The ISEE Entrance Exam: Is Three Times A Charm? by Matthew Hayutin

ISEE photo
Photo: Shutterstock

 

Dear Readers:

I’m excited to publish guest post by Matthew Hayutin of Hayutin & Associates. I think you’ll find this piece helpful since the ISEE often causes stress for both parents and kids who are applying to L.A. private schools–that was definitely the case for our family and my kids could only take it once. Now kids can take it 3 times! But should they? Here’s more information on that question –Christina

 

Is Three Times A Charm?

Guess what, folks?  The ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam), a torturous, standardized test once offered only once per school year, is now available 3 times a year!  Doesn’t that sound awesome?  I hear all the test prep mills tapping their calculators, working on an algorithm to capitalize on independent school admissions anxiety.

The ISEE is typically required for admission at most Los Angeles-based, independent and private day schools for prospective students who are candidates for entry into grades 5 and up.  Just to add to the confusion, there are other standardized tests mandated for admission to parochial and boarding schools.

But back to the ISEE: why would you put your kid through an absurdly long test twice, or even three times?  Isn’t that cruel and unusual punishment?

Not necessarily.

Don’t get me wrong—we love the “one and done” approach to ISEE prep: students prepare well, take the test once and tap out.

But what about kids who fall ill the night before the big exam?

Or the ones who just have a really lousy day and leave too many easy points on the table?

Sometimes just the promise of a retake helps students relax into the test and perform better. And voilà!  No retake necessary.

We’re talking about three ISEE testing seasons:

Fall (August-November)

Winter (December-March)

Spring/Summer (April-July)

Unless you just moved and your student is applying somewhere after conventional admissions deadlines, just forget that last one. It’s all about the first two seasons.

Every student deserves a custom approach and strategic timeline, but here’s the typical trajectory many test prep gurus like us recommend:

Register for a date in the fall, October or November, and a second one in December.

Unless you’re reading this too late (I’m not judging you) and your child didn’t start preparing in time (still not judging you), pull the trigger sometime in December.  January is no fun.  Your entire family will be exhausted by then from all the applications. Wouldn’t you rather be on vacation so you can have cocktails with fancy ice and forget all this nonsense?

Plus some schools don’t love waiting until January for test results, so perform your due diligence and chart those deadlines.

If your child performs well enough on test one in the fall season, make like the protagonist in Jordan Peele’s seminal film and GET OUT.  Cancel the second ISEE sitting, even if you forfeit the registration fees.

How will you know your child did well enough to run, not walk away?  If your daughter has put in the time, including sitting for simulated practice exams, you’ll already know all too well how she’s trending in terms of those icky stanines (1-9). You’ll know if she peaked, plateaued, or fell flat.

Many kids prepare over the summer to take the edge off all that fall test prep and application pressure.  It’s a great way to build a foundation and make a more informed decision about how much test prep is even warranted come September.  If your child is already booked all summer, fret not.  Just plan on a regular weekly effort come fall.

But wait—you have another agonizing decision to make:  will your child suffer less through the exam on paper or computer?

Give this one some thought.  If your kid isn’t a proficient typist, bye bye computer.  That timed essay is excruciating for anyone who struggles to hunt and peck.

There are exceptions.  Kids with illegible handwriting and no laptop accommodation may want to consider a Prometric Center—that’s where you have to drive if your child isn’t taking the thing on paper.  It’s not a warm and fuzzy place, with logistical challenges of its own, but plenty of kids go there and do just fine.  At least you get to book your own appointment.

There’s always more strategy, but ultimately, this ISEE thing is not in your control.

So bite down.  Hold your child’s hand. Look into his or her perfect eyes and remind yourself of what you already know, deep down: you’re going to get through this.

 

Matthew Hayutin, founding owner at Hayutin & Associates, is a parent and educator who still dreams that one day the ISEE will just go away—but not get replaced by something even worse.  He serves on the board at PS1 Pluralistic School One, where both of his children attend school.

Coming soon: Matthew explains the details of ISEE scoring including what constitutes a below average, average and above average score.

 Keep up with all the latest L.A. private school news and events by following Beyond The Brochure on Facebook!

