SSAT stands for Secondary School Admission Test. It is an aptitude test that determines the skill levels possessed by students in grades 5 through 11. SSAT is developed by Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB) to fulfill the requirement of creating a standard assessment for making fair comparisons among students coming from different educational backgrounds. SSATB is a not-for-profit organization that supports member organizations by creating an admission procedure based on research and experience. It was founded in 1957 to fulfill the aim of creating a common platform for admission councils to discuss their concerns.
The necessity of creating SSAT was felt in 1950s by some school admission officers because of the differences that existed among different schools in terms of academic training programs and assessment standards. The variations made it difficult to compare students on the basis of school assessment measures, which rank high on subjectivity. It is a standardized test free from all prejudices and hence it proves to be among the best possible tools to compare students fairly.
This test assesses students for their Verbal, Math, Writing and Reading Comprehension skills. These are considered basic for successfully completing school education. Assessment on these lines helps schools judge how an applicant shall be able to cope with studies in their organization depending on the level of competence they require and the level exhibited by the applicant.

The test is administered to students from grade 5 to grade 11. There are two levels of SSAT
Lower Level: This is administered to students currently in grades 5, 6 and 7.
Upper Level: This is administered to students currently in grades 8, 9, 10 and 11.
There are three types of administrations of SSAT.

National Test: It is administered on 8 days in a year to groups of students. You can take the test up to 8 times in a year without any restrictions. Registration for the test can be done through mail, fax or online.

Flex Test: This form is administered to individuals or to groups on any date other than the 8 dates of national SSAT. A flex test can be taken only once in a year and registration is done after making an appointment with a school or an educational consultant for a test date.

Regional Flex Test: This is another form of flex administration. Here local associations administer the test on any date other than the 8 national test dates. You can take either a regional flex SSAT or a flex SSAT in a year.  

Test Sections
There are five test sections in SSAT. Except for the writing section, all sections contain multiple-choice items in which there are five answer options for each question. These are

  • Two quantitative sections
  • One reading section
  • One writing sample
  • One verbal section

Quantitative Section: There are 25 multiple choice questions in each part of this section. Each section is to be completed in 30 minutes. The sections aim at testing your knowledge of algebra and quantitative concepts that are useful in schoolwork and in everyday life.

Reading Section: There are about 7 reading passages in this section on which 40 questions are based. You have to attempt the section in 40 minutes. Your ability to assimilate written information and draw inferences while keeping with the time constraints is put to test in this section.

Verbal Section: There are 30 questions on analogies and 30 questions on synonyms in this section. These are to be completed in 30 minutes. The questions on analogies test your ability to relate ideas and find similarities and dissimilarities among items and synonym questions test your vocabulary level.

Writing Section: In this section, you have to write a response in 25 minutes on a given topic. You are required to present a logical piece of writing that incorporates examples and instances from your personal experiences, national and international happenings, history, literature etc.

You can register for the test by sending a completed mail registration form via mail or fax. You can register for the exam online as well through        

Note: Select a testing date and time keeping in mind the time it takes for your results to reach recipient schools. The results should reach schools before the admission deadlines so that you do not miss your chances of admission. Besides, you should keep the option of retesting in mind as well. Be cautious while selecting the test center as well. If you do not register in time, you could have to test at a test center that is not convenient to reach and hence cause unnecessary distraction when you are to take the test.

Following are the different scores reported for SSAT.
Scaled Scores: You shall be given scaled scores for verbal, quantitative and reading sections and a total scaled score. For the lower level SSAT, the verbal, quantitative and reading scaled scores range from 440 to 710 and for the upper level SSAT these range from 500 to 800. The total scaled score for the lower level ranges from 1320 to 2130 and for the upper level it ranges from 1500 to 2400.

SSAT Percentile Ranks: Your percentile ranks are based on the scores of the SSAT test takers of the past three years who appeared for SSAT of the same grade as you did and are of the same gender as yours. These are reported for each scored section and range from 1 to 99.

Estimated National Percentile Ranks: These are reported for grades 5 to 9 only. These percentile ranks are in comparison with the performance of students across the nation. Even the performances in exams other than SSAT are considered for these percentiles. These are also reported as percentages between 1 and 99.

Predicted 12th Grade SAT Score: These are reported for grades 7 to 10 only.
Utility of Scores: Schools have their own interpretations of your scores and they use them according to their own discretion. The three main utilities of SSAT scores are

  • Prediction of ability to perform in academics
  • To make comparisons among applicants
  • To assist in improving skills for college admission assessments

You can send your score reports to two recipients free of charge. For additional score recipients, extra payments have to be made. Schools are sent printed score reports by mail and they can even obtain scores online. They receive your scores nearly two weeks after your test. You are advised to register for SSAT keeping in mind the time it takes for your results to reach schools. The admission deadlines should not pass before your results arrive in schools.
The score reports are sent to parents as well and they are received by them a few days after schools receive your scores. Parents receive scores by mail, FedEx and e-mail. Scores are not released to students online or through phone.

Needless to say, a high score shall help you secure a seat in a school of your preference. In fact, you shall have the choice of selecting the school that you intend to study in. Schools consider a lot of factors for admitting students. Your academic records, performance in extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, admission essays etc. are some such criteria. Obtaining a high score shall put you in a favorable position, provided you hold other credentials. Your chances of admission into a good school shall then be bright. If, on the other hand, you hold a good past record but fail to perform in SSAT, then your chances of admission into sought after schools diminish.

There could be only two reasons for non-performance. Either you lack the basic skills required to score high or you haven???t worked hard enough to obtain a high score. In the former case, you shall require time and guidance to acquire the skills you lack. The latter case should be avoided through hard work and systematic preparation. Though SSAT puts to test what you have already studied, one needs preparation to tackle specific question types. Even the most capable students need to concentrate their efforts to perform to their full potential in exams like SSAT.

SSAT- A Golden Opportunity
The earlier you get into a reputed educational institution, the brighter are your chances of shaping your future well. Your responsibility as a student is to make sure you make the most of the opportunities that come your way. Put all your doubts and excuses to rest and understand that there are no two ways about achieving success in SSAT; you shall have to work hard to pave your way through it. With a positive attitude and systematic approach towards studies, you shall definitely meet your objectives and make the most of this golden opportunity.