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What is the SSAT?

The SSAT is a standardized test that rising 6th through 12th
grade students are required to take when seeking admission to many independent (private) schools and many of the nation’s boarding schools.  Some schools also require the SSAT for rising 4rd and 5th graders.

The SSAT is administered on three levels:

  • Elementary - for students currently in grades 3-4 (applying to grades 4-5)
  • Middle - for students currently in grades 5-7 (applying to grades 6-8)
  • Upper - for students currently in grades 8-11 (applying to grades 9-12)

The SSAT is a multiple-choice test that includes scored

  • Verbal (vocabulary and analogies)
  • Quantitative
  • Reading

The SSAT also includes an unscored writing sample. A copy of the writing sample is made available to the schools to which a student applies. Students also take an unidentified section of experimental questions whose results are not scored but are used by the company that creates the test for test design purposes.

Taking the SSAT

The SSAT is given throughout most of the school year (October through June), but many schools require a completed application, including SSAT results, by the beginning or middle of February. Test scores are typically available two weeks after the test date.

Please check with the schools to which you are applying for their admissions deadlines and requirements.

Ways to Take SSAT

At Home: Computer Based

Middle and Upper level students may take a proctored computer-based test at home. Start times are available between 10 AM ET and 6 PM ET on various days each month.

At a Test Center: Computer-Based

Middle and Upper level students may take a proctored computer-based test at a Prometric Test Center. This option is available on various dates and times. Centers can fill up, so booking early increases the options.

At a Test Center - Paper-Based

Students at any level may take a paper-based test at an authorized test center. This option is available one Saturday each month from October through April.

Flex Testing

Students at any level can take a paper-based test once per testing year at approved schools and educational consultant offices. The Flex test offers more scheduling options than the test center paper test. It also allows the student to take the SSAT in a small group or individual administration. Parents might pay an additional fee for this option.

If your child needs accommodations for the SSAT (such as extra time), you will need to apply for them through well in advance of the test date.

The SSAT Requires Students to Apply Their Knowledge to New Situations

Taking the SSAT is not the same experience for students as taking tests in school. Classroom teachers prepare their students for material-based testing. The SSAT requires students to apply their knowledge to new situations and new types of questions. According to SSAT’s own website, the SSAT is designed to be difficult.

Preparing for and taking the test can be stressful for students, so it is important for parents to be encouraging and positive.

Our tutoring program is also designed to reduce students’ stress by making them more familiar with the material while working with a tutor in a caring, supportive environment.


SSAT Scoring

Raw scores on the Middle and Upper Level SSAT are calculated by adding the number of correct answers in a section and subtracting one-fourth of a point for each incorrect answer in that section. No points are added or subtracted for omitted answers. On the Lower Level SSAT, no points are subtracted for wrong answers.

Since there is a slight penalty for an incorrect answer on a Middle or Upper Level SSAT, our tutor will work with your student to determine when he or she should guess if unsure of the correct answer.

A student’s raw score for each section is compared with the scores of students in the same grade and of the same gender who took the test within the past three years. That score is then converted to a percentile score for each section and the overall test. Schools use these percentile scores for evaluation and admissions purposes.

Most schools “super score” results when reviewing a student’s application: they combine a student’s highest Reading, Verbal, and Quantitative scores from different test dates.

Because the student body taking the SSAT is a high-achieving group, a student’s scores might not be as high as he or she is used to receiving on other testing. In addition, since official past tests are not released and both the test and students are very inconsistent, it is difficult for a tutor to predict what a child will score, and it is not unusual for a student’s scores to vary considerably from test to test.

One-On-One Customized SSAT Tutoring

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