What to Expect on the ISEE
Sample Test Questions – Essay
Writing the Essay
On the last section of the ISEE test, you will be 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 your level and are created to give you an opportunity to tell more
This part of the test also gives you a chance to show the schools to which you have applied how well
you organize your thoughts and express them in a written format. For the actual ISEE test, you are given
a sheet of paper on which to make notes. You must write the essay in ink on two pre-lined pages
(erasable ink is allowed), and you also must rewrite the prompt at the top of the first page. The actual
instructions you will receive when you take the essay portion of the ISEE are shown on pages 110–111
in the “Practice Test” section.
You are given 30 minutes to complete the essay. During those 30 minutes you should
organize your thoughts;
prepare your notes or make a short outline; and
write your final copy.
Writing must be done either in cursive or print using a ballpoint pen. The writing should be done
directly on the lines preprinted in the answer document, using blue or black ink.
On the following pages, you will find some tips for writing an essay, some sample essay prompts, and
lined pages for writing a sample essay. Three sample essay topics and three sets of lined pages have
been provided to give you an opportunity to practice on more than one prompt. Remember to add
descriptions and details in your response. If possible, you should ask a parent or teacher to read your
essay(s) and give you feedback on what you have written.