Preparing for the SSAT is not just about the SSAT…

The Secondary School Admission Test, or SSAT, is a test administered to students in grades 3-11, and is part of the application process for independent or private elementary, middle, and high schools worldwide. The first three testing dates are in October, November, and December, which means that these next few weeks are probably going to be very stressful for the students taking the second or third exam. Instead of thinking, “so much work for just one day”, it can be very motivating to think about the long-term benefits of SSAT preparation. The following points are five benefits that an SSAT test-taker is left with after the exam – regardless of test results!

Academic Skills

The SSAT test (all levels) includes four sections: Verbal, Quantitative (math), Reading Comprehension, and Writing. The writing sample is not scored but is taken into account in the admission process.

The Verbal Section of the test focuses on vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and the ability to link ideas logically. The Quantitative Section focuses on the ability to solve problems using mathematical concepts. The Reading Comprehension Section focuses on the ability to understand what you read, not just in terms of content, but also tone, audience, etc., as well as your ability to make inferences based on the text. The benefits of working on academic skills such as increasing one’s vocabulary, developing strong writing techniques, and implementing problem-solving strategies do not disappear as soon as the SSAT is taken. These skills prove to be incredibly useful for the rest of a student’s academic career.

Life Skills

In addition to academic skills, preparing for an exam such as the SSAT will help develop crucial life skills, in terms of both time management and strategies to cope with and manage stress and anxiety. An important part of preparing for the SSAT is making a study schedule (daily, weekly, or monthly), and sticking to it for the duration of the preparation period. Once this detailed long-term plan is made, it quickly becomes clear that following it requires diligence and perseverance. Of course sometimes students fall behind on their schedules, and certain things take longer than they anticipate, but in the process they learn to prioritize, re-schedule, and maximize time to their to the best of their abilities.

Time management, combined with a substantial amount of new information, possibly pressure about exam results can all cause a great deal of stress. Finding ways to reduce stress and anxiety, whether it is through sports, meditation, planning, as well as becoming aware of personal strengths, abilities and limits, is also a huge part of preparing for this exam.

Learning to Ask for Help

As important as it is to learn to work independently, it is equally important to learn to ask for help. Everyone is equipped with different skills, and while certain parts of the exam might seem easy, or at least seem to require straightforward answers, others might seem incredibly difficult and overwhelming. Being able to ask a teacher, parent, classmate, or tutor for help with something unfamiliar or uncomfortable is incredibly beneficial in the long term. Not only can it relieve a lot of stress, but it can also lead to learning about new strategies (for studying specific academic subjects but also for studying in general, or coping with stress, for example).


New Insight

Preparing for an exam that tests a variety of skills can give you great insight into your own abilities (what you’re good at, what you find challenging), your knowledge (what you already know, what you don’t know), your strengths (memorization, problem-solving skills, time management), and even your interests (creative writing, math, arguing a specific point through an essay, reading).


A Sense of Accomplishment

Just like at the end of any large project, once the SSAT test has been written, regardless of the mark you receive when your scores are revealed, making it through the preparation period and completing the exam is in itself an amazing achievement. Although at first you might simply be relieved that it’s over, you will soon feel a great sense of accomplishment at having completed the exam to the best of your abilities. Finally, perhaps from this point on, any upcoming large task, project, exam, or plan will be seen in a new light: instead of an impossible and unmanageable task, it will be seen as a new challenge.

For more information on SSAT preparation, contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at 416.925.1225 or visit us at


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