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SSAT Strategies: Taking the SSAT


iStock_000026750135_SmallFor most boarding schools, the SSAT is a requirement of the admissions process. When the time comes for you to actually sit down and take the SSAT, there are a few strategies that can help you do your best, and we've outlined them below.

Understand how the test is scored

Understanding how the test is scored is crucial to optimizing your chances for success. On the middle and upper levels, you earn one point for each correct answer and lose one quarter of a point for each wrong answer. You receive zero points for a blank answer. So what does this mean? It means if you can narrow down your choices to make an educated guess, go for it. If not and you have no idea what the answer might be, you’re better off skipping the question. The elementary level doesn’t have penalties for wrong answers, so on this exam, it’s best to make a guess.

Read all directions and questions carefully

Reading carefully can give you insight on how to best answer the question. Some questions might be tricky, and details can help you arrive at the best possible answer. Don’t rush and assume you know what the test is asking for; read and make sure you know what is expected.

Don’t get hung up on the difficult questions

You have a lot of questions to answer, so make sure you keep your pace moving along. If you spend too much time on a difficult question, you might run out of time and lose the opportunity to answer questions that are easier. Remember, you gain points for correct answers, so try to get through the easier ones first, then go back to the harder ones.

Pay attention to your answer sheet

As we mentioned already, you likely want to skip and come back to the super hard questions. Just make sure when you do, that you skip the corresponding line on your answer sheet. Periodically double check to make sure that the question you’re answering in the test booklet matches the question number on your answer sheet.

Pay attention to the clock

Know how much time you have to spend on each section, and make sure you’re moving along at a decent pace. It’s important to answer as many questions correctly as possible, so leave yourself enough time to get to all of them.

Review your test

If you find yourself finished before time is up, go back and review the section you’re working on. Check to make sure booklet questions match up with the answer sheet, that you’ve answered all the questions you know are right, and guessed on the ones you were able to narrow down to a 50/50 shot.

Remember, it’s ok to leave some blank

Blank questions don’t take away points from your score, but don’t go crazy. You need to try to earn points, too, so take some educated guesses when possible.  


Good luck!

Stacy Jagodowski

Written by Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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