What is the SSAT®?

SSAT stands for the Secondary School Admissions Test, and it's used for admission to private middle schools and high schools. If you're looking to attend an elite private middle or high school, this is a test you'll need to do well on.

What's on it, and why are there different levels?

Because the SSAT helps test students for admission to private middle and high schools, different levels of the test are offered depending on where you are in your education. The Upper Level is designed for applicants in 8th grade and above. The Middle Level is for applicants in 5th, 6th and 7th grade, and the Elementary Level is for applicants in 3rd and 4th grade. No matter which level of the test you'll be taking, the SSAT will always test the same three sections—Quantitative (the Upper and Middle Levels have two sections of this, as opposed to one for Elementary), Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning. The test also contains an unscored essay that is sent to the schools you're applying to.

The Upper and Middle Levels of the SSAT contain one unscored experimental section of the test that contains Verbal, Reading and Quantitative questions. This section won't affect your score; it is used to make sure that future versions of the exam have reliable, acceptable questions.

When can I take it, and how do I sign up?

The SSAT is given once a month from October to April, with an additional date in June. Flex dates, which are additional testing dates offered outside of the standard administrations, are also available. Check out available test dates and register today.

What's the difference between the ISEE® and the SSAT?

Both the ISEE and the SSAT are used for admission to private middle and high schools and test Vocabulary, Math and Reading Comprehension. Many schools will accept either test for admission, which gives you the option of choosing the test that better suits you and your abilities. The major difference between the tests is in how they test your abilities in each section of the exam. The ISEE uses synonyms and sentence completion to test vocabulary, while the SSAT uses synonyms and analogies. The reading passages on the ISEE tend to be longer than those on the SSAT, but the SSAT includes a broader range of genres, including poetry. The ISEE also places a heavier emphasis on mathematical reasoning than the SSAT does.

If the schools you're applying to will take either test, choose the one that's better suited to your abilities.

How is the SSAT scored?


  • 500-800 (Upper Level)
  • 440-704 (Middle Level)
  • 300-600 (Elementary Level)

Reading Comprehension

  • 500-800 (Upper Level)
  • 440-710 (Middle Level)
  • 300-600 (Elementary Level)

Verbal Reasoning

  • 500-800 (Upper Level)
  • 410-710 (Middle Level)
  • 300-600 (Elementary Level)


It's not scored, but a copy is sent to the schools to which you apply.

All scores are converted to a grade-appropriate percentile.

SSAT quick facts

Frequency — Once a month from October to April, and once in June

Duration — 3 hours and 5 minutes (Upper and Middle Levels); 1 hour and 50 minutes (Elementary Level)

Sections — Quantitative (two sections for Upper and Middle Levels, one section for Elementary Level); Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, unscored essay, and Experimental (Upper and Middle Levels only)

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