SSAT Preparation

No matter which grade you are in, if you think you can tackle the SSAT without special preparation for it, you are under a misunderstanding. For undertaking the most trivial task in life, like going to the market for routine shopping, we make some preparations even if we are unaware of our doing so. How then can we imagine appearing for an exam like SSAT, which can alter the course of one’s education, without preparation? Let us elucidate this by enlisting the benefits of preparation.

    • You get to understand the test pattern and syllabus covered. This helps you make good use of preparation time, by concentrating on important topics rather than spending undue time on insignificant ones.
    • By preparing for the exam, you channel your energies in the right direction. You gain focus and seriousness in your endeavors and hence become mindful of every minute wasted.
    • Preparation time is like time for self-diagnosis. When you put your knowledge to test, you understand what skills you lack and what your strong points are. This helps you make the maximum use of your potential and take remedial action before it is too late.
    • Studying helps you in psychological preparation for the testing experience. Your doubts, fears and anxieties are put to rest by the confidence you gain through repeated practice.
    • Besides getting acquainted with unfamiliar topics, you get to revise earlier known concepts.

Prerequisites of Preparation
Before commencing studies there are certain things that you should prepare yourself for, so that there is minimum wastage of time and you do not end up making follies. Let us enlist a few such primary prerequisites.

    • Setting a Target: Decide a target score that you want to achieve. This score can be based on the requirement of the school you intend to join. Setting a target score shall make your actions more objective and progress more measurable.
    • Selection of a Suitable Prep Material/Source: You have to understand your needs and accordingly select preparation materials. Without self-analysis, it will be difficult for you to make a prudent selection. For instance, if you cannot study in a group and get easily distracted, then it shall be folly to join a tuition group for studying or to study with friends.
    • Planning Preparation Time: You have to plan the time you have in hand for preparation. Decide how much time each phase of preparation and each topic shall take and chalk out a preparation schedule accordingly. Keep extra time for revision of difficult topics or repetition of topics if required.
    • Setting up a Conducive Environment: Select a place for studying that is free from distractions. You could choose a place in your house or a library where there is least noise and disturbance. Be conscious of the seriousness of the task ahead of you and select the place accordingly. However, do not choose a dull place that makes you depressed or dull while preparing.
    • Contacting Other Test Takers: Get in touch with your friends and others who are taking the exam. Interact with them and ask about their preparation strategies and materials. There could be some information or preparation option that you could be giving a miss. Consulting others shall help you make the best preparation plan.
    • Verification of Preparation Sources: Before you make any investment into a prep course or in purchasing a prep material, enquire about the potential of the source. Check with your friends, seniors, teachers and internet discussion forums to find out if you are making the correct choice.

