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College Selection Questions
College Admissions Questions
Standardized Testing Questions
High School Class Questions
Growth & Potential Questions
Interests & Activities Questions
Character & Personality Questions
Contribution to the College Questions
If you feel you are not getting appropriate guidance at your school, or would like another view, the Hillview Prep team would be happy to help you with your preparation for college, from choosing wisely to writing essays. Please feel free to reach out to us as below.
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What is the ISEE?
The ISEE consists of five sections at three levels designed to measure the verbal and quantitative reasoning and achievement of students in grades 4–11 seeking admission to grades 5–12 in independent schools. Students seeking admission to grades 5 or 6 take the Lower Level; students seeking admission to grades 7 or 8 take the Middle Level; and students seeking admission to grades 9–12 take the Upper Level.
When can you take the ISEE?
Students can take the ISEE up to three times in a 12-month admission cycle, once in any or all of the three testing seasons. The seasons are Fall (August–November), Winter (December–March), and Spring/Summer (April–July).
What is tested on the ISEE?
The five sections that make up the ISEE are (in order of testing): Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an Essay which is written by the student in response to a given writing prompt.
What do all these acronyms stand for?
What types of questions are on the ISEE?
The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Math Achievement sections contain only multiple-choice questions. Each question has four choices. Only one answer is the correct or “best” answer. The Essay section requires the student to write an essay in response to a prompt.
How long is the ISEE Lower Level Test (Grades 4-5)?
Total: 2 hours, 20 minutes
How long is the ISEE Middle Level Test (Grades 6-7)?
Total: 2 hours, 40 minutes
How long is the ISEE Upper Level Test (Grades 8-11)?
Total: 2 hours, 40 minutes
What does the ISEE measure?
The ISEE does not measure your student's IQ. It measures the readiness level of the student and academic standing. Is the student prepared for the school of his or her choice?
Are there any breaks during the test?
There are two breaks—one following the Quantitative Reasoning section and another following the Math Achievement section. Each break is five to ten minutes long.
How soon will I receive my student's scores?
The ISR is posted to the parent online account after scoring, which is approximately 10–14 days after testing. For paper testing, optional expedited receipt of scores online is available to you for an additional $40. This enables the parent to receive the scores on the day the test is scored. An email will be sent to notify you when the scores have posted to your online account, usually the Monday, Wednesday, or Friday after the test.
What happens to my scores?
After paper testing, answers and essays are sent to the ISEE Operations Office for scoring of the four multiple choice sections and production of the Individual Student Report (ISR). Copies of the ISR may be emailed to the parent, ERB members, or both. The ISR is posted to the parent online account after scoring, which is approximately 10–14 days after testing. The essay, which is not scored and not released to the parent, is released online (with the ISR) to ERB members. School score reports do not list any recipients other than the individual school receiving the report.
What materials should students bring to the test?
For paper testing only, students should bring four #2 pencils and two pens with either blue or black ink. Students may choose to use erasable ink.
What materials are prohibited during the test?
Most materials other than writing implements are prohibited. Specifically, scratch paper, calculators, calculator watches, rulers, protractors, compasses, dictionaries, and thesauruses are NOT permitted during the actual test.
Will my student be penalized for wrong answers?
Scores are based on the number of correct answers. There is no penalty for wrong answers on the ISEE. So, answer every question, and guess when necessary.
What is the difference between the 'raw' and 'scaled' scores?
A raw score represents the number correct. If a student got 31 items correct, then the raw score is simply 31. A scaled score is a raw score that has been converted to a different numerical scale, e.g., 200–800. The raw score scale ranges from 0–maximum score, while the scaled score range consists of higher numbers with a somewhat arbitrary minimum and maximum score. The range of scaled scores on the ISEE is 760–940.
What in the world is a 'stanine'?
The test is the same for different grade levels, e.g. upper level is for 8 to 11 graders. How will be my student judged?
A stanine score is based on percentile ranks. Percentile ranks range from 1–99, while stanines range from 1–9. In general, a stanine score of 1–3 is below average, 4–6 is average, and 7–9 is above average.
Percentile Rank Stanine
This is a common question parents have. Your student gets a percentile rank and is only compared to students at the same grade level over the past 3 years. So a 9th grader will only be compared to other 9th graders.
How do I sign up for the test?
Sign up here! https://iseeonline.erblearn.org/
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What is a Superscore?
Many students take the SAT and the ACT more than once. The question that students often have is which scores should they send to colleges to present their best self?
It depends on the school. Some colleges want all test scores from all the dates. So you cannot be selective. Some schools consider your highest overall score from a single test date, and others would consider a composite of your highest section scores from all test dates. The last one is the Superscore of your test scores.
How To Calculate Your Superscore
Your SAT Score Strategy
If you take the SAT, you will have the option through the College Board’s reporting tool Score Choice™ to decide by test date which scores will appear on the score reports that the College Board will send to colleges. You may choose, for example, to eliminate your lowest test score from the report for those colleges that don’t require you to send all test scores.
Your ACT Score Strategy
If you take the ACT, a record is created each time you take the test, and you tell ACT which test records to release to schools. ACT will send only the test dates you request. Decide which and how many dates to send based on your scores and the school's guidelines about super scoring. If a college requests all of your ACT scores, it’s up to you to ensure that all your test records are released to that school. Also remember you cannot always cancel your ACT scores even after receiving it!
List of Colleges that Superscore the ACT and the SAT
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A Plan That Worked
This blog is not about a student who got a perfect score on the ACT. This about a student who was struggling, is not a top student, but worked diligently with us and used the Smart Scoring System to succeed. You can see the improvement below.
