Jan 20

The Ultimate Guide to Upper Level SSAT

The Ultimate Guide to Upper Level SSAT

What is the Upper Level SSAT? Who should take the SSAT?

If you are looking to elevate your education by applying to private/boarding high schools, and eventually, an elite university, you will first need to understand the SSAT.

The SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) is required for admissions into many private and boarding middle/high schools.

The Ultimate Guide to Upper Level SSAT

Why would you take the SSAT?

For schools that require the SSAT, your SSAT score demonstrates:

1. Your current academic level and performance compared to all other applicants from your region and grade.
2. If you can handle the rigor of the schools’ classes.

Generally, schools do not publicize their minimum SSAT scores required for admissions. However, the Tokyo Academics team knows that your SSAT score must be above the 90th percentile for admission into top private and boarding schools.

Set up a Free Consultation with one of our Admissions Consultants at Tokyo Academics and we will be happy to help address any questions or concerns you may have. 

How Tokyo Academics can prepare you for the SSAT

SSAT Timeline


A consistent schedule for studying is especially important for students studying at private/international schools abroad, as schools may not adequately prepare students for the SSAT.

A recommended schedule for a 7th-grade student looking to apply to private/boarding school for high school may look like:

SSAT Timeline

We are more than happy to work with you to create a personalized study schedule. Please contact us to learn more about how we can support you.

Setting Goals

At Tokyo Academics, we will work with you to establish clear, achievable goals. While overarching goals, such as achieving a specific score on the SSAT are also important, setting smaller milestones is just as necessary.

Examples of smaller milestone goals may include:

    1. Scoring above 85% on the Quantitative (Math) section
    2. Getting through all of the reading passages in the Reading Comprehension section
    3. Getting all of the synonym questions correct in the Verbal section

We recommend starting your SSAT preparation 1 to 2 years in advance. Planning is better than cramming, so the earlier you start studying, the better your test-taking experience will be.

The best thing to do is to take a Mock Test to evaluate your current level.

Planning Backward from 8th grade

Common Pitfalls for Parents

We have compiled several pitfalls that we have seen students and parents fall into. 

          1. Parents don’t understand the timeline and students start studying for the SSAT too late.

Students who are looking to apply for private and/or boarding schools should begin studying for the SSAT two years in advance. If students start studying two years ahead of the admissions deadline, they are well on track to succeed. If they start studying 1 year in advance, it is already too late. 

For students hoping to enter a private/boarding high school for 9th grade, we recommend taking an SSAT summer intensive course during the summer between 7th and 8th grade to kickstart test preparation.

          2. Parents overwhelm students with too much and students start falling behind in school.

Another reason starting your test preparation earlier is so important is that students who learn test-taking strategies and good study habits earlier will do better in school. Simultaneously focusing on school grades and preparing for the SSAT is very difficult, especially without guidance. 

          3. Parents forget the importance of test preparation and students are not prepared.

Simply studying in school will not adequately prepare students for the SSAT. To excel on the SSAT, additional test preparation is necessary.

We recommend that students take Group Classes during the summer between 6th and 7th grade to ensure that their English and Math fundamental skills are on track.

If you are unsure of your current skill level, please contact us to schedule a Mock Test.

          4. Parents and students don’t understand how competitive the application process is

Applying to private and boarding schools is an incredibly competitive process. The top schools are extremely selective, and the number of applicants increases each year, while the number of students admitted often does not change. At Tokyo Academics, we understand the competition and will help you prepare for it.

          5. Parents are forcing students to apply to private/boarding schools. 

Students who end up applying to schools that they are not necessarily interested in will struggle during the application process, especially with their admissions essays. It is important that student and parental expectations are aligned, and that students have their own reasons as to why they wish to apply to private/boarding schools. 

Set up a Free Consultation with one of our Admissions Consultants at Tokyo Academics and we will be happy to help address any questions or concerns you may have. 

SSAT Test-taking Strategies:

General Strategy

On the Upper Level SSAT, it’s better to aim to get answers right, rather than answering all the questions. This is because for each incorrect answer, there is a -0.25 point deduction. Make sure you have the right answers rather than all the answers. To find out more about other test-taking strategies, enroll in one of our SSAT courses.

At Tokyo Academics, we pride ourselves on our test-taking strategies. The effectiveness of our strategies is proven by our results.

SSAT Reading Comprehension Strategy:
  • Main Idea Question

Example 

     Each year more than 100,000 high school graduates, with proven ability, do not enter college because they cannot afford it. And if we cannot educate today’s youth, what will we do in 1970 when elementary school enrollment will be 5 million greater than in 1960? 

     In many places, classrooms are overcrowded and curricula are outdated. Most of our qualified teachers are underpaid, and many of our paid teachers are unqualified. So we must give every child a place to sit and a teacher to learn from. Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty. 

     But more classrooms and more teachers are not enough. We must seek an educational system which grows in excellence as it grows in size. This means better training for our teachers. It means preparing youth to enjoy their hours of leisure as well as their hours of labor. It means exploring new techniques of teaching, to find new ways to stimulate the love of learning and the capacity for creation.

 

Question: What is the main idea of this passage?

          A) We must replace poor teachers with better ones.
          B) Poverty is a serious problem in today’s society.
          C) We must improve the educational system.
          D) There are too many children in the educational system.
          E) Teaching is a very difficult career. 