 

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Academic Achievers presents “Demystifying the Private School Application Process” with Lisa Marfisi

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Academic Achievers :Lisa Marfisi

 

 

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Waiting for Admissions Letters and Getting In, Wait-listed, Rejected by Barbara Cameron

thorns and roses concept

 

 

Here’s another insightful, honest post from our friend Barbara Cameron. This time she writes about the thorny issue of waiting for admissions letters. Then, there’s the rose at the end of the journey…if things go well. We’re wishing all of you the very best of luck as you wait for letters and find out results!–Christina and Anne 

We wait for an online purchase to arrive. We wait in traffic. We wait for our Double Cappuccino extra froth at Starbucks (where I recently saw a woman flip out on the barista because she waited “three minutes and it was all wrong” when she received it). We wait for news from an oncologist about ourselves, or a loved one or a friend when all wrong takes on an entirely different meaning. We wait for our babies to be born.

And then, of course, we sometimes wait for acceptance letters from L.A. private schools to hear where our children will get their education. It is easy to say, “Keep it in perspective, it isn’t a life or death matter,” because it is not. However, seriously hard work, time and effort have gone into this process more times than not. Our children’s education matters a great deal. Expectations are high, and fear can creep in, so how do we handle it?

I had a friend who drove around her neighborhood trying to track down the mailman the day the letters were due to arrive, which some might judge extreme, but if you knew her, you would laugh. That is her. She laughs now. Getting a little crazy is okay if that’s what you do. The Los Angeles Times famously coined the term “Black Friday” to describe this day.

For each family dynamic, there is a valid answer to how do we wait for this news. My crazy, I tended to play the waiting down, quell the anxiety by telling myself whatever happens it happens the way it is meant to happen. Whatever works; it’s a trick of the mind. I created options so I could remain faithful to my mantra. Some families are clear about their few choices and bet on that. These days, parents frantically check their email or log onto sites which schools posts acceptances. Check your email’s junk mail folder too because I’ve heard that’s where some of these admissions emails end up.

I guess the one real thing to take away: in many ways, it is a crapshoot. It’s a roll of the dice no matter that you may have the odds in your favor. The best way to prepare yourself and your children, is to ready them to handle whatever happens, which means you as a parent must control it. Lead by example.

We waited before kindergarten, were accepted to The Willows, our first choice, wait-listed at PS1, got rejected from The Center for Early Education, and, well, case in point, I can’t even remember the rest now. Of course, I signed the contract for The Willows instantly. As for high school, we did as we were told because we needed financial aid; we threw our net wide. Seven schools, applications, interviews, tours! Seven letters to await. Crapshoot: one school we thought he had a good chance, a no-go. The school we thought was out of his league was a yes, and wait-listed at one he liked very much. Fairly last minute, my son did a shadow day at Arête and fell in love with it. They accepted him; two very different schools. I remember conversations with family and friends, what to do? On the last day to decide, driving to work, debating which would be best for him, after receiving generous financial aid from both, I just made a decision, knowing we can never, in the end, know the answer to that question. Arête, I still believe, was the best choice!

Maybe all of this means remembering that we are always in the process of waiting for something; waiting is hard. Traffic can make us late to an important meeting. If we crave and look forward to our morning caffeine, waiting for it might seem impossible if the line is long. Some news we think will change our lives, and some possibly will; some may not, although we feel (as the Cappuccino women felt) it will.

Maybe teach your kids, the degree of importance varies, but waiting is a part of life. It never stops. The outcome of hard work, whatever it may be, is a part of life. Whatever happens, we deal with it and move on. There is no other choice. How we handle what we receive after the wait is– and will– become a part of who we are.

Barbara Cameron is the 2012 winner of the American Literary Review nonfiction contest, judged by Alice Elliot Dark, and her winning essay, “Hawk Blood,” was published in the journal. It was republished in the Colorado Review as an editor’s pick. Her essay, “In Avalon, She Fell,” was a finalist in a 2017 literary contest, judged by Abigail Thomas. She has studied with Mary Gaitskill and with Tom Jenks, founder and co-editor of Narrative. Barbara is a graduate of Barnard College, a former restaurant server and now manager, a single mom by choice and a resident of Los Angeles. You can read Barbara’s most recent essay about Financial Aid on Beyond The Brochure and her creative nonfiction in Angels Flight Literary West.

