The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT), and moreover it’s used for admission to private middle schools and high schools, so, the purpose of the SSAT is to attend an elite private middle or high school, this is a test you’ll need to do well on. Because the SSAT helps test students for admission to private middle and high schools, different levels of the test are:

  • Upper Level- 8th grade and above.
  • Middle Level- 5th, 6th and 7th grade.
  • Elementary Level- 3rd and 4th grade.

The SSAT is a standardized test that assesses a student’s skills in three core areas: Quantitative, Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, and Essay (optional). Also, there is a wrong answer penalty on the SSAT.

 SSAT Reading

The Upper-Level SSAT Reading section is intended to “measure your ability to understand what you read.”  The Reading section is one of the main scored sections of the SSAT, varying in difficulty level according to your child’s grade group. The SSAT reading section asks students to read a variety of short fiction and non-fiction excerpts and answer comprehension questions in a limited time frame.

Reading Section

Reading Passage Types

Reading Question Types

  • 40 questions
  • 5 answer choices
  • 7-8 passages
  • 40 minutes

• Literary fiction
• Humanities (biography, art, poetry)
• Science (anthropology, astronomy, medicine)
• Social studies (history, sociology, economics)

  • Recognize the main idea
  • Locate details
  • Make inferences
  • Derive the meaning of a word or phrase from its context
  • Determine the author’s purpose
  • Determine the author’s attitude and tone
  • Understand and evaluate opinions/arguments
  • Make predictions based on information in the passage

Details of SSAT Reading Question Types

1: Recognize the main idea

  • These questions test a student’s ability to recognize the main ideas of individual paragraphs or passages as a whole.
  • Emphasis on specific details rather than broad, overarching ideas. 

2: Locate details

  • Detail questions test students’ literal comprehension of precise details in the text. 
  • It’s sensible to go back and search in the passage to answer these detail questions. 

3: Make inferences 

  • An inference is a logical deduction based on evidence and reasoning.
  • With inferences, the idea is not directly stated in the text, but there is some hint in the text that leads to a logical conclusion of some kind. 

4: Derive the meaning of a word or phrase from its context

  • Words-in-context questions can give students lots of fast, easy points on test day. 
  • Keep in mind that these are words in context questions – even if you don’t know the word, you should be able to answer this question by looking for hints about how it is used in the text.
  • Even though you are 100% sure you know the meaning of the word, you must check the passage to verify that it is not being used in a non-traditional way! 

5: Determine the author’s purpose

  • These questions test a student’s ability to identify this intent in a variety of ways.
  • Answer choices for these questions often comprise expressions “to describe,” “to identify,” or “to explain,” etc.
  • With Author’s Purpose questions, it is helpful to think about the passage type and source.

6: Determine the author’s attitude and tone

  • An author’s “purpose” and “tone” are often linked in a passage. 
  • When answering these questions, look for the author’s exact choice of adjectives and verbs to help determine tone.

7: Understand and evaluate opinions/arguments

  • These questions test a student’s literal comprehension of an author’s sentiments.
  • For this type of question, strike off all the answer choices that you find in the passage until you have one outstanding option.  

8: Make predictions based on information in the passage

  • Very similar to inference questions, yet these tend to spread beyond details in the text.
  • Answer choices to these questions will contain sources such as “an atlas,” “an essay,” or “a speech.”

You can also see how quickly you can unravel like this. Before you know it, you’re scoring way worse than you ever did on a practice test.

So, to Prepare smartly for the SSAT, download our free e-book “Smart and effective way SSAT prep”.

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.

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