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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. With over 40 years of experience, SSAT test prep with Inspirica can help students reach their goals. The term “standardized test” means that the test is administered consistently for all students. Our team of expert tutors know the test inside and out. We have a well-crafted curriculum that focuses on both strategies and SSAT test content. 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 about 8 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. 1 point is earned for each correct answer, while 0 points are earned for wrong or unanswered questions. The Middle and Upper Levels of the SSAT has a penalty for wrong answers. 1 point is earned for each correct answer. 0 points are earned for unanswered questions. ¼ 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. SSAT test strategy is an important part of Inspirica’s curriculum for preparing for the test.

After determining the raw score, EMA uses a formula, called equating, that ensures 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! They offer an online At-Home SSAT Test, Testing at a Prometric Center, regular Paper-Based Tests, and SSAT Flex Tests. Unfortunately, this is 2020 and Covid-19 is raging, so, some of these options may 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, the EMA’s one stop website, 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. Test dates are still available in some areas. To check you can use the Prometric Scheduler to locate test centers and dates near you. The SSAT is shown as SSAT by The Enrollment Management Agency on the Prometric Scheduler.

Paper Tests

The SSAT is offered, normally, 8 times per year as a paper-based test format. However, with Covid-19, many paper-based tests were cancelled due to local health restrictions. Again, visit the SSAT website for all current and up-to-date information about cancellations.

SSAT Flex Test

This will receive more detail in its own post, but each student is offered 1 Flex test per year. This 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 8 standard paper-based test dates, hence the name “Flex”.

Inspirica’s Approach

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 materials, students 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 Test Prep Today

To learn more about how we can help you prep for the SSAT, schedule a free consultation with one of our Program Coordinators today!