Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) Test: A Comprehensive Study Guide

What is an SSAT test? An SSAT test is a Secondary School Admission Test. These tests are used as private school admission assessments. Your child will need to complete these tests for middle and high school admissions.

Many independent schools want students to take the SSAT tests in order to be accepted to the school. This is an important test and you want your children to do well. The students’ performance will determine which schools they can attend.

The SSAT Test offers schools critical information about a student’s abilities in the classroom. When visiting the SSAT website, you will find the standard test dates for the testing year.

Know The System

Knowing how the system works is the first step to doing well on the SSAT tests. The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) will be administered by the Enrollment Management Association.

The SSAT tests cover three levels: The elementary-level SSAT test, the Middle-level SSAT test, and the Upper-level SSAT test. The tests on all levels will cover a quantitative section, verbal reasoning, reading comprehension section, and writing sections.

When writing the Middle and Upper-level tests an experimental section will also be included.

How To Prepare

Preparation and Work

The test takers will need to complete their registration through the admission academy. The benefit is that the admission academy offers a year’s subscription to all live content. There are resource packages included. This will help you gain knowledge about private school admission assessments.

Some Of These are:

  • How to choose the best schools
  • What schools fit me best?
  • How do parents afford private schools
  • How to maximize revisit days
  • What is boarding school like?

All SSAT tests go through the Admissions office as they will mark all tests completed.

When completing the registration process, it is a good idea to visit both the admissions office and the admission academy. This will assist you in gaining all possible resources.

What Is The Format Of The SSAT?

There are four main topics that the SSAT tests cover. You are able to cover all of the sections in the practice tests as well.

  • The SSAT Quantitative Section

The quantitative questions consist of word problems and word meanings. This will test the test taker’s ability to solve problems that cover quantitative concepts.

  • The SSAT Verbal Section

This part of the test will push the child’s knowledge of synonyms and analogies. In this section, the child will be tested on their verbal reasoning skills. The child will be tested on their comprehension of language.

  • The SSAT Reading Comprehension Section

The student will need to complete a few reading passages. Then they will be asked to answer questions linked to the text. This will determine the students reading skills.

  • The SSAT Writing Section

In this section, the students are given a prompt. This is in the form of a picture or topic. The student will need to submit a writing sample.

The writing sample needs to be in the form of an essay. This part of the SSAT test is considered an unscored writing sample.

Here is designed so that the admissions offices and school boards are able to ‘get to know’ the students better. The idea is that the topics will give the child an opportunity to express themselves.

Preparation Materials

A boy Preparing for an exam online

From the elementary level, SSAT to the middle and upper-level tests requires much preparation for test day.

It is lucky that there is a plethora of resources at your fingertips. We highly recommend the resources and practice materials available at Test Prep Online. We have found them to be the most effective and comprehensive resource out there. They provide in-depth information about the tests along with realistic practice tests and guidance to test takers.

Official SSAT practice materials are also readily available to assist students with their test dates. It is easy enough to obtain access to full-length practice tests and free SSAT practice tests.

A huge part of the preparation for the official SSAT tests is knowing where your weak and strong points are. Breaks will also be provided when writing at test centers, you can use these to help set goals for yourself.

It is advised to begin SSAT practice time about a month before the student arrives for test day.

An efficient way to go about it is for students to summarise the work during their SSAT practice sessions. This helps to make continued learning more manageable.

Also Read: How Long Does The SSAT Test Take?

Here Are Some Tips For The Sections Asked During The Testing:

  • How To Write an Essay

Knowing how to write an effective essay can help the student with their total score on the SSAT tests. The student wants to keep their written voice in the third person and not the first person.

It’s a good idea for the parents to provide topics for the child to write about and then present them to the parents for review.

  • Quantitative Area

This can be the trickiest part of the SSAT test to prepare for. A great tip is to make sure students know their multiplication tables. This is especially true for the elementary level test.

It is definitely an advantage if students are comfortable with basic math functions.

Test days can be especially stressful so it helps to ensure that students practice their comprehension skills. These are word problems that need to be understood and broken down.

  • Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is simple to practice. If the learner enjoys reading, then this section will be a breeze.

A fun way to practice this is to have a reading group of friends. The learner can ask their friends questions about the book and vice versa.

  • Vocabulary

SSAT tests ties directly into rules learned during school. Make sure that students have a clear grasp of the basics.

The practice guides have full preparation questions for the type of testing that takes place during the exam.

Test Scores

Every section on the SSAT test has different questions, but all of the points are worth the same amount.

Verbal scores are based on the learner’s ability being tested in the verbal section. Testing in the section contains 60 questions. This is the most intensive section.

Testing is split between 30 synonym questions and 30 analogy questions.

The minimum score learners can obtain is 500. That being said, the grades learners want to aim for are the full 800 marks.

Quantitative scores consist of two sections. Each section has grades of 25 marks. This means in total the SSAT total will be 50 marks.

Again the lowest grades are 500 and the highest of the grades is 800.

The reading score is based on one section. The section consists of 40 marks.

As with the other sections, the lowest mark is 500 and the highest is 800 marks.

The writing sample is the unscored writing sample section. This needs to be submitted and is just as important as the SSAT scaled scores.

Learners are given 25 minutes to finish the creative or non-creative prompt.

Now we can get down to what is meant by the SSAT percentile.

– Things get more complicated here as some school boards want a higher SSAT score. A lot of private schools only take learners with a mark ranging in the 50th percentile.

– Many schools will consider the whole child. Do they have extracurricular activities, and what are their grades?

– Each learner will obtain a raw score. This refers to the number of questions that were correct. Then for each incorrect answer, a one-quarter point will be removed.

– From here, the raw SSAT score is converted. This is based on the 500 to 800 marks for each section.

– Once this score has been determined, the scaled score forms part of the percentile which ranges from 1 to 99.

– The character skills snapshot also forms part of the SSAT scores. This section is based on getting to know the whole learner as a person.

– There is a standard online tool used to test character skills and situational judgment skills. The character skills snapshot is mostly aimed at learners applying for grades 6 to 12.

– It is important to know that this does not replace any of the SSAT sections but just adds more value to the application. It forms part of the test score report.

Testing Accommodations

Students Preparing for PARCC Test NJ

Learning Difficulties

Any testing accommodations need to be applied for before the test date. Any learning requirements fall under testing accommodations.

These can cover learning difficulties such as dyslexia, hearing problems, and ADHD.

Some learners might need extra time. Or to write alone. Sometimes learners will need someone to read the questions to them.

An educational psychologist will need to provide a full assessment.

Fee Waivers

A fee waiver is generally applied for by learners who need financial assistance. Fee waivers are reserved for those who cannot afford to pay for their SSAT tests.

A fee waiver needs to be applied for in advance.

Once applied, the learners are able to write the tests for free on the stipulated test date.

Gold Standard

The gold standard assists learners with any accommodations. This means that the SSAT tests are available in the following formats:

  • paper – the standard paper format
  • Prometric – computer centers with access for online test takers
  • SSAT at home – available for students in the U.S. and Canada. This covers the middle and upper-level tests.
  • And fee waivers


As there are many free and easily accessible full-length practice tests and official SSAT practice materials for elementary-level, middle, and upper-level SSAT tests, there is almost no excuse for students to have a question answered incorrectly.

Through the right preparation, all students can obtain high scores for the grades they are applying for.

For more information regarding the SSAT test visit our website.