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About SSAT

Test Structure | Test Dates & Locations | Percentiles & Scoring | FAQ


Test Structure

The SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) is a standardized test administered to students in from 3rd to 11th grade to help determine placement into certain private and independent schools. Many secondary schools worldwide use the SSAT as an integral part of their admissions process. The SSAT is owned, published, and developed by the Secondary School Admission Test Board which can be reached on the web at or by phone at (609) 683-4440.

There are three levels depending on your grade level:

  • The Elementary Level exam (new in 2012) is for students currently in 3rd or 4th grade.
  • The Middle Level exam (formerly Lower Level) is for students currently in 5th -7th grade.
  • The Upper Level exam is for students currently in 8th-11th grade.

All levels have the same basic format but vary in difficulty and length. The Elementary Level is shorter than the Middle and Upper Levels.


Test Format

The SSAT consists of three main sections (Verbal, Math, and Reading), plus a writing sample that either takes the form of a creative writing assignment or an essay. The format of the test differs based on the level of the exam:


Elementary Level
SectionQuestionsLengthTopics Covered
Math30 questions30 minutesarithmetic, geometry, word problems
Verbal30 questions20 minutesvocabulary: synonyms and analogies
15-minute break
Reading28 questions30 minutesshort passages: fiction, non-fiction, poetry
Writingone prompt15 minutescreative writing assignment (not scored)
Total testing time: 1 hour, 50 minutes


Middle and Upper Levels
SectionQuestionsLengthTopics Covered
Writingone prompt25 minutescreative writing assignment (not scored)
5-minute break
Math I25 questions30 minutesarithmetic, algebra, geometry, word problems
Reading40 questions40 minutesshort passages: fiction, non-fiction, poetry
10-minute break
Verbal60 questions30 minutesvocabulary: synonyms and analogies
Math II25 questions30 minutesarithmetic, algebra, geometry, word problems
Experimental section16 questions15 minutesvaries: this section is testing out questions for upcoming years and is not scored
Total testing time: 3 hours, 5 minutes

Except for the writing sample, all questions are multiple choice (A) to (E). You are not allowed to use calculators, rulers, dictionaries, or other aids during the exam.