Students walking and preparing for SSAT Vocab Test

What Is SSAT Vocab Test And How to Prepare for It?

The SSAT Vocab Test makes up one-fourth of the graded subjects tested through the SSAT assessment. The other three graded topics on the SSAT are two mathematics sections and a reading portion.

This particular vocab portion of the SSAT asks questions based on two different topics: synonyms and analogies. To figure out what those sections look like and read more about what is on the test, you are in the right spot.

This article will point out key information about the test, including length, difficulty, and sample questions, and it will offer you handy preparation tactics.

So, if you need help preparing for the vocab test, or you aren’t quite sure how to go about studying, look no further. Keep reading to ensure future success!

What Is The SSAT Verbal?

The verbal section of the SSAT is broken into two distinct categories to help assess your skills relating to analogies and synonyms.

The synonyms portion of the exam calculates your word intelligence, particularly when relating to vocabulary usage, while analogies help assess your ability to make conclusions, put pieces together, and understand different sequences of language. Together, these skills demonstrate how well you understand the English language.

Synonym Section

Students in the Classroom Writing

The synonym section of the SSAT verbal test breaks down into three subsections:

  1. Elementary (given to grades 3-4)
  2. Middle (given to grades 5-7)
  3. Upper (given to grades 8-12)

Each of these subsections tests your knowledge of the corresponding vocabulary. For example, a question on the elementary portion of the verbal exam could ask: what is a synonym for mad?

a. Sad

b. Angry

c. Happy

d. Laughter

Since you are taking a test on lower-level vocabulary, the answer is going to be simpler than that of an upper-level answer. The correct choice here is b. Angry. Also, the elementary section asks test-takers to answer 30 questions about synonyms and analogies in 20 minutes.

The middle and upper-level sections ask users to answer 60 questions, broken into 30 synonyms and 30 analogies) in 30 minutes.

What Is a Synonym?

A synonym is a word that carries the same or a similar definition to another word. For example, a synonym for rich is wealthy. Rich means “having a great deal of assets” and wealthy means “having a great deal of money.”

Wealthy can also mean having a great deal of assets, but rich does not have to mean that someone has a great deal of money. It all depends on context.

Identifying synonyms increase vocabulary, reading comprehension, and deductive reasoning skills. Throughout this section of the test, you are going to identify synonyms and words with similar meanings to the words in bold.

The questions on the synonym portion of the test present test-takers with a word in bold font. Below the emboldened word, you will have five options to choose from.

Each option represents a different word, and your goal is to pick the word that conveys the meaning closest to the word in bold. If you do not know the answer, there are some tricks to help you narrow down your options.

  • First, read all of the choices.
  • If you can, write down what the words mean, including the word in bold. But only do this if you are one hundred percent sure you know what it means. This is not the place to trip up on what a word might mean.
  • If you know one of the choices is absolutely incorrect, mark it off. There is no use keeping the incorrect answer around if you are confident it is wrong.
  • If you find yourself stuck, try to break apart the words into their roots, prefixes, and suffixes. This strategy can help you get to the meaning of a word.


Girl with Curly Hair Reading a Book

When preparing for the synonym portion of the vocab test, there is a multitude of tactics to use to make sure you ace the test.

First, you can start by opening your reading palette. Readers have a higher vocabulary than those who do not spend free time reading due to a constant bombarding of words. If someone spends all their free time reading, they are going to learn the meanings of more and more words.

The context surrounding the literature will introduce them to synonyms and words they’d never heard of before. So, crack open some books before the big test.

Another way to make sure you get a good grade on the verbal test is by referencing dictionaries and thesauruses. These books break down words into suffixes, roots, prefixes, and definitions. Thesauruses even offer antonyms and synonyms to the reader. These are perfect reference points to use in preparation for a vocabulary test.

When you are reading a new book or reading a dictionary, you can study the different kinds of words you come across. You might notice a few words have the same root but different meanings. Take note of that. It will come in handy during test day.

What Is An Analogy?

students in the classroom taking the test

An analogy is a pattern or relationship between two or more items. In language, analogies pop up through various mediums. We have synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, and so many more. This section of the test quizzes users on their skills to put two and two together or to digest information and make sense of it.

For example, someone who can spot the essential information in an analogy will be able to increase their problem-solving skills, memory, communication skills, and of course, their vocabulary chops.

When looking at an analogy, you need to read the information, understand the information, and solve the question based on the given information. If you are able to do this, the test scorers note your capability to think, process information critically, and store information for prolonged periods of time.

Here is an example of an analogy.

Candy is to Halloween as hearts are to…?

a. Thanksgiving
b. Independence Day
c. Birthdays
d. Valentine’s Day

The correct option is d. Valentine’s Day. In this analogy, we see that a specific item, candy is used to represent a holiday. What holiday is known for giving out candy and having sweet treats? Halloween.

So, to keep this sequence going, we have a specific item, hearts. What holiday is all about love and giving your heart to someone? Valentine’s Day.

While taking the analogy portion of the vocab SSAT, there are some ways to help you solve questions.

Those include:

  • Identifying the pattern. Read the questions before you write anything down. Try to identify a relationship between the words in the question. To do this, you might need to read a question a few times before you can answer it correctly. If you notice a relationship, write down the relationship, but don’t answer the question quite yet. You want to make sure you have all the information you need before proceeding with the exam.
  • After you’ve identified a relationship, see if that relationship applies to any of the other choices. This is why you don’t answer a question right away; you might have to dig a little deeper to answer the question correctly.
  • If you are stuck on an answer and you think that two or more answers seem like the correct choice, narrow down your thinking. Look at the information through a specific lens to try and get the most accurate answer you can come up with.


Preparation for the analogy portion of the test is similar to preparation for the synonym portion of the SSAT. You can read books and pay attention to the various patterns used in the language to help you solve analogies, and by reading more, you open up different parts of your brain to solving problems.

Also, by reading more, you learn more vocabulary words. In turn, that helps expand your mind and helps you digest information and solve mysteries at a faster rate than someone who does not spend their free time reading.

Online Practice Resources For The SSAT

young woman studying in front of the computer

TestPrep-Online has organized different study guides for those taking the SSAT. Choose between the elementary, middle, or upper-level prep packs for practice tests, practice questions, and in-depth answer explanations.

These study guides help test takers earn great results on their vocab SSATs because they break down questions similar to those found on the SSAT. Test Prep took the time to study previous SSATs and base their practice questions on old tests. This means that these materials will help you study SSAT vocabulary words and crack the SSAT altogether.

If you find that you are having trouble getting the questions correct, the practice test offers full-length, in-depth explanations that walk you through each section of the question.

Once you answer a question and submit the practice test, the guide explains what you answered correctly, what you did incorrectly, and how to avoid those mistakes when the real test rolls around. Practicing with Test Prep’s test prep is an invaluable resource for those looking to improve their Verbal SSAT scores.

Wrapping Up

The Verbal SSAT is a common test administered to students in grades 3-12. The verbal section is one of the four scored sections, but with this guide and TestPrep-Online’s study guides, you will be on your way to acing the test in no time!