The SSAT—or Secondary Schools Admissions Test—is an entrance exam used by independent private middle and high schools throughout the U.S., created and administered by the Secondary School Admission Test Board.
Because the SSAT is used for students across a broad spectrum of grades, it’s offered at three different levels depending on where a student is in their education:
- Upper Level: for students currently in grades 8–11
- Middle Level: for students currently in grades 5–7
- Elementary Level: for students currently in grades 3–4
All questions on the SSAT have the same score. The raw score is calculated for each section and then the SSAT percentile (1-99) is given for relative performance evaluation. It is to note that the SSAT has negative marking.
What’s on the SSAT?
Regardless of what level of SSAT test a student is taking, the same five core competencies are assessed: Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, writing, and experimental. However, the upper and middle versions of the test contain two Quantitative Reasoning sections, while the elementary level has just one.
- Quantitative Reasoning questions on the upper- and middle-level exams test mathematical concepts including algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, and probability, while the elementary exam tests skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
- Reading Comprehension questions evaluate a student’s ability to identify main ideas, themes, and tone, and to understand the author’s purpose.
- Verbal Reasoning tests vocabulary and the ability to relate ideas through identifying synonyms and interpreting analogies.
- Writing Sample: The writing sample is not scored, but schools use it to assess writing skills.
- Experimental: Mixed content questions (verbal, reading, and math). This section does not count toward reported scores.
Is the SSAT for everyone?
Students in grades 3 through 11 seeking admission to private schools take the SSAT. Students in grades 3 and 4 can choose between elementary, middle, and upper levels: elementary, middle, or upper.
Rather than taking the test according to their intended grade, students take it according to their current grade. You would take a middle-level test in 7th grade instead of an upper-level test if you were in 7th grade. In the same way, 4th graders applying to 5th grade would take the elementary level and not the middle level.
Your score report will take several weeks to arrive, so take the test well in advance of any deadlines for school applications. It is possible for students to take the test multiple times throughout the school year on various Saturdays. For most students, the most convenient testing center will be a nearby private school. Independent schools administer the SSAT in countries all over the world.
How Long is the SSAT?
Elementary Level SSAT:
The Elementary Level of SSAT takes a total of 2 hours and 5 minutes, including one break and the experimental section.
The Elementary Level is taken by students applying to grades 4-5. The test consists of five sections: Quantitative, Verbal, Reading, Writing, and Experimental. The Elementary Level SSAT is only offered on paper.
|Section||# Of Question||Type of Question||Duration|
|Quantitative/Math||30||Basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, Place value, Ordering of numbers (greater than, less than), Fractions, Basic concepts of geometry, Interpretation of graphs||30|
|Verbal||30||Vocabulary, Verbal Reasoning, Ability to Relate Ideas Logically||20|
|Reading||28||Main Ideas, Details, Inferences, Word Meanings, Author’s Purpose, Tone, Opinions, Arguments, Predictions||30|
|Writing Sample||1 prompt||A topic statement to which you will be asked to respond (support or argue), using specific examples from personal experience, current events, history, or literature||15|
|Experimental Section||15-17||Verbal, Reading, and Quantitative-style questions||15|
Middle Level and Upper Level:
The Middle-Level of SSAT and the Upper Level of SSAT take a total of 3 hours and 5 minutes on paper and 3 hours and 10 minutes on the computer. This includes the two breaks and the experimental section at the end.
The Middle Level is taken by students applying to grades 6-8, and the Upper Level is taken by students applying to grades 9-12.
The test consists of six sections: Writing, Quantitative 1, Reading, Verbal, Quantitative 2, and Experimental. The Middle and Upper-Level SSAT is offered on paper and on the computer.
|Section||# Of Question||Type of Question||Duration|
|Writing Sample||1||A topic statement to which you will be asked to respond (support or argue), using specific examples from personal experience, current events, history, or literature||25|
|Quantitative/Math||30||Number Concepts and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis, Probability||30|
|Reading||40 multiple choice (7 passages)||Main Ideas, Details, Inferences, Word Meanings, Author’s Purpose, Tone, Opinions, Arguments, Predictions||40|
|Verbal||60 multiple choice (30 synonyms and 30 analogies)||Vocabulary, Verbal Reasoning, Ability to Relate Ideas Logically||30|
|Quantitative (Math)||25||Number Concepts and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis, Probability||30|
|Experimental Section||16||Verbal, Reading, and Quantitative-style questions||15|
How Is the SSAT Scored?
There will be a section score for each of the three sections of the SSAT, as well as a total score, which is the sum of all three sections.
Each level is scored on a different scale. Section scores for the elementary level range from 300 to 600. For the middle level, section scores range from 440 to 710. Finally, scores for each section range from 500 to 800 for the upper level.
At all levels, you’ll get one point for every correct answer, zero for a skipped answer, and a deduction of ¼ points for wrong answers. There is no penalty for incorrect answers on the elementary level exam. The raw score is simply calculated by adding the number of correct answers. Raw scores are then scaled.
SSAT Scaled Scores by Level:
- Upper Level: Section scores between 500-800 and quantitative scores between 1500-2400.
- Middle Level: Section scores between 440-710 and quantitative scores between 1320-2130.
- Elementary Level: Section scores between 300-600 and quantitative scores between 900-1800.
If you already know about SSAT and preparing for the upcoming SSAT test, then check the Socrato YouTube channel for Practice Test scoring and diagnostic report. To Prepare smartly for the SSAT, download our free e-book “Smart and effective way SSAT prep”.