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Dr. Donnelly can teach your child the correct approach for each type of question that will appear on the ISEE exam. This will significantly increase your child's chances of getting accepted into the independent school of your choice.

Private ISEE lessons with Dr. Donnelly are available either online via Skype or in-person at our Midtown Manhattan office conveniently located at 1460 Broadway, (corner of 41st Street) only one block away from Metro stations for the A, B, C, D, E, F, M, N, Q, R, S, 1, 2, 3, and 7 trains.

Over the years, Dr. Donnelly has helped literally hundreds of students to improve their ISEE and SSAT scores significantly and get accepted into a top-tier independent school. We are confident that he can do the same for you.


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About the ISEE

Learn how to Improve your Child's score

The ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) is an admissions test administered to students in grades 2-12 to help determine placement into independent or private junior high and high schools.

The ISEE measures the basic verbal, math, and reading skills students need for successful performance in independent schools. It's an indispensable tool that gives admission professionals an equitable means to assess and compare applicants, regardless of their background or experience.

The ISEE has four levels. All levels of the ISEE test include both reading and mathematics multiple-choice questions as well as a writing prompt. The number of questions and test timing vary by level.

    Primary Level ISEE - For children who are applying for admission to Grades 2-4.
    Lower Level ISEE - For children who are applying for admission to Grades 5 and 6.
    Middle Level ISEE - For children who are applying for admission to Grades 7 and 8.
    Upper Level ISEE - For children who are applying for admission to Grades 9-12.

  1. How to Improve your ISEE Score
  2. Contact Dr. Donnelly about ISEE lessons
  3. Read our ISEE students' reviews
  4. Overview of the ISEE
    1. ISEE Primary Level
    2. ISEE Lower Level
    3. ISEE Middle Level
    4. ISEE Upper Level

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About ISEE Tutoring!

Read our ISEE Students' Reviews

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5 star review

"Dr. Donnelly, Jon got a 498 and he was accepted to Bard Early College and Brooklyn Latin. Thanks for all your help!"

Mary G., Staten Island, New York.

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5 star review

"Dr. Donnelly taught me clearly in a very short time. It was very effective just before my exam, and the results turned out to be great! He was nice and encouraging, and I enjoyed his lessons."

James R., Manhattan, New York.

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5 star review

"My son benefited tremendously from his tutorial sessions with Dr. Donnelly. Not only did he grow in confidence, but he was given the tools to expertly tackle his high school entrance exams. Dr. Donnelly is patient, consistent and totally committed to the welfare of his students and as a result of his thorough and knowledgeable sessions my son was accepted to all of the schools to which he applied. We are enormously grateful and cannot recommend Dr. Donnelly enough!"

Victoria A., Manhattan, New York.

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5 star review

"My daughter has worked with Dr Donnelly for the last three months and it has been wonderful. Dr. Donnelly has been able to focus on her weaknesses and provide enormous insight. In addition, his advice with regards to strategy for the test has been invaluable. He is able to engage students and provide support well beyond other tutoring services. He is sincerely committed to student success and offers a personalized service with sound methodology. Within 3 months her scores improved significantly. In addition to all his talents ... he is just one of those really smart people that can teach."

Deborah W., Bergen, NJ.

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5 star review

“If you are willing to put in the time to work, Dr. Donnelly will make sure you succeed. He is incredibly easy to understand and patient.”

Robert K., Brooklyn, New York.

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“Dr. Donnelly's way of teaching is very calm and effective. By teaching concepts in the simplest ways possible he managed to make it interesting and challenging at the same time.”

Maria M., Manhattan, New York.

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Overview of the ISEE

Section by Section

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The ISEE Exam

The ISEE is available in both online and paper testing formats. Students may register to take the ISEE one time in any or all of three testing seasons. The ISEE testing seasons are defined as Fall (August–November), Winter (December–March), and Spring/Summer (April–July).

The ISEE is provided in four grade-dependent levels:

i. ISEE Primary Level (for students applying for admission to Grades 2-4),

ii. ISEE Lower Level (for children applying for admission to Grades 5 and 6,

iii. ISEE Middle Level (for children applying for admission to Grades 7 and 8),

iv. ISEE Upper Level (for children applying for admission to Grades 9-12).

ISEE Primary Level

Primary Level ISEE<

The ISEE Primary Level exams are for students who are applying for admission to Grades 2-4. The number of questions and test timing vary depending on the grade that the student is applying to. Each level of the ISEE test includes both reading and mathematics multiple-choice questions as well as a writing prompt.

Note that students applying to Grades 2-4 at schools located in New York City will not participate in the writing sample portion of the ISEE Primary. New York City schools do not require the ISEE Primary writing sample.

The number of questions and test timing vary by grade level as shown below:

ISEE Primary 2

The ISEE Primary 2 Exam is given to students applying for entrance to second grade. It is 53 minutes long and includes three timed sections: Auditory Comprehension (6 questions in 7 minutes), Reading Comprehension (18 questions in 20 minutes), and Mathematics (24 questions in 26 minutes). There is also an untimed writing sample.

