SSAT Test Breakdown
SSAT came into existence to serve as a common admission test for independent schools. However, over the years, it has not only served as a standardized test, but has also proved to be a tool for self assessment that highlights your shortcomings and strengths. For those in lower grades, it helps to nail down the areas that can be improved upon when time is in the hands of the candidate. Hence, it helps in forming a strong academic base. For students in higher grades, SSAT proves to be a predictor of their performance in the challenging competitive tests that they will face in the near future.
It is therefore not a test that is used to scrutinize the candidates but a test from which students can benefit and gain insight about themselves. However, in order to make this test helpful it is essential that the student understands what he is appearing for. It is essential to have an overview of the test and its features so that it leads to preparation of the skills required for the test. Hence, a justified assessment can be made only when there is complete awareness about the test that leads to the exact preparation required for it.
Highlights of SSAT Test
SSAT is a double-level test that is administered to students in grades 5 – 11. The Lower Level is for the students studying in grades 5 to 7, while the Upper Level SSAT is for students in grades 8 to 11.
Total time – 2 hours 35 minutes (excluding the time for 2 breaks)
Number of sections – 5
Types of questions – Multiple choice questions, essay writing question
Number of breaks – 2
Format – Paper and pencil
5 SSAT Sections and their Details
- Writing Sample
- Quantitative Section (2 sections)
- Verbal Section
- Reading Comprehension Section
- Writing Sample
The Writing Sample is an essay writing section of 25 minutes. It contains an essay prompt, which is presented as a statement expressing a view. The candidate is either required to agree or disagree with the statement. Whichever view the candidate presents, he must justify it with the help of examples taken from personal experiences, others’ experiences, current events, history or literature.
You are allowed to use a scratch paper to pen down your thoughts before you begin writing. The essay written by the candidate demonstrates his writing skills.
This test is not scored. However, a copy of the writing sample is sent to the schools that the student chooses to send his score report to. That is why it is required that along with presenting a good piece of writing sample the essay should be written neatly and in legible handwriting. It helps to strengthen the first impression over the admission authorities.
- Quantitative (Math) Section
There are two quantitative sections in SSAT. The candidates are given 30 minutes for completing each section. This section contains multiple choice questions based on quantitative skills. Both the sections contain 25 questions each. Hence, SSAT contains a total of 50 quantitative questions.
The questions of this section help to evaluate the knowledge of students in elementary algebra, arithmetic, geometry and quantitative concepts. The candidate is not expected to memorize difficult concepts and formulas in math. However, the questions can be handled well with good knowledge of the schoolwork that the candidate has been doing. Moreover, the questions of quantitative sections are based on quantitative principles used in everyday life. Therefore, it requires you to practice basic concepts in light of the test.
The use of calculators is prohibited since the questions asked in this section of the test are such that they can be solved mentally or with some scratch work. In order to work out the problem with hand, you can use the space provided in the question booklet for scratch work.
- Verbal Section
This is a 30 minutes long section. There are 60 multiple choice questions asked in this section. The questions are based on synonyms and analogies.
Synonyms – There are 30 questions based on synonyms. The question contains a question word, which is followed by five answer options. The candidate is required to select the option that contains the word or phrase that is closest to the meaning of the question word. Therefore, the questions based on synonyms require you to have a good vocabulary so that you can recognize the meaning of the question word as well as the meanings of words given in the answer options.
Analogies – There are 30 analogy questions in the Verbal section of SSAT. The candidate is required to find the relationship between given words. The question is in the form of an incomplete sentence, which contains a given relationship between a pair of words followed by a question word, for which there are five answer options. The candidate is required to pick out the answer option that bears the same relationship that exists between the given pair of words in the sentence. This answer option will complete the sentence and make it logical. Hence, these questions test the ability of the candidate to logically relate ideas.
- Reading Comprehension Section
The candidate is allotted 40 minutes to complete the reading section. There are about 6 – 7 reading passages in this section. Each passage is followed by 5 to 6 multiple choice questions. There are 40 questions in all asked in this section.
The questions are based purely on the information given in the passages. Therefore, the candidates are not required to prepare or learn the content of the passages or answers. On the other hand, the candidates are required to answer the questions by referring to the details given in the passage. The candidate must possess good comprehension skills, so that he follows the passage and is able to answer the questions. Moreover, a good base of grammar and vocabulary come in handy to answer many questions.
Score Report of SSAT
Each question carries the same value. It is hence better to attempt easier questions first of all and skip the questions that take too long. You can come back to answer the difficult questions if time permits in the end.
The score report includes scaled scores of Verbal Section, Quantitative Section and Reading Comprehension as well as a Total Score. For all three sections of the Lower Level test, the score range used is from 440 to 710. For the Upper Level, the scores range between 500 and 800 for all three sections.
The score report also mentions the percentile rank in all sections. For the Lower Level and grade 9, the score report mentions the national percentile, while for students of grade 7 to 10, the score report provides a predicted 12th grade SAT score based on your performance.
Understanding the test format has great implications on your preparation and the final performance at the test. The effect of knowledge of the test format can be seen in preparation as soon as it is incorporated in the study plan. This knowledge gradually starts to show results with an improvement in practice sessions and quality use of preparation time. The final repercussions of understanding the test structure are seen in the final attempt and the score received in SSAT. Hence, virtually everything, from planning to the score received in SSAT, is affected by this knowledge. Hence, wisdom lies in taking the clue from this and making efforts for a complete review of the test structure before one has to prepare for the test.