An Overview of the SSAT and SSAT Prep

The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) is the standardized test used by many private and independent schools across the country. Testing students on their verbal, reading comprehension, and math skills, the SSAT is a critical piece of a student’s entrance application. The SSAT is composed of three levels – ElementaryMiddle, and Upper, with a range of ages for each level of the test. The most common level, the Upper Level test, is taken by students applying to grades 9-12.  

 Inspirica has been helping students reach their goals on the SSAT for nearly 40 years. Our team of expert SSAT prep tutors have carefully designed curriculum that includes both content practice and SSAT test-specific strategies. Students are benchmarked and tracked throughout their SSAT test prep to help determine areas of need and assure lessons are targeted properly. With a variety of choices available for SSAT prep structure, Inspirica has an option that will fit each student’s need! 


SSAT Format 


While each level of the SSAT has a slightly different format, all three levels contain the following sections: Quantitative, Verbal, and Reading. The specific breakdown of each level can be found on SSAT’s website. Inspirica’s SSAT test prep tutors will work with students to tackle the challenging and sometimes unfamiliar content on the exam.

The Quantitative Section: This section assesses students on their mastery of mathematical concepts, often testing students on above grade level content. The Elementary Level will assess topics such as the basicof addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, along with concepts such as place value, fractions, and beginner geometry. The Middle Level expands upon the depth and degree of the concepts on the Elementary Level, while the Upper Level tests more advanced algebra and geometry. A calculator is not permitted for the Quantitative Section. 

The Verbal Section: This section assesses students in two primary areas – synonyms and analogies. While students have often worked with synonyms in school, analogies are generally unfamiliar. Inspirica’s SSAT test prep tutors will help break down this new and often challenging question-type for students, allowing them to reach their best possible score. 

The Reading Section: This section is very similar to how many students are often assessed in school – students read through a variety of passages covering a range of topics, with a series of follow-up questions. Through SSAT prep, students will learn how to approach the five main question types: Detail, Main Idea, Inference, Vocabular in Context, and Tone/Mood. 


SSAT Scoring 


The scoring for the Upper and Middle Levels of the SSAT differs slightly from that of the Elementary Level SSAT – the Upper and Middle level tests include a wrong answer penalty, while the Elementary Level does not. A student’s raw score is calculated by totaling up the number of correct questions; on the Upper and Middle Level tests, a ¼ of a point is deducted for each incorrect answer. There is no penalty for questions that are omitted. Throughout a student’s SSAT prep, Inspirica tutors will work with students to help strategize and delicately balance when to take educated guesses versus leaving the question unanswered.  

Student’s raw scores are then equated to scaled scores, which are the numbers you will see on an official score report. These scales take into account a student’s grade and the difficulty level of each question. It is important to note that students are only scored against other students in their grade level. As previously mentioned, the Upper Level SSAT is meant for students applying to grades 9-12; students applying to grade 9 are not expected to be familiar with the same content as a rising senior.  


SSAT Registration and Test Dates 


The Middle and Upper Level tests are administered on eight Standard test dates each year, while the Elementary test us administered on five of those dates. The SSAT also offers at-home testing for the Middle and Upper Levels, which is extremely convenient during the covid-19 pandemic. More information on test center locations and at-home testing can be found on the SSAT website. Students are additionally permitted to schedule a Flex test date. Flex tests require a specific code during registration and may not be held in the same locations as the paper-based tests. To register, please visit the SSAT website. 


Inspirica’s Approach to Test Prep 


SSAT test prep can be a daunting task, but Inspirica’s team of expert tutors are here to help students navigate the test and reach their best possible score. Through a combination of strategy work, content development, and time management, students will address the three key components to SSAT test prep. In addition to Inspirica’s digital materialsstudents will have access to the Test Innovators (TI) platform. The TI platform allows students to complete practice tests and receive valuable feedback on their performance, from correct versus incorrect questions, to skill types, and time spent per question. Timing is often a challenge for most students; being able to see where and how they have spent their time is crucial to maximizing their raw score. Parents may login at any time to view their child’s progress! 


Get Started with SSAT Prep Today! 


To learn more about how Inspirica can help with SSAT test prep, schedule a consultation with one of our Program Coordinators or simply chat with us online.