What You Need to Know About the SSAT

What is the SSAT?

The SSAT (“Secondary School Admission Test”) is an admissions test used to assess applicants for admission to private middle and high schools. For students planning to apply to elite private schools, an excellent score on the SSAT is important. Preparation can help you achieve your goal!

What is the format of the SSAT?

The SSAT is divided into three levels: Elementary (3rd and 4th grade), Middle (5th-7th grade) and Upper (8th-11th). The test consists of multiple choice sections testing Quantitative skills (two sections for Upper and Middle levels), Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning, as well as an unscored essay section. Upper and Middle levels have an unscored experimental section.

What’s the difference between ISEE and SSAT?

The ISEE and SSAT are used similarly for admission to competitive private middle and high schools. Both test vocabulary, reading comprehension and mathematics. Many schools will accept either test, which allows you to look into both tests and choose the one that is a better fit for your strengths! The most significant differences are in the verbal sections: the SSAT uses synonyms and analogies, while the ISEE uses sentence completions and synonyms. In addition, while ISEE reading comprehension passages are usually longer, the SSAT passages are much more diverse including poetry. For the math section, the SSAT is less focused on reasoning than the ISEE. The SSAT is also slightly shorter.

How do you prepare for the SSAT?

Just like the ISEE, it’s important to start with a diagnostic test and allow plenty of time for building skills and practicing. These tests evaluate reasoning, vocabulary and complex reading comprehension skills which require time to improve. In addition, the mathematics section may cover content that middle grade students have not encountered. The SSAT has a particular focus on analogies in the vocabulary section, which students are unlikely to have worked with much in school. The help of a private tutor can be especially valuable to fill the gap and bring students up to their target score.

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