The Secondary School Admission Test – Exactly What is its purpose and how it works.
Each year thousands of applicants are refused entry into their parents choice of private school because they did not achieve a high enough result from the SSAT test that has become a standard test used by private schools, and military and boarding schools throughout the US.
Private schools have high expectations of their pupils and also only accept the individuals with the highest chance of excelling in their private school education. The main way they are able to know a child will do well within their private school is from the results achieved during the SSAT test. These results enable them to decide who has the ability to do well in their institution and simply passing the test is not enough. Most schools are looking for those who are amongst the highest marks possible. It is a fact that 8 out of 10 students who sit the test will not gain entry. In order to stand a chance the student must excel during the test to prove they have the potential to do well in the private school and graduate with high marks in orders to be part of the statistics of high pass rates that the schools aims for. As the top private schools have no shortage of parents wanting their kids attend they can afford to pick only the those who come out of the SSAT test with the highest score.
Adequate Academic Ability and Scoring
Many of the most competitive independent or private schools require evidence of adequate academic ability in order to accept students. From grades 3-11, students can take the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) in order to demonstrate their credentials and apply to these competitive schools. The SSAT should not be mistaken for the college entrance exam, the SAT; the SSAT is strictly for students entering grade 12 or lower. By demonstrating ability in the English language and mathematics, students can gain admission to highly competitive and prestigious schools in the United States and Canada.
The earliest a student can take the test is in the third and fourth grades. The Elementary Level SSAT is administered; it consists of a a quantitative math section, which has 30 questions in 30 minutes. Students should therefore be able to complete 1 problem per minute for the math section. There are also verbal questions, related to verbal skills, including relationships between ideas, as well as vocabulary. The verbal section consists of 30 questions in 20 minutes, meaning a student must be able to answer each question in about 40 seconds. The student is then tested on reading ability, with four questions for each of seven passages, again given 30 minutes. Finally, the student must answer a single writing prompt in 15 minutes.
The elementary test is scored on a scale of 300 to 600 points; the average is 450. The total score consists of quantitative/math, verbal, and reading, and therefore ranges from 900 to 1800 points. A percentile is also given, which provides more meaningful information to the student, their family, and schools to which they are applying. The cost of the test is $80, but this fee can be waived if there is proof of financial difficulty for the family. Generally, the test will be an investment for the family and a stressor on the child, and serious consideration should be given as to whether the child is of an appropriate skill level before having them partake in the SSAT. In the fifth grade and above, students take the middle or upper level SSAT. This test consists of five sections.
A writing prompt is included in the test but not scored–the schools to which the student applies may or may not review these writing samples in the application process. There are then two sections of quantitative reasoning (math and computation). Each math section contains 25 questions, and lasts 30 minutes. A good student should try and complete all of the questions in 25 minutes and use the remaining five minutes to review their work and answers to ensure they answered questions correctly. There are additionally two verbal sections, each lasting 30 minutes.
One section is on synonyms–a test of vocabulary and general verbal knowledge. The second section is on analogies, a test of verbal and general cognitive reasoning. Both of these sections also last 30 minutes, meaning a student has one minute to answer each question. The quicker they complete a section, the more time they will have to check their work. Lastly, the student takes a reading comprehension portion. There are 40 questions based on seven reading passages and must be answered in 40 minutes. Students therefore need to be able to read at a quick pace and quickly answer questions based on what they just read, requiring a high level attention and concentration.
The Secondary School Admission Test provides a means for talented students to gain admissions to schools where they can hone their talents and work with other skilled students. Much preparation is required, but the payoff for the student and family can be enormous with sufficient preparation and patience.