SSAT Practice Program or Test Innovators?

As summer is approaching rapidly (only 4 days left of school), I realize I need to get kiddo2 on an SSAT prep plan asap. He will be starting the application process this fall for admission as a 9th grader.

He took the SSAT in 6th grade and excelled in quantitative (in the 90s), scored low on the verbal sections (40s) and completely blanked on the written essay and only wrote one sentence (and only because the proctor illegally told him if he didn’t write anything down the entire test would be tossed).

He’s now spent a year at a much more academically rigorous school, and his reading, writing, and grammar skills have improved significantly, but I suspect he will still need to put a lot of work in to raise his verbal scores.

Thoughts on using either the SSAT prep course or the Test Innovators course? Any other suggestions for what he can work on over the summer?? Our goal is not to have him spend every waking hour working on SSAT prep this summer, but we’d love for him to come close to 80 for his overall score.

We went through the Princeton review prep book and my kids did practice tests from official SSAT prep book and do the online SSAT site prep and they scored high 90s (%) - they just worked on it when they had an hour here or there, it was not a huge time commitment but it definitely helped them get used to the question formats (and used to taking the test online this year). Good luck!

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I highly recommend Test Innovators. They have a few different plan options.

The SSAT Official Practice Tests are helpful too.

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I wonder if Test Innovators makes it seem like the SSAT is actually more difficult than it really is. My kid did a few practice math questions on Test Innovators, got plenty wrong and thought he had his work cut out for him. But then all he did was study about 40 minutes a day through regular SSAT prep for a couple of months and got high 90s on the actual SSAT.


Personally, I found the official SSAT much more helpful. Test Innovators Full Length paid test gave me percentiles that were quite off- and not in a good way. Based on Test Innovators, I should’ve scored much higher on the actual SSAT than I did.

Just my personal opinion, but I’m team SSAT Prep.

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The official online practice is useful as is the official work. Start there. The print book was the only with reliable percentile info. Pick up a couple of workbooks that teach analogies even if aimed at a younger kid. Very helpful. If his vocab needs development ISEE word lists are helpful, including middle level words. If he isn’t cracking it then I’d recommend a private tutor.

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Kiddo did one course @ Test Innovators @ 4 years ago - what was beneficial to us was having the group video courses. Now, after COVID this is not a novelty. If you are from an area where few students ever take the SSAT, it was helpful for our Kiddo to see that other students were also being “tormented” over the summer. Was it the content that helpful? Not really - but just seeing other kids online from around the country was more helpful than the content.

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I’m adding a few questions, specific to the computer based SSAT:

I know this seems like a ridiculous question, but is the writing sample done on the computer or is it still hand-written and then scanned and submitted?

Did anyone’s child find taking the SSAT at home to be difficult focus-wise? Ideally, I’d like to have kiddo2 take it at a testing center as he struggles with focus, but there is only one remotely close to us, and I can’t yet see if they even offer the SSAT.

  1. typed out on the computer

  2. it really depends. for me, i was fine since my house was quiet and i had a spot away from all distractions to do the test. for some though, it may be difficult to focus.

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It was typed out.

Focusing was absolutely horrible. I took the SSAT 3 times. I live in a big house that is not echoey, but visual distractions was an issue. It’s not easy with 2 screaming little sisters that I can hear from the basement. If they can take it at a center, I would certainly recommend that.

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I second @lilyesh. Take it at a testing site if possible. My experience went well, but I was lucky. Had anything gone wrong, I wouldn’t have done well.

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My son had higher scores on paper tests because it was easier to use the test as scratch paper and it gave a boost to his reading comprehension. But ultimately he had to take it online home because of covid. I’d book both if you can and maybe, maybe you will have a choice.

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The technical risk could be high for at-home SSAT test. Our first test was cancelled while waiting for proctor for " no proctor available". For the second time, during the essay section, the keyboard cannot type in p or h, the kid had to use capital letter for that. The worst yet to come: later the program warned the kid there were background program running so the test was terminated. After calling and online chat with their support and reboot computer, the test was resumed but the timer was not reset, we lost 10+ minutes for essay session. We still used the test results but since essay is not scored but is seen by schools, we do not really know how these impacted our application.

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the same thing happened to me as @ahala2000. I too lost 10 minutes for the same reason. We ran into many issues, and was 1 hour late to the test because the program wouldn’t work on mac. Luckily I love computers and have windows installed on my mac so after an hour on call with support we figured out that it wouldn’t work on mac.

The mac issue happened with me as well. I forgot that had happened. I wish there was a warning about that. My old windows laptop worked for me after I tried.

Yikes!! All of those stories sound so nerve-racking. Looks like I’ll be signing him up for the testing center!! While we do have a windows computer, its not the computer I envisioned kiddo using (too many distractions in that room), our internet is not super reliable and I am just not good with any sort of internet/computer malfunction situations. I also think kiddo2 will focus better in the testing center setting.

Interesting comparison about the computer based vs paper based test. I think kiddo’s essay will go 10x better on a computer, but I hadn’t thought about the advantage of being able to write on the test paper.

The SSAT works on macs. My son was able to take it twice. First time with no problem. But there was a fluke last year and it didn’t work when the peak-taking-SSAT-times coincided with a Mac upgrade. He switched to a different Mac we hadn’t upgraded yet and it worked fine.

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