Prepare for the SSAT

Admission tests are a required step for entering many independent schools all around the world. Independent schools use the SSAT to determine whether students are qualified for admittance school. Often, a great deal of pressure is put on students to do well on the SSAT. There are steps that can be taken to ensure you're adequately prepared.

Mark the date of the test on your calendar as soon as you register. You likely know well in advance that you need to take the SSAT and can register for it quite early. As soon as you register for it, mark your calendar or agenda so that you can plan out how much time you need to give yourself to prepare.

Decide how much time you will spend studying and preparing. Based on how much time you have until the SSAT, decide how much time you are going to give yourself to prepare. Think of your schedule leading up to the test: Will there be any holidays? Does your family have any trips planned? What will your school schedule be like? Choose an amount of study time that can accommodate your schedule. 

Determine how much time you want to study each day. The SSAT is important, and you do want to spend enough time studying. However, you have other obligations and events going on in your life as well. Decide how much time you can realistically spend studying.

Plan out how you want to review.  It might be most beneficial to focus on the topics or subjects with which you struggle most. Have confidence in your strengths and focus on your weak areas to review and improve for the exam. The Practice Program is a great way to assess your strengths and weaknesses.

Figure out which topic and/or subject you plan to study each day. Go through your calendar and mark every day with what you plan to study. Planning it out will save you from wasting time trying to decide what to study.

Find a calm, quiet space to study. Studies show that your study environment should work for you, so choose somewhere that you will be able to focus and avoid distractions. Study environments are highly indivdual.

Consider buying The Official Guide to the SSAT. While this is not necessary, having a test preparation book specifically for the SSAT can help to familiarize you with what types of questions are asked, how they are worded, and what exam scorers are looking for in answers. It will also help you to focus the topics you should study. Also consider signing up for the new Practice Program.

Tailor your study habits to the type of learner that you are. Tailor your study habits to fit that so that you learn best.
  • For visual learning, try re-writing your notes or turning your notes into charts, graphs, or maps. You can also turn your notes in semantic maps instead of traditional outline notes.
  • If you are an auditory learner, it might help you to read or repeat your study material out loud. Participating in study groups with other people who are preparing for the SSAT could also help, due to opportunities for discussion about study topics with others.
  • For kinesthetic learning, find a way to incorporate movement into your studying. For example, you could sit on a stability ball so you can gently bounce, or you can read over your notes or textbooks while you walk on a treadmill. 

Set a timer. No matter what type of learner you are, it is important to take breaks and not to overdo your studying. Stress can actually cause you to not store new information and make you unresponsive to learning and reviewing, so be sure to give yourself breaks. 

Take practice exams. One of the best ways to help you prepare for the exam is to take practice versions of it. This has many benefits:

  • You will become familiar with the SSAT question wording and style.
  • You will be able to hone how much time it takes you to answer questions. Be sure to time yourself while taking the practice SSAT according to the amount of time you will have when taking the real SSAT.
  • You will be able to narrow what kind of information might show up.
  • You will have a control against which you can measure your progress as you continue to study and prepare.

Think positively. As the SSAT gets closer, think positively about the outcome. Thinking positively will motivate and energize you to do your best.

Create strategies for overcoming obstacles during testing. While you are studying, take the time to anticipate what obstacles you might encounter when taking the actual test. A helpful tool for doing this will be the practice tests: Notice which questions trip you up the most. Then, come up with strategies for handling those minor issues while you take the SSAT.

Relax and take good care of yourself. Practice calming routines, get plenty of rest, and eat healthy foods.