Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
What Is a Good SSAT Score?
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
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.
|Level||Minimum score by section||Maximum score by section||Total 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