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 be noted that the SSAT has a negative marking.

What is the ELA section?

The ELA (English Language Arts) section assesses a student’s proficiency in English language and reading comprehension skills. The ELA section typically includes various types of passages and questions that evaluate a student’s ability to understand written English, analyze texts, and demonstrate vocabulary knowledge. This section has 57 questions and is divided into 3 sections: Revising/Editing Sentences, Revising/Editing Passages, and Reading Comprehension. There are 3-5 questions for Revising/Editing sentences, 6-8 for Revising/Editing passages, and the rest of the questions for Reading Comprehension

Here’s a breakdown of what is covered in the SSAT ELA section:

  1. Reading Comprehension: This part evaluates the student’s ability to understand and interpret written passages. Passages may cover a range of topics, including fiction, non-fiction, humanities, science, and social studies. Questions may require students to identify main ideas, draw inferences, make connections between ideas, understand vocabulary in context, and analyze the author’s purpose, tone, and perspective.
  2. Vocabulary: This section assesses a student’s vocabulary knowledge and understanding of word meanings. Students may encounter different types of vocabulary questions, such as synonyms, antonyms, analogies, and word relationships. They may also be asked to determine the meaning of words based on context clues within a passage.
  3. Writing Sample: Some versions of the SSAT may include a writing sample or essay section, where students are given a prompt and asked to write an essay expressing their ideas, opinions, or arguments in response. This section evaluates the student’s ability to organize thoughts coherently, use correct grammar and punctuation, and develop and support ideas effectively.

To practice for the SSAT ELA section, here are some tips:

Read Widely and Regularly: Reading is the most fundamental aspect of preparing for the SSAT ELA section. Encourage students to read a variety of texts, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and articles from different genres and subject areas. This helps improve vocabulary, comprehension, and familiarity with different writing styles.

Analyse Passages: Practice analyzing passages by identifying main ideas, supporting details, tone, author’s purpose, and other key elements. Encourage students to think critically about the text and consider how different parts of the passage relate to each other.

Expand Vocabulary: Building a strong vocabulary is crucial for success in the SSAT ELA section. Encourage students to learn new words regularly and practice using them in context. Flashcards, vocabulary-building apps, and reading challenging texts are effective ways to expand vocabulary.

Practice Question Types: Familiarize students with the different types of questions they may encounter in the SSAT ELA section, such as multiple-choice, synonym/antonym, analogy, and passage-based questions. Provide practice questions and passages similar to those found on the SSAT to help students become comfortable with the format and types of questions.

Work on Time Management: The SSAT ELA section is timed, so students need to practice managing their time effectively. Encourage them to pace themselves during practice sessions and to prioritize answering questions they find easier first before tackling more challenging ones.

Review Mistakes: After completing practice questions or passages, review incorrect answers with students to identify areas for improvement. Discuss the reasons behind incorrect answers and encourage students to learn from their mistakes.

Write Regularly: If the SSAT includes a writing sample or essay section, practice writing essays on various topics. Encourage students to focus on organizing their thoughts, using proper grammar and punctuation, developing strong arguments, and supporting their ideas with evidence.

Simulate Test Conditions: When practicing for the SSAT ELA section, simulate test conditions as much as possible. This includes timing practice sessions, using official SSAT practice materials, and creating a quiet, distraction-free environment for studying.

By following these tips and incorporating regular practice into their study routine, students can improve their performance on the SSAT ELA section and feel more confident on test day.

If you already know about SSAT and preparing for the upcoming SSAT test, then check the Socrato YouTube channel for Practice Test scoring and reports. To Prepare smartly for the SSAT, download our free e-book “Smart and Effective Way SSAT Prep”.