SSAT Test Prep

The SSAT, the Secondary School Admissions Test, is an entrance exam for students applying to independent schools for grades 3-12. It is a multiple-choice test that contains verbal, math, and reading sections. Because the SSAT is a challenging exam, and administered typically before students have had exposure to the SAT or ACT, preparation can be very beneficial. There are three levels: elementary, middle, and upper. Students applying to a private middle school (students in grades 5-7) take the middle level test, and students applying to high school (students in grades 8-11) take the upper level test.

The middle and upper level tests are 3 hours and 5 minutes long. The tests contain 6 sections: a writing sample, two Quantitative (math), one Reading Comprehension, one Verbal, and an Experimental section that is not factored into the score.

Our approach

Through administering a pre-test, we can better determine which areas of the test your student will need the most practice with, and provide a more accurate estimate of recommended tutoring hours. We use as many previously-administered SSATs as are available for practice and provide mock tests to help students build mental endurance. Our lessons emphasize knowing the test: how and when to make educated guesses, when to omit, and how to attack (or avoid) the hardest, most time-consuming questions.

For comprehensive prep in all 3 areas of the SSAT, we recommend 24-30 hours of tutoring over 3-4 months.

SSAT Quantitative (math)
8-10 hours recommended

On the SSAT math, students are prohibited from using a calculator, so they need to refresh basic math computational skills, operations with numbers, and general number sense. The test covers arithmetic, elementary algebra, and geometry. For many middle school students who have not reached pre-algebra, the algebra concepts can seem especially unfamiliar. Our tutoring will not only review the math concepts students need to know, but will also provide test-taking techniques, pacing practice, and math approaches that can save time.

SSAT Verbal
8 hours recommended

The Verbal questions come in two types: synonyms and analogies. The SSAT is one of the few standardized tests to still include analogy questions, which require combining logical reasoning with word recognition. We teach strategies for the analogies that allow students to identify the relationship between the two words more quickly. Improvements in the Synonym questions come more from traditional vocabulary building than anything else, but we do incorporate practice with Latin & Greek roots and other word recognition strategies.

SSAT Reading Comprehension
8-10 hours recommended

To enhance our student’s reading comprehension, we teach active reading strategies, which include identifying the author’s main idea, purpose, tone, and passage structure. We help students to find the evidence in the text to support the correct answer and help eliminate wrong answer choices. Through direct instruction of reading comprehension strategies and test-taking techniques, students improve their understanding, pace, and performance.

Visit the SSAT website,, for more information.