My 8th grade son attends a small private school that only offers Pre-Algebra and Algebra as math choices. He is taking Pre-Algebra, as math is neither his strongest nor his favorite subject. He is applying to two boarding schools for next year (not top tier) and at least one is test optional. I worry he will completely bomb the SSAT math portion if it contains mostly math he hasn’t covered. I’m starting to worry he won’t be accepted at the more competitive school, since it seems he is “behind” in math compared to his peers. Thoughts? His grammar/writing skills are above average.

Has he taken some SSAt practice math tests to see where he actually is. He can skip the questions he does not know. He has some time to focus on some skills. While it might not put him in the highest category, he can still get a strong score with the other sections. Kids enter BS from all different math levels. There are students repeating math in my daughters 9th grade class and others taking calculus. He is definitely not the only one even at the most competitive schools. I think the bigger concern is why are you applying to only two schools given the admit rates and competitive landscape? Additionally, just to really understand what is out there.

Thank you. That’s helpful. He wants an all boys school and we’d like him to stay in VA, so that drastically narrows choices. One is my brother’s alma mater and his first choice. If he doesn’t get in, he can stay at his day school. It’s really more about these particular schools, rather than just finding a boarding school. I will have him try a practice SSAT test.

Your son will be fine. As Sroo says, there are lots of different levels of math at boarding schools. If you’re looking for a good-fit school, the ones that are right for your son should allow him to go above and beyond in areas where he’s strong and also give him support in areas where he struggles. There are lots of different schools, and I agree that if the goal is going to boarding school, your list should have more than 2 schools.

It does. And then it is probably further narrowed if there are other preferences (military or religious).

However, I going to take the contrary view: 2 can be enough. Especially since your son isn’t applying to the usual schools mentioned here.

From August 8 to 21, I took the entirety of Algebra I on Khan Academy and ended with a 2370 overall SSAT (with 96th percentile in math). If he really wants to and is dedicated enough, I believe that he’ll be able to do well.