ever taken—as the ISEE is for many students. Even if they decide to test at home, novice test-takers can easily feel overwhelmed by the intimidating content and unfamiliar test structure.

This is why we highly recommend that ISEE students test twice: once in the fall and once in the winter (in order to accommodate typical application deadlines). This gives students a chance to overcome the nervousness they might feel the first time they take the test and then perform better the second time around, once some of that anxiety has subsided and they know exactly what they’re up against. Theoretically, students can even take the test additional times after the second until they achieve their goal scores; however, due to the constraints of most application timetables, it’s usually not practical for students to test more than twice.

Assume that you’ll test more than once and create an ISEE testing schedule based on your application deadlines. Be sure to start testing early enough to leave time for two test dates before your applications are due in order to give yourself as many chances as possible to maximize your score. Hopefully, you knock it out of the park on the first attempt and can simply cancel that second test date, but it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Since you’ll likely be able to test a maximum of only two times, remember to give yourself plenty of time to study for the ISEE before your first administration.

On that note, it’s not too late to start preparing to take the ISEE for this application cycle! If you want help prepping or even just some advice on plotting out your test calendar, we know some people who can help.

If you’re looking for customized one-on-one prep that’s 100% tailored to your unique needs, Noodle Pros has dozens of expert ISEE tutors with decades of combined experience; set up a consultation today. We can’t wait to get started.

K-12
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