The SSAT is a Worse Test than The SAT/ACT - BY FAR!

It seems there are very strong opinions on CC about the SAT and ACT, but the SSAT is much less fair.

If people wish to discuss, let’s share real examples regarding sign up, service, unfair tests, scoring discrepancies, school misinterpretation of results and more.

Let’s start by saying EMA/SSAT benefits by not having enough people take it, so does not get challenged like it should be.

I’ve worked with a few kids on the SSAT and it didn’t seem too onerous to me. I don’t know much about the process in which students need to register, etc…and maybe the bureaucracy of it is a pain.

It’s not less fair than the SAT or ACT. There’s so much more riding on those tests, )or there has been, until recently.) Namely, for a lot of students taking the SAT or ACT, the difference can be counted in $ and can affect their chances of actually affording college. The SSAT is for kids whose parents are wealthy. Yes, some scholarship students will take it too, but public education is free for everyone until they finish high school. It’s not like a child needs to attend a private school in order to get a high school education.

Every kid taking this is trying to get into private school. So by definition, that limits the pool of students taking it. These are students who already have many advantages in life so it’s very difficult to agree with your claims in this post. I would like to know more about why you think it needs to be challenged and what you think isn’t fair about it.


I didn’t think sign up for ssat was difficult or overly bureaucratic. Granted my kids’ schools sign them up for sat/act for them. My kids are not great test takers but I think they did better on the ssat than the sat. I don’t see how it’s more unfair :woman_shrugging:

Son took the SSAT in 8th grade when he was considering private school (he decided against it in the end) but I didn’t see any significant difference between signing him up for that and signing up my older kid for the PSAT/SAT. Kids taking the SSAT are a self-selecting group - usually very strong students, often from upper middle class/wealthy background - so I don’t really see the issue. Only 70,000 kids take the SSAT each year as opposed to 2 million taking the SAT.

Perhaps it could be seen as a gateway for middle/lower income families applying for said private schools, back when it was obligatory? Of course there might be waivers, but no one is taking into account the money spent travelling to and from test centres (which in rare cases such as mine could be in a different country), along with the fact that some parents may not be able to take off work…however it is fair to say that the majority of people taking the SSAT can afford it, so it’s less of a problem I suppose. Just thinking, not making any judgments.

Point 1-
There are not enough tests for students in many areas, so they offer an online option that requires $200+ before you know the times the test is available. Use it or lose it.

Point 2 -
If a student is fortunate enough to be in region that offers flex testing, a person can pay more money and take the test in a more intimate setting, with comfortable chairs and a friendly proctor.

What does this mean? Are other kids taking the tests in uncomfortable chairs with mean proctors? Or are you saying kids can pay more money and get some fringe benefits ala Varsity Blues? If you’re making veiled allusions, please don’t, and speak freely.

if someone lives in the right area, can afford to pay extra, and makes the choice to do so - they can buy their child an improved test environment - comfortable chairs and friendly proctor are a couple of examples of those improvements - and there are many others compared to the alternative of heading to a random school. I am not implying varsity blues-like anything.

The SSAT normalized curve is much tougher than for normal standardized tests or even college entrance tests. Ssat is only students trying to apply to private schools. Other tests norm against all public or all Catholic students.

My kids take the ERB standardized test at their K-8 private school. In one column is the happy news that kid is 90% percentile compared to all children Public and private in his range. Second column is normed against private independent school test takers, where percentile falls to 70%.

Ssat norms against last three years of student scores. I’m not sure the scores were adjusted for pandemic loss of learning.

I’m not sure why you think the SSAT is so horrible. But it is tougher and rather expensive.

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Point 3-
Over the years, there have been issues with the scoring on kids’ tests, but if you pay more money, they will check to make sure “your test” was scored correctly. If you do not pay more money, they will not answer any questions regarding a potential discrepancy.

Don’t believe everything you read.

DD took it at home. A wood chair and a wood desk, 1 bottle of water. That’s it. We also had issues connecting which caused some anxiety. Talked to tech help line for 20 minutes. We might have been late by like 10 minutes. It was not pretty.

It worked out okay, but I don’t think there is advantage over taking it in a test center.

Hang on, where did you find that?

I’ve always preferred the SAT to the SSAT (I took the former ~4 months ago, and the latter in October 2018) because it doesn’t have that pesky verbal section. Even though standardized testing in general is unfair, the SSAT verbal section is a particularly egregious example as it doesn’t really even test any skills, just the amount of time/money one spends on memorizing as many useless words as possible.

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If fewer students take the tests because of limited market, test optional policies, the pandemic, or all of the above, how can we not expect the tests would be more expensive? The same would happen to SAT/ACT as more students opt not to take the tests. It’s just simple economics.

We also took SSAT at home, but I think the OP is taking about the “flex test” where you can go to an educational consultant and take the test alone in a plush office setting for a high fee. You can do this only once per year.

Our home test had a technical issue where my son sat in his chair on camera for 2.5 hours before the test started, unable to move out of the screen view or it would be canceled. He finished around 11:30PM and felt the last section was hard because he was exhausted. That wouldn’t happen at a flex test, so to that point I agree.

OP, don’t worry if you receive a lower score on SSAT than PSAT/SAT. In our school area, ALL kids take the PSAT and SAT in school. The school signs them up and makes them take it. Some kids just out their heads on their desk and sleep. Can you imagine the difference in the percentile scoring between that group and the SSAT kids applying to places like Exeter?

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Actually, @Lindagaf , many kids who desperately need to get out of their public districts and need FA to enroll in a private school will take the SSAT. The characterization of it as a rich kids test isn’t quite right.

But beyond that, it’s a very similar test. One of the biggest differences is in percentiles. Overall, it is a more selective group who take this test, so kids who have taken the PSAT or even SAT and been in a high percentile are often disappointed to see where they stack up compared to the other DSAT takers.


it is a fact. Call them and ask.

Good observation IMO.

Who was your economics teacher? My point was that the tests allows people willing to spend more (not even touching test prep) to gain advantages. Nothing to do with econ.