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About the SSAT

Whereas the SAT or ACT is taken to get into college, the SSAT is taken to get into a private secondary school. The test is available in 3 levels: Elementary Level for students currently in grades 3-4, Middle Level for students currently in grades 5-7, and Upper Level for students currently in grades 8-11. All three tests are similar in format but the content gets more advanced as the level increases. Students typically take the SSAT between September and January. It can be taken on multiple occasions. You can also take the traditional paper-and-pencil version or the online in-home version.
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The most important thing that schools look at is the percentile, so we’ll refer to that as our “score.” Your test score report includes a percentile for each of the three sections (verbal, quantitative, and reading) as well as a total percentile, which is a statistical aggregate of all three sections. The average percentile for private schools in general is 60th and the average percentile for the best private schools is 80th. Those are approximate benchmark scores you can use to gauge your performance and competitiveness for various schools you’re considering.

Section Breakdown

The Middle and Upper Level SSAT are identical in format and are structured as follows:
This is a 40 minute section with 40 questions. The format is five-choice multiple choice. There are a total of 8 passages with 4-6 questions per passage. The passage genres typically include literature, poetry, science, and history.
This is a 30 minute section with 60 questions. The format is five-choice multiple choice. There are 30 synonyms, followed by 30 analogies. The vocabulary is pretty demanding: repudiate, scull, and androgynous have all appeared on the SSAT!
Quantititave - Math
The quantitative portion is tested on two separate sections, each 30 minutes long with 25 questions per. No calculator is allowed in either section. The format is five-choice multiple choice. Content is focused on pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry.
Writing Sample
This is an essay section. You have 25 minutes to respond to a prompt. On the Upper Level you can choose between two prompts: a story based prompt or an analytical essay. In the story based prompt you create a story using the first sentence (this is provided) as your starting point. On the Middle Level you choose between two story based prompts. The writing sample does NOT receive a score. However, it may be reviewed by the school admissions staff as an additional factor to consider.

Here are some recent sample prompts from the Upper Level test:
If you could meet three famous people, who would they be and why? (analytical essay)
Frozen in fright, she stood on the stage. (story based essay)
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Preparing for the test

The Cornerstone Approach

There are a host of strategies that can be used to attack even the hardest SSAT questions. And these strategies are extremely effective! But strategies can only get you so far. That’s why I balance the lessons with just the right blend of strategies, test-taking techniques, and content. The lessons are always fine-tuned to address YOUR specific needs - no one else’s! At the outset of the program, I’ll already have done a thorough analysis of your previous SSAT score report, or an intake diagnostic SSAT at our tutoring center. Based on that analysis, I’ll know what specific areas we need to focus on so that we can maximize your score and not waste time reviewing stuff you already know!

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