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SSAT Test Prep

Athletes spend their youth building their bodies to compete at the highest level. Musicians sacrifice recreation for dedication to their craft. Younger students who have big dreams plant the seeds of success in perseverance and preparation.

One of the earliest introductions to standardized tests is the SSAT. Confidence around this exam prepares students for the high-stakes tests right around the corner. Early victories are vital components in academic development.

Our mission embraces all levels of learning—that means students who apply to independent or boarding schools will receive structure in the development of critical study skills, vocabulary building, math mastery, and reading comprehension. This is test prep turned life prep.

The Top Score SSAT Prep Process



The SSAT requires mastery of the fundamental skills from previous years of schooling. Tutors efficiently capitalize on students’ content strengths while identifying and filling content gaps.



Tutors guide students in recognizing exactly how those fundamental skills are presented and tested, pushing them to master the SSAT inside and out.



Content mastery requires masterful execution. Students will apply their skills in official exams using mindful time management, educated guessing, and more test-specific strategies.


Calculating Confidence

Top Score tutors take SSAT math prep past formula and reference sheets. Students will identify and strengthen weaknesses in algebra, geometry, number concepts and operations, all while executing those skills in real test questions. Top score students build conviction in math by bridging content with analytical, quantitative reasoning; mastering this section will require a mental rewiring: approaching problems with calculated confidence.


Language shapes the context and form of ideas, and ideas shape the world. Students’ ability to not only analyze and assess ideas they encounter, but articulate ideas of their own, will arm them in navigating their personal and professional lives. The pen really is mightier than the sword.


Language exists at multiple levels of analysis, with words being the building blocks of its foundation. The SSAT Verbal section, through its Synonyms and Analogies questions, tests for students’ sharpened understanding of words and their relationships. Top Score students will build their linguistic power by dissecting words and their parts (prefixes, suffixes, roots) to crush Synonyms questions, and deciphering word relationships to conquer Analogies questions.


As words converge, sentences form. As sentences synergize, paragraphs and passages - all circling around a centralized meaning - are created. Top Score tutors train students to navigate SSAT Reading passages in search of that meaning, all while actively engaging the text for important details, hidden inferences, and literary devices.


Independent and private schools understand that test scores don’t define a student’s intellectual potential. Tools like the SSAT’s Writing Sample give students a chance to tell their story and articulate their passions. Top Score students will reflect on their personal experiences that will add evidence to their writing samples, while demonstrating dexterity in clearly organizing those ideas.


The Middle Level test is for students in 5th-7th grade, while the Upper Level test is for students in 8th-11th grade. Most of our students are applying to private high schools, meaning they take the Upper Level SSAT.

Virtually all area schools accept the SSAT, and most take the ISEE. Historically, we have had an overwhelmingly larger demand for SSAT than ISEE, which is why our expertise is in the SSAT.

Paper-Based: Our standard program (and the strategies that support it) focuses on taking the paper-based exam, which is usually offered 5-6 times a year between September and April. All of our students take the paper-based test unless there are extenuating circumstances that make it difficult to take the paper-based test.

Computer-Based: The computer and paper-based exams are identical in content/format with slight logistical differences (e.g., SSAT computer scores are released much faster than paper-based scores). A student can only take three computer-based exams annually (at home or a test center). That does NOT mean three at-home AND 3 at a test center, but a TOTAL of 3 between at-home and at a test center.

Our standard SSAT program is 12 90-minute lessons built around 2 official SSAT exam attempts.

We target 7 lessons before the first test attempt and 5 before the second test attempt. We schedule classes weekly or biweekly, depending on student availability.

Your student’s SSAT tutor will assign 2-4 hours of homework each week with consideration to and around their weekly school workload. Students are expected to upload homework results and self-evaluations to keep the tutor in the loop in real-time AND, more importantly, to build their own recognition of and agency towards overcoming their weaknesses.

Each individual student receives a customized calendar. Most students benefit from at least 3 months of 8th grade math, not to mention a little maturity and development, so we have many students who take their first test in October or November.

Below are a few common schedules 

Standard: Start in June/July, test in October/December

Early Start: Start in May, test in August (FLEX) and October (national date)

Late Start: Start October, test in November/January

Non-Graded Essay: Students must choose between creative or expository prompts. 25 minutes. Although the essay is not part of the overall SSAT score, it is still sent to private schools and contributes to the overall application.

Math: Divided into two parts for a total of 50 questions in 60 minutes (25 questions in the first 30 minutes, 25 questions in the second 30 minutes). The first section will appear after the essay, and the second will appear after the Verbal.

No calculators are allowed. Tests through geometry include statistics (mean/median/mode) and probability. 

Because the SSAT is a single test taken by students in a wide range of grade levels (8th-11th graders take Upper Level and 5th-7th graders take Middle Level), a student’s score is scaled/curved to their grade level. 

Although the math section covers content most students have been exposed to by 8th grade, most 8th graders will not do as well as most 11th graders in this section. 

Reading: 40 questions in 40 minutes. 7-8 passages that are either literary (fiction/poetry) or expository (science, humanities, history).

Verbal: 60 questions in 30 minutes. Half of the questions are synonyms, and half are analogies.

Non-Graded Experimental Section: 16 questions in 15 minutes. This includes math, reading, and verbal questions. This section is not scored. It is simply a way for the test makers to try out new questions they might add to future tests.

Students with time accommodations (1.5X) do not take the experimental section.

Students receive 1 point for every correct answer, a ¼ point deduction for incorrect answers, and 0 points for omitted answers, meaning there is a guessing penalty. In addition, each section’s raw score (for math, reading, and verbal) is converted into a scaled score out of 800, meaning a student’s final score will be out of 2400 for Upper Level students.

Learning is

In-home and 1:1 learning structures with remote tutoring options.

Proven and motivational career tutors who serve as advocates.

Long term support at every step of the student journey.

Transparency with no hidden or extra fees since partnership extends beyond an hourly rate.