Study tips for and questions about the SSAT

My daughter just took an initial practice SSAT to get a baseline for where she needs to focus her time and it is clear that she needs more help with math. She only missed about eight questions on the Verbal and Reading Comprehension sections (each, not total), and the RC section it was just one passage that seemed to give her trouble, so I think she will focus most of her time on the math.

A couple of questions:

Does anyone have any tips for how to study for the quantitative sections of the test?

When a student gets their official score report, is their overall percentage and score based on their school grade at all? It would seem like 13-year-olds just starting 8th grade like my daughter shouldn’t be compared against 16- or 17-year-olds taking the same test, but I’m not sure if that’s how it works. For example, would my daughter get a higher percentile or score than a 10th grader that got the same number of questions correct? Or would they both have the same score and percentile?

Thanks for the help!

A caveat in that, as parents, we never received an “official” score report since there was an extra cost to have it sent. We simply referred to the SSAT website where the scores are posted. Having said that, the scores are reported as a total overall score (out of 2400); individual verbal, quantitative and reading scores (out of 800 each); percentile by grade (not age) for both total and individual sections; and, sometimes, percentile by grade gender. We had grade gender percentile reported for a computerized test but not for an in-person paper test. Interestingly, my DD2’s quant gender grade percentile was 4 points higher than her quant grade percentile whereas her verbal, reading and total were 1 point lower.

Your daughter is lucky; studying for the quant portion is much easier than studying for the verbal and reading. Math covers a specific set of topics that can be learned relatively quickly. I found the Kaplan, Princeton, etc, books all contained the relevant topic areas along with instruction and practice questions. We supplemented with online resources such as Khan Academy and some publicly available math worksheets that were not SSAT specific.

Sounds like she’s off to a really good start; I wish her the best of luck.

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Hi RoonilWazlib99- The study guide that you can purchase on the SSAT site for +/-$130 is GREAT! Tons of questions for all parts of the test. If your daughter commits to, say… 5-10 questions a day, she should be good to go. My kid was not that faithful to doing the practice questions daily, but she did do them and ended up with a stellar score.
Also, if you Google: SSAT PERCENTILE CONVERSION CHART FOR 8TH GRADE GIRLS/BOYS you will get the score percentages. This might help, too: UPPER LEVEL SSAT PERCENTILE RANKS CHART – 8TH GRADE GIRLS – TOP END - SSAT Master: Test Prep for the SSAT. Good luck!

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From what I remember, an SSAT score report shows your percentile among

a.) all test takers
b.) your gender
c.) your age group

As other posters noted, you’re very lucky to have math be the harder section; honestly, it’s just all about grinding out problems (vs. memorizing so many words for verbal). Good luck!

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I know the Amazon reviewers of SSAT study guides had some serious problems with the materials. We bought the official guides since too many people complained that outside materials mixed the upper and middle school exam questions!

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It’s been ages, but the score was for grade, and the percentiles were further broken down by gender. The results were expressed by peer group, not all test takers.

Agree that in general, it’s easier to fill in math gaps than reading ones, but it also will depend a bit on what math your D has been exposed to. She shouldn’t feel discouraged if her score doesn’t improve a lot if there is foundational material that she hasn’t seen yet.

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She took pre-algebra last year and will have just the start of Algebra this year before she tests, so I think there are likely some concepts she is just not familiar with yet.

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I second the vote for the SSAT guide and software as being all that you need. If the quantitative section is challenging, identify the sections that she can get comfortable with between now and taking the exam and focus there. If it’s a matter of learning an algebraic concept, Khan Academy and Art of Problem Solving videos can help fill the gaps. Just make sure that she has a guessing/incorrect strategy to the exam.

Last year, the SSAT did not breakout by gender. Your percentile is compared to other 8th graders who take the exam. So yes, your daughter’s score will be higher percentile-wise vs. a 10th grader who got the same score.

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Thanks, everyone! She is registered to take the test in November so plenty of time to study. I’ll have her look over the questions provided by the testing service and practice those.

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The official online test prep material and the official book are good quality. But she is going to have a hard time without a pretty decent understand of algebra. I’d have her work through the course in advance. A lot of test takers will have completed algebra and some will have finished geometry or higher level.

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I also had the most trouble with the quant section. I took it in Apr 2021 and got a 70-75ish percentile. I took it again in Oct 2021 and got an 80+ percentile score. One thing that helped me a lot was taking practice tests. I bought this book
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1732167702/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_image?ie=UTF8&psc=1
and to be honest I don’t know how useful it was. I remember when I was taking the actual test I saw some questions that were formatted the same way and required the same skills but very few (maybe 2 or 3 in the whole section).

I do think the official SSAT study guide is pretty helpful though. One thing that I really struggled with on the quant section (and math in general) is when a problem is presented in a format that I’m not familiar with. The official SSAT material helped a lot with this.

I would recommend taking a diagnostic test (which you already took) and looking at the questions you got wrong. Then, try to pinpoint what areas the problem targeted and just utilize your online resources (Khan Academy, YouTube, etc.) to learn them.

From what I remember, the test only covered Algebra 1, some Geometry material, and MAYBE Algebra 2. If it helps, when I took the test the first time I was taking Geometry at school and there were very few knowledge points that I had to learn from scratch. I would definitely recommend looking over Algebra 1 before you take the test.

I know a lot of people hire tutors to help them study for the test. It’s definitely not necessary but from my experience with tutors overall, they are very helpful in assisting you with test prep.

Hope this was useful! Good luck to your daughter!

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