SSAT Test Prep: An Overview

The SSAT, or Secondary School Admission Test, is a standardized test used in the admissions process for private and independent schools. The term “standardized test” means that the test is administered consistently for all students. That fact also makes the test coachable: our team of expert tutors know the test inside and out.

The SSAT measures the student’s ability in three main areas: Reading, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning. The SSAT is divided into three levels depending on grade: Elementary, Middle and Upper Level. The EMA describes the SSAT as a test designed to help predict first-year academic success through a common measure of all applicants.

SSAT Format

As previously mentioned, the SSAT tests students in Reading Comprehension, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning. The SSAT is mostly a multiple-choice test, with one exception: a writing sample. The Elementary Level of the test takes about 2 hours, while the duration of the Middle and Upper Levels of the test is over 3 hours.

  • Writing Sample
    • 25 minutes
    • Unscored
  • 10-minute break
  • Quantitative (Math) Section #1
    • 25 questions
    • 30 minutes
  • Reading Comprehension
    • 40 questions based on 7-10 different passages
    • 40 minutes
  • 10-minute break
  • Verbal Reasoning
    • 60 questions
      • Split evenly among Synonyms and Analogies
    • 30 minutes
  • Quantitative (Math) Section #2
    • 25 questions
    • 30 minutes
  • Experimental
    • 16 questions that have no impact on score
    • These questions are used by EMA for potential future tests
    • 15 minutes

SSAT Scoring

The SSAT uses one set of scoring rules for the Elementary Level and separate set of rules for the Middle and Upper Levels. The Elementary Level of the SSAT has no penalty for wrong answers. One point is earned for each correct answer, while zero points are earned (or lost) for wrong or unanswered questions. The Middle and Upper Levels of the SSAT have a penalty for wrong answers. One point is earned for each correct answer, zero points are earned for unanswered questions, and one quarter of a point is taken away for each incorrect answer. So, for the Middle and Upper Levels of the test, it is important to have a strategy for guessing before taking the test.

After determining the raw score, EMA uses a method called equating to translate each section’s raw score into a scaled score. This step in the process ensures that scores are as similar as possible across the many forms. Each test is not exactly the same, so equating helps balance the different variations of the SSAT.

SSAT Test Dates and Registration

The EMA now offers the SSAT in more formats than ever! Students can test digitally, either by taking the At-Home SSAT Test or by testing at a Prometric Center, or they can take the more traditional paper-and-pencil test by registering for one of the Standard test dates or by setting up an SSAT Flex tests. It’s important to note that COVID-related challenges may mean that some of these options are not be available in your country, state, city, or town. Make sure to check in with the SSAT website or your local testing center for the most up-to-date information about test date changes.

SSAT At-Home Testing

In 2020, EMA began offering the SSAT At-Home as an online test that is administered using a proctor and computer software. To help alleviate the Paper-test cancellations EMA added more At-Home options and dates. Visit for the most up-to-date information.

Prometric Testing Centers

Recently, Prometric and the EMA partnered to allow Prometric to host and proctor the administration of the Middle and Upper Levels of the SSAT. To check for test administrations near you, use the Prometric Scheduler to locate test centers and dates. The SSAT is shown as SSAT by The Enrollment Management Agency on the Prometric Scheduler.

Paper Tests

The SSAT is offered, normally, six times per year as a paper-based test format. Again, visit the SSAT website for all current and up-to-date information about cancellations.

SSAT Flex Test

Each ML and UL student can register for up to two Flex tests per year, while EL students may register for one. Flex testing allows students to take a paper-based test in a smaller, more intimate setting. The Flex is also offered at a time other than the standard paper-based test dates, hence the name “Flex”.

Get Started with SSAT Test Prep Today

To learn more about how we can help you prep for the SSAT, give us a call today!

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