Children from grades three to eleven who would like to attend a boarding school or private school are required to take an admission test in the form of the SSAT in San Ramon or a nearby city.
What is SSAT? It stands for Secondary School Admission Test, which is developed and administered by the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB). It is an admission test that consists of language, math, reasoning and writing skills. The SSAT will help determine whether a student will be admitted into private elementary, middle and high schools or boarding schools. As said before, children from grades three to eleven are required to take this examination before admittance to the school.
The SSAT is divided into three levels:
- Elementary Level – designed for third grade and fourth grade students who are applying for fourth grade and fifth grade, respectively.
- Middle Level – designed for fifth, sixth and seventh grade students who are applying for sixth, seventh and eighth grades respectively.
- Upper Level – designed for eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh grade students who are applying for ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, respectively.
Of course, people will probably ask how long the testing for the SSAT will take. The duration of an SSAT exam will depend on the level of the test taken.
For the Elementary Level test, the exam will take 110 minutes or 1 hour and 50 minutes. The exam is broken down into four sections:
- In the Math section (or Quantitative section), the students will try to answer 30 questions in 30 minutes.
- In the Verbal section, students will have 20 minutes to answer 30 questions.
- In the Reading section, students encounter seven short passages, and answer 28 questions in 30 minutes.
- Students are also required to produce a short passage in 15 minutes. A picture prompt will be supplied.
For the Middle and Upper Level, the exam will take 170 minutes, or 2 hours and 50 minutes. The exam is broken down into five sections:
- Students are required to write a short passage in 25 minutes. Two picture prompts will be provided, but students will have to choose only one.
- In the first Quantitative (Math) section, students answer 25 questions in 30 minutes.
- In the Reading section, students answer 40 questions in 30 minutes.
- In the Verbal section, students answer 60 questions in 30 minutes.
- In the second Quantitative (Math) section, students answer 25 questions in 30 minutes.
Parents and students may wonder how the scoring in the SSAT works. The raw scoring between Elementary and Middle/Upper Levels differ. The “formula scoring” applies only to Middle and Upper Levels, where students are awarded one point for correctly answering a question. Students lose one-quarter of a point for incorrectly answering a question and they receive zero points for not answering a question. The Elementary Level scoring is more basic — one point per correct answer and zero points per unanswered question.
In the SSAT, scaled scores are obtained from the raw scores. The SSAT uses various scales for the different test levels. For instance, exam-takers in the Elementary Level will be awarded a score on a scale of 900 to 1800 (300 to 600 each section). Exam-takers in the Middle Level will are scored on a scale of 1320 to 2130 (440-710 per section), and Upper level will receive a score on a scale 1500 and 2400 (500-800 per section).
The SSAT percentile ranks will compare a student’s individual scores to the scores of the other students of the same grade who have taken the exam in the last three years. For instance, one student’s percentile score in Math is 75%, it means that he or she has a score that’s equal or better than 75% of the students in his or her grade who took the SSAT exam in the past three years.
The SSAT is not an IQ test. Rather, it just evaluates how much students learned in their grade school years and how prepared they will be for the next grade level and/or in the school that you’re applying to. Since private and independent schools are reputed to have the best quality education, parents are willing to send their children to better schools. And that’s what the SSAT in San Ramon is here for — to determine if students are ready to study at an independent or private elementary or high school.