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Parent Support

Work together

Parents can help by going over test-taking strategies with children and helping them practice. Buy The Official Guide to the SSAT a few months before your child takes the test, and consider also signing up for the new diagnostic online Practice Program. After giving your child a timed practice test, go over the wrong answers to help you both determine how best to apporach test preparation so that your child can do his/her best when taking the actual SSAT. 

Some tips to give your child:

  • Follow test directions exactly.

  • Read the WHOLE question before looking at the answer choices.

  • For reading comprehension sections: Scan the questions before you read the passage.

  • Answer the easy questions first; don't spend too much time on any one question. When skipping a question, remember to SKIP THAT ANSWER BUBBLE on the answer sheet.

  • Anticipate the answer when you read the question.

  • Read all the answer choices.

  • If your answer is one of the choices, bubble it in and move on.

  • For the Middle and Upper Level SSATs: If your answer is not one of the choices, cross out the answers you know are wrong; this will narrow your choices and make it more likely that you will pick the right one. If you cannot eliminate at least one (but preferably two) of the answer choices, leave the question blank. Each wrong answer deducts ¼ point from the score, so you're better leaving questions blank if you really have no idea. There are no penalties for unanswered questions.

  • For the Elementary Level SSAT: Encourage your child to try to answer every question, making his/her best guesses about the questions of which he/she is unsure. There are no penalties for wrong answers on the Elementary Level SSAT.

  • Be sure to mark your answers properly. The SSAT is graded by a computer, so stray marks on the answer sheet may count against you. Fill in the circle for your choice completely and try to stay within the circle outline.

Practicing Skills at Home 

Working hard in school and on homework is a child's best preparation for the SSAT. There are also a number of skills that you can easily incorporate into your home routine:

Reading

Be sure your child reads – a lot! When reading a book or watching a television show or a movie, ask your child to repeat the plot, the story's characters (including the main character), and the setting. Ask him/her to retell what happens in the beginning, middle, and end. After you read a book together, ask him/her questions about what happened.

Language Arts

Work on increasing your child's vocabulary by using and defining more difficult words in everyday speech. Use a dictionary to check definitions. Practice using antonyms and synonyms: games make it more fun! Encourage your child to learn the meanings of the Latin and Greek word roots; this will help them to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words.

Writing

The writing portion of the SSAT asks students to respond to a writing "prompt." This prompt is meant to structure their ideas. You may want to review basic punctuation, capitalization, and sentence structure.

Math

Rather than concentrating solely on computation, standardized math tests usually involve spatial skills, patterns, and sequencing. Create graphs based on family activities and practice reading them together. Practice time and money concepts.​ Use a pizza or a cake to demonstrate fractions and geometry.​

Preparing Your Child to Take the Test

  • Acknowledge test-taking anxiety as normal, but stay positive. Make sure your child is aware that although the SSAT is important, it is far from the only factor in the admission decision. Keeping your perspective will help them keep theirs.

  • Encourage your child to think positive thoughts like "I can do this!"

  • Give compliments for effort: "I'm proud of how hard you have studied."

  • Go over test-taking tips with your child.

  • Adequate rest makes a difference! Make sure your child goes to bed at a reasonable time; being active earlier in the day (not right before bed) can help kids get to sleep.

  • Nutrition also influences how well children do on test; a good breakfast is important, but a large meal right before the test can be distracting.

  • Your child should wear comfortable clothing for long test-taking periods.

  • Help your child learn how to relax. Some find it helps to take a few deep breaths before starting the test; others like to imagine a peaceful place like the beach or park.