Upper Level SSAT

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The premier private high school admission test for students currently in grades 8–11 (students may test up or down), available in paper and Prometric testing worldwide and the SSAT at Home in the United States and Canada. Accommodations and fee waivers are also available.

SSAT Testing Options

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The SSAT testing options vary depending on the student's grade and location. Selecting the right test method for your child often comes down to comfort level and convenience.

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  • Available in the United States, Canada, and many international locations
  • U.S. and Canadian Middle & Upper students can take up to 6 Standard tests and 1 Flex test
  • International Middle & Upper students can take up to 4 Standard tests (5 in China) and 1 Flex test
  • Elementary students can take up to 3 tests including 2 Standards and 1 Flex
Learn about paper testing
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  • Available in the United States (including U.S. territories) and Canada only
  • Proctored computer-based testing at home
  • Students can take a total of 2 combined SSAT at Home and Prometric tests per testing year
  • Middle and Upper Level only
Learn about the SSAT at Home
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  • Available in the United States, Canada, and many international locations
  • Proctored computer-based testing at a test center
  • Students can take a total of 2 combined SSAT at Home and Prometric tests per testing year
  • Middle & Upper Level only
Learn about Prometric testing

Please note: SSAT test availability is based upon the student's physical location on test day, not their current location or home address. For example, a student living in the United States that travels to Germany cannot take the SSAT at Home while in Germany. The testing year that defines the maximum number of SSAT tests students can take runs from August 1 through July 31. Contact info@ssat.org if you have questions.

What’s on the SSAT?

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  • Quantitative (Math): Composed of math computation.
  • Verbal: Vocabulary and analogy questions.
  • Reading: Reading passages.
  • Writing Sample: The writing sample is not scored, but schools use it to assess writing skills.
  • Experimental: Mixed content questions (verbal, reading, and math). This section does not count toward reported scores.
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SSAT Sections

Total Duration: 3 Hours, 10 Minutes*

Click on the items below to learn more about the content in each section of the Upper Level SSAT. Please note that the allotted time for each section may vary for students with approved testing accommodations.

*Only on the SSAT at Home are students not required to use the full time.

Part 1: Writing Sample

Students have 25 minutes to write an essay, choosing between a personal or general question prompt. Writing samples aren't scored, but they are provided to the schools that you opt to receive the SSAT score report, helping them assess the student's writing abilities. Parents may obtain a copy of the writing sample as a separate purchase.

Part 2 & 5: Break

Students are allotted two ten-minute breaks.

Part 3 & 7: Quantitative (Math)

  • Number of questions: 50 in two 30-minute sections
  • What it measures: Ability to solve problems involving arithmetic, elementary algebra, geometry, and other concepts
  • Scored section: Yes
  • Time allotted: 30 minutes for each section of 25 questions
  • The quantitative (mathematics) section of the Upper Level SSAT measures your knowledge of algebra, geometry, and other quantitative concepts.

Students aren't permitted to use calculators in this section.

Part 4: Reading Comprehension

  • Number of questions: 40
  • What it measures: Reading ability and comprehension
  • Scored section: Yes
  • Time allotted: 40 minutes
  • Topics covered: Reading passages ranging in length from 250 to 350 words 

After reading each passage, students are asked about its content or the author's style, intent, or point of view. The SSAT uses two types of writing: narrative, which includes excerpts from novels, poems, short stories, or essays; and argument, which presents a definite point of view about a subject.

Reading passages come from:

  • Literary fiction
  • Humanities (biography, art, poetry)
  • Science (anthropology, astronomy, medicine)
  • Social studies (history, sociology, economics)

Questions related to the passage ask students to:

  • Recognize the main idea
  • Locate details
  • Make inferences
  • Derive the meaning of a word or phrase from its context
  • Determine the author's purpose
  • Determine the author's attitude and tone
  • Understand and evaluate opinions and arguments
  • Make predictions based on information in the passage

Part 6: Verbal

  • Number of questions: 60; 30 synonyms and 30 analogies
  • What it measures: Vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and ability to relate ideas logically
  • Scored section: Yes
  • Time allotted: 30 minutes
  • Topics covered: Word similarities and relationships through synonyms and analogies

The verbal section asks students to identify synonyms and interpret analogies. Synonym questions test a student's vocabulary strength, while analogy questions measure the ability to logically relate ideas to each other.

Synonyms are words with the same or nearly the same meaning as another word. For example, fortunate is a synonym for lucky, tidy is a synonym for neat, and difficult is a synonym for hard. Synonym questions ask students to choose the answer word with a meaning similar to the prompt word.

Analogies are comparisons between two things with similarities. These comparisons play an important role in improving problem-solving and decision-making skills, perception and memory, communication and reasoning skills, and reading and vocabulary. Analogies help students process information actively, make important decisions, and improve understanding and long-term memory. Considering these relationships stimulates critical and creative thinking.

Part 8: Experimental

The experimental section quality tests future SSAT questions to ensure they are reliable, secure, and acceptable.

  • Number of questions: 16
  • Scored section: No
  • Time allotted: 15 minutes
  • Topics covered: This section contains six verbal, five reading, and five quantitative questions

Practice for the SSAT.

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The Official SSAT Practice Materials from the assessment team that creates the SSAT include Online Practice and Guide Books. Both have four full-length practice tests mirroring the SSAT experience. Get started with the free online Mini-Practice Test to identify where to focus studying.

Questions about SSAT test options, scores, and more?