Erb Essay Rubric

ISEE Practice Essay Topics

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Download ISEE Practice Tests

The ISEE essay requires students to write a descriptive essay in thirty minutes. The essay is not scored, but a copy of the writing sample is sent to the admissions officers of the schools to which the ISEE score report is sent.


  • Follow directions! Make sure you rewrite the prompt on the top of the first page of your answer sheet.
  • Budget your time! Make sure to save time at the end to edit for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • ISEE Essays tend to be descriptive essays. A descriptive essay requires you to write about a person, place, thing, idea, or event in a way that makes it possible for your reader to properly visualize or understand it. You might be asked to offer your own definitions or explanations.
  • Make sure your essay has a clear introductory paragraph, two or three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.
  • While you will be asked to write about a specific topic, the topics themselves tend to involve broad subjects: books, school, community service, role models.
    • Choose a subject that appeals to you.
    • Choose subjects about which you know a great deal.
  • Identify two or three important qualities about the subject you choose.
    • Example: Two qualities of a good teacher are expertise and organization.
  • Write about two or three reasons why you chose the subject you chose.
    • My favorite author is William Shakespeare because he vividly recreates history and he writes humorously.

Here's a list of essay topics with which to practice:

Lower Level (grades 5 and 6):

Non-Stimulus Prompts: Guide curriculum decisions, help plan writing instruction, and provide important feedback to administrators, teachers, students, and parents about student writing. These prompts require students to complete a first draft and revise to complete a final draft on the topic. Non-stimulus prompts are available in both English and Spanish. The difficulty level of Spanish prompts is selected based on a student’s grade level or Spanish proficiency level. 

Stimulus-based Prompts: Align to the most current standards and are used to develop students’ critical analysis and writing skills.  These prompts involve a more complex performance task that requires students to read, analyze, and reference related passages to inform their writing. Stimulus-based prompts underscore the close relationship between reading and writing as students complete a first draft and revise to complete a final draft.

ERB Members can access more sample prompts along with suggestions for using sample prompts in the classroom by visiting the WRIIT Library!

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