How to Prepare for Upper Level SSAT Test?
If your child is between grades 8 and 11 and is seeking enrollment in an independent school, then they will need to take the Upper Level SSAT test.
To successfully pass the test, your child will need to thoroughly prepare for it.
In this article, we guide you on how to help your child prepare for the Upper Level SSAT by providing a breakdown of what to expect on the Upper Level exam.
Table of Contents
What Is The SSAT?
The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is a multiple-choice, standardized test that is used across several private schools in their admission process.
The SSAT is taken by students from grades 3 to 11. The purpose of the test is to assess a student’s verbal, quantitative, and reading skills.
The SSAT comprises three levels:
- Elementary level SSAT is for students in grades 3 and 4.
- Middle Level SSAT is for students in grades 5-7.
- Upper Level SSAT is for students in grades 8–11.
All the Secondary School Admissions Test levels administer skills-based tests that are used to guide the admissions officers about the potential academic success of a potential student.
What Is The Difference Between The Three SSAT Test Levels?
The Elementary Level SSAT is given to students who are currently in grades 3 and 4 and are applying to grades 4 and 5. This is the shortest level of the three and only includes three test sections and one unscored writing sample.
The Middle Level SSAT is given to students in grades 5 to 7 who are applying for admission to grades 6 to 8.
The Upper Level SSAT is given to students in grades 8 to 11 who are applying for admission to grades 9 to 12. Both the Middle and Upper SSAT Levels include four scored test sections, one unscored writing sample, and one unscored experimental section.
What To Expect On The Upper Level SSAT
The Upper Level SSAT test consists of quantitative, vocabulary, and analogy questions. It also includes reading passages, a writing sample, and an experimental section that asks a mix of questions.
Students have three hours and ten minutes to complete the Upper Level exam. There are also two 10-minute breaks within this timeframe.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the content of the test.
Students have a choice between a general or personal question prompt. This section allows students to show prospective schools how well they are able to organize their thoughts, express themselves, and answer a prompt in a logical way.
Students are allocated 25 minutes to complete this section.
Although writing samples are not scored, they are sent to the independent schools that you choose to receive the SSAT score report. This helps the schools evaluate the students’ writing skills. Parents can also separately purchase a copy of the writing sample.
The quantitative part of the Upper Level SSAT is divided into two 30-minute sections, each containing 25 questions. This section of the SSAT is scored.
This section mainly focuses on critical thinking and problem solving. It assesses a student’s ability to find solutions to problems that involve elementary algebra, geometry, probability, data analysis, numbers, measurements, operations, arithmetic, and other math concepts.
Students are not allowed to use a calculator in this section.
The SSAT reading comprehension section includes eight reading passages with approximately five questions for each passage. Each reading passage varies in length from 250 to 350 words.
Students have to answer a total of 40 questions in this scored section within a 40-minute timeframe.
The SSAT consists of two types of writing: narrative and argumentative. Narrative writing includes excerpts from poems, essays, short stories, and novels. On the other hand, argumentative writing presents a clear point of view about a subject.
The SSAT test uses reading passages from literary fiction, science (astronomy, medicine, anthropology), social studies (economics, sociology, history), and the humanities (poetry, art, biography).
After reading each passage, students will be required to answer questions about the content of the passage. This includes questions about the main idea, inference, supporting ideas, vocabulary in context, organization, logic, and the author’s intent, perspective, style, and figurative language.
The SSAT Verbal section consists of two types of questions: 30 synonym questions and 30 analogy questions. This scored section has a time limit of 30 minutes.
The aim of the verbal section is to assess a student’s verbal reasoning, vocabulary, and ability to logically link ideas together. Students are required to identify synonyms and interpret analogies.
Synonyms are words with the same or similar meaning as another word. For example, “neat” is a synonym for “tidy.” Synonym questions measure a student’s vocabulary strength by providing them with one word and asking them to select the most similar word from five options.
Analogies are comparisons between two things with similarities. The comparisons play a key role in improving perception and memory, reading and vocabulary, decision-making skills, communication and reasoning skills, and problem-solving.
