FAQ on the Snapshot

For whom is The Snapshot designed?

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 skills they deemed important when considering applications: intellectual engagement, teamwork, initiative, 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 $35. If your student will not take the SSAT, simply create parent and student accounts on ssat.org to access The Snapshot. You will be prompted during the registration process to provide the $35 payment.


Fee waivers are available from participating schools for students who require financial assistance to take The Snapshot and are not registered to take the SSAT.

Is my student required to take The Snapshot for admission?

Hundreds of schools use The Character Skills Snapshot. 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 schools require The Snapshot, remember that one of the reasons you’re seeking to enroll your student 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 student contains much more than grades and test scores. That’s why they are asking your student to take The Character Skills Snapshot as part of the application. It will give them richer holistic information and show them areas where their communities can help your student grow. 

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

Admission teams use the information provided from The Character Skills Snapshot to complement other information required as a part of the application process, including admission test scores, interviews, grades, letters of recommendation, and other information. It is simply one piece of the student’s larger overall application. As with other facets of your application, Snapshot results will be used differently by each school according to their admission process. If you are curious as to how a particular school will use Snapshot results, we suggest you contact the school directly and inquire.

Where does my student take The Snapshot?

Students may take The Snapshot at home, or any location with an internet connection with which you are comfortable. It is not available on mobile devices, and is not given at schools. 

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

If your child will take the SSAT, register for that first. Then follow these directions. 

If your child will not take the SSAT, follow these directions.

NOTE: Parents/guardians must create accounts for both themselves and their students. The Snapshot may only be taken through the student's SSAT account; it cannot be accessed through the parent account.

Can I apply for accommodations for my student 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 about accommodations and The Snapshot.

What if my student cannot access The Snapshot?

Log in to your parent/guardian SSAT account and click on the "Manage Accounts" tab to make sure your student has a username and password in his/her profile. Your student cannot access The Snapshot if s/he does not have a username and password.

NOTE: Parents/guardians must create accounts for both themselves and their students. The Snapshot may only be taken through the student SSAT account; it cannot be accessed through the parent account.

How many times can my student take The Snapshot?

Students may take The Character Skills Snapshot one time per testing year (August 1 - July 31).The Character Skills Snapshot is intended to capture a snapshot of the student at the moment when they apply and the results are valid for one year.

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).

How are Snapshot questions analyzed?

Forced-Choice Questions
Each forced-choice question includes three statements (e.g., "I work hard" might be one), and no two statements within the same question measure the same Snapshot skill. For analysis, the responses are coded as either 1, 2, or 3 (from most like me to least like me). Since there are three possible comparisons to make in each forced-choice question, there are three new variables that describe the ranking of each statement, relative to another in the question (e.g., statement 1 is ranked as more like me than statement 2). A single statement is involved in two comparisons, which means two of these new variables will capture information about each skill. Once this is complete, each Snapshot skill is defined using the variables that inform it, and we utilize additional parameters to ensure the model is stable. These data are analyzed using a set of statistical models based on L. L. Thurstone's Law of Comparative Judgment.

Situational Judgment Questions
Admission staff and teachers from across the country rated the situational judgment items in the same manner as the students (i.e., rate the appropriateness of each possible response to the scenario presented). Student response analysis on the situational judgment questions reflects the extent of alignment with the median of those ratings. In other words, the situational judgment results describe how well a student is able to gauge the appropriateness of particular behaviors, with appropriateness set by the experts (who are, in this case, admission staff and teachers)

Please note that it is possible for a child to be in one category for all character skills.

When are reports issued?

September 14 is the first results release date for 2018-19. Following that date, reports are delivered within two weeks of completion of The Snapshot. Reports are delivered online to parent/guardian SSAT accounts.

What does a Snapshot report look like?

The Snapshot report is very user friendly. View a sample report primer here.

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.  You may also sign up for one of the free webinars we provide.

What if I disagree with The Snapshot’s appraisal of my student’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 student's ability to develop a certain skill or skills. Also important to remember: students complete The Snapshot with answers that they feel best describe themselves, which may be quite different from how parents and teachers observations. Each skill measured will fall in its own space on the development spectrum, and will change over time as children grow, learn, and mature.

Your student’s Snapshot results will provide admission teams with a better idea of the skills with which s/he already identifies strongly, as well as those that a school's community can help build and nurture. 

Additionally, if you are using the Standard Application Online to apply to schools, you will be asked to complete a parent/guardian character perspective section that will allow you to provide narrative on your perception of your student's character skill development.

How do I send Snapshot results to schools?

Parents/guardians 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 once scores are released, following selection as a recipient by the parent, with the exception of Snapshots taken between July 30 and September 13, 2018, which are released on September 14. Snapshot reports are sent separately from SSAT scores.

pdfDownload a step-by-step tutorial on sending scores to schools

Can The Snapshot reports change over time?

Yes, a student’s Character Skills Snapshot results will change over time, as s/he grows and develops. However,The Character Skills Snapshot is meant to be taken only once per testing year, prior to admission to a school.