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What is The Character Skills Snapshot?

While a child’s personality and character have always been important to the independent school admission process, there has not yet been a tool that could measure the character skills a student is developing.

Quote from Tom Sheppard at Lawrenceville School

The Snapshot is meant to provide a snapshot in time of your child's view of their character skills - it is not a fixed, absolute measure. What are the eight skills it measures?  Click here to find out more.

The Character Skills Snapshot is a new online assessment that provides schools with a more holistic view of your child.It measures your child’s character skill development and is meant to complement more traditional cognitive assessments, such as the SSAT. The Character Skills Snapshot gives admission teams richer holistic information and illuminates areas where their school can help your child grow, thrive, and shine.


How do I register my child for The Snapshot?

The registration process for The Snapshot is easy, but slightly different depending on whether or not your child will be taking the SSAT. For SSAT test takers, The Snapshot is included free of charge. Once you register for the SSAT, you will receive an email inviting you to take The Snapshot, and you will see a Snapshot button on the homepage of your student SSAT account. For students not taking the SSAT, the fee for The Snapshot is $25.00. If the school to which you are applying accepts The Snapshot, let them know you'll be taking it, and they'll email you a link to get you started. View step-by-step directions for the registration process here: SSAT testers / Non-testers. 

Watch the Video - All About The Character Skills Snapshot


Which Schools are Using The Snapshot?

Click here for a list of schools that are currently accepting The Snapshot in their admission process (as of 10.12.17). Some schools require it, while others suggest or recommend it. 


Brochure: Because Character Matters
Character Card:learn more about the 8 character skills and their definitions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is The Snapshot designed for?

The Snapshot is designed for students applying for admission to independent schools for grades 6 through 12.

What skills does The Snapshot measure?

The Snapshot was designed by test experts and independent school admission professionals to measure eight skills they deemed important when considering applications: intellectual curiosity, teamwork, initiative, responsibility, resilience, self-control, open-mindedness, and social awareness.

How long is The Snapshot?

The Snapshot takes approximately 20 minutes to complete online. It must be completed in one sitting.

How much does it cost?

For testers registered to take the SSAT, The Snapshot is free of charge. For those not registered to take the SSAT, the cost to take The Snapshot is $25. If your child will not be taking the SSAT, request that a participating school to which you are applying send you an invitation to take The Snapshot. Once you receive the invitation you will be prompted during the registraion process to provide the $25 payment.

Fee waivers will be available beginning October 30, 2017 from participating schools for students who require financial assistance to take The Snapshot and are not registered to take the SSAT.

Is my child required to take The Snapshot for admission?

Hundreds of schools have signed up to take part in The Character Skills Snapshot this year.  While some of those schools will require it for admission, others consider it optional. To determine how The Snapshot fits into a school's admission criteria, contact the school's admission office and inquire.

If you are curious about why some schools are requiring The Snapshot this year, remember that one of the reasons you’re seeking to enroll your child in an independent school is because you’re interested in an education that focuses on instilling character values and encouraging personal growth. Similarly, schools know that a complete picture of your child contains much more than grades and test scores. That’s why they are asking your child to take The Character Skills Snapshot as part of their application. It will give them richer holistic information about your child, and show them areas where their communities can help your child grow.

How are results of The Character Skills Snapshot used in admission?

Admission teams will use the information provided from The Character Skills Snapshot to complement other information required as a part of the application process, including SSAT test scores, interviews, grades, letters of recommendation, and other information. It is simply one piece of the student’s larger overall application.

Where does my child take The Snapshot?

Students may take The Snapshot at home, or any location with an internet connection. It is not available on mobile devices, and is not given at schools. Access to take The Snapshot began on September 25, 2017.

How do I register my child for and have them take The Snapshot?

If your child will take the SSAT, register for that before signing up to take The Snapshot. Then follow these directions.

If your child will not be taking the SSAT, tell the admission office at the school to which you are applying, and they will provide you with a link to take The Snapshot. Then follow these directions.

Can I apply for accommodations for my child before they take The Snapshot?

If you would normally apply for accommodations for your student when registering for the SSAT, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in order to receive more information.

What if my child cannot access The Snapshot?

Please log into your parent SSAT account and click on the "Manage Accounts" tab to make sure your child has a username and password in their profile. Your child cannot access The Snapshot if they do not have a user name and password.

How many times can my child take The Snapshot?

For this launch year, students may take The Character Skills Snapshot one time between September 25, 2017 and July 31, 2018.The Character Skills Snapshot is intended to capture a snapshot of the student at the moment when they apply, so students can take The Snapshot one time each admission cycle, as the results are valid for one testing year (August 1–July 31).

What kind of questions appear on The Snapshot?

There are two types of questions on The Snapshot. View sample questions here.

  • The first type (19 questions) presents three statements and asks students to select the statements that are most and least like them.
  • The second type (10 scenarios) presents students with a number of scenarios with four different responses to each. Students rate the appropriateness of each response on a four-point scale (from not appropriate to very appropriate).

What does a Snapshot report look like?

View a primer on the family Snapshot report here.

When are results reports issued?

In this initial offering year, test results will be gathered and analyzed from students taking The Snapshot between September 25 and December 10, 2017. Students taking The Snapshot during this timeframe will receive their reports on December 15. Thereafter, reports are delivered within two weeks of completion of The Snapshot.  Results reports will be delivered online to parent SSAT accounts.

How will I know what the results mean?

The Snapshot’s reports are quite user friendly and include information about how to read the results report. See a report primer here. You may sign up for one of the free webinars we provide, or contact us for additional information.

What if I disagree with The Snapshot’s appraisal of my child’s skills?

As The Snapshot is designed solely to measure skills at a very specific moment in time, realize that it is not meant to be a determinant of your child’s ability to develop a certain skill or skills. Children complete The Snapshot with answers that they feel best describe themselves, and each skill measured will fall in its own space on the development spectrum, and will change over time. Your child’s Snapshot results will provide admission teams with a better idea of the skills with which your child already identifies strongly, as well as those that their community can help build and nurture. 

Are the Character Skills Snapshot reports sent directly to schools?

Parents alone may choose to send their student’s Snapshot report to a school. Reports are sent in the same method as SSAT scores, using the online SSAT account. Schools will receive results in real time following selection as a recipient by the parent, with the exception of Snapshots taken between September 25 and December 10, 2017 (see question above).  Snapshot reports are sent separately from SSAT scores.

Can The Snapshot reports change over time?

Yes, a student’s Character Skills Snapshot report will change over time. However,The Character Skills Snapshot is meant to be taken only once per testing year, prior to admission to a school.