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If you want to empower your student with an SSAT course and help them pursue their educational goals, Varsity Tutors can set you up with a private SSAT class today. We specialize in helping students and their parents connect with private tutors who can provide SSAT prep courses tailored to a student's individual needs, making us one of the leading names in the test prep space!

The SSAT, or Secondary School Admission Test, is a standardized test taken by students in Grades 3-11 as part of the application process to private and independent secondary schools located throughout the United States. It would be silly to give a third-grader and an eleventh-grader the same exam, so it is split into three different test levels to best meet a student's needs.

The following list breaks down each SSAT test level:

  • Elementary Level - For 3rd-grade students applying to an independent school for 4th grade, or for 4th-grade students applying to an independent school for 5th grade
  • Middle Level - For students finishing 5th, 6th, or 7th grade and looking to attend the next school year at an independent school.
  • Upper Level - For students in 8th-11th grade seeking admission to an independent high school the following year

Notably, the SSAT only measures a student's academic knowledge, not their motivation, work ethic, or creativity. Naturally, other factors play a large role in school success. This means that it should not be the only determining factor in an independent school's admission process. That said, the test is very good at what it sets out to do. All three scored sections (Quantitative, Reading, and Verbal) approach 0.9 predictability on a scale where 1.0 is the best, giving private schools an objective benchmark to base their decision-making process on.

Can My Student Study Every Section In An SSAT Course Near Me?

If you are concerned about the exam itself, an SSAT class is a perfect opportunity for your student to take practice tests to become familiar with its formatting and contents. The table below breaks down the Upper Level SSAT into the number of questions and the amount of time allowed per section:

Upper Level SSAT Section

# Questions

Time Allowed (in Minutes)

Writing Sample

1 (no score given)




Quantitative 1











Quantitative 2






The Middle Level SSAT also follows the formula above, though the questions are a little bit easier to accommodate younger test-takers. The Elementary Level Exam has a completely different structure: one 30-minute Math section with 30 multiple-choice questions, one 20-minute Verbal section with 30 multiple-choice questions, one 30-minute Reading section with 28 multiple-choice questions, 15 minutes to answer a writing prompt, and a 15-minute Experimental section with a random blend of Math, Verbal, and Reading questions.

Here's a closer look at how taking an SSAT class can help your student prepare for each section of the exam:


The Quantitative section on each SSAT exam includes subjects such as arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Most of the questions are appropriate for the test-taker's grade level, though some advanced questions are included as a challenge. For example, an elementary school student might be asked to identify the properties of a circle, while a middle school student might need to find the circumference of the circle instead.

One of the best ways to prepare for any math test is to complete practice problems on the topics covered, and your student's tutor can provide extra ones during SSAT courses if they run low. Students are not permitted to use calculators on any SSAT exam, so your student's instructor may review how to work out problems by hand during SSAT prep courses as well. Technology isn't the answer to everything!


All SSAT exams have similar Reading sections that place an emphasis on two types of passages: narratives that provide information on a given topic and arguments that take a stand on a particular issue. The passages tend to get longer as the test-taker gets older, and high school students may have questions about topics such as economics and science than an elementary student would not be given.

If your student could understand more of what they read, their instructor may review active reading techniques during SSAT courses to help them accurately identify the main idea of a passage. Most active reading techniques are relatively simple, such as highlighting important information as you go along or jotting down notes on what you're thinking. That said, they can prove very beneficial. Not only does active reading ensure a student is paying attention to the material, it may also be faster to look up an answer in the margin as opposed to digging through the entire passage again.


All SSAT Verbal sections concentrate on vocabulary and analogies, with more complex words appearing for older students. Vocab skills are most often measured through synonyms, meaning that students need to select the word with the most similar meaning to the one in the question. For instance, "difficult" would be a suitable response to the word "challenging." If your student's vocab skills could use a boost, their instructor could create flashcards for them to review during SSAT prep classes.

Likewise, analogies require students to identify the relationship between two things and then select a logical complement to another word following the same relationship. For instance, snow is to blizzard as rain is to thunderstorm. Relationships can be based on anything, including synonyms, antonyms (opposites), homonyms (words that sound alike), or logical (tools used by different jobs). These questions can be challenging, but working through a few with a knowledgeable tutor during an SSAT course may help build your student's confidence heading into the exam.


The Writing section on the Elementary Level SSAT gives students 15 minutes to write a response to a picture prompt. It isn't graded, but it is sent to all of the schools you are applying to as a representative sample of your student's writing abilities. As such, it definitely "counts." If your young student has a hard time transferring their thoughts to the page, their tutor may show them how to outline their work during an SSAT class to make the creative process a little easier.

