ISEE Exam Reading Passage Example

Heinrich Zille kleiner Junge

“Little Boy” by Heinrich Zille (1858-1929). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The following passage is based on comparable Critical Reading passages found on the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE). The ISEE is used nationally for admission to private high schools. This passage was prepared by a Test Masters critical reading instructor for the purpose of familiarizing ISEE parents and students with the type of material they can expect to see on test day.

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College Admissions Essay “Do”s and “Don’t”s

I can still remember sitting down at the computer the weekend before college apps were due to write my admissions essay. I had sufficiently procrastinated to the point where my parents might actually take disciplinary action if I didn’t write my essays. I sat down, scrolled through the Common App, and hoped one of the prompts would read, “Tell a moderately humorous story about something that happened during your charmed, suburban childhood,” but no such luck. All the questions about “a time when you struggled” or “when you experienced a major failure” made me feel like I lacked depth. As I ruminated on the “write about whatever you want” prompt, Dr. Seuss suddenly popped into my head; hours later, I had 650 words about how The Sneetches had taught me a valuable lesson about tolerance. It wasn’t a bad essay, but, given the schools I was applying to, it could have been better.

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Multiple Choice Writing – Example Problem

1.      He was convinced that if property taxes would have rose any higher, he would have had to move to a different area.

a.       if property taxes would have rose

b.      if property taxes would rise

c.       if property taxes had risen

d.      had property taxes rose

e.      were property taxes to rise

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Extra SAT Vocabulary – Aesthetic

aes·thet·ic esˈTHetik/ adjective/noun

Aesthetic as an adjective means concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.  Aesthetic as a noun is a philosophical theory or set of principles governing the idea of beauty and its appreciation.

Sample Sentences:

It’s important for a graphic designer to have a flexible and wide-ranging aesthetic vision in order to face whatever challenges a new job may bring.

My brother loves going to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, but I have no appreciation for aesthetics, so all I see are blotches of color on giant pieces of canvas.

In both of these sentences, “aesthetic(s)” is being used to describe a person’s ability to appreciate beauty, specifically visual beauty.

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College Profile: Ohio Northern University (ONU)

ONUYour college mascot is something you’ll have to identify as for not only the next four years, but forty years from now when you run into your Freshman roommate at a wedding. With that in mind, you could be a Longhorn (University of Texas), but you’ll almost never be the only Longhorn in the room—there’s something to be said for being unique. You could be a Rainbow Warrior (University of Hawaii), but that sounds less than intimidating. You could even be a Trojan (University of Southern California), but, well…. However, if you really want to stand out, you could join the select few from Ohio Northern University who call themselves Polar Bears! Continue reading “College Profile: Ohio Northern University (ONU)” »

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Reminder – Winter & Spring Test Schedule

Hey guys! College Compass here with a friendly reminder to plan ahead. Remember, you can’t actually take these tests unless you register for them.

Upcoming SAT Test Dates

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
November 8, 2014 October 9, 2014 October 28, 2014
December 6, 2014 November 6, 2014 November 24, 2014
January 24, 2015 December 29, 2014 January 13, 2015
March 14, 2015 February 13, 2015 March 3, 2014
May 2, 2015 April 6, 2015 April 21, 2015
June 6, 2015 May 8, 2015 May 27, 2015

 You can register for the SAT here.

Upcoming ACT Test Dates

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
December 13, 2014 November 7, 2014 November 21, 2014
February 7, 2015 January 9, 2015 January 16, 2015
April 18, 2015 March 13, 2015 March 27, 2015
June 13, 2015 May 8, 2015 May 22, 2015

 You can register for the ACT here.

For everyone who thinks they may need a little extra help achieving their goals on the SAT or ACT, remember the experts at Test Masters are available year round to help with your test preparation needs.

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Enhanced ACT Writing Test

ACT logoThe ACT recently released new details about the upcoming changes to the ACT Writing Test. These changes are scheduled to take effect in fall 2015, and the ACT is marketing these revisions as an enhancement. So, what exactly is changing? Continue reading “Enhanced ACT Writing Test” »

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College Compass Welcomes New Writer, James

College Compass is very happy to welcome new writer James! James recently graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a B.F.A. in Musical Theater with an Honors Program concentration. A former Test Masters student, James now teaches the same test-tackling strategies that helped him achieve a 2280 on the SAT in 2009 (and, by extension, earn a Presidential Scholarship at a prestigious private university). Having been on over twenty college campus tours, he understands how baffling the college admissions process can be and is eager to help students find the colleges that are the right fit for them.


If you guys have any questions for James, be sure to Ask Test Masters!

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HBCU Spotlight – Tuskegee University

Tuskegee_University_sealHistorically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have served a vital and transformative role in the history of America. Many of this country’s most prominent civil rights activists, politicians, actors, scientists, scholars, and public figures attended or taught at HBCUs, and for students of all backgrounds who want to connect with and be inspired by this history, HBCUs can provide an excellent education and a sense of pride in the extraordinary accomplishments of the many students who have gone before them.

There is, however, another potential benefit of attending an HBCU. Many of the top HBCUs offer generous merit-based scholarships to students who have met certain GPA and test score requirements. In this series, we have profiled some of the top HBCUs in the country to show you the kinds of opportunities that exist at these historic institutions. Continue reading “HBCU Spotlight – Tuskegee University” »

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What is the ISEE?


So, you’re gearing up for applying to private schools, you know that you’re going to have to take some kind of entry-level test, and you come across this thing called the “ISEE,” now what? Well before I get into the approach and specifics of the test, I have to get a little boring and talk about the technicalities first (so bear with me).

The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is a standardized admissions test administered to students aspiring to attend independent educational institutions. It is offered in three varying levels of difficulty: Lower Level, Middle Level, and Upper Level (below is a breakdown). Continue reading “What is the ISEE?” »

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