How much weight do SSAT scores carry in the TO year?

I was just wondering if anyone has insight on this. I got a 2178 SSAT which is the 79th percentile. Some of the schools I’m applying to have averages in the 90+ range. I don’t test well on tests like these. My GPA is around a 4.0, and I take math 2 years ahead. An AO from Andover said not to worry about the SSAT, and that I should send it in. Are schools using the SSAT less this year? Has the significance of it gone down? I’m wondering whether schools this year are actually using the SSAT to validate a candidate’s academic ability.

Well, this year is test-optional, so the SSAT will either help you or not benefit you at all. Typically, SSATs are one of the first things the AOs will see, and I’ve heard that some schools immediately reject you if they don’t like your SSAT score. However, a 2178 should be fine as long as other stats are good. I’ve seen PLENTY of people with 99th percentiles get rejected so don’t worry : )

Submitting in a TO year should only help you. Your score is a lot higher than some acceptances at the most elite boarding schools. Remember, the test is not everything this year.

I attended a Test Innovator seminar in October in which there was a panel of independent school admission officers. The panel generally comments that a lot of parents have been thinking about this standardized tests for 1 - 2 years. Parents are motivated to push the kids for good scores and then send them. They do believe that the weight on the standardized test will be less this year, but the tests could still be a determining factor as they help to validate the other parts of the application.

In conclusion, the panel feels that it depends on the circumstances such as how many applicants, are there students with similar profiles but one with score while the other does not etc. If the SSAT is submitted, it will be used as part of the holistic assessment.

From the Deerfield Scroll, Nov. 2020:

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Charles Davis shares that admissions officers are having difficulty calibrating students based on the different sets of data without the standardized tests. Decisions between two different approaches to the selection process are still being made, briefly outlined by either separating students with and without test scores into different pools, or considering all candidates equally from the start and later evaluating further with the extra addition of test scores.

Davis explained, “The natural concern is that we are always prone to exercising our biases, and we want to cut those down and be as objective as possible, so if someone were to not submit their test, we need clarity on if the reason is because of their circumstance or because their scores weren’t good enough.”

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How could they know this?

This sounds not good. Applicants who submitted ssat scores logically have better than average scores. So a candidate in a normal year would be on average scores compared with all applicants, but be on the bottom in the group with test scores this year. It it unfair. I agree scores should either benefit an applicant or don’t have any impact at all this year. Hope AOs feel the same.

I can only say that for certain middle schools, and certain districts, in certain counties, it was not a problem to take the SSAT this year and BSs know this. At our kids’ middle school, if you didn’t submit the SSAT, it’s because you didn’t like your score - no ifs, ands, or buts.

This is not meant to be a generalization on the many reasons why kids across the country may not have submitted their SSAT, or were not able to take it.

Given that there are finite spots available, it seems to me that if a high SSAT benefits an applicant, a student with either lower scores or no submitted score would be disadvantaged. It’s a zero-sum game unless the schools increase the sizes of their classes, which is unlikely. Whenever someone gets in, there’s one less space available for another applicant.
If I were an AO, I would assume that anyone who could have taken the SSAT but did not submit one was less desirable than someone in the same area/school who did submit results (everything else equal), even if the submitted results were a little below average for the school.

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I submitted a 2178. Andover AO said it was a great score and would not be used against me. Do you think I made the right decision to submit it to Andover and Exeter?

Personally, I think it was the right decision, but I’m just a Dad of a prospective student. Good luck!

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Thinking of another applicant with straight A’s like you, but without SSAT scores. I don’t think your SSAT scores will hurt your aplication academically.

My son had eight SAT cancellations in a row. He was really rocking the test and it was crushing to finally walk away from it when he had so much invested in it. So we switched to SSAT late but had no problems getting a slot for test. The online test was annoying and a little glitchy but he got through it. His final score was lower than several practice tests. His next, Prometric test was canceled. But I was able to get a second slot for online testing without much of a problem. More familiar with software, did better.

We had several AO tell us they wanted the tests if we had them. And early in the year Exeter said they expected them, for all domestic students. And although all our schools went TO, only one school chose not to except test scores. They made him sit for a homemade test. I did not feel it was optional if you could take the test and if he hadn’t been to produce good enough test scores, we would have rethought our application choices. I just thought and think that because testing was widely available, they expected the scores, and that if you weren’t submitting scores it would be viewed as having a reason like lower than school average scores or lack of effort. Either way, one mom’s view for her kid.

Additionally, I’m a very well rounded applicant. Incredible recs, 4.0 GPA, 60+ hours community service, a lot of ECs, sports, great interviews as well. Do you think my SSAT would hurt me a lot?

In my opinion, your SSAT scores wouldn’t help your application. It wouldn’t hurt your application that much though, if they were required. Also, just as a comment, being a well-rounded applicant isn’t always the best… just food for thought.

For the schools in which the SSAT scores have been submitted, there will be no benefit overthinking the decision.

For the schools that SSAT scores that have not been submitted yet, I feel that for those who are applying “full pay” and live in good neighborhood, there maybe certain level of expectations from schools that the families would have the means to navigate through the on-line testing format of SSAT (or ISEE). If the scores are not submitted, the admission officers could possibly deduce that the scores are not that great unless there is other reasons given.

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I don’t understand this rationale. It says on the applications that not submitting the test will not hurt your chances at all, so not sure why they would make assumptions on lack of test submissions. I think there would have to be other markers in the application that give the committee pause about thinking that the student can handle the course and work load. They can’t just make assumptions that people who live in good neighborhoods should be able to ace the test.

The point is not about acing the test, it’s about the ability to navigate the technology and environment challenge to “complete” the online test. There is more expectation that some students Will have better resources to navigate through the online testing models than some other applicants (such as stable internet condition, quiet environment). If there are some students from the same neighborhood who can turn in the scores, While others don’t. A question may possibly arise For the ones missing the scores especially if the schools applied for are known for academic rigor. The truth is we wont know For sure Who is in the applicant pool.

I don’t agree, though, that it’s all about having internet and a quiet environment, or that unless you are unable to take the test, you are expected to take it.

I actually think that many schools have dabbled in the idea of going TO, and now is their chance to do it and see what happens.

I do think that if a school says that you won’t be penalized, then they have an obligation to consider the application without that data point and simply put more weight on the other date points. Trying to guess at the reasons why seems like a very slippery slope. (Also: exhausting. and nearly impossible to remove one’s own biases.)

On the other hand, there are some schools whose language is more: well we really prefer the test, but if you can’t do it, let us know why and we’ll let you off the hook. (As a side note, this kind of language is how some of the TO schools started out early in the process before going completely “test optional” later in the season.)

One other thing I’ll add is: for many applicants, the SSAT data point might not add new information. My DD3 (did not take SSATs) is a good test taker but not a stellar one. And she is a good student, but not the stellar OMG-years-ahead-in-math type of kid. SSATs would neither prove nor disprove the rest of her application if I had to guess. Amazing students who get high SSATs and have top recommendations and have interesting profiles and are great in the interviews and have rich essays – well they are just as dazzling with or without a test score I’m thinking.

I guess we will all know more soon!

Schools will definitely let some applicants in without SSAT scores submitted, but no one will know to what extent. It’s next to impossible to know who is in the candidate pool with similar background / skills sets / personality but one with SSAT scores submitted while the other without. It’s important to remain optimistic but at the same time being realistic.