ISEE Primary 3

The Primary 3 Exam is given to students applying for entrance to third grade. It is 54 minutes long and includes two timed sections: Reading Comprehension (24 questions in 28 minutes), and Mathematics (24 questions in 26 minutes). There is also an untimed writing sample.

ISEE Primary 4

The Primary 4 Exam is given to students applying for entrance to fourth grade. It is 60 minutes long and includes two timed sections: Reading Comprehension (28 questions in 30 minutes), and Mathematics (28 questions in 30 minutes). There is also an untimed writing sample.

ISEE Lower Level

Lower Level ISEE<

The ISEE Lower Level is a multiple-choice test for students applying to Grades 5 and 6. It is 2 hours and 20 minutes long and is split into 5 timed sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an Essay.

1. ISEE Lower Level - Verbal Reasoning Section

The Verbal section of the Lower Level ISEE lasts 20 minutes and contains 34 multiple choice questions. The verbal section of the test has two parts: Synonyms and Sentence Completions.

Synonyms are words with the same or similar meanings. For example, large and big are synonyms, as are beautiful and pretty. These questions test understanding of language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings by relating them to words with similar but not identical meanings.

Sentence Completions require students to fill in the blank of a given sentence with the answer choice that best completes the sentence. Upper Level students will see questions with two blanks, and Lower Level students will see questions where a phrase is needed to complete the sentence, rather than just one word.

2. ISEE Lower Level - Quantitative Reasoning Section

There are two ISEE math sections: Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics Achievement . The Quantitative Reasoning section of the Lower Level ISEE last 35 minutes and consists of 38 questions. This section evaluates the development of your child’s reasoning skills and assesses how well your child thinks mathematically, as opposed to how much math s/he has learned. Hence, very few calculations are required in the ISEE Quantitative Reasoning section.

All of the question in this section are grade specific at each level and are associated with the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) which tests the following NCTM branches: Numbers and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis & Probability, and Problem Solving.

3. ISEE Lower Level - Reading Comprehension Section

The Reading Comprehension section of the Lower Level ISEE measures your ability to understand what you read and lasts 25 minutes and contains 25 questions. In this section, students will be asked to read passages dealing with a variety of subjects including Science, History, Arts, and Contemporary Life.

After you read each passage, you’ll be asked questions about its content or about the author’s style, intent, or point of view. The Lower Level Reading Comprehension section has 5 passages with 5 questions each.

4. ISEE Lower Level - Mathematics Achievement

The Mathematics Achievement section is the second of the two math sections on the ISEE Lower Level and last 30 minutes and consists of 30 questions. While the Quantitative Reasoning section focuses on problem solving and mathematical reasoning, the Mathematics Achievement section focuses on specific math content and skills taught in school.

Unlike the Quantitative Reasoning section, the Mathematics Achievement section requires students to know mathematical terminology and to do more significant calculation. The general subjects covered on the Mathematics Achievement and Quantitative Reasoning sections, however, are the same and include: Numbers and Operations Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis and Probability Problem Solving.

5. ISEE Lower Level - Essay Section

The Essay section of the ISEE Lower Level lasts 30 minutes. Students are asked to write a short essay in response to an assigned writing prompt. A writing prompt is randomly selected for use on each test date. The writing prompts include topics of interest to students at the appropriate grade level and are created to give them an opportunity to tell more about themself. This part of the test also gives students a chance to show the schools to which they have applied how well they organize their thoughts and express them in a written format. It's not scored, but a copy is sent to the schools to which you apply.

ISEE Middle Level

Middle Level ISEE<

The ISEE Middle Level is a multiple-choice test for students applying to Grades 7 and 8. It is 2 hours and 40 minutes long and is split into 5 timed sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an Essay.

1. ISEE Middle Level - Verbal Reasoning Section

The Verbal section of the ISEE Middle Level lasts 20 minutes and contains 40 multiple choice questions. The verbal section of the test has two parts: Synonyms and Sentence Completions.

Synonyms are words with the same or similar meanings. For example, large and big are synonyms, as are beautiful and pretty. These questions test understanding of language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings by relating them to words with similar but not identical meanings.

Sentence Completions require students to fill in the blank of a given sentence with the answer choice that best completes the sentence. Upper Level students will see questions with two blanks, and Lower Level students will see questions where a phrase is needed to complete the sentence, rather than just one word.

2. ISEE Middle Level - Quantitative Reasoning Section

There are two ISEE math sections: Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics Achievement. The Quantitative Reasoning section of the ISEE Middle Level last 35 minutes and consists of 37 questions. This section evaluates the development of your child’s reasoning skills and assesses how well your child thinks mathematically, as opposed to how much math s/he has learned. Hence, very few calculations are required in the ISEE Quantitative Reasoning section.

All of the questions on the ISEE Quantitative Reasoning section are grade specific at each level and are associated with the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) which tests the following NCTM branches: Numbers and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis & Probability, and Problem Solving.

