Constructing an optimal SSAT testing schedule is far easier than doing likewise for the ISEE. For the Middle Level and Upper Level test, the SSAT is offered on eight Standard test dates each year, and there’s no limit on how many times a student can test. The most common testing times are in the fall and early winter, with test dates scheduled once a month.
(Quick note: the Elementary Level test is a bit different – it’s only offered on five of the Standard test dates, and students can take the test a maximum of two times during each testing year. Because of that, and because the EL test is a bit less common, we’ll be focusing primarily on the ML and UL tests in this post.)
Though eight times is likely definitely too many times for any one student to test, only testing once is a detriment for most students. It’s often very difficult for a student to perform at their best when put into a testing environment for the first time: blanking, test anxiety, pressure to do well, and other fears can impact their ability to perform. This can be even harder for younger kids to deal with, especially if it’s the first standardized test they’ve ever taken.
That’s why we highly recommend that SSAT students test at least two times, and often more. This gives students a chance to overcome some of the nervousness they might have the first time they take the test and then perform better during the subsequent administrations, once some of that anxiety has subsided and they know exactly what they’re up against.
One other thing for SSAT students to consider is the ability to take a Flex Test. A Flex Test occurs outside of the eight designated Standard test dates, and it’s usually administered at an Educational Consultant’s office. This lends itself to a small-group environment that is typically more comfortable for students and therefore more conducive to better test results.
We recommend that all students take a Flex Test as one of their two (or more) SSAT administrations. However, we always advise that the first test a student takes should be a Standard administration, as it’s best to save the Flex Test for a time when students are likely to perform best. Use your first test or two to get acclimated, then set up a Flex Test when you feel comfortable, confident, and ready to crush it.
Assuming that you’ll be testing more than once, create an SSAT testing schedule based on your application deadlines. Be sure to start testing early enough to leave time for 2-3 test dates before your applications are due in order to give yourself as many chances as possible to maximize your score; remember to allow time to study for the SSAT before your first test administration. And if you want some help preparing or some advice on plotting out your test calendar, we know some people who can help.