The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) assesses the academic abilities of students applying for admission to independent schools. Along with the ISEE, the widely used SSAT sets the standard for independent school admission exams.
If your child is required to take the SSAT, answering practice questions is the best way to prepare.
To help you and your student get started, we will provide you with SSAT sample questions, and guidance on how to find SSAT practice tests in printable format. In addition, we will share some usefulinformation about all SSAT levels, including content, format and test prep tips.
What Kind Of Upper Level SSAT Material Is Available For Free?
There is a limited amount of free practice material for the SSAT, but you will be able to find a few websites where you can either cobble together an official mini-practice test, or download a complete free SSAT practice test PDF, if you don’t mind using an unofficial version.
Where Can I Find SSAT Sample Questions?
The company that creates the SSAT is not very generous with free sample questions. You find only find a smattering of questions (about 10 on each PDF) for the lower level SSAT, the middle-level SSAT and the upper-level SSAT.
Download those sample questions by clicking the relevant button below and we will also send you our 5 proven test prep strategies for using official ISEE practice tests to effectively prepare.
These strategies are the ones we use in our test prep practice and have been culled from 16 years of preparing hundreds of students for this challenging test.
Can I Download Free SSAT Practice Material?
You can register on the SSAT website in order to get access to a free online middle level practice test and a free upper level practice test.
The upper level and middle level test each have 3 sections, but the total number of questions in each test is only 30, which means that they are not full-length practice tests, but just more sample questions, albeit with a timer clock ticking away as you work (you have 30 minutes to complete each online test).
You can only see one question per screen, so these are not printable PDFs.
Please note that these online SSAT mini-tests do not include writing sections, so don’t expect practice in that area.
You can get a printable ‘half-test’ for the lower level SSAT, including for 3rd grade and 4th grade. These packaged in an “Elementary Guide”, which also includes test prep tips and helpful information.
Where can I Find A Full-Length Printable SSAT Practice Test?
You might be thinking that the dearth of free practice material means it might be time to buy a practice test or test prep book. If so, your best bet is to stick with the publishers of the SSAT itself, and buy their official test prep guide from the SSAT website.
The SSAT official guide has 2 full length practice tests , as well as helpful information on SSAT content, format and scoring. The best thing about the guide is that the tests can be taken with a pencil, which is how your child will take the actual test. At the time of writing this article, the guide costs $37.
You can also get the same guide and tests at as an ‘online package’ for $49.95. If you buy the online version of the official guide, you will also get a few bonuses including an extra practice test, fifteen SSAT mini-tests on each section (quantitative, reading, verbal), videos, additional exercises and quizzes.
That’s it for the official SSAT material.
If you want more material, you will have to get it through third party sellers. The main site that provides free SSAT materials is IvyGlobal.com, where you can access a middle level full-length practice test and an upper level full-length practice test. Both come with answer keys.
There are a couple of other sites, including 4tests, which has some sample questions and Varsity Tutors, which has some practice questions, but these are not the best sources for good practice material that is similar to the SSAT.
In this article, we also said we would share in-depth information about the SSAT, including test content, scoring, and additional tips to help your child reach her fullest potential on the exam. Read on to find out about all levels of the SSAT.
SSAT: The Basics
The highly reliable SSAT is written by independent school educators in collaboration with content and testing experts. Each question undergoes extensive review by a committee.
The test is designed to measure basic verbal, math, and reading skills that are necessary for academic achievement.
Three levels of the test are available:
There are two types of administration for the SSAT: Standard and Flex. Standard administrations are given on 8 designated Saturdays during the school year at test sites worldwide.
Flex administrations are arranged on other dates if your child cannot attend a standard administration. The test can be administered in an individual or group setting.
##SSAT Question Types
Although your SSAT Practice Test PDF will give you an idea of test content, we’d still like to spend some time explaining the types of questions your child will encounter on the test. Question types vary slightly depending on whether your child is Upper, Middle, or Elementary.
The Middle and Upper Level tests are divided into five sections:
The Elementary Level SSAT has only four sections, with one Quantitative section instead of two.
In total, the Upper and Middle Level SSAT asks 167 questions and takes 3 hours and 5 minutes to complete.
The Elementary Level SSAT allows students 1 hour and 50 minutes to answer 89 questions.
At all levels, students receive 15 minutes of break time during testing. Elementary students receive one 15 minute break, while Upper and Middle Level students are given one 10 minute break and one five minute break.
Aside from the essay, all test sections are multiple choice. Five potential answer choices are provided for each question.
On the Upper and Middle Level tests, there is a penalty for incorrect answers.
Students lose ¼ point for each incorrectly answered question, gain one point for a correct answer, and do not lose or gain points for an omitted response. For this reason, you should advise your child to avoid guessing unless at least two answer choices can be eliminated.
(Suggested Image 2: Student or group of students taking standardized test)
Although it is not scored, the writing section of the test is designed to give admissions officers an idea of how well a student can organize and express ideas.
Upper Level students choose between a creative prompt and a traditional essay, while Middle Level students select one of two creative story starters. Elementary Level students are provided with a picture and asked to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end about what is happening in the picture.
