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Learn about the SSAT

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is developed and administered by the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB). The exam was designed as an aptitude test to measure a student's ability in core subject areas independent of a student's school record.

The SSAT is administered on three levels:

Current Grade Appropriate Test Level
Grades 3-4 SSAT Elementary Level Test
Grades 5-7 SSAT Middle Level Test
Grades 8-11 SSAT Upper Level Test

The Anatomy of the SSAT

Total testing time is 2 hours and 35 minutes for the middle and upper level tests, plus two short breaks. Each of these SSAT tests includes a 155-minute standardized test consisting of a series of multiple-choice questions divided into four scored sections and one (unscored) Essay section.

Section Number of Questions Question Types Section Length
Quantitative 25 questions (2 Sections) Arithmetic, Elementary Algebra, Geometry and Concepts 30 minutes
Verbal 30 synonym and 30 analogy questions Vocabulary, Verbal Reasoning, Ability to Relate Ideas Logically 30 minutes
Reading Comprehension 40 questions based on about 7 reading passages Reading Comprehension 40 minutes
Essay One question (unscored) Topic statement which you will be asked to respond to (support or argue), using specific examples from personal experience, current events, history or literature 25 minutes

While the Middle and Upper Level test structures are the same, the types of questions used on the Upper Level Test are more challenging than those used for the Lower Level Test.

Testing normally begins at 9:00am, while test dismissal normally takes place between 12:00 - 12:30pm.

Registration Details

The 2012-13 SSAT test fee is $116 ($40 late fee, $35 change fee). The international fee is $225(outside the US, Canada, Am. Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, USVI).

The SSAT is offered several times per year nationally. Students may take a national test as often as they like or up to 8 times per year.

Families are encouraged to register online at

Interpreting Scores

All questions on the SSAT are equal in value. Raw scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly minus one-quarter point for each question answered incorrectly.

The SSAT score report will include multiple sets of scores and percentiles:

Scaled Scores

Scaled score for each section (Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, and Total)
Grades 5-7 (Lower Level): 440-710 (V/Q/R), 1320-2130 (Total)
Grades 8-11 (Upper Level): 500-800 (V/Q/R), 1500-2400 (Total)

SSAT Percentile Ranks for each category (1-99%)

The SSAT percentile ranks compare your scores to those of other students who have taken the SSAT in the past three years
For example, if your Math SSAT Percentile is 75%, you scored equal or better in the Math section than 75% of students (of your gender and grade) who took the SSAT in the past three years

Estimated National Percentile Ranks (grades 5-9 only)

The national ranks (1-99%) compare your performance to the national student population, not only students who have taken the SSAT.

Predicted 12th Grade SAT Score (grades 7-10 only)

NOTE: While the Essay section is not graded, a copy of the essay accompanies each SSAT score report that is sent to a school or consultant.