What Is the SSAT Test?

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is administered the Enrollment Management Association, formerly known as the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB). Several independent schools require students to take the SSAT test in order to gain admission to the school. The SSAT Test is administered at three different levels :Elementary, Middle, and Upper. The SSAT Test contains quantitative, verbal, reading comprehension, and writing sections, as well as an experimental section on the Middle and Upper Levels. The SSAT Test supplies independent schools with valuable information about a candidate’s potential for success in the classroom. Watch this video to learn about the SSAT and get important insights and tips:



SSAT Format

The SSAT consists of four different sections:

  1. The SSAT Quantitative section is made up of word problems that measure a student's ability to solve problems involving quantitative concepts.
  2. The SSAT Verbal section is made up of synonyms and analogies and is used to assess verbal reasoning and one's understanding of language. 
  3. The SSAT Reading Comprehension section requires students to read passages and then answer relevant questions.
  4. The SSAT Writing section provides students with a prompt (a picture prompt for elementary level) from which the students are to write an essay in response.

Elementary Level SSAT

SSAT Section Question Type(s) Total Amount of Questions and Time
Elementary Level
SSAT Quantitative Word Problems 30 questions 30 Minutes
SSAT Verbal Synonyms + Analogies 30 questions 20 minutes
Break 15 minutes
SSAT Reading Comprehension Passages + Relevant Questions 7 passages + 28 questions 30 minutes
SSAT Essay Essay Prompt 1 essay 15 minutes
Total 89 questions 110 minutes

Middle Level SSAT and Upper Level SSAT

SSAT Section Question Type(s) Total Amount of Questions and Time
Middle + Upper Level
SSAT Essay Essay prompt 1 prompt 25 Minutes
Break 5 minutes
SSAT Quantitative Word Problems 25 questions 30 minutes
SSAT Reading Comprehension Passages + Relevant Questions 40 questions 40 minutes
Break 10 minutes
SSAT Verbal Synonyms + Analogies 60 questions 30 minutes
SSAT Qunatitative Word Problems 25 questions 30 minutes
Experimental   16 questions 15 minutes
Total 167 questions 3 hours + 5 minutes


SSAT Scores Overview

The score reports of all the SSAT Levels include the scaled and percentile scores. The SSAT Middle and Upper Level score reports include a Personal Score Range and the SSAT Elementary Level score report include the number of items on the test, number of questions answered correctly, and the percentage of questions answered correctly. Click here to learn more about SSAT scoring.

Scores are available online, via your SSAT account, about two weeks after the test is administered.

What Is a Good SSAT Score?

Acceptable SSAT scores for test takers vary from school to school, as some schools require higher scores than others. Most independent schools are interested in scores above the 50th percentile, however, the expected score for admission to more competitive programs is generally higher (above the 75th percentile). Schools generally take into consideration several things in addition to SSAT scores when considering a student for admission, such as recommendations, grades, extracurricular activities, etc.

Preparing for the SSAT

Regardless of the level, the SSAT has many sections that demand a lot of preparation and practice. The first thing to be aware of is what to expect. Understanding the format of the test is essential to succeed. An important part of test-taking is to administer times correctly. Knowing precisely when there will be a break is a key factor into prioritizing your time correctly.

A proper preparation for the SSAT should focus on all the sections equally. Start roughly two or three weeks in advance, gather all the study materials that you have and perhaps even invest one or two days in summarizing everything in case you forget something and do not want to waste time looking for it. After you are done reviewing all the study material, you can begin solving questions as practice or further developing the skills needed. Below you will find a few tips for each section of the test:

- Writing an essay - Can be difficult if you have not had enough experience. The first thing to know is how to write one. Each written composition has its own structure and characteristics. For example, an essay should never address the reader but rather remain objective, detached, and analytical. You can practice this skill by choosing an idea to write about (for example, a book you have recently read) and then presenting this to your parents for a review.

- The quantitative section - Can be especially difficult to practice if this is not your forte. The first thing you should make sure is that you remember the multiplication tables. In general, it helps a lot being in control of the basic operations by calculating between integers, decimals, and fractions with ease and without mistakes. Problems in the quantitative section are word problems, which means that reading comprehension plays an important role in solving these questions. Read each question carefully and try to pinpoint the important data in the way the question is written, and how it can help you to solve the question.

- Reading comprehension - Is one of the easiest things to practice. If you enjoy reading, you can simply invite a friend over, you can both read a chapter from a book and compare notes about it. Ask yourself questions such as: what is the author's purpose in mentioning something? How is a particular character introduced and why? What is the overall tone of the chapter? Discussing these things while referring to the book for confirmation is a key aspect into mastering this skill.

- Vocabulary -Is a matter of remembering rules taught in school. Try to go over the things you have learned such as common spelling mistakes, plural forms of certain nouns, etc. Practicing these can often be done simultaneously while writing an essay or even a report of a book.

Ideally, you want to have an answer key for the questions you are practicing with. Our practice packs offer detailed answers, explanations, and often study guides to help you understand the proper way to solve the questions and feel confident the day of the test.

Click here! for the complete teachers solution.


Although both the SSAT and the ISEE are used to screen students to independent and private schools, they differ in several ways. The following chart presents the major differences: 


ISEE Upper Level 

SSAT Upper Level 


Verbal Reasoning 


Quantitative Reasoning 

Math I 

Reading comprehension 


Mathematics achievement 



Math II 



3 hours (including breaks) 

3 hours + 5 minutes (including breaks) 

Number of questions 

160 questions 

167 questions 


As you can see above, there are differences in the structure of the tests, duration, and number of questions. In addition, there are differences in the question types: the Verbal section on the SSAT is divided into two subsections – synonyms, and analogies, whereas the ISEE Verbal section is divided into synonyms and sentence completion questions.  

There is a certain overlap between the quantitative and math sections of the ISEE and the SSAT math sections, but the ISEE math sections are considered more difficult. In contrast, the verbal and reading sections of the SSAT are considered more challenging than those on the ISEE. Therefore, if your child has a choice between these two tests (some schools give the option to choose), he or she should take these factors into consideration and prefer the test they feel more comfortable with. 

As part of both tests, there is a writing portion where your child has to write an essay in response to a prompt. on the ISEE, the students are only given the option to write an expository essay, while on the SSAT they are allowed to compose either an expository essay or a creative essay. 

Additionally, the SSAT has an experimental section that is not scored but adds more questions compared to the ISEE. 

To learn more about the ISEE and how it differs from the SSAT, click here.   

What is the Importance of the SSAT Test?

The SSAT Test is used for admissions purposes at independent schools all over the world. It provides a standard assessment so that admissions departments are able to objectively compare applicants of various educational backgrounds. 

Our Online Practice Tests

We are proud to provide high quality products for a low price. Your child does not need expensive classes or tutors to excel on a gifted children's test. Each of our quality preparation kits includes hundreds of questions and study guides, and are competitively priced. Additionally, our online format allows you and your child to practice whenever, and wherever, you want. What are you waiting for?


The SSAT, Secondary School Admission Test, SSAT Practice tests, Secondary School Admissions Test and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with TestPrep-Online or this website.

Need Help question mark
minimize close
Need Help question mark
Please fill out the form below and we will contact you soon.
Your message was sent. We will contact you shortly.
There was a problem sending your message. Please try again in a few minutes.