## Cracking the SSAT & ISEE - The Princeton Review 2019

# Everything you always wanted to know about the SSAT

The SSAT

**WHAT IS THE SSAT?**

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is a standardized test made up of a writing sample, which is not scored but is sent along with each score report, and a series of multiple-choice questions. There are three different types of sections on the SSAT: Verbal, Reading, and Quantitative (Math). You will receive a score for each of these three section types. In addition, your score report will show an overall score, which is a combination of your verbal, reading, and quantitative scores. You will also receive a percentile score of between 1 percent and 99 percent that compares your test scores with those of other test takers from the previous three years.

**What’s on the SSAT?**

The Verbal section of the SSAT tests your knowledge of vocabulary using two different question types: synonyms and analogies. There are no sentence completions on the SSAT. The Reading section tests your ability to read and understand short passages. These reading passages include both fiction (including poetry and folklore) and nonfiction. The Math sections test your knowledge of general mathematical concepts, including arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. There are no quantitative comparison questions on the Math sections of the SSAT. Remember, there is a guessing penalty on both the Middle and Upper Level SSAT. Each incorrect answer reduces your raw score by a quarter point. However, points are not deducted for wrong answers on the Elementary Level SSAT. Students taking this test should not leave any answers blank.

**Three Levels**

There are three different versions of the SSAT. The Upper Level is taken by students applying to ninth grade or above. The Middle Level test (formerly called the Lower Level test) is taken by students applying to the sixth, seventh, or eighth grades. The Elementary Level test is taken by students applying to the fourth or fifth grade.

**ML and UL SSAT**

The experimental section is not scored and includes verbal, reading, and quantitative questions. SSAT uses this section to test questions that may appear on future tests.

**Elementary Level**

The Elementary Level test is about 2 hours, which includes the four different sections and breaks. There is no experimental section.

Quantitative |
30 questions |
30 minutes |

Verbal |
30 questions |
20 minutes |

Reading |
28 questions |
30 minutes |

Writing Sample (ungraded) |
1 prompt |
15 minutes |

**Plan Ahead**

Not only will early registration give you one less thing to worry about as the test approaches, but it will also get you your first-choice test center.

**Middle Level and Upper Level**

For the Middle and Upper Levels, the test lasts about 3 hours, which includes the five different sections, breaks, and a 15-minute experimental section.

Writing Sample (ungraded) |
1 essay topic |
25 minutes |

Quantitative |
25 questions |
30 minutes |

Reading |
40 questions |
40 minutes |

Verbal |
60 questions |
30 minutes |

Quantitative (a second section) |
25 questions |
30 minutes |

This book will focus mainly on the Upper and Middle Level tests, but look out for sidebars containing information about the Elementary Level test. In addition, a practice Elementary Level test is available online when you register this book. You can reference the “Get More (Free) Content” spread at the start of this book, located after the table of contents, for more detailed instructions on how to access that test.

One difference between the Upper and Middle Level tests is their scale. The Upper Level test gives a student **three** scaled scores ranging from 500 on the low end to 800 at the top. Scores on the Middle Level test range from 440 to 710. There are also some small differences in content; for instance, vocabulary on the Middle Level test will more closely reflect what you might have learned up to this point in school, and Upper Level vocab will take it further. Same with Math. In Math, you will see similar general concepts tested (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, charts, and graphs) on both tests, but naturally, the Middle Level test will ask questions based on what you should have learned. However, many of the questions are exactly the same on each level.

The scale on the Elementary Level test is 300—600.

As you work through the chapters and the drills, you will notice that sets of practice problems do not distinguish between Upper and Middle Level questions. Instead, you will find practice sets that generally increase in difficulty as you move from earlier to later questions. Therefore, if you are taking the Middle Level test, don’t worry if you have trouble with questions at the ends of the practice sets. **Students should stop each practice set at the point at which they have reached vocabulary or math concepts with which they are unfamiliar.** This point will be different for every student.

Because the Middle Level SSAT tests fifth, sixth, and seventh graders, and the Upper Level SSAT tests eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders, there is content on the tests that students testing at the lower end of each of the groups will have difficulty answering. Younger students’ scaled scores and percentiles will not be harmed by this fact. Both sets of scores take into consideration a student’s age and gender. However, younger students may feel intimidated by this. **If you are at the lower end of your test’s age group, there will be questions you are not supposed to be able to answer, and that’s perfectly all right.**

Likewise, the material in this book follows the content of the two tests without breaking it down further into age groups or grades. Content that will appear only on the Upper Level test has been labeled as Upper Level only. Students taking the Middle Level test do not need to work on the Upper Level content. Additionally, younger students may not yet have seen some of the material included in the Middle Level review. Parents are advised to help these students with their work and to seek a teacher’s advice or instruction if necessary.