Solution

Step 1: Underline keywords/phrases 

Step 2: Use process of elimination to rule out incorrect answers, asking yourself why each is incorrect

Step 3: if you can’t rule out four, use keywords in the remaining answers to find evidence in the passage

Step 4: Rule out remaining answer(s).

Question: What is the main idea of this passage?

          A. We must replace poor teachers with better ones.
          This is wrong because replacing teachers is only one solution.

          B. Poverty is a serious problem in today’s society.
          This is wrong because the main idea is about schools and education.

          C. We must improve the educational system.
          This is a possible answer.

          D. There are too many children in the educational system.
          This is an opinion and not reflected in the passage.

          E. Teaching is a very difficult career. 
          This is wrong because the main idea is about education in general, not teaching.

Correct Answer: C

Sentence in the passage that proves C is correct: Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

“We must seek an educational system which grows in excellence as it grows in size. This means better training for our teachers.” 

Example SSAT Verbal Strategy:
  • Determine the relationship between words

Step 1: Block out the answer choices, either mentally or with your hand. 
Step 2: Come up with one or two sentences that describe the relationship in question.

Example 

Ravioli is to dumpling as …
          A) Taco is to shell
          B) Rice is to soup
          C) Chocolate is to cake
          D) Mint is to lollipop
          E) Spaghetti is to noodle

Solution
In this case:
          1. A ravioli is a type of dumpling
          2. One type of dumpling is a ravioli

Repeat with the answer choices:

          A) Taco is a type of shell
          B) Rice is a type of soup
          C) A cake is a type of chocolate
          D) Mint is a type of lollipop
          E) Spaghetti is a type of noodle 

Correct Answer: E

Example SSAT Math Strategy:
  • The 3Gs for Word Problems

The 3Gs are the given, goal, the game.
     The given: what numbers are provided in the question
     The goal: what we are trying to solve
     The game: the math we need to use

Example Question:

A truck is carrying 2400 bags of beans. There are three types of beans: pinto beans, navy beans, and black beans in a ratio of 7:3:2. Find the number of bags for each type of bean.

Solution
     The given: 2400 bags of beans, 3 types of beans, ratio 7:3:2
     The goal: the number of bags for each type of bean
     The game: this is a ratio question

By breaking down the question into three parts, we have now streamlined our way to the solution of the question. We know our starting point, our path, and our end goal.

SSAT Essay Strategy:
The goal of your essay should be to appeal to the schools you are applying to.

First and foremost, your essay must:

    1. Address the prompt and take a stance 
    2. Be interesting.

Schools read plenty of essays and applications each year, so your essay must be able to stand out from the crowd. 

Your essay should showcase who you are as a person and how unique you are ‘through a story,’ using the prompt as a guideline. 

Although the SSAT essay is important, your admissions essay is a major component of your application. One of our experienced Admissions Essay Counselors would love to work with you to perfect your admissions essay.         

Learn more about these strategies and how to master them by enrolling in one of our classes/working with one of our esteemed/experienced/elite tutors at Tokyo Academics

Click here for more information about SSAT tutoring

Click here for more information about Essay Counseling at Tokyo Academics.

Set up a Free Consultation with one of our Admissions Consultants at Tokyo Academics and we will be happy to help address any questions or concerns you may have. 

The Upper Level SSAT Test Format

Upper Level SSAT Test Format

SSAT Scoring

On your Score Report, you will see three types of scoring: your raw score, your scaled score, and your percentile score.

Raw Score

SSAT Raw Score

Scaled Score Range
Your raw score is converted into a scaled score to account for the differences in difficulty between tests.

SSAT Scaled Score Range

Percentile Score

According to the SSAT official website, SSAT percentiles range from 1-99. This means your scaled score was equal to or higher than the percentage of other test takers.

For example, if you score in the 50th percentile, it means that your score was equal to or higher than 50% of the other test takers in your grade.

Taking the SSAT

Next Steps

Tokyo Academics has successfully helped students earn acceptance to their dream schools. Click here for a list of some of our admissions outcomes. 
Here’s how you can get started:

          1 – Meet with our team
          Complete our contact form, and our team of advisors will review your inquiry and schedule a phone call or follow up via email to learn more about your needs and determine the perfect plan for you.

          2 – Attend your first free lesson
          We’ll pair you with the perfect tutor based on your goals and what you’d like to accomplish. 

          3 – Enroll in our Group Classes and Private Lessons 
          After experiencing our tutoring firsthand, we’ll provide a comprehensive course of action to help you succeed.

          4 – Track your score and plan backward from admissions deadlines
          Lastly, we’ll work with your schedule to provide flexible and convenient tutoring with our expert tutors. Whether it’s private instruction, group classes, or even English language support, we’ll create a schedule that maximizes your learning potential.

          5 – Work with a Tokyo Academics Admissions Consultant 
          You may first sign up for a free consultation to discuss your questions and/or concerns about the SSAT and application process. 

          6 – Work with a Tokyo Academics Admissions Essay Counselor
          You may first sign up for a free 1-hour consultation to get an understanding of our services. 

We have seen students struggle during their application process due to a number of reasons. At Tokyo Academics, we work to ensure that our students are prepared to tackle their school grades, their applications, and their SSAT test preparation. 

Still have questions about the SSAT and/or the application process?

Set up a Free Consultation with one of our Admissions Consultants at Tokyo Academics and we will be happy to help address any questions or concerns you may have. 

We look forward to supporting you on your journey to becoming admitted into your dream school!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

As a subscriber, you’ll be the first to know about upcoming events, new course offerings, and success stories from our graduates.