Analogy questions evaluate a student’s ability to logically link ideas to each other. These questions require the student to find the answer choice that logically completes the sentence so that the relationship between the first two words matches the relationship between the second pair of words.
The experimental portion of the SSAT Upper Level Test assesses future SSAT questions to make sure that they are secure, reliable, and acceptable.
The Experimental section consists of five reading, six verbal, and five quantitative questions. Test takers are required to answer the 16 questions in 15 minutes. This section is not scored.
How To Prepare For The SSAT Upper Level Test
Proper preparation before any test is incredibly important. While the same applies to the Upper Level SSAT, we have outlined useful test-taking strategies that test takers can follow to achieve success.
The SSAT is very different from any other test that you will take in school. The most challenging aspect of the test is that students are not taught the information before taking the SSAT.
On the SSAT, students can get several questions wrong but still do very well. So do not discourage yourself by thinking that the test is “too hard.” Learn the strategies, apply them, and do lots of practice tests.
Predict The Answer Before Reading The Answer Options.
When it comes to the verbal section of the SSAT, do not read the answer options before you think of your answer to each question.
Multiple-choice questions are very misleading. Most answer choices on the SSAT have common mistakes and misconceptions, which can be very tempting. So, read each question and predict the answers before you look at the answer choices.
Know When To Guess
There are penalties for wrong answers on the Middle and Upper Level SSAT. You gain 1 point for every correct answer and lose 1/4 point for every incorrect answer. There are no points earned or lost for unanswered questions.
So if you run out of time to answer questions on the SSAT, avoid guessing answers as you could lose points.
SSAT Practice Tests
Apart from learning SSAT strategies, the best form of preparation is taking full-length SSAT practice tests that are timed. These SSAT practice tests will help you understand the format and content of the official SSAT test.
One way to access free SSAT practice tests is through Test Prep Online. Test Prep Online provides helpful study material and practice tests for the Upper Level SSAT.
Do Not Cram
A few days before taking the SSAT test, students need to ensure that they get enough sleep.
On the morning of the test, students should have a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast. It’s also best to avoid caffeine and sugar on the test day, as they will overstimulate them and prevent them from being alert.
Students must not study for the SSAT the day before the actual test. They need to be fresh and full of energy on the day of the test, as it is a lengthy one that requires a lot of stamina.
How To Take The SSAT
The SSAT is available eight Saturdays a year at different test centers worldwide. Sunday testing is only available on a limited basis for students who cannot attend Saturday sessions due to religious obligations. Requests for Sunday testing must be made a minimum of three days before the test date.
Requests for special accommodations need to be made at least 14 days before the test date.
The SSAT can be taken in three different ways, depending on your location. Students in the United States, Canada, and several other international locations can choose to take the Upper Level SSAT traditionally on paper at a test center or electronically at a Prometric test center.
Students in the United States and Canada can also choose to take the SSAT at home using proctored computer-based testing.
What Is The Fee For The SSAT?
The registration fee for the Elementary Level SSAT is $80. The cost of registration for the Middle or Upper Level SSAT is $120. SSAT registration for a test closes three weeks before the test date. An additional fee is required for late registration.
A student may be eligible for a test fee waiver if they cannot pay the fee due to financial struggles. Fee waivers can only be obtained directly from the admissions office at the school that the student who is applying to.
Score Report For SSAT
Students receive individual scores for each section of the SSAT, namely the quantitative, verbal, and reading sections. They will also receive a total score, which is the sum of all three individual scores.
The scoring scale for each level of the SSAT differs. The Elementary Level uses a 300 to 600 scale, the Middle Level uses a 440 to 710 scale, and the Upper Level uses a scoring scale from 500 to 800.
A percentile score is calculated from the scaled score, which displays a student’s score as a percentage above other students who took the same test. A more in-depth breakdown of a student’s performance is also provided, which shows the number of right, wrong, and mitted answers in each section of the test.
When you are preparing to take the Upper Level SSAT, keep in mind the format, content, question types, and strategies to help you tackle the test.
Always take practice tests, as they are the best way to prepare you for the real thing. Test Prep Online offers engaging preparation packs that include full-length practice tests, helpful tips, and explanations.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.