After a 5 to 10-minute break, the third section of the ISEE is Reading Comprehension. In this section, students are presented with five passages followed by five questions each in which they have 25 minutes to complete.
Assuming that students spend half of their time reading and half of their time answering, that’s about 2.5 minutes per passage and half a minute per subsequent question.
Each passage is roughly 400 to 500 words or about the length of your average online blog post or daily newspaper article. Passages come from both fiction and non-fiction works but excludes poetry.
Lines are numbered but key words are neither bolded nor underlined or otherwise called out for students in any way. Therefore, “active reading,” the process by which students are underlining and circling, may be very helpful here.
There are five types of questions asked: main idea, supporting idea, vocabulary-in-context, tone, style, and figurative language, and everybody’s favorite “inference,” in which students must determine what the author might say or believe based off what the student read.
The Reading Comprehension section is where most independent school students tend to do the best or feel like they did the best. However, given how highly so many students score on this section, and that the ISEE is graded on a normal curve, the Reading Comprehension section also leaves the least room for mistakes.
This section contains short reading passages. Each passage is followed by five questions based on its content. Answer the questions following each passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.