You may be wondering how essential it is for your child to maximize their score on the SSAT. Well, yes, it’s important for your child to maximize their scoring potential, but keep in mind it’s not the only criteria considered by highly selective private schools.
Private schools take a holistic approach to the admissions process. Even private prep schools that do not use the SSAT will use a form of standardized testing that focuses on testing similar areas of knowledge in math, reading, writing and verbal competencies. At Prepskills, we prepare our students using our proprietary SSAT prep program regardless of admissions testing used, as we consider the SSAT to be the “Gold standard” of admissions. At Prepskills, we believe if we prepare students using an international standard of rigorous testing, then students can successfully navigate any testing situation.
Ironically, many of the private schools may tell you that formal preparation is not needed when taking the SSAT. Really? Would you tell your child not to prepare for an upcoming exam? Would you tell your child not to practice before their piano recital? How about practicing before a hockey game? What about a Chess tournament? “As a parent of 3 boys attending independent schools and educator for over 25 years, I can assure you that expert PREPARATION for the SSAT is key to maximize scoring success.” Joanna Severino, Founder & President, Prepskills
Let’s sharpen the #2 pencil and provide you with some tips!
- SSAT Benchmarking is important.
How many elementary school students have exposure to a 3-hour exam that measures a students’ verbal, quantitative math, reading, and writing abilities? Moreover, even if your child is doing well academically at school, do they understand how to take the content knowledge of what they learned at school and transfer that knowledge into a timed test-taking situation? At Prepskills, we use our proprietary SSAT Computest™ to provide students with a simulated test experience and instant score report to show how they would perform on a SSAT. We then take the SSAT benchmark and set range goals for score improvement to ensure measurable increments of ongoing success.
- Practice SSAT questions and Full-length SSAT tests.
At Prepskills, we understand the importance of honing test-taking abilities and practicing standardized test questions to improve skill performance. Our proprietary SSAT Prep Plus program (Class or Private) offers students the opportunity to practice questions from both the Middle Level SSAT (Grades 5-7) and Upper Level SSAT (Grades 8-11), thereby giving students the opportunity to work through more challenging test questions if they have mastered easy or medium difficulty level questions. For nearly 20 years, we have seen score increases of 10-25%. SSAT Middle Level scoring is out of 2130 (710 Verbal / 710 Quantitative Math / 710 Reading). SSAT Upper Level scoring is out of 2400 (800 Verbal / 800 Quantitative Math / 800 Reading). While the writing portion of the SSAT doesn’t receive a score, private schools will review and assess the writing sample to the student’s admission application essay. Students should practice essay writing with a proper essay structure – introduction, body, conclusion. Is your child ready to write an effective “SSAT” style essay in 25 minutes? Our comprehensive Prepskills SSAT Prep Plus program includes simulation test experiences to ensure we take students out of their comfort zone, and into a test-taking environment that simulates the official SSAT. For additional practice questions beyond our SSAT Prep Plus program, we recommend our SSAT Bundle Practice Tests
- SSAT Scoring is NOT like a school test.
On the SSAT, each correct multiple-choice response receives 1 point, each incorrect response receives ¼ penalty deduction, and each question left blank receives 0 points. As such, it’s important for your child to use STRATEGY when tackling the SSAT. At school, if the teacher gives a test out of 10 and your child gets 4 questions wrong, the teacher will give a score of 6/10. Same scenario on the SSAT and your child gets a 5/10. Understanding the SSAT scoring helps your child formulate a scoring strategy. If there are 5 answer choices, is it wise to guess? If 2 or 3 answer choices are eliminated, is it wise to make an educated guess? Ultimately, making educated guesses on the SSAT comes down to strategy and confidence. Unraveling the SSAT to maximize scoring potential requires expert training (not tutoring) and SSAT practice… just like your child practicing their soccer skills with their expert soccer coach/trainer!
- SSAT is not enough.
When it comes to holistic admissions, the SSAT (or other internal testing) is only one piece of the overall assessment. Your child’s academic record, teacher comments, referrals, extra-curricular, volunteer, application and interview all play an important part of the private school admissions process. At Prepskills, we understand the important of character development and EQ skills to ensure your child conveys their overall unique personality and narrative to the admissions teams. Don’t underestimate the value of showcasing intangible character skills that measure initiative, intellectual engagement, open-mindedness, resilience, self-control, social awareness, and teamwork. This Character Snapshot of your child may be in the form of an assessment, interview, or both. How would your child respond to certain forced choice or situational circumstances that test moral, ethical judgement that don’t have a right or wrong answer? Our families at Prepskills understand the importance of not only preparing for the SSAT, but also helping their child develop these important skills by taking our PrepEssentials program to develop critical thinking, writing, public speaking and leadership EQ skills.
- SSAT Timeline for Admissions.
SSAT official tests are generally taken in the fall prior to the year in which you are applying. If your child is applying for Grade 9 entry to a private school, they will take the official Upper Level SSAT in the fall of Grade 8. If your child is applying for Grade 7 entry, they will take the official Middle Level SSAT in the fall of Grade 6. Given these timelines, we encourage families to prepare for the private school admissions process 12-18 months in advance. For further information pertaining to specific private schools or SSAT and PrepEssentials EQ skills Prepskills preparation, please contact a Prepskills Admissions Associate at 416.200.7728
Ultimately, the SSAT and private school admission process should NOT be a stressful experience for families. This is a time for you and your child to explore options, ask questions, and find the right private school fit.
If you would like to ask a Prepskills or Prep School Ambassador questions about the SSAT, Prepskills or their overall experience at a particular prep school, click here to Chat with a Prepskills or Prep School Ambassador. Enjoy the journey!