SSAT Test Guide

SSAT Test Summary
What: The SSAT is used by private middle and high school admissions.
Who: Students in grades five through eleven take the SSAT.
Where: Exams are offered throughout the US and Canada.
When: Exams are offered year round.
How: The exam is administered via computer.
Type: The exam is multiple-choice.
Why: Exam scores are evaluated in conjunction with an applicant’s grades, activities and interview.
Time: Three to three-and-a-hours
Language: English
Preparation: Students should take practice exams to become familiar with the format and types of questions.
Cost: $110

By: Erin Hasinger,

The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) is an exam used by private middle schools and high schools as a part of their admissions process. The exam is created and distributed by the Secondary School Admission Test Board.

The SSAT exam measures a student’s ability to perform academically. Scores are reviewed by admissions teams in conjunction with grades, recommendations, interviews and extracurricular activities. The SSAT also is used as a predictor for SAT scores for students taking the exam in grades seven through ten.

The exam has two levels, one for students in grades five through seven and one for students in grades eight through eleven. Both exams have 150 multiple-choice questions that cover:

- Verbal, including verbal reasoning, vocabulary and logic

- Quantitative, including arithmetic, elementary algebra and geometry

- Reading comprehension

Additionally, each exam has a writing sample component. The essay does not factor into the score, but it is shared with each school that is issued a score report.

The exam is broken into five timed sections. Test takers are given 25 minutes to complete the writing sample, 40 minutes for reading comprehension, and 30 minutes for two quantitative sections and one verbal section.

Exams are administered on a national and flex basis. The national exam is hosted at sites throughout the US and Canada on eight different Saturdays throughout the year. The national test can be taken as often as a test candidate wishes. The flex test is hosted by educational consultants throughout the year. Students may only take a flex test once a year. Exams generally begin at 9:00 a.m. on the test day and conclude between 12:00 and 12:30 p.m.

Scores are reported on a scale, and individual scores are reported for each section (verbal, quantitative and reading) and overall. The score range for each individual section in the grade five through seven exam is 440 to 710, and the overall score range is 1320 to 2130. The score range for each individual section in the grade eight through eleven exam is 500 to 800, and the overall score range is 1500 to 2400.

Score reports also issue a percentile rank for each section, which compares students’ scores to other students who have taken the exam in the last three years. For students in grades five through nine, estimated national percentile ranks are offered, which compare test performance to all students nationwide. For grades seven through ten, score reports also offer a predicted SAT score.

Score reports are mailed to the SSAT test taker’s home within a few days following the exam and to schools within two weeks. Scores are available via mail and online at

Students can register for the SSAT exam online at The website will prompt the user to create an account, and then select an exam location and test date. The exam fee of $110 can also be paid online. Note that additional fees apply for late registration and canceled test appointments.

SSAT test candidates can prepare for the exam by taking practice tests to familiarize themselves with the format and types of questions. To find SSAT test prep materials, visit the SSAT Test Directory.

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