Secondary School Admission Test

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The Secondary School Admission Test, or SSAT, is an admission test administered by the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB) to students in grades 3-11 to help professionals in independent or private elementary, middle and high schools to make decisions regarding student admission.

There are three levels of the test: the Elementary Level for students in grades 3 and 4 who are applying to grades 4 and 5, the Middle Level for students in grades 5-7 applying for grades 6-8, and the Upper Level, designed for students in grades 8-11 who are applying for grades 9-12 (or PG). The SSAT consists of a brief unscored writing sample and multiple choice sections that include Quantitative (Mathematics), Reading Comprehension, and Verbal questions. The test, written in English, is administered around the world at hundreds of test centers, many of which are independent schools.

Despite the similarity in name, the SSAT is not related to the SAT Reasoning Test and is not administered by the College Board, though it was previously. Also, the Independent School Entrance Exam, or ISEE, is administrated by the ERB and can be seen as a parallel to the SSAT.

Test sections[edit]


There are two 30-minute math sections with 25 questions each. This section is called the Quantitative Section. The quantitative questions measure the test taker’s knowledge of basic quantitative concepts, algebra, and geometry. The words used in SSAT problems refer to basic mathematical operations.

Reading Comprehension[edit]

The 40-minute reading comprehension section has 40 questions based on reading passages. These questions measure the test taker’s ability to understand what is read. In general, the SSAT uses two types of writing: narrative, which includes excerpts from novels, poems, short stories, or essays; and argument, which presents a definite point of view about a subject.


The verbal section is 30 minutes long and consists of 30 synonym and 30 analogy questions. Synonym questions assess the strength of the test taker's vocabulary. Analogy questions measure the test taker's ability to relate ideas to each other logically.


In the writing sample section of the test, test takers are given a choice of two writing prompts: Elementary Level test takers look at a picture and tell a story about it. Middle Level test takers receive a choice of two creative prompts and Upper Level test takers receive one essay and one creative prompt from which to choose. The writing sample section is 25 minutes long and is not scored. However, the writing sample is sent to admission officers at the school to which the test taker is applying, along with the scores of the other sections of the test.


SSATB uses Formula Scoring, with students receiving 1 point for each question answered correctly, losing one-quarter point for each question answered incorrectly, and zero points awarded or deducted for questions left unanswered.

The Secondary School Admission Test score report provides scale scores for each section of the test, as well as percentile ranks for each category, comparing a student's score to students of the same grade and gender who have taken the test in the U.S. and Canada for the first time on one of the 8 standard test dates in the past three years.

Students can send the score results to the independent schools they wish to apply to at any time (before they sit for the test, after they sit for the test, or after they have viewed their scores) and there is no charge for sending scores to schools. Students have score choice and may report only the scores they wish for a school to see. There is no designation on the score report if a student has tested multiple times.

Each school then evaluates the scores according to its own standards and requirements.

Students may take the exam on any or all of the 8 standard test dates; the SSAT "Flex" test, given on a flexible date, can be taken only once per testing year (August 1 - July 31).

External links[edit]