During Preparation

    • Preparation According to the Syllabus: Stick to the syllabus covered in the exam and practice for the questions particular to SSAT. Cover each topic and learn those concepts that you are not familiar with. It could be difficult for you to study each unfamiliar topic in depth; nonetheless, you should not leave any topic untouched. Even if a shallow understanding is achieved, it just might be helpful in solving some problem.
    • Touch All Subjects: You could either finish revising one subject and then move on to another or you could study all topics simultaneously. Either approach has its own pros and cons. Where taking up subjects sequentially could be your preferred approach as it makes concentration better, it could lead to monotony and loss of interest. Moreover, time management could also become difficult. On the other hand, you could lose concentration by shifting from one subject to the other if you take up all simultaneously. Nonetheless, this method could provide variety. The best approach could be to take up a topic from one subject at a time, finishing it completely and then shifting to another subject. Besides providing change, this method allows you to prepare for each subject and you have lesser chances of running out of time for any one subject towards the end of preparation.
    • Break up Syllabus into Sections: It is not necessary to proceed with a subject in the sequence in which its topics are mentioned in books. Choose your own course of preparation and take up easier topics before moving on to difficult and unfamiliar ones.
    • Measure Achievement: Without knowing what progress you are making and how much you are gaining from preparation, you shall not be able to make any substantial progress. Assessment is an integral part of preparation. Take practice tests and see to it that you do so under the standard time constraints on each section. Also, score your performance to see how you are improving.
    • Sectional Revision: During preparation, you need to revise the concepts you constantly learn. Learning a concept and revising it from time to time shall help in fixing the concept, which you might otherwise forget. Sectional revision shall assist in memorization.
    • Time for Recreation: Intersperse preparation with time for recreation. Reward yourself for major achievements. This brings variety in preparation and encourages you to work harder.  Provide change in settings and environment often. Studying day after day in the same set-up can lead to boredom which can retard progress without your realizing it.
    • Consult Others: Keep a track of how others are preparing and share notes with them. Take assistance from friends and fellow test takers and extend your help to them. Sharing knowledge and experience shall help you keep abreast with what others are doing. Besides learning from their approaches, you shall gain confidence about being on the right track in terms of preparation.
    • ‘Preparing and Applying for Independent School Admission and the SSAT’: This is the study guide endorsed by SSATB (Secondary School Admission Test Board). It contains two full length practice tests for each level of SSAT along with scoring instructions and explanations. Each question type is described in detail with practice exercises. Besides, there is advice regarding efficient time management. Purchase this book for preparation rather than investing in any other source that is not recommended by anyone.

After Preparation Routine

    • Revision: Even if the major portion of your preparation is over before the exam, it is important to continue with revision and practice exercises to keep in touch with what you have learnt.
    • Continue with Seriousness: Many a time you might feel relaxed after you have completed your preparation satisfactorily. Where it is necessary to be relaxed before the exam, it is equally important not to lose seriousness. It is important that you keep mindful of the task ahead and constantly review preparation materials.
    • Mental Preparation: Prepare yourself for the testing experience. Gain information about the rules and regulations prevalent at the testing center and travel to the center once for estimating the time it takes to reach there. Such exercises shall help you prepare for any unforeseen circumstances that can unnerve you on the test day. Gear up for the exam and confront your fears that are potential for causing failure. Develop a positive attitude towards the exam and keep your spirits high.
    • Beware of Comparisons: Do not compare yourself with others and do not compare preparation strategies. You shall never be able to estimate how well or ill prepared another person is. However, making estimations shall certainly unnerve you, unless you are very sure of yourself.

Role of Parents
For students appearing for Lower Level, the role of parents in assisting them perform is crucial. They act as a source of guidance and monitor the work of their children at every step, though there are some students who are independent of their parents and manage to perform well enough.

Parents should be like a guiding light for their children and be conscious of the pressure their child is facing. They should not add to it, knowingly or unknowingly. It is highly possible that the parents are more nervous about the exam than their children are. This can become detrimental to their child’s progress if they fail to control their anxiety and pressurize their child. It can even lead to making permanent damage to the personality of the child by killing his self-initiative.

Parents should instill confidence in their children and try to give guidelines rather than commanding them to follow their instructions. A child who makes his own decisions shall be more confident while taking the exam as compared with another whose parents spoon-feed him.

Though there are children who need constant monitoring and do not realize the responsibility on their shoulders, parents should give them freedom to take their own decisions. One can retake the exam if he fails to perform well in it and it would be better for a parent to let his child experience failure once and work hard the next time around, rather than guiding him at every step of preparation.

Go Ahead with Determination
Even the most capable and confident students can have bouts of depression. It is very natural for anyone to get tired of studying, disheartened, bored and nervous during this crucial phase. At times like these, it is important to take a break and contemplate over the negativity you are experiencing. It is important to look for the reason for feeling low and to get over the feeling with logic. There could be a grave problem behind your feelings and such a situation needs careful handling. On the other hand, it could be just exam related anxiety that leads to such feelings.

Keep your goals in mind and focus on achieving them with determination. Be headstrong and unwilling to give up and you are sure to achieve success.