SSAT Test Prep: An Overview & Breakdown

SSAT Test Prep: An Overview & Breakdown

25 August, 2021

The SSAT, or Secondary School Admission Test, is a standardized test used in the admissions process for private and independent schools. With over 50 expert SSAT tutors, our community is able to guide students efficiently towards their optimal test score.

Our team of career tutors know the test inside and out. We tailor our tutoring efforts to fit each individual student in order to focus on both strategies and SSAT test content. The term “standardized test” means that the test is administered consistently for all students. The SSAT measures the student’s ability in three main areas: Reading, Mathematics, and Verbal Reasoning and 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.

The SSAT Test Format

As previously mentioned, the SSAT tests students in Reading Comprehension, Mathematics, and Verbal Reasoning. The SSAT is mostly a multiple-choice test, with the exception of one writing sample. The Elementary Level SSAT takes about 2 hours, while the duration of the Middle and Upper Levels of the test is over 3 hours. The general format of the SSAT is as follows:

  1. Writing Sample

- 25 minutes

- Unscored

2. 10-minute break

3. Quantitative (Math) Section #1

- 25 questions

- 30 minutes

4. Reading Comprehension

- 40 questions based on about 8 different passages

- 40 minutes

5. 10-minute break

6. Verbal Reasoning

- 60 questions

- Split evenly among Synonyms and Analogies

- 30 minutes

7. Quantitative (Math) Section #2

- 25 questions

- 30 minutes

8. Experimental

- 16 questions that have no impact on the total score

- 15 minutes

* These questions are used by EMA for potential future tests

How the SSAT is Scored

The SSAT uses one set of scoring rules for the Elementary Level and a 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 have a penalty for wrong answers: 1 point is earned for each correct answer and 0 points are earned for unanswered questions. Unlike the Elementary Level SSAT, ¼ of a point is taken away for each incorrect answer. Ultimately, 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 our community’s test prep curriculum.

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.

Official Test and Registration Dates

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, due to the current climate, some of these options may not be available in your country, state, city, or town. It is always important and helpful to check in with the SSAT website or your local testing center for the most up-to-date information about test date changes.

The Convenient At-Home Testing Option

In 2020, the 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 and Scheduling

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.

TheOriginal Paper-Based SSAT Test

The SSAT is offered, normally, 8 times per year as a paper-based test format. However, with Covid-19, many paper-based tests were canceled due to local health restrictions. With this option still up in the air, we advise that you visit the SSAT website for all current and up-to-date information about cancellations.

Flexibility and the SSAT

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”.

Receiving Personalized Test Prep Tutoring

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 of SSAT test prep. Our career tutors look at each individual student’s strengths and weaknesses in order to optimize their tutoring efforts. While some students may have a hard to with the actual content, others may find difficulty in properly allocating their time within each SSAT section. By taking a look at the individual student and their needs, our tutors are able to get results and help your student accomplish their SSAT goals.

About the Author

Standardized exam on the horizon? Thinking about supplemental academic tutoring? Our Education Specialists can help navigate you towards success with a free 1:1 consult.

Noodle Pros tutors are full-time test prep and academic tutors with no less than seven years of experience. Qualifying to become a Pro is no easy task, and we take qualifying tutors seriously. Schedule a meeting below, and we will send an email to prepare you for your consultation. We’ll only call you that day. And no, we won’t share your info with anyone else unless you ask us to.

Use the calendar below to schedule a free 30-minute call.