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SSAT – What’s on the Test?


SSAT or Secondary School Assessment Test is an entrance exam used for admission in independent schools in the US, Canada, and some other countries. So clearly, it is a very important exam that holistically measures the students’ capabilities.

Since the scores are also universally accepted, the difficulty level of the exam is also universal. This means that although teaching patterns and methods of different countries might be different, this exam brings it to one universal standard for proper comparison.

SSAT also provides the perfect base to measure which student deserves the seat in the independent school more. As we all know, independent schools are tough to get into. They open a door of opportunities to students who can crack the admission process. So, because of its value, only a few people can avail of it.

Why are Independent Schools Important?

Independent schools don’t follow the rigid and traditional curriculum of regular schools. Instead, they aim at the holistic development of students. They focus more on using education as personal growth. Moreover, they also teach real-life skills that make the students’ portfolios more wholesome.

We all know by now that just acing in academics is not enough. A student is expected to be equally good at other things like extracurricular activities, community service, etc. Independent schools facilitate the all-round development of students. They also allow students to take advanced courses, and the healthy competitive environment makes them better prepared for college life.

What’s on the Test?

Since the SSAT test measures the students’ ability to perform, the paper is designed in a way that holistically reviews the progress of the students. For this, the paper is divided into three sections – verbal, quantitative, and reading comprehension. Additionally, there is also a writing sample score. But this is not scored.

There are three different levels of the test – elementary level, middle level, or upper level. The elementary level is for classes 3-4, the middle for 5 to 7, and the upper level for 8 to 11.

This test has a total time of 2 hours and 5 mins.

Math Section

In the math section, students are asked to answer 30 questions that they have to answer in 30 mins. This section consists of quantitative questions from topics that vary from level to level. The questions are framed accordingly depending on whether one is in the elementary level, middle or upper level.

Verbal Section

In the verbal section, students should answer 30 questions in 20 minutes. It tests the vocabulary and language skills of students. Question formats include synonyms and antonyms, characteristics, homonyms, etc. The quantitative and the verbal sections are followed by a 15-minute break.

Next comes the reading section. This section requires students to read and answer questions to showcase their understanding of the passage. In the verbal section, students have to answer 28 questions in 30 mins. This section can be difficult for students who don’t have a habit of reading because it requires both superficial and in-depth reading skills.

The section has seven passages that can be anything ranging from poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Students might be asked for meaning – both literal and figurative. They might also have to make an evaluative comprehension.

Non-Scored Sections

Finally, there are two non-scored sections. But these are very good for a student’s portfolio. The first non-scored section is writing where students will be given one prompt, and they have to produce a sample within 15 mins. The prompt can also be a picture composition. It helps schools to evaluate the applicants better.

Next comes the experimental section, for this one too the time allotted is 15 mins. This section is a mix of all the previous sections where the questions are constantly updated to meet a student’s skill levels.

So, now that you know the basic structure of the SSAT exam, it will be easier for you to prepare for the exam. An understanding of the structure is very important to plan how to approach the syllabus. You must allocate your time accordingly. This test can be life-changing for students as it can help them find a place in a very progress-oriented background. And, it, in turn, will help them get into a good college.