Secondary School Admissions Test

Standardized tests intentionally make some questions intimidating and confusing. Be aware of this going in, and you are less likely to get shaken.

The Secondary School Admissions Test is a standardized test used by admission officers to assess the abilities of students seeking to enroll in an independent school.


For students in grades 4th-11th, there are three levels of the exam:

  • Elementary Level: for application to 4th and 5th grade

  • Middle Level: for application to 6th-8th grade

  • Upper Level: for application to 9th-12th grade


Click here for more information on the SSAT.




“As a parent of a 4th grade student I was concerned about making the right choice for my daughter's middle school, and was scared of how she would do on the test to get in. Alice's assistance in making the right choice for Rita was paramount, as her knowledge about the city's school system and her understanding of Rita's particular needs were vital to our decision making process. Choosing between the wide variety of schools in the city, public and private, would have been a different experience without Alice's consultations and test preparation work. When I say that Alice helped Rita get where she is today, I mean that in every way possible."

Rita P.

SSAT  |  5th Grade  |  P.S. 234



The first step along the SSAT path is deciding if it is in fact an optimal or pertinent exam for students. We explain the distinctions between the SSAT and ISEE, and guide students towards selecting the ideal option to suit their specific needs. Click here for a comparison of the SSAT vs. ISEE.



Ideally, students have 4-8 months of consistent test prep leading up to their first SSAT. Students ought to aim to take the test twice: once in the fall and again in winter. We are very careful to pace our prep programs properly, ensuring that students neither burn out or peak too early.



The first goal is to get students comfortable with the features, expectations and format of each section of the SSAT. We then move onto strategies, both in the realm of general test-taking as well as how to tackle particular question types. Lastly, we turn to content, and create personalized curricula for students to master. All of these elements come together during our group test simulations, which allow students to continuously refine their abilities in real time.  





Our tutors are prepared to shape our SSAT program to fit every individual student’s learning and personality type. Our programs are malleable, and our 30+ years of experience has equipped us to lead every student towards achieving his/her personal best on test day.



We approach test prep from a child-centric perspective, and are sure to cater to the needs of the human we’re working with, not only the student. We don’t try to make a child’s life fit into a test prep program; we make sure that test prep fits comfortably into a child’s life.



As the test prep process proceeds, our eyes remain fixed on maximizing a student’s score on test day. However, there are a variety of test-taking skills and perspectives which will follow students beyond the day of the test. Our esteemed EF program is interwoven into our test prep, ensuring that students will gain lifelong skills on their way to achieving their optimal SSAT score. We'll help you change schools, and we might just change your life along the way.




More about the SSAT


When and where can my child take the SSAT?

Middle and Upper Level SSATs are held on eight Saturdays (and Sundays for testers who received approval for Sunday testing accommodations due to religious observance) during the testing year (August 1 – July 31). Elementary Level SSAT testing begins in December. Your child can take the SSAT up to eight times.


What is the test like?

There are four sections of the SSAT: Verbal, Quantitative, Reading Comprehension, and a Writing Sample.


  • Verbal Reasoning: This section tests a student’s vocabulary, and the ability to deduce the meaning of words, in the form of synonym questions and analogy questions.

  • Quantitative Reasoning: The quantitative section consists of items that are a mixture of basic mathematical concepts. Included are questions on number sense, properties and operations, algebra and functions, geometry and spatial sense, measurement, and probability.

  • Reading Comprehension: This section contains reading passages, followed by questions that combine careful reading skills with subjective inference abilities.

  • Essay: On the Elementary Level, the writing sample gives students a chance to express themselves through written response to a picture prompt. The student is asked to look at a picture and tell a story about what happened and to be sure his/her story includes a beginning, a middle, and an end. On the Middle and Upper Level, students can choose to complete the writing sample by either responding to an essay question, or by composing a short story whose opening sentence is provided by a prompt. This writing sample is not graded, but a copy is provided to schools along with the student’s score report.

How do I register?
Visit the SSAT website.


How is the SSAT scored?

Admission officers typically focus on the SSAT scaled score and the SSAT percentiles. The SSAT scaled score offers the most precise measure of a student’s performance and is consistent over time (meaning a scaled score today means the same thing it did last year and 30 years ago). The SSAT percentile is useful in comparing your performance to that of others in the current testing year.



Click here to see a sample SSAT Score Report.  

Related Blog Posts

  • Blog #1

  • Blog #2

  • Blog #3


Click here to download the SSAT one-sheet.


90 Broad Street, Suite 223

New York, NY 10004


100 Willoughby Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

(646) 483-1300