Similarly, the Middle Level SSAT gives students a choice of two creative-writing prompts, while Upper Level SSAT test-takers have the choice of a creative prompt or a traditional essay prompt. Again, these responses are not graded but are sent with your application. Both exams only allow 25 minutes to compose the entire response, so there really isn't enough time to stare at the page wondering what to say next. Thankfully, creating a concise outline can help keep your student on-track for the entire section. If they aren't in the habit of working from an outline, the benefits of doing so may be explained in their SSAT prep course.


All SSAT Experimental sections are unscored and used by the test's manufacturer to make sure that future test items meet the exam's quality standards. Your student needs to answer these questions, but there's no reason to devote any SSAT prep class time to them.

Can An SSAT Course Near Me Help My Student With Concepts Instead Of Sections?

Of course! Your student is probably busy with homework, studying, and extracurriculars, so preparing for the SSAT may seem daunting. Our SSAT classes allow students to receive personalized attention from a private instructor. They can concentrate on their unique areas of opportunity, and never need to move on from a given topic until they are ready to do so. In contrast, many large SSAT classes follow set curricula with minimal adaptability for an individual student's needs.

For example, SSAT prep classes offer the flexibility of focusing on your student's specific needs. If your student has a firm grasp on writing but hasn't quite mastered reading comprehension yet, their SSAT prep course may focus more on reading comprehension to enhance study efficiency. For this reason, SSAT prep classes are a great addition to any study plan.

Since the exam is timed, your student may not have enough time to re-read every single question and its corresponding answer choices for the multiple-choice sections. Your student's instructor may teach them test-taking strategies that are specific to the level of exam they are taking during SSAT course sessions to help your student eliminate some of the answer choices and move on so that they can finish the entire test. There is no penalty for guessing on the SSAT, so getting to every question is very important.

Similarly, your student may review test-taking strategies during their SSAT prep course. Multiple-choice questions contain a lot of information, sometimes enough to answer another question on the test. Leveraging an exam against itself in this manner may not be the most important concept taught in an SSAT prep class, but it can certainly provide a confidence boost when your student needs it.

Should your student have any questions, their instructor can also address them in a timely manner. In fact, many students say that it was easier to ask for help in the one-on-one learning environment provided by a private SSAT class than a larger classroom setting. Likewise, all of their work can receive immediate feedback so that they can correct any mistakes while the material remains fresh in their mind. This is important, as it helps to ensure that any misunderstandings are addressed before they snowball out of control.

Your student can also receive individualized attention tailored to their unique needs. For example, if they learn best through visual aids, the instructor may use graphical representations to help illustrate challenging concepts. On the other hand, if they benefit more from auditory measures, their instructor may use a Q&A discussion format to get the information across. Large SSAT courses lack the ability to accommodate an individual's needs in the same manner.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know About The Test?

The SSAT is administered in one of two ways: at a testing lab during "standard" testing dates throughout the year or at a private school by special appointment (called a "Flex" SSAT). You are not allowed to accompany your student into the testing lab, so they will be on their own when he test begins. The SSAT has numerous scheduled breaks during which students are allowed to use the restroom or consume a quick snack for energy, but test time is not "refunded" for any unscheduled interruptions. Therefore, it is probably for the best if your student does not have a lot to drink on test day.

The SSAT is scored in a variety of ways. Your student's Quantitative, Verbal, and Reading scores are reported individually, though the scale varies between exams. There is also a "total" score that adds all three sections into one number. Most important, however, is probably your student's percentile rank. This number ranges from 1-99 and illustrates how your student performed relative to students of the same gender and age who have taken the same level SSAT in the last three years. Note that the entire SSAT-taking population is trying to get into a competitive high school, so the population as a whole tends to perform better academically than the average student.

Why Should I Book An SSAT Class Near Me With the Help of Varsity Tutors?

We always do our best to match your student with an instructor who can meet your scheduling needs. We know how difficult it would be for them to attend an SSAT class in person, so we search our proprietary database of qualified tutors and refer you to one who best fits your scheduling needs. Your student can also use our exclusive Live Learning Platform online to meet face-to-face with their instructor wherever they have a stable internet connection. It includes powerful features such as video chat functionality and a virtual whiteboard so that the student in your life gets a quality SSAT course without the logistical hassle of other options.

If you are ready to learn more about the benefits of SSAT classes or are ready to end your search for "SSAT prep courses near me" once and for all, Educational Directors are currently standing by to help. Reach out to Varsity Tutors today to help your student build stronger study skills with an SSAT prep class!

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