ISEE Private School Entrance Exam: Fact and Fiction by Matt Steiner


My favorite 11 year-old on the Viewpoint School Annual Fund brochure
My favorite 11 year-old on the Viewpoint School Annual Fund brochure

The ISEE is the entrance exam used by private schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels, in Los Angeles and nationally. My friend and colleague, Matt Steiner, of Compass Prep. has written an excellent piece about the ISEE, by most accounts (including my own), a long test with a high degree of difficulty—-Christina


“When chatting with parents, I emphasize the rarity of high stanines, because it helps re-orient their expectations of their children. In my experience, perfectly capable, intelligent, private school-ready students score in the 4 to 6 stanine range and are admitted to top schools year after year. In fact, directors of admission seek out these students to build balanced incoming classes. 7’s, 8’s, and 9’s are certainly impressive, but schools understand that these performances are not typical of the average applicant, nor is it necessary that all admitted students share the same propensity for testing.” –Matt Steiner

To read Matt’s entire ISEE piece, click on Compass Prep.


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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at

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