ISAT Test Structure
In total, there are 100 multiple-choice questions with 4 or 5 options to choose from for each question. As mentioned earlier, the test is 3 hours long, leaving 1min 40 seconds per question. There is no penalty for incorrect answers so you are encouraged to attempt each question. The test is split into two main sections: Critical Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.
This section involves comprehending and analysing information presented in the form of a passage. The passages use material from humanities and social sciences, however, content knowledge of these topics is not necessary. The questions evaluate your capacity to understand ideas, draw appropriate conclusions and evaluate arguments.
In this section, you will encounter passages that draw on material from both mathematics and sciences. Prior knowledge is not assumed and the passages will provide sufficient explanation of the content. You may also encounter graphs, tables and diagrams as part of the passages. Questions in this section also assess your ability to draw scientific conclusions, interpret graphs and tables and solve mathematical problems.
Surprisingly, during the actual test, you will not notice a formal split between these two sections. Instead, all passages are presented one-by-one, with passages from both sections being interwoven. Hence, when it comes to keeping track of time, you want to ensure that you have completed 50 questions by the 90min, or halfway mark.
After you receive your results, you are able to see how you performed in each section.
ISAT Scoring and University Requirements
Raw scores from both the Critical Reasoning (CR) and Quantitative Reasoning (QR) sections are converted to scaled scores with ranges of 100-200. The overall score is an average of the CR and QR scaled scores and hence also between 100-200. The use of scaled scores enables scores from the test in different years to be directly compared. In addition to the scaled scores, percentile ranks are also provided. Percentiles (%ILE) show the percentage of candidates whose scores are lower than the one reported.
To know what’s a good ISAT score, we will need to consider requirements from Australian universities. Usually, universities rank students based on their ISAT scores to determine who is invited to the interview stage of the admissions process. After the interview is complete, a combination of the student’s interview performance, high school results and ISAT score is used to determine whether he/she gets an offer.
Some universities have also stated minimum ISAT scores for consideration. At University of New South Wales, ‘all international applicants are required to complete the ISAT with a minimum score of 150 for consideration.’ For Monash University, Melbourne, the minimum is even higher, and ‘applicants must achieve an overall total score of 170 or above, with a minimum of 165 in both sections’. University of Tasmania and University of Western Australia (UWA) also provide minimum ISAT percentiles, with Tasmania requiring a minimum overall percentile of 50% and UWA requiring 25th percentile in each section of the ISAT.
Given these varying requirements, it is safe to say that you should aim for a score above the 90th percentile to put yourself in an extremely competitive position.
Taking the ISAT
When should I take the ISAT?
ISAT results are considered current for two years. Candidates may re-sit ISAT after 12 months from their previous sitting have elapsed. If a candidate has more than one result in the ACER database, the university will have access to all sets of scores.
Which schools require the ISAT?
To find out which schools require the ISAT, their respective descriptions , programmes and test dates here.