The SSAT measures students’ verbal, math, and reading skills. The SSAT is most commonly used when students are seeking admittance to an independent or private school. The test results are used by a school’s admissions department to consider an applicant’s school placement.


The SSAT is administered in three separate levels: Elementary Level, Middle Level, and Upper Level. All three levels have three scored sections (Quantitative, Reading, Verbal) and two unscored sections (Writing and Experimental). The SSAT levels are separated by the grades students are currently in rather than the grade they’re seeking admission to.

Elementary Level (grades 3-4)

SSAT Test Section # of Questions and Types Content Timing
QUANTITATIVE 30 multiple-choice Basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; Place value; Ordering of numbers; Fractions; Basic concepts of geometry; Basic concepts of measurement; Interpretation of graphs 30 minutes
VERBAL 30 multiple-choice Vocabulary; Analogies 20 minutes
READING 28 multiple-choice Locating information in 4 short passages; Demonstrate comprehension and understanding of key ideas; Distinguishing literal from nonliteral language 30 minutes
WRITING 1 prompt Written response to picture prompt. This section is not scored. 15 minutes
EXPERIMENTAL 15-17 multiple-choice Mixed content of verbal, reading, and math. This section is not scored. 15 minutes


Middle Level (grades 5-7) & Upper Level (grades 8-11)

SSAT Test Section # of Questions and Types Content Timing
WRITING 1 prompt Written response to a creative writing prompt. This section is not scored. 25 minutes
QUANTITATIVE 1 25 multiple-choice Arithmetic; Algebra; Geometry 30 minutes
READING 40 multiple-choice Recognize a main idea; Locate details; Make inferences; Determine the author’s purpose; Understand and evaluate opinions/arguments; Make predictions based on information in the passage/td> 40 minutes
VERBAL 60 multiple-choice Synonyms; Analogies 30 minutes
QUANTITATIVE 2 25 multiple-choice Arithmetic; Algebra; Geometry 30 minutes
EXPERIMENTAL 16 multiple-choice 6 verbal, 5 reading, and 5 quantitative questions. This section is not scored. 15 minutes


The SSAT Middle and Upper Levels award one point for each correct answer and deduct one quarter of a point for each incorrect answer. Unanswered questions neither gain or lose points. Since guessing can result in a penalty, it is crucial to eliminate one or more choices before guessing. Your tutor will help you master these skills. The Elementary Level does not penalize for wrong answers.

The SSAT Middle and Upper scoring model includes raw scores, which are found by subtracting a quarter of wrong answers from total correct answers. The Elementary scoring model’s raw scores are calculated by total number of correct answers. Raw scores are then be converted into scaled scores which depends on test difficulty. For a more detailed breakdown of scaled scores, please see the table below. Lastly, percentiles are calculated from 1% to 99% to show how a student compares to others of the same gender and grade level.

Level Section Scaled Score Range Total Scaled Score Range
ELEMENTARY LEVEL Quantitative: 300-600
Verbal: 300-600
Reading: 300-600
MIDDLE LEVEL Quantitative: 440-710
Verbal: 440-710
Reading: 440-710
UPPER LEVEL Quantitative: 500-800
Verbal: 500-800
Reading: 500-800


Although the Writing section is not scored, it should still be taken seriously by students. A completed Writing section is photocopied and sent to all of the student’s identified prospective schools as a writing sample.This is an opportunity for students to show their creative writing abilities, as well as analytical skills and ability to respond to a prompt.

Alternatively, the Experimental section (also not scored) is not sent to schools. These Experimental test questions are purely for SSAT testing development.


The SSAT offers computer-based at-home testing, computer-based testing at Prometric Test Centers, and paper-based testing. Computer-based tests are offered on a regular basis and can be scheduled here: SSAT At-Home Registration or SSAT Prometric Registration

Be sure to check with the admissions department of your prospective school(s) to ensure your chosen testing date(s) meet their score results deadline.

Below are official dates for the SSAT’s paper-based Flex and Benchmark tests for the 2020-2021 season. This will be updated once 2021-2022 dates are released. To view testing updates, please reference this link. To view the official release of test dates, please reference this link.

2020-2021 Test Dates Registration Deadline Rush Registration Begins Final Registration Deadline
September 5, 2020 August 15, 2020 August 23, 2020 September 2, 2020
September 26, 2020 September 5, 2020 September 13, 2020 September 23, 2020
October 31, 2020 October 10, 2020 October 18, 2020 October 28, 2020
November 21, 2020 October 31, 2020 November 8, 2020 November 18, 2020
December 19, 2020 November 28, 2020 December 6, 2020 December 16, 2020


Don’t stop here! Check out our blog for new posts about preparing for the SSAT. Below are a few posts you may find useful.

So you’ve submitted your application and someone from the school of your dreams called back to schedule an interview.  Frightened? Overwhelmed? Don’t be… we’ve broken down the three main areas that admissions officers evaluate when interviewing potential applicants… READ MORE

If your child is applying to independent or Catholic schools, you are probably familiar with the different entrance exams that schools utilize to help select students for admission. These tests serve to gauge the applicant’s academic level compared… READ MORE

Most independent schools require a standardized test as part of the admissions process, usually the ISEE or the SSAT. Many parents and students ask the question: What’s the difference? READ MORE