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At what point are schools fine with SSAT scores?

TheHappinessFundTheHappinessFund 74 replies7 threads Junior Member
I've heard from a bunch of people on this site that at a certain point, schools will be fine with a certain SSAT score and focus on other parts of your application. Is there a general consensus on what this percentile/score is? It probably varies by school, too. What's the point that a tippy-top school like Exeter will be okay with the score? Where's that score for a less well known (but still very selective) school like Peddie or Concord?
I've spent quite a while on Boarding School Review, and I've seen the "Average Percentile SSAT" numbers on the site. Are those a good indicator of the minimum requirement for the SSAT?
I'll appreciate any info anyone can give me on this issue. Thank you!
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Replies to: At what point are schools fine with SSAT scores?

  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5855 replies10 threads Senior Member
    ^Yes, I think that the average or above is fine. The schools don't select students because of their SSAT scores, but use them as a means of determining if a student will be able to do the work. Some AOs have said that they feel they could pick successful students without seeing SSAT scores at all! So if yours seem in the ballpark for the schools you are considering, don't give them another moment's thought!
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  • BordDuLacBordDuLac 42 replies5 threads Junior Member
    At a fall boarding school admissions fair, we overheard an assistant admissions officer for one of the following (SPS, Deerfield, Choate, Hotchkiss) tell a family "anything in the 80s or 90s is fine". For these schools, the SSAT average is pretty consistent over time, and one gets the inkling that kids with hooks may score below the average and for those without a strong hook (but still have a compelling application), best to be in the 80s and above for highly selective schools.
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  • TheHappinessFundTheHappinessFund 74 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thank you so much! Hope you're right!
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  • vegas1vegas1 573 replies2 threads Member
    As a much younger and naive mom, our second child was applying to PEA where her brother was a current student. We had developed a relationship with our admissions officer through our sons admission process & our son had spoken at a few events in our hometown on his experience at PEA at this AO’s request. I mentioned to the AO that our daughter would be retaking the SSAT as her score was only a 93 (a few points lower then her brothers) and he was very direct that those few points were not important and not to bother retaking. Of course this doesn’t tell you the cutoff where score differences become meaningless. But I do think it is true that few points are not going to make the difference of admit or not once you pass the threshold.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3524 replies49 threads Senior Member
    I remember reading somewhere that an Andover admissions officer said that anything in the mid 80th percentile and above is fine. Anything above that they don't really pay much attention to.

    I'll see if I can find the link. I think it was an article in the Phillipian.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1489 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Anything above is fine, anything below the norm and think about retaking. As has been said many times, you/your child will get little boost for having perfect scores. It's the whole package they are looking at. I do think the top school averages are higher than 80, however.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 198 replies9 threads Junior Member
    I do think the top school averages are higher than 80, however.

    Agreed. Andover is around 93-94 (from what parent emails have said). Groton around 90, Lawrenceville more like 83. SPS publishes an average range (or some specific math term) of admitted students, mid 60%-mid 90%

    Some of it is google-able, not all. Of course those numbers mean that there is some wiggle room below.

    Also, above are from memory from when my kids were applying, I am sure they may have changed but I do think they indicate a general idea of scores.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1821 replies34 threads Senior Member
    An average is VERY different than a CUT OFF ...

    A higher or lower average is NOT an indicator of how strong an influence the SSAT score itself was on the admissions decision.

    All of the AOs I've spoken to have indicated that it is not worth wasting time trying to get a score above the 85th percentile because once that bar is reached or exceeded, the focus is on the rest of the application. Some have even bragged about the number of 98th and 99th percentile kids they reject each year.

    But y'all go ahead and keep obsessing about the need to get higher scores. I realize it is both easy and tempting to fixate on scores because it is so concrete and feels easier to improve (via test prep) than other, "squishier" and more subjective aspects of one's file.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 198 replies9 threads Junior Member
    CaliMex wrote: »
    Some have even bragged about the number of 98th and 99th percentile kids they reject each year.

    Yes, I have had this experience at both of my kids schools.

    Plus I know several kids with those "perfect" scores who got rejected. In the case of the kids I know personally they all had the high scores but average grades. I have heard from AOs that this is a combo they don't like as it indicates either a lack of intellectual curiosity or pure laziness. They want kids who do well and care about learning even when they don't HAVE to.

    I actually had a mom irate that her son was not admitted when mine was. She angrily told me that she had explained to the school that she didn't care about middle school grades. I tried to gently explain that I had never "cared" about middle school grades either but my son is internally driven to LEARN and that translates into good grades under a good teacher. I had seen her son use his phone app to do math homework many many times so I kind of got where the AOs were coming from. Mine would have fallen on his sword before, gasp, cheating at homework!
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  • mairlodimairlodi 54 replies4 threads Junior Member
    When my child looked at BS last year, I very specifically remember that at least a few schools said that they take the math SSAT score into account when determining math placement, in addition to the math placement test and the child’s prior math coursework. I didn’t specifically ask about this, so I don’t know whether many schools do this or most don’t, or even how much the score matters in placement, but at least a few schools said the math SSAT score is used after admissions that way.

    So if your math SSAT score is uncharacteristically lower than you expect, based on practice tests, even if your score is overall fine, you may want to think about whether you want to retake the test.

    As others have said, great SSAT scores are not going to be the thing that gets you in, or even tips you in. My child knows kids with 99th percentile SSAT scores who did not get accepted to BS, both competitive and not-so-competitive ones. And poor SSAT scores might keep you out (not will - might), even with an otherwise great application, because the school might worry about whether you can handle the academic workload if your SSAT scores are poor.

    So I’d recommend that instead of focusing on a particular score, do some reasonable amount of prep, and do the best you can do. Don’t kill yourself for SSAT prep when you could be spending the time in other ways, but don’t walk in cold with no idea of the format or types of questions on the test either (sounds obvious, but we know someone who did this, and misunderstood some of the instructions and bombed a whole section).
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