The SSAT, or Secondary School Admission Test, is offered at three levels for students in grades 3-11. All three exams – Elementary (3-4), Middle (5-7), and Upper (8-11) – are held on eight “standard” Saturdays per year, as well as a number of “flex” dates. The test measures quantitative, reading, and verbal skills. It also emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving above memorization. Score reports are distributed with an overall and per section scaled mark, norm groups (or percentiles), and a copy of your essay.
What is a norm group?
The SSAT is highly competitive, with norm groups composed of all individuals (divided by gender and grade) who are completing this exam for the first time in the past three years. This percentile ranking is thus a sign of how well you performed in comparison to others, rather than which percentage of your answers were correct.
How is the SSAT a standardized test?
Although each edition released on a specific date will be different, results are utilized interchangeably across North America and the world when considering student scores. Therefore, a scaled mark earned by a student in Alaska in January is comparable to a student of the same age receiving the same score in Florida in May. Results are interpreted in a standard method based on the same exam underpinnings.
About scores and timing
Scores are available roughly two weeks after the testing date, and they can also be accessed on the SSAT website under “My Scores”. Keep in mind that your raw results are simply those questions you answered correctly, minus a quarter of a point for each wrong response. Thus, if you do not know the answer and cannot make an educated guess, skip it! At nearly three hours in length, the SSAT is substantial. Practice each section in a timed environment to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Here are some great SSAT practice tests that can help you prepare. You may also want to check out these SSAT flash cards as well. The exam is partially about knowing yourself as a student and as a test-taker. Keep your timing in mind throughout your study process!
A note about preparation for the SSAT
The SSAT company does not release “retired” or previous tests to the public, so while they offer practice problems, and while we may possess a general idea of what material is on the test, no aid can perfectly predict what your score will be. It is also impossible to determine percentile rankings based on your raw results alone as they change according to the cohort with which you test. Aim to do your best, rather than focusing on the perfect score. This is a highly competitive test that is only one part of the application process. Here are some great tips on how to improve SSAT scores that may help you succeed.