What To Know About The Updated SSAT

The SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) is one of two admissions tests for private / independent schools. The other is the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam), but they are not exactly interchangeable. Some private schools favor the SSAT, while others favor the ISEE. All schools will publish their preference online.

The SSAT is the first major test your child will be taking. There can be pressure; there can be stress and even anxiety. First, you need to know what you and your child are up against. And Varsity Tutors is here to help. See more from us on how to improve your SSAT score and comparing the ISEE and the SSAT. Or see our entire section on SSAT Test Strategies.

The Admission Organization (creator and administrator of the SSAT) has made some fairly significant test updates that will impact your SSAT prep.

New Elementary Level Test: The biggest change is the addition of the new Elementary Level Test, which will be used for admissions to 4th or 5th grade. Previously, there was no 4th or 5th grade admissions test. The “Lower Level” was the earliest test students could take for admission into grades 5-7. The SSAT is now renaming the “Lower Level” the “Middle Level.” The Upper Level will not change, and will still be used for admission into grades 8-11.

Scoring updates: The SSAT is not changing its scoring policy; however, it will change what those scores mean. Most private schools will still consider percentile scores and not actual test scores. Actual scores can range from 1320-2400 (depending on test level), but they are ignored. Previously, the SSAT lumped all students into one scoring group (for each level). But, now they are establishing “norm groups” for international students. International students’ scores will not be directly compared to those in America/Canada.

Question updates: Previously, some of the SSAT questions were taken from corporate test writers’ question banks. However, the test has realized that these questions do not adequately depict the material in independent/private schools. Now, 100% of the questions on the test will be written by independent/private school teachers.

Experimental section: Each SSAT test will now contain “experimental questions.” These questions will not be scored, and will be analyzed to see if they are relevant for future tests.

New Writing Prompt: Each writing prompt will still be 25 minutes; however, the test has again called on independent/private school teachers to update the writing prompts. Now, for the Middle Level, students will be presented two “creative prompts” and will choose to write one. On the Upper Level, students will be presented a “creative prompt” and an “essay prompt” and choose one. Also, students can now write on two pages instead of one. Visit the official SSAT site  for updated SSAT prompts.

These are the biggest changes to the new SSAT. In addition, the test has made minor updates, such as: increasing security, updating online score delivery (for no additional cost), eliminating standby testing (meaning students must register ahead of time and can no longer show up on test day and take it), considering computer-based testing. In 2012, the SSAT will not be computer-based, but test administrators are looking into it.

Preparing for the new SSAT can be a confusing process. But, Varsity Tutors can help. Call us today for any questions on the new SSAT or to see how a private SSAT Tutor could help your child. Tutors are available and fully understand how to maximize your child’s potential.