Essay Writing Practice and Prompts for the ISEE

Essay Writing Practice and Prompts for the ISEE

The writing test is always given with the ISEE, and it measures your ability to engage with a subject and write conclusively on a topic.

Type of Essay

The writing section of the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE) requires students to compose an expository essay. This essay type is different from argumentative or persuasive essays, as it doesn’t call for presenting an opinion or making an argument. The primary objective of the expository essay is to give information or explain a certain concept, event, or personal experience. In this context, you are not expected to persuade the reader or prove a point of view. Rather, your task is to respond to the given prompt thoroughly, articulating your thoughts and ideas in a coherent, organized manner. It could involve explaining a process, analyzing a situation, or simply narrating a personal incident or anecdote.

Type of Prompt

The prompts provided for the ISEE writing test are usually short, typically consisting of only 1-2 sentences. This concise nature is designed to allow students to focus on expressing their ideas rather than understanding complex directions. Furthermore, these prompts do not demand any reference materials, underscoring the importance of personal knowledge and thought process in the task. The prompts could be personal, asking you to share experiences or perspectives, or could involve current events, challenging you to demonstrate your awareness of the world around you. Whatever the nature of the prompt, the main aim is to generate an essay that is engaging, informative, and authentic to your perspective.

Time Limit

The ISEE writing test must be completed within a 30-minute timeframe. This constraint includes all phases of essay writing, from brainstorming and planning your response to writing the final words of your essay. It is crucial to manage this time effectively to ensure a well-thought-out response. You should allocate time for understanding the prompt, crafting a suitable outline, and eventually writing and reviewing the essay. This disciplined approach will help you deliver a complete, articulate, and well-structured essay within the designated time limit.

How It Is Scored

Interestingly, the ISEE writing test does not carry a score or grade as such. Unlike other sections of the test, this portion isn’t objectively evaluated. Instead, the completed essays are forwarded directly to the school(s) you are applying to. The admission teams at these schools review your essay individually, basing their evaluation on their specific preferences and scoring rubrics. This could include criteria like clarity of thought, logical flow of ideas, use of language, and grammar, among others. Therefore, while this section doesn’t contribute to your ISEE scores, it plays a significant role in the admission process as it provides schools with a direct insight into your thought process, comprehension skills, and writing abilities.

Sample Prompts to Practice

Choose one of the following topics on which to write your essay. Remember to rewrite the prompt you choose at the top of the first essay-writing page.

Prompt 1:

Topic 1: If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be? Why?

Topic 2: Who has made the biggest impact on your community? How have they made an impact?

Topic 3: Identify the biggest change you would like to make to your school. Why do you think that change is better?

Prompt 2:

Topic 1: What book has meant the most to you in your life? Why was it important?

Topic 2: What figure in history inspires you the most? Why do they inspire you?

Topic 3: If you could live with any one of your extended family members for a summer, which would you choose, and why?

Prompt 3:

Topic 1: If you could be in any movie series, what series would you be in? Why?

Topic 2: What does your ideal meal look like? Why is that meal special to you?

Topic 3: If you could choose any career, which career would you select, and why?

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