Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
We've just launched our new college search tool at http://www.collegeconfidential.com/schools. Use this form to provide feedback as we continue to work toward a more robust solution to best meet your needs.

SSAT - Need Advice

PAULETTEPAULETTE Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
edited November 2012 in Prep School Parents
My child took the SSAT in November, and we just got the scores:
Verbal - 96%
Reading 83%
Math 37%
Total score 2175 - 77%

He did really well in Reading and Verbal. I am not sure he would be able to score that high again and the overall score isn't bad. Obviously, my concern is his math score. He is a 9th grader and took Algebra 1 last year with a year end grade of an A-. Math is a strong subject for him and he enjoys it. The problem is his school (an independent day school) has adopted a new curriculum this year that combines Algebra and Geometry into a 2 year course for 9th and 10th graders (similar to the way math is taught at Exeter). Geometry is not introduced into January. I think this might be why his math score is so low. Most 9th graders taking Geometry have already had a couple of months of it before taking the SSAT. He is doing well in his math class this year. If I explain this to the schools he is applying to, do you think that is enough or should he retest? I am so worried if he retests his Verbal and math scores will go down. We live in an area of the country were not very many people go away to school so I have no one to ask. He is begging not to take it again and seems happy with his scores.
He is considering the following schools and has strong grades:
St. Paul's - (legacy)
St. George's
Post edited by PAULETTE on

Replies to: SSAT - Need Advice

  • Momof7thgraderMomof7thgrader Registered User Posts: 311 Member
    I would have him retake the test and submit both results providing he does better in math the second time.
  • newbie9newbie9 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    With some intense math study in an SSAT prep book he can probably significantly improve the math score because it is usually easier to improve a low score.
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle Registered User Posts: 3,489 Senior Member
    I am so worried if he retests his Verbal and math scores will go down.

    Even if his verbal scores go down, the schools will take the high verbal score from November into account. You can wait to send new scores until after you see them. If they're better, send them, if not, don't.

    Many students who take the SSAT have had elements of geometry in 8th grade. Thus, if your son hasn't had any geometry by November, his score would suffer, as the percentiles compare test-takers to students of the same gender and grade.

    He might also have mis-bubbled his exam paper. You might want to have him try one of the practice SSAT tests, only the math section. (I recommend the SSAT's own study guide. You want "real" SSAT tests.) See how he fares on it, and what gives him trouble. If his school uses a non-standard math curriculum, he might not know standard terminology. (I.e., is it an equation, or a "number sentence?")

    If it were my child, I would opt for a retake. This would also be something to cover in the parent statement.
  • DividedMomDividedMom Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Absolutely retake the test! Many of school's will consider the highest scores. Our child's SSAT experience was similar. The math test is primarily general math, so taking algebra or geometry should not matter, the testing skills will. The math portion is something like 40 questions to complete in 45 minutes. DC was so worried about time management that DC read questions and guess-timated. The answers are designed to trip up a guess-timator. My advice, find a teacher or tutor who is skilled at test taking strategies. We did not enlist the help of a tutor until too late for the SSAT, but did follow up with a tutor to check for holes in general math skills over the summer. Our tutor figured out DC's testing strategy issue in the first session simply by covering the answers and forcing DC to work the problem.
  • 2kidsnoanswers2kidsnoanswers Registered User Posts: 555 Member
    Yes, I understand that schools may 'superscore' results, taking the highest score from each component to assemble the best of all three components. How many do this, or which ones, I don't know. Plus it seems to me it would be hard to 'unring the bell' and expect an AO to totally ignore all scores, unless they only see the 'superscored' results, which I suppose is possible. All that said, I'd have him retake the test and submit the second results if math improves. Good luck.
  • PEA2016PEA2016 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    The Math on the SSAT isn't based on Geometry/Algebra, and when we study, we forget the basics. However, when I got to Exeter, having already taking high-school level Algebra I(1 year), Geometry(1 year), and Algebra II(1/2 year), with A's or High B's in each. I was placed in an easy Algebra I class due to my low math scores on the SSAT, however. It didn't necessarily affect my getting in, just my placement.
  • girlgeekmomgirlgeekmom Registered User Posts: 513 Member
    PEA I thought that Exeter, like other schools, sent out placement tests over the summer; i.e. I have not heard of schools using SSAT for math placement. Is this something new at PEA? Exeter has a very particular approach to math, and many entering students find themselves placed lower than they expected, even with very high SSAT scores.
  • PEA2016PEA2016 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    I requested a placement test and was denied, then put in an Algebra course. And no, they don't do math differently here. Every question is a word problem, so was every question in my Middle School math. Here's the truth, I requested Math 21T, which has a standard SSAT score to be placed in it of 85 or above. I was within ten of this 85%, so I requested it, as well as a placement test, and was denied both because "Your SSAT scores were not sufficient for these". So I got placed in 12T, where I do math I did in 5th and 6th grade and am bored to tears.
  • girlgeekmomgirlgeekmom Registered User Posts: 513 Member
    Well, I know of one prep last year who had 99th percentile on SSAT's and had been doing A work in pre-calc in former school, who WAS given a placement test and landed in geometry anyway.