A 4 point improvement on the composite score. That is huge!
And notice the improvement in science and reading. In science, she went from a terrible score of 16 to an okay, if not stellar, score of 23. That is a 7 point improvement in just 12 hours of coaching. And the reading scores went from 22 to a very good score of 30! That is an 8 point improvement. And she improved her scores in English and Math, her weakest subject, as well. We say, bravo!
You may be wondering how she did it. She used our Smart Scoring system to maximize her talent. What is the Smart Scoring System?
The Smart Scoring System
In essence, the Smart Scoring System is a personalized trainer. It does real-time assessment, feedback, coaching and training.
The Smart Scoring System can identify your academic strengths and weaknesses and understand your learning style. It is the ultimate guide for discovering the most effective methods and strategies that make you learn faster and succeed in less time.
The Smart Scoring System tests the following:
We invite you to test drive the Smart Scoring System. Below is a list of our ACT offerings. If interested, please choose one that works best for you.
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The Biggest Source of Confusion and the Unknown
If college admissions process is a mystery to you, then you are not alone. Every year millions of students apply to colleges--all over the world--hoping to get into the college of their dreams. Many are smart and have the ability to do the required course work. Most of them fail to get into a top school.
The number of applicants keep on rising, but the number of seats haven't increased, at least in the top schools. The truth is that many of these smart students are not really competitive for the top universities, like the Ivy Leagues, Stanford, Caltech and MIT.
There is a big difference between the ability to do the work and actually getting in. This gap between ability and acceptance is the biggest source of confusion and unknown for college admissions.
And this is the bad news for many smart, accomplished students. They have good grades, they are smart, they have extracurricular activities, and they are ambitious and want to do the work, both at getting into their dream colleges as well as doing the work in college. But students and their parents ignore the odds and hope they can get in.
Ask the Right Questions
What should they do instead? The first step is to ask the right questions. Most people ask, "Can I get into ______?" That is the wrong question! The right question to ask is, "Am I the best student in my class?"
What do you mean by the best student? It is not just grades. It means both grades and challenging coursework. Have you taken the most rigorous curriculum available at your school? That means math, science, history/social science, English, and foreign language—all four years, and going to the highest level available in each by the time you are a senior. And you need to get A’s. Not A-‘s. Not a combination of A’s and B’s. Just A’s.
Standardized Test Scores Expectations:
The next question to ask is, “Are my SAT/ACT scores as strong as my grades?” For Ivies and similarly selective places like MIT, Caltech, and Stanford, that means a minimum composite ACT of a 34. Of course, getting a 35 or 36 is even better. On the SAT and subject tests, it means shooting for a 750 or higher on both sections and on all subject tests. And on AP tests, it means primarily scores of 5.
You may think this is crazy. These are almost perfect scores! Yes, they are. The fact is that students around the world are getting such scores--and they’re all in these applicant pools. That is the reality.
Extra-curricula Activities Expectations:
Most students ask, "am I involved in the right extracurricular activities?" The answer is not straight forward. The secret is that there is no right or wrong answer. Yes, you do not have to take several activities, or be on the debate team, or club president. Whatever you do, you have to ask the question, "Can I quantify it?"
By now you should have gotten a sense of how the admission committee thinks. They want the top performer in every arena. You may protest, but that is a fact. It is like in sports. Nobody protests that, so why protest in college admissions?
The next question is, "Do I excel at what I'am doing outside the classroom?" Just showing up is not good enough. They’re looking for evidence of strength in your areas of interest. As part of your application, you’ll be required to tally up your participation by hours per week, weeks per year, and years of involvement. Admissions officers are looking for evidence of deep commitment to your extracurricular activities. Don't try to fool the admissions folks. They have seen thousands of applications and many of them say the same things. Also, just joining clubs for the sake of joining is not going to fool them. They know that this is a ploy and there is no real commitment.
Are you a leader? The most selective colleges are looking for significant leadership roles and there is no one type or position that will guarantee acceptance. Again, do not become leader for the sake of becoming a leader. It also depends on your area of interest. If you have no interest in French and becoming editor-in-chief of the French club magazine or starting a French club won't make the difference. Find out what you want to do in college and then start doing it. If you are interested in computer science, start programming and then teach programming to other high schoolers and maybe even teach it online! Create an app that people want to use, etc.
If the above sounds too daunting, and for most students it is daunting, focus on other schools. There are many fine schools that you can get admission into. Find a school where you can thrive and don't go just for the name brand and reputation.
1. Look Beyond the Top Schools
The acceptance rate at top colleges is very low. The Ivy Leagues and other top schools are only admitting 5-10% of applicants. However, the number of seats in the top 100 schools have increased. Check out our blog here for more details. There are even A grade colleges for B grade students! Check out blog here for more details.
2. Consider Community Colleges
As the cost of colleges rise, community colleges are becoming an attractive alternative. You can go there for 2 years and then transfer to a great school and still get a four year degree from the great school! You can cut 50% off your expensive college costs. Also, community colleges generally have better teachers. Professors who teach at community colleges primarily focus on teaching, while regular college professors are mostly interested in research, and grad students are doing a lot of the teaching.
The top schools are looking for top achievers. Yes, there are often exceptions. Maybe your neighbor's kid went to an Ivy League with an ACT score of 32. That always happens, but you cannot plan on exceptions. Understanding your competitiveness will give you more focus on which colleges to apply. If you want more guidance, we would be happy to help you in your quest for finding a college that will fit you best. Just let us know.