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    What Is a Good SSAT Score?

    Cece Gilmore By Cece Gilmore
    Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    Reviewed by Cari Shultz
    Cari Shultz

    Cari Schultz is an Educational Review Board Advisor at Scholarships360, where she reviews content featured on the site. For over 20 years, Cari has worked in college admissions (Baldwin Wallace University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky) and as a college counselor (Columbus School for Girls).

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    Edited by Maria Geiger
    Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: February 27th, 2024
    Students hug and wonder,

    The Secondary Schools Admissions Test (SSAT) is an entrance exam for private middle and high schools. If you’re looking into the SSAT, you might be asking, “What exactly is a good SSAT score?” Keep reading to learn about each of the sections, penalties for wrong answers, and percentile ranking. We’ll also go over the other testing options to gain admittance to the private school you hope to attend. 

    SSAT test format

    The SSAT aims to measure the levels in mathematics, verbal and reading skills in children. It is designed to prepare students for the rigor of private school. 

    The SSAT has three levels:

    • Elementary level – for students currently in grades 3 through 4 
    • Middle level – for students currently in grades 5 through 7 
    • Upper level – for students currently in grades 8 through 11 

    See: How to prepare for the SSAT test

    A preface about what a “good score” is for the SSAT

    Before reading more about what a good SSAT score is, just remember that there is truly no “good score”. Rather, scores are dependent upon the private school you are looking to attend. 

    Meaning, some schools require higher SSAT scores than others. In addition, it is not solely the SSAT score that is used to determine whether a student gains admittance to a particular private middle or high school. Rather, some schools weigh the student’s GPA, extracurricular activities, and volunteer propositions over their test scores.

    So, be sure to do your research and figure out what score is a “good score” for the school you are looking to attend! 

    SSAT scoring by level

    Each level (elementary, middle, or upper) is scored on a different scale. 

    LevelMinimum score by sectionMaximum score by sectionTotal minimum score (3 sections added together)Total maximum score (3 sections added together) 

    SSAT score breakdown

    The SSAT score is broken down into three scored sections. These include the following: 

    • SSAT verbal section
    • SSAT quantitative math section
    • SSAT reading section

    Therefore, when receiving a SSAT score report, there will technically be four sets of scaled scores which include: 

    • SSAT verbal test score
    • SSAT quantitative math test score
    • SSAT reading test score
    • A total SSAT score (verbal + quantitative + reading scores combined) 

    In additions there are two unscored sections which include:

    • SSAT writing essay question
    • SSAT experimental questions section

    Wrong answer penalty

    The SSAT is formatted in a way in which answering a question incorrectly will give a penalty. Test-takers will:

    • Receive 1 point for every correct answer
    • Neither lose nor gain points if they leave an answer blank
    • Be penalized a ¼ of a point if they answer the question wrong 

    SSAT percentile ranking

    The scaled scores appear on a typical SSAT score report along with a percentile ranking. Test-takers will receive a percentile ranking for the following: 

    • SSAT verbal section
    • SSAT quantitative math section
    • SSAT reading 

    The SSAT percentile indicates the percentage of first time students of the same grade and gender who have taken the SSAT on a standard test date in the past three years. Therefore, every individual who takes the exam receives a unique percentile score. 

    The SSAT percentile ranking compares test-takers to other students who have taken the SSAT. It is not the percent of questions answered correctly. 

    So, what is a good SSAT score? 

    A good way to judge how “good” your SSAT score is if you score above the 50th percentile on any SSAT section. This means you are scoring higher than the median. 

    Most private schools want to see SSAT scores that are above the 50th percentile. Remember,  if you do not reach this score, do not fret. The SSAT score is not the only thing considered in the admissions process.

    Sometimes students are more comfortable testing (and therefore score higher!) with a different standardized test. For example, some students score higher on the ACT than the SAT for college admissions. The other major admissions test for private schools is the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE).  

    There are a number of well-known differences in the two tests. For starters, the SSAT is less focused on math reasoning than the ISEE. While both the ISEE and SSAT test for reading comprehension and analysis, the ISEE has fewer genres and tends to have longer reading sections. Maybe sentence completion is your thing? If so, the ISEE might be a better option. Learn more about which test fits your particular abilities by reading SSAT vs. ISEE: What You Need to Know

    Related: What is a Montessori school?

    Do your homework

    Prior to taking the SSAT, you can reach out to your desired school to ask what the average SSAT score is of successful applicants. This can give you a better idea of what range you should be achieving. 

    At the end of the day, just make sure you have a good study plan that you are following. This will allow you to crush any goals you may have and cause your SSAT score to be considered better than a “good score.”

    Also see: All about charter schools

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • The SSAT is an entrance exam for private middle and high schools
    • A good SSAT score is a score above the 50th percentile
    • The SSAT penalizes wrong answers but not unanswered questions, therefore you should skip a question if you are unsure! 
    • If your SSAT score is what you hoped for, there is no need to worry as most private schools will look at other factors in addition to your SSAT score to determine entrance to their school

    Frequently asked questions about a good SSAT score

    Is the SSAT test hard?

    The SSAT is designed to be harder than a typical school exam. In fact, most students will encounter several problems on the SSAT that are too difficult to solve. Therefore, it is important to remember the wrong answer penalty that is associated with the SSAT. You should use your best judgment when selecting questions to skip or answer in order to receive a good score on the SSAT.

    What is the difference between the SSAT and the SAT?

    The SSAT can be easily confused with the SAT as they have a very similar name. The SSAT is an entrance exam used for students to enter private middle or high school. The SAT is an entrance exam used to help students enter colleges and universities. Therefore, the main difference is what population is taking the exam!.

    What is the lowest score you can get on the SSAT?

    • The lowest overall score you can get on the elementary level SSAT is 900
    • The lowest overall score you can get on the middle level SSAT is 1320
    • The lowest overall score you can get on the upper level SSAT is 1500

    What is the highest score you can get on the SSAT?

    • The highest overall score you can get on the elementary level SSAT is 1800
    • The highest overall score you can get on the middle level SSAT is 2130
    • The highest overall score you can get on the upper level SSAT is 2400

    Related: What is a Montessori school?

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