3. ISEE Middle Level - Reading Comprehension Section

The Reading Comprehension section of the Middle Level ISEE measures your ability to understand what you read and lasts 35 minutes and contains 36 questions. In this section, students will be asked to read passages dealing with a variety of subjects including Science, History, Arts, and Contemporary Life.

After you read each passage, you’ll be asked questions about its content or about the author’s style, intent, or point of view. The Middle Level Reading Comprehension section has 6 passages with 6 questions each.

4. ISEE Middle Level - Mathematics Achievement

The Mathematics Achievement section is the second of the two math sections on the ISEE Middle Level and last 40 minutes and consists of 47 questions. While the Quantitative Reasoning section focuses on problem solving and mathematical reasoning, the Mathematics Achievement section focuses on specific math content and skills taught in school.

Unlike the Quantitative Reasoning section, the Mathematics Achievement section requires students to know mathematical terminology and to do more significant calculation. The general subjects covered on the Mathematics Achievement and Quantitative Reasoning sections, however, are the same and include: Numbers and Operations Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis and Probability Problem Solving.

5. ISEE Middle Level - Essay Section

The Essay section of the ISEE Middle Level lasts 30 minutes. Students are asked to write a short essay in response to an assigned writing prompt. A writing prompt is randomly selected for use on each test date. The writing prompts include topics of interest to students at the appropriate grade level and are created to give them an opportunity to tell more about themself. This part of the test also gives students a chance to show the schools to which they have applied how well they organize their thoughts and express them in a written format. It's not scored, but a copy is sent to the schools to which you apply.

ISEE Upper Level

Upper Level ISEE<

The ISEE Upper Level is a multiple-choice test for students applying to Grades 9-12. It is 2 hours and 40 minutes long and is split into 5 timed sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an Essay.

1. ISEE Upper Level - Verbal Reasoning Section

The Verbal section of the ISEE Upper Level lasts 20 minutes and contains 40 multiple choice questions. The verbal section of the test has two parts: Synonyms and Sentence Completions.

Synonyms are words with the same or similar meanings. For example, large and big are synonyms, as are beautiful and pretty. These questions test understanding of language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings by relating them to words with similar but not identical meanings.

Sentence Completions require students to fill in the blank of a given sentence with the answer choice that best completes the sentence. Upper Level students will see questions with two blanks, and Lower Level students will see questions where a phrase is needed to complete the sentence, rather than just one word.

2. ISEE Upper Level - Quantitative Reasoning Section

There are two ISEE math sections: Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics Achievement. The Quantitative Reasoning section of the ISEE Upper Level last 35 minutes and consists of 37 questions. This section evaluates the development of your child’s reasoning skills and assesses how well your child thinks mathematically, as opposed to how much math s/he has learned. Hence, very few calculations are required in the ISEE Quantitative Reasoning section.

All of the questions on the ISEE Quantitative Reasoning section are grade specific at each level and are associated with the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) which tests the following NCTM branches: Numbers and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis & Probability, and Problem Solving.

3. ISEE Upper Level - Reading Comprehension Section

The Reading Comprehension section of the UpperLevel ISEE measures your ability to understand what you read and lasts 35 minutes and contains 36 questions. In this section, students will be asked to read passages dealing with a variety of subjects including Science, History, Arts, and Contemporary Life.

After you read each passage, you’ll be asked questions about its content or about the author’s style, intent, or point of view. The Upper Level Reading Comprehension section has 6 passages with 6 questions each.

4. ISEE Upper Level - Mathematics Achievement

The Mathematics Achievement section is the second of the two math sections on the ISEE Upper Level and last 40 minutes and consists of 47 questions. While the Quantitative Reasoning section focuses on problem solving and mathematical reasoning, the Mathematics Achievement section focuses on specific math content and skills taught in school.

Unlike the Quantitative Reasoning section, the Mathematics Achievement section requires students to know mathematical terminology and to do more significant calculation. The general subjects covered on the Mathematics Achievement and Quantitative Reasoning sections, however, are the same and include: Numbers and Operations Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis and Probability Problem Solving.

5. ISEE Upper Level - Essay Section

The Essay section of the ISEE Upper Level lasts 30 minutes. Students are asked to write a short essay in response to an assigned writing prompt. A writing prompt is randomly selected for use on each test date. The writing prompts include topics of interest to students at the appropriate grade level and are created to give them an opportunity to tell more about themself. This part of the test also gives students a chance to show the schools to which they have applied how well they organize their thoughts and express them in a written format. It's not scored, but a copy is sent to the schools to which you apply.

Improve your child's ISEE Score

with private tutoring from Dr. Donnelly

Best ISEE Tutor in New York

Call Dr. Donnelly Today!

Dr. Donnelly can show your child how to greatly improve their score on your ISEE test. Private lessons with Dr. Donnelly are available either online via Skype or in-person at our New York Manhattan-based office.

Over the years, Dr. Donnelly has helped literally hundreds of students to improve their test scores and achieve their academic goals. We are confident that he can do the same for you.


Contact Dr. Donnelly to schedule your appointment

Email Dr. Donnelly Call Dr. Donnelly

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