Welcome parents and student-supporters!
This tips page is written by our experienced tutors (who are also our practice test writers) specifically for parents, because we know what you likely want to know!
A few facts and our best advice:
How your child will maximize his or her SSAT-readiness:
Learning a few strategies (both general test taking and SSAT specific) and practicing timed sections will improve your child’s score. Kids do best when they go into the test with some basic knowledge (see Tips ) such as knowing the directions for each section, whether or not to bubble in an answer for every question before time is called (depending on if there is a guessing penalty), and that many of the questions will likely be too hard for them and that is okay and normal. While gaining such information and hearing of specific how-to strategies are useful, students need full-length practice tests with which to practice! Children build stamina and gain skills by doing sections. By completing timed sections they help accustom and prepare themselves to take the SSAT.
You may be able to help your child prepare:
However, since this test is very difficult for most students, even attempting sections can be daunting. If you have the time, energy, and ability to tutor your child, you can read through the general and specific test-taking offered on this website and help guide your young one through the 4 different sections of the exam and the essay. After working on test-taking strategies, have your student complete timed sections.
Classes and tutoring may be most effective:
Probably the most effective way to help you student prepare is to find a test prep course or tutor near you. We find that for many students the best way to prepare has been to work with a tutor for about 2 months prior to taking the exam, meeting once a week for 2 hours at a time. There may be other schedules that are just as effective, however, we find the 2 hour block useful (even for younger students). Part of the purpose of tutoring for a full two hours is that the SSAT is a long test and longer sessions help build student stamina. We have tutored 9 and 10 years olds for two hours blocks without difficulty (alternating what the student is working on – writing, math, etc. - and if needed taking a “walk around the block” break make it doable).
About SSAT practice materials:
Until recently, the SSAT was administered in just 2 levels: Lower and Upper. However, the SSAT now has an Elementary (for current 3rd and 4th graders), Middle (for current 5th, 6th, and 7th graders), and Upper Level (for 8th through 11th graders). Additionally, the Middle and Upper level essays have changed; students are now given a choice of 2 creative prompts to respond to in 25 minutes (which are not graded and sent straight to schools).
Unfortunately, as of this writing, many or all of the SSAT text books on the market (even current-year texts!) reflect the outdated 2 level test structure and essay topics.
We offer up-to-date practice exams and practice prompt documents for all three levels.