Each year, more than 4,000 students in Canada and 50,000 across North America write the exam known as the SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test). The SSAT is the required entrance exam to some of the finest secondary schools in the world, and a number of private and independent schools use it as an integral part of their admissions evaluation. There are two levels of the SSAT. The Middle Level is used for students in grades 5 through 7, and the Upper Level is used for students in grades 8 through 11. Find out more about PREPSKILLS preparation courses for the SSAT.
See below for answers to some of the frequently asked questions regarding the SSAT.
What is an entrance test?
Most independent and private schools in Ontario require an entrance test. Exams vary and test results are weighted differently. Standardized tests supposedly measure a student’s verbal and math ability. They are also supposed to predict how a student will perform in school. In our experience, the entrance exams are to some extent a measure of how well students take the test.
What is the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT*)?
The SSAT* is used by many private schools as part of the admission process. It is a test that assesses the academic abilities of the students. The student’s math and language skills are evaluated. The SSAT was developed and is administered by the SSAT Board in Princeton, New Jersey.
Why the SSAT?
Barbara Priscus, Former Vice-Principal, Academic of The Bishop Strachan School, introduced the SSAT to independent schools in Ontario. Because of the wide variance of academic programs and standards among elementary and middle schools, it was problematic to compare academic ability based on grades and other independent performance measures. Prior to the formation of the Ontario SSAT Consortium, parents were required to approach each of the schools to which they wished to apply in order to have their children write an in-house examination. This often meant that children would spend four to five consecutive weekends in test writing conditions in addition to the interviews that they had to undergo for each application. As a standardized examination, the SSAT has simplified this process in many ways. It is now used across Canada for entrance into independent schools.
How do I register for the SSAT?
To register for the official SSAT test please call (609) 683-4440 or visit www.ssat.org.
Make sure to print off and keep the Admission Ticket that is obtainable only after SSAT has received and processed your registration and payment. This ticket both serves as a confirmation for your test registration, and includes important details of your pending test: date, location of scheduled test, specific instructions regarding taking the SSAT, list of schools/consultants chosen to receive your SSAT scores.
What is tested on the SSAT?
The SSAT has a 25-minute writing sample section, a 40-minute reading comprehension multiple choice section, two 30-minute multiple choice sections in mathematics and one 30-minute multiple choice section testing verbal ability. The writing section asks the student to respond to a topic statement, but is not graded. Instead, the student’s essay is sent to schools along with his or her scores. The test sections break down as follows:
|Essay||1 question||25 minutes|
|Quantitative I||25 questions||30 minutes|
|Reading Comprehension||40 questions||40 minutes|
|Verbal – Synonyms/Analogies||60 questions||30 minutes|
|Quantitative II||25 questions||30 minutes|
Total Test Time: 2 hours and 35 minutes
*Note: Educational Testing Service (ETS) may use the experimental section to try out new questions. Ontario SSAT tests usually do not contain an experimental section, however, be aware that it may exist. The experimental section may be math, reading comprehension, or verbal, and could appear anywhere during the test. Don’t try to guess which section it is, and do your best on every section. If you encounter a section that seems difficult or seems different from the practice tests, don’t panic – it might be the experimental section.
The sections will not necessarily appear in the above order.
The verbal section has 30 synonyms and 30 analogies. The quantitative sections test concepts from arithmetic, elementary algebra, and basic geometry. The reading comprehension section asks students to answer questions on 7-8 short passages of varying styles on a range of topics.
How is the SSAT scored?
Middle Level test scores are reported for each subject on a scale of 440 to 710. Upper Level scores are reported for each subject on a scale of 500 to 800. Before calculating your scaled score, the SSATB first calculates a raw score. The raw score is computed by adding up all of your correct answers and then subtracting 1/4 point for each wrong answer (blank answers have no effect on your score). The SSATB converts raw scores to scaled scores in order to adjust for small variations in difficulty among different test dates. The table below gives the 50th percentile score (the score at which an equal number of students scored higher and lower) for each subject and for each grade level.
How do I register for the SSAT?
Choose the most convenient date and test centre from the test schedule in Ontario. A student may write the test at any one of these locations, regardless of where s/he applies for admission. Because each test centre serves all of the participating schools, a student may write only one entrance test.
Register for the test online at www.ssat.org. Click “online registration” and complete the form. Read the “How to Register” instructions for further information.
One Test Policy
You may register for only one Ontario Consortium SSAT per academic year. The results of any subsequent Ontario Consortium SSAT administrations will be considered invalid and will not be reported.
When can the SSAT* be written?
The SSAT* is administered at various private schools throughout the GTA, beginning in September through to April. Please visit www.ssat.org for more test date information or call the school of your choice. Should you wish, tests are also administered at independent test centres in Toronto.
How do I know which admission test a school requires?
The only sure way to determine which admission test a school requires or prefers is to call them directly. You can also contact the SSATB to see if the school is registered as a score recipient.
Do all Ontario private schools require the SSAT* entrance examination?
There are many private schools in Ontario that utilize the SSAT* for admission purposes. Other private schools administer their own test. PREPSKILLS® can help your child prepare and benefit from the knowledge and strategies acquired to write any test. Ontario Consortium schools use the SSAT* as a component of their admission and/or scholarship process. For a complete list of schools, please refer to our SSAT* Information page on our website. Parents should confer with the schools of their choice to discuss the importance and interpretation given to score results.
Independent Test Centres
If you are unable to take the SSAT on a regularly scheduled date, or if you prefer to test individually, you can take the test at one of SSAT’s Independent Test Centers (ITC’s). Individual testing is not guaranteed. Call the ITC office closest to you to schedule and for complete registration instructions.