    And yes, they DO do math differently at PEA. Here's the truth: they are KNOWN for "doing math differently." Every year, math teachers from all over the world (and I have met some of them and discussed this) visit PEA to learn about their approach to math. I can't speak to your personal experience, but from what we have heard from other PEA students, and our own questioning during revisit day, SSATs were not the deciding factor for placement.

    So as I said, perhaps this is a new model. There are plenty of PEA parents on the forum; maybe one who is more knowledgeable than I can weigh in.
  • 2prepMom2prepMom Registered User Posts: 1,140 Senior Member
    Our experience with Math placement at Exeter: Initial placement is a bit of a guess, because it is easy to shift up or down once you start the classes (most people shift down to easier classes, the math is challenging). The math Dept. is wonderful, and very easy to work with. We were told initial placement includes SSAT math score, and the recommendation your math teacher sent in, which asks them to specifically summarize their curriculum and what you have covered. Even if you took "advanced" classes (and each school has very different definitions of that), if the SSAT score is low, Exeter may want you to review the material again to make sure you have mastered it.

    The math is verbal problem based, there is no textbook (the entire Level 2 and 3 curriculum can be found on the Exeter website under the math Dept, the placement tests are there too), and combines algebra, geometry, trigonometry and functions (pre-calculus) across the whole curriculum. So having an SSAT score that is not high may suggest that you may benefit from review before moving to more difficult material.

    Even if placed in basic math, you have the option to complete calculus before graduation if so desired, however, there are many other 4th year options, like statistics and discrete math.
  • PAULETTEPAULETTE Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thanks for the advice! I have registered him to take the test again in December. I will evaluate the scores before I send them. I also purchased a The Princeton Review Book and will have him practice some math before the test. I plan to ask each school he applies to about super scoring and how it is done. If anyone has further insight on super scoring, please let me know.

    I agree with 2kidsnoanswers about an AO not been able to ignore all scores if presented with them. I have no idea if they only see the super score or not. He did really well on the Verbal and Reading on the Nov. test, and I am worried that those scores will go down.

    As to Exeter's approach to math, my son current school sent teachers to Exeter, and they are now teaching math in a similar way. His current class is a problem-based, student-centered study of core topics in algebra and geometry(though geometry isn't introduced until January) where students are active participants in their own learning as they complete a packet of problems (no book). They call his class Mathematics 1, and if he stays where he is he will take Mathematics 2 next year. By junior year he would be ready for a traditional pre-calculus class. I don't fully understand it yet, and he is still adjusting to the new teaching style. I still think part of his SSAT math score was due to not having geometry yet, but who knows. I definitely plan on talking to the schools he applies to about his current math program. Since Geometry is taught over 2 years as is algebra it will be interesting to see how he is placed when and if he transfers.
This discussion has been closed.