Everything you need to know about Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT)

The SSAT, or the Secondary School Admissions Test, is a standardized test that an admission committee uses at an independent or private school to assess which students to admit. 

Everything you need to know about SSAT. The SSAT measures basic math, verbal, and reading skills. 

Because there are numerous students competing for a select number of seats at a private or independent school, it is important for students who are interested in enrolling to have an aggressive study plan in place to prepare for the exam.

Levels of the SSAT

Elementary Level SSAT: This is for children in 3rd and 4th grade who are applying for admission to 4th and 5th grade.

Middle Level SSAT:  This is for children in 5th grade through to 7th grade who are applying for admission to 6th grade through to 8th grade.

Upper Level SSAT: This is for children in 8th grade through to 11th grade wh0o are applying for admission to 9th grade through to the Postgraduate level.

How is the test administered? 

The SSAT takes 3 hours and 5 minutes, and typically begins at 9 a.m. local time. Students should arrive at their designated testing center at least 30 minutes before their test begins to allow time for the check-in procedure. Students are allowed to bring snacks and drinks, but are only able to access them during scheduled breaks 

What’s the difference between the Standard SSAT and the Flex SSAT?

Standard SSAT

The Standard SSAT is administered at test sites throughout the world eight Saturdays throughout the academic year. 


Flex SSAT is provided to an individual or group of people on any other date than the standard eight days. 

How many times can I take the SSAT?

You can take the SSAT test a total of nine times throughout the testing year (August 1st to July 31st) – on the eight standard SSAT testing days, as well as one designated Flex SSAT day. 

Is the SSAT a reliable test?

According to the SSAT website (ssat.org), “The SSAT is highly reliable. According to recent studies, SSAT scaled score reliability is higher than .90 (out of a possible 1.0) for both the verbal and quantitative sections and is approaching .90 for the reading section, which is considered quite high.”

How Are Scores Compared on the SSAT? Why is This Important? 

The Norm-Referenced Tests lets a student know how their score statistically compares to the average student.

The Criterion-Referenced Tests measure a test taker’s results against predetermined criteria without comparison to other student’s results. 

This is important to understand because when you are compared to other students, you can sometimes feel like you’re either not good enough or you are doing better than you actually are. 

When it comes to the Norm-Referenced Tests, you are being compared to the SSAT norm group. The SSAT norm group consists of all test takers who are the same grade and gender as you who have taken the SSAT for the first time on one of the standard testing days within the last three years. 

Something to be aware of is that the SSAT norm group is extremely competitive. SSAT scores report percentile rankings, which are compared to the norm group. For example, if you are an 8th grade boy and your score on the math section was a 90%, you scored better than 90% of other 8th grade boys within the United States and Canada.  

The Importance of the SSAT Candidate Handbook 

Do you want to know about all of the policies and procedures when it comes to the SSAT? The SSAT candidate handbook contains all you’ll need to know before taking the exam. All students and their parents or guardians must read and become familiar with this handbook. 

How Can I Prepare For the SSAT?

Take practice tests 

It’s important for you to become familiar with the material that will be covered on the test so that you have a better chance of doing well. Taking practice tests will also help you to feel more comfortable with the 3 hour 5 minute time limit you have. 

Test prep on your own or in a group

There are SSAT study prep books available for purchase as well as helpful Youtube videos, and you can use these resources to study by yourself or in a group. As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” You’ll definitely learn more by having others around to help you.

Seek a tutor

The absolute best way to study for the SSAT is to seek a tutor who is highly experienced in the exam. A tutor can help to identify and fix your weak points – something that is extremely difficult to do on your own, as well as give specific tips and tricks that only an experienced person can give. 

Are you or your child interested in an SSAT tutor? Our socratic method of teaching aids our student’s success. For example, we will ask the student leading questions in order to allow the student to find the way to the answer themselves. This not only helps the student understand the concepts better, but more importantly, it helps them retain the information longer and helps them to build self confidence so that they will perform their absolute best when being put to the test.

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