Middle and Upper Level students then have 25 minutes to craft a written response to the prompt, while Elementary Level students are given 15 minutes.
The essay is not scored, but it is sent to your child’s schools of interest along with the SSAT score report. The importance of the essay will vary according to school.
The essay is not included in the score report received by parents unless you order it separately.
There are two Quantitative sections on both the Upper and Middle Level SSAT. Each section allows students 30 minutes to answer 25 questions.
Elementary students are given one Quantitative section and must answer 30 questions in 30 minutes.
The Quantitative portion of the test measures the ability to problem solve using arithmetic, basic algebra, geometry, and other quantitative concepts. A calculator is not needed or permitted to solve these problems.
Questions for Upper and Middle students may cover the following topics:
Questions assigned to Elementary students will only address place value, greater than and less than, fractions, basic measurement, basic geometry, interpretation of graphs, and basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (Suggested Image 3: Sample question-Quantitative or Reading Comprehension)
Upper and Middle Level students are given 40 minutes to answer 40 Reading Comprehension questions, while Elementary students receive 30 minutes to answer 28 questions.
This portion of the test measures a student’s ability to read, analyze, and comprehend various genres of literature.
For Upper and Middle Level students, the SSAT generally uses two types of passages: narrative and argumentative. The length of each passage ranges from about 250-350 words. Passages may address the following:
After each passage, your child will answer questions that may ask him to:
On the Elementary Level test, students are assigned seven short passages, each accompanied by four multiple choice questions. These passages may include prose, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.
Students are asked to demonstrate an understanding of key ideas and details to determine the main idea of the text. They are also required to determine the meaning of words in context and differentiate between language that is and is not meant literally.
(Suggested Image 4: Additional practice question)
For Middle and Upper Level students, the Verbal section of the test consists of 60 questions, with 30 minutes allotted to complete them. Elementary students answer 30 questions in 20 minutes.
The questions measure a student’s vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and ability to recognize relationships between words and ideas.
There are two types of Verbal questions: synonyms and analogies. For synonym questions, students must determine the answer choice that has nearly the same meaning as the provided word.
Analogies require students to first determine the relationship between a provided pair of words. Students are given an additional word and must select the answer choice that relates to the third word in the same way that the provided pair of words is related.
For Elementary students, analogy types include the following:
Upper and Middle Level Students may also be asked to answer 16 experimental questions within 15 minutes. These questions are being considered for a future SSAT and will not count toward your child’s score.
How the SSAT is Scored
The SSAT is a norm referenced test. The norm group utilized in SSAT scoring is comprised of all test takers of the same grade and gender who have taken the SSAT for the first time in the United States or Canada over the past three years.
Percentile ranks are provided comparing your child’s performance to the performances of other students within her norm group. For example, an 8th grade girl in the 90th percentile scored as well or higher than 90% of all other 8th grade girls who took the SSAT within the last three years.
Percentile ranks on the SSAT should not be compared to percentile ranks on other standardized tests. Keep in mind that your child’s score may appear lower than usual due to the fact that the SSAT has a highly competitive norm group of intelligent students applying to elite schools.
SSAT score reports vary depending on which test level your child completed.
Upper and Middle Level Score Reports
Your child will receive scaled scores that are broken down by section, as well as a total score combining all sections.
For the Middle Level SSAT, scores can range from 440-710. Upper Level SSAT scores range from 500-800.
You will also see the average score for your child’s norm group for each section of the SSAT, in addition to your child’s percentile in comparison.
Lastly, the score report includes a test question breakdown indicating which questions from each section your child missed, omitted, or answered correctly.
(Suggested Image 5: Sample score report if possible)
Elementary Level Score Report
The elementary score report indicates the number of total questions for each section, the number your child answered correctly, and the percentage of correctly answered questions.
You will also receive a scaled score ranging from 300-600, along with your child’s percentile rank as compared to her norm group.
Elementary students also receive a total scaled score combining all sections of the exam, which ranges from 900-1800.
How to Prepare for the SSAT
(Suggested Image 6: Child reading, paying attention in class, or studying for test with parent)
We’re providing test prep information in your SSAT Practice Test PDF, but here are a few additional tips to help put your child on the path to success.
Throughout the school year, remind your child to pay attention in class and keep up with homework, classwork, and notes. For the purposes of the SSAT, English and Math classes are particularly important. You can also encourage your child to hold on to notes and review them prior to the test.
We also suggest having your student read a set amount of pages or minutes daily or weekly. Reading will help enhance your child’s vocabulary and improve reading comprehension. Vocabulary flash cards, workbooks, or practice with prefixes, suffixes, and roots can be helpful as well.
Before test day, ensure that your child receives a solid night of sleep and a nutritious breakfast. Leave your child with encouraging words and avoid overemphasizing the importance of the test.
Most importantly, help your student work through practice questions and practice tests in order to build familiarity with test content and structure, as well as increasing confidence. If you downloaded SSAT sample questions or any of the practice test PDFs from the links above, then you are on to a good start!
We hope that the practice test, tips, and information provided here will help your child gain admittance to the independent school of your choice!