|Note: The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) was previously administered
to students from grades 5 -7 (Lower Level test) and 8 - 11 (Upper Level).
Recently, the test makers have redesigned the SSAT to make it applicable for
students from grades 3 - 11. The new structure is as follows:
Grades 3 - 4 (Elementary Level)
Grades 5 - 7 (Middle Level)
Grades 8 - 11 (Upper Level)
The exam format and content for Middle (formerly Lower) and Upper Level
students remain the same. In addition to the reduced level of difficulty,
the Elementary Level exam differs from the other exams in that the overall
testing time is only 110 minutes and its essay prompt has been replaced by
a creative story prompt.
About the SSAT
The SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) is an admissions
test administered to students in grades 3-11 to help determine placement into
private independent schools. It is administered by the Secondary School Admission
Test Board which can be reached on the web here.
The SSAT is administered on three levels, depending on the student's
The SSAT (Elementary Level) consists of:
- A 30 minute quantitative (math) section
- A 20 minute verbal section
- A 30 minute reading section
- a 15 minute writing sample
The following is the breakdown of the SSAT (Elementary Level):
||1 writing sample
- The total test time is 1 hours and 50 min (including a break).
The quantitative (math) section is 30 minutes long and has 30 questions.
It assesses a student's ability to solve mathematical problems involving number
concepts and operations, as well as algebra, geometry and other math.
The verbal section is 20 minutes long and consists of 30 questions. It assesses
a student's vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and ability to relate ideas logically.
There are two different types of questions, synonyms and analogies.
The reading section is 30 minutes long and consists of 28 questions It assesses
a student's ability comprehension ability after reading a passage. There are
seven short passages each containing four corresponding questions.
Students are shown a picture and they are required to write a written response
to it. The response should tell a story and have a beginning, middle and end.
The essay section is 15 minutes long, and students are given one side of a
paper on which to write. The writing sample is not graded, but is instead
sent to the private schools to which the student is applying for evaluation.
Official Guide to the Elementary Level SSAT
The SSAT (Upper and Middle Level) consists of:
- A 25 minute essay
- A 40 minute reading comprehension section (multiple choice)
- Two 30 minute math sections (multiple choice)
- A 30 minute verbal section (multiple choice)
The following is the breakdown of the SSAT (Upper and Middle Level):
- The total test time is 2 hours and 35 min (not including breaks).
- All questions are multiple choice (A) to (E), except the essay.
- You are not allowed to use calculators, dictionaries or rulers.
- These sections do not necessarily appear in the order stated above.
In the essay part of the test, students will be asked to support or disprove
a topic statement by using examples from personal experience, history, literature
and current events. The essay section is 25 minutes long, and students are
given one side of a paper on which to write. The essay portion of the SSAT
is not graded, but is instead sent to the private schools to which the student
is applying for evaluation.
There are two 25 minute math sections with 25 questions each that require
basic computations including some basic algebra and basic geometry.
The verbal section is 30 minutes long and consists of 30 synonym and 30 analogy
questions for a total of 60 questions.
Reading Comprehension Section
The 40 minute reading comprehension section has 40 questions based around
seven given reading passages. These questions not only require test takers
to read quickly but also comprehend what they are reading.
Practice SSAT tests are available here.
How many times can I take the SSAT?
In most locations, a student can register to take the SSAT up to eight times
per academic year. For students applying to schools in Ontario, the Ontario
Testing Consortium only allows students to register for one SSAT test per
academic year. For a list of SSAT test dates, locations, and policies, please
All questions on the SSAT are equal in value and scores are based on the
number of questions correctly answered, less one-quarter point for each question
answered incorrectly. No points are awarded or deducted for questions left
unanswered. The scaled score ranges from 500-800 for the Upper Level, and
440-710 for the Middle (formerly Lower) Level.
The SSAT score report provides scaled scores for each section as well as
percentile ranks for each category, comparing a student's score to others'
who have taken the test in the past three years. Also in the score report
are estimated national percentile ranks for 5-9 grade test takers and projected
12th grade SAT scores for test takers in grades 7-10.
Scores are mailed to you and your school about two or three weeks after taking
the test. Upon receiving his or her scores, students can send their results
to the independent schools to which they wish to apply. Each school then evaluates
the scores according to its own standards and requirements.
Recommended Study Guides
Ivy Global offers SSAT Tutoring in New York