Check out Beyond The Brochure’s previous posts about admissions letters, wait-lists and rejections and here on The Daily Truffle. 

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You Are More Than A Wait-List Number by Sandy Eiges

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Sandy Eiges of L.A. School Scout and a friend of Beyond The Brochure, writes about the angst that comes with waiting for secondary school admissions letters. A lot of this advice is relevant for elementary school admissions too. And then, there’s the letters themselves. Read on…Good luck to everyone–Christina 

With many of you waiting to hear about high school acceptances on Friday, and boarding school acceptances on Saturday, anxiety is running high. And that’s just the parents!

Yes, many of you seem to have forgotten that the results coming out this weekend aren’t actually about you. Your children are the ones affected, and the focus really should be on them. There are several possible scenarios that come to mind:

Scenario #1: S/he got in everywhere! Congratulations, that’s a terrific result. So, are you going with the “name” school, or are you going with the school that’s really the perfect fit? Who makes this decision? This is the time for a great parenting moment. But hey, in this competitive climate, congratulations! Really terrific outcome. And really, really rare.

Scenario #2: S/he got in to one school, not your top choice – or his! This is still an occasion for celebration. The question is, are you going to wait for the school that waitlisted you, or are you going to love the school that loves you? Always a hard choice. Here it is worth remembering that there is an acceptance on the table. If you applied there, it must have been a school you were considering, right?

Scenario #3: S/he got in to a couple of schools, but not to the school she had her heart set on. Not even a waitlist there, just a flat-out no. Is there any hope that she could still get in there? No, and please don’t hold any hope out to your beleaguered child. Just because their best friend got in doesn’t mean it’s the right school for her. This is the time to realize that with two school acceptances, there’s a choice! That’s a time to celebrate – many scenarios do not include a choice at all. And by embracing reality, you are modeling the kind of decision-making that your child will be able to use when it’s time for them to apply to college.

Scenario #4: Your son did not get into his top choice school and was waitlisted at the other school. Wait – did you just say, “the other school?” You just let him apply to two schools? And he’s not what anyone would call an A student? You didn’t heed my advice to apply to at least FOUR schools? This is not an ideal situation. If your tendency is to get combative when it seems that no one appreciates your child, you have my sympathy. But railing at the world – in front of your child – is not a good parenting moment. And while you can wait to move up that waitlist, this might be the time to get proactive and see if he can still apply anywhere else.

Scenario #5: Your child did not get in anywhere. No yeses, no waitlists. Just plain no. This is the toughest scenario of all. What happened here? It seems like something went terribly wrong. Did you apply to schools that were realistic for your student? This might be the time to get real. Talk to their school and see if they can shed any light on the situation. As with scenario #4, this is not the time to yell and scream, this is the time to get out there and see what is possible and give your child the love they deserve. This is much harder on them than it is on you.

If you are not already one of my families, and you need to discuss your child’s high school acceptance outcome, I am offering one-time meetings next week. Please contact me at sandy@LAschoolscout.com.

L.A. School Scout is now scheduling consultations for school placement in 2019, be it preschool, Kindergarten or middle school, high school or even boarding school. For more information about our services please contact sandy@LAschoolscout.com.
Sandy Eiges
Sandy Eiges, M.S.W.
L.A. School Scout
877.877.6240
310.926.0050
sandy@LAschoolscout.com
www.laschoolscout.com 

 

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Elon Musk’s Ad Astra School featured on the BBC Mundo

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 5.27.57 PM

Hi Friends,

Here’s an article about Ad Astra School, founded by Elon Musk, on the BBC Mundo’s website. I was interviewed by Beatriz Diez, the reporter, and I’m quoted in her story. Beatriz also visited Ad Astra for a tour. The article is in Spanish but you can use Google Translate if you want to read it in English.–Christina

“Ad Astra, la hermética escuela que creó Elon Musk para darles una educación diferente a sus hijos.”

Click on BBC Mundo to read the article.

To translate it into English, use Chrome and go to “Google Translate” Type in the URL and it will translate it into English. Here’s the URL: http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-42333988

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