The SSAT or Secondary School Admission Test is a standardized test across private schools in the United States and Canada. It is a critical step for students grades 3-11 aiming to enter private schools.

The SSAT has become a key component of private school admissions. It serves as a reliable measure of a student’s academic capabilities.

Levels of SSAT

The SSAT is tailored for different educational stages, divided into three levels:

  • Elementary Level: For students in grades 3-4.
  • Middle Level: For grades 5-7.
  • Upper Level: Designed for students in grades 8-11.

Types of the SSAT Test

The SSAT can be taken in several different ways depending on you & your child’s preferences and/or available resources:

  1. Standard Paper SSAT: The traditional test, available for all grade levels (3-11). Taken on paper in a standard classroom format at an authorized SSAT center such as a school.
  2. SSAT at Home: An online at-home test, available for Middle and Upper Level SSAT (grades 5-11). Only available to students physically located in the United States and Canada.
  3. Prometric SSAT: The SSAT taken at a Prometric testing center, integrating technology. More than 5,000 Prometric locations worldwide offer the SSAT.

Exam Structure and Content

The SSAT contains four main sections:

  1. Writing Sample: Although unscored, it assesses a student’s writing skills.
  2. Quantitative (Math): Tests mathematical understanding.
  3. Reading: Focuses on comprehension and analysis.
  4. Verbal: Evaluates vocabulary and reasoning skills. An experimental section is also included, contributing to future test development.

Preparation Tips for the SSAT

For your child to excel in the SSAT, preparation is key. Here are some effective strategies:

1. Practice Tests

We recommend your child take practice exams available at the official SSAT website: SSAT Practice Tests []. They simulate the actual test environment and help your child get accustomed to the content, format, and time constraints.

Regular practice aids in identifying your child’s strengths and weaknesses, so they can focus on areas that need improvement. Practice tests also familiarize students with the types of questions and pacing required for the SSAT exam, along with how their responses will be graded.

The SSAT also offers an online, fully interactive practice test, using the same interface as the online SSAT at Home.

It’s recommended to review each practice test thoroughly to understand mistakes and learn from them.

2. Familiarize Yourself with Question Types

Practice tests give your child a chance to understand the multiple-choice system and question formats. Here are some strategies we suggest using:

  1. Explore Each Section Individually: Start by focusing on each section of the SSAT – Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, and Writing. Understand the specific skills each section assesses.
  2. Verbal Section: This section tests vocabulary and relational thinking through synonyms and analogies. Improve your vocabulary and practice identifying relationships between words.
  3. Quantitative Section: This involves math problems covering topics like algebra, geometry, and basic arithmetic. Brush up on fundamental math concepts and practice problem-solving strategies.
  4. Reading Section: It consists of passages followed by comprehension questions. Practice by reading a variety of texts and answering questions about the main idea, details, and inference.
  5. Writing Sample: Though unscored, it’s vital for assessing your writing skills. Practice writing essays on various topics, focusing on structure, clarity, and argumentation.
  6. Use Sample Questions: Access sample questions provided by the SSAT organization or other educational resources. This helps in understanding the format and difficulty level of the questions.
  7. Regular Practice: Consistent practice is key. Regularly solving different types of questions will build familiarity and confidence.
  8. Review and Reflect: After practicing, always review your answers. Understanding why an answer is correct or incorrect is essential for learning.

3. Time Management

Allocate and organize time so the student spends their time effectively on each section.

4. Review Basic Concepts

 Strengthen fundamental skills in math, reading, and vocabulary.

5. Essay Writing Practice

Hone writing skills by practicing essays under timed conditions.

6. Study Groups

Collaborate with peers for a more interactive learning experience.

7. Seek Feedback

Regularly review your practice tests with a teacher or tutor. We offer tutoring and exam preparation as part of a complete Educational Consulting service.

8. Scoring System

The SSAT scoring involves a scaled score for each section and percentile ranks. Understanding the nuances of this scoring system is crucial for evaluating your performance.

9. Registration and Fees

Be prepared with information on how to register for the SSAT, along with the associated fees and available waivers. This makes sure no hidden surprises appear.


The SSAT is a gateway to private school education. Thorough preparation can significantly influence a student’s academic future.

Need guidance, support and tutoring on taking the SSAT? As an educational consulting firm, we help match Canadian and international students with their “Best Fit” private school based on a personalized assessment.

As a client of our full Educational Consulting service, you get access to tutors and test preparation consulting. If this is something you’d be interested in, request a consultation here to see if you qualify.