What Makes SSAT the Toughest Admissions Test?

SSAT logo2The admissions process for private schools is highly competitive, requiring strong grades, good SSAT scores and more. Take a look at the caliber of questions asked on the SSAT for grades 5-7, and you’ll see how tough the test can be. More than the SAT or ACT taken in high school for college admissions, the SSAT requires students to demonstrate excellent reasoning skills as well as solid foundational reading, verbal and math skills.

The SSAT, or Secondary School Admissions Test, is one of two national tests used for admission to private schools like Westminster, Holy Innocents’, Galloway, Marist and many others. Despite the similar name, there is no connection between SSAT and SAT. The SSAT Middle Level is for students currently in grades 5-7, and an Upper Level for grades 8-11. The test is designed to measure the verbal, quantitative, and reading skills that students have developed over time, both in and out of school. It emphasizes the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential for academic success.

Below are examples of math and verbal questions on the SSAT Middle Level test for students in grades 5-7. See how well you can answer them! The correct answers are below. On the math section, students must do more thinking than calculating. In fact, calculators are not allowed for SSAT. The analogy questions in the verbal section require strong verbal reasoning skills in addition to vocabulary. Even straight-A students find the SSAT to be challenging. Plan to have your child take the SSAT two or three times.



Dogwood’s expert tutors work one-on-one with students to build key subject skills and deliver proven strategies for the best SSAT scores:

  • We identify each student’s needs, then customize each lesson to meet those individual needs.
  • We motivate students to strengthen their foundational math, reading, writing and vocabulary skills.
  • We provide effective strategies that students will use to answer difficult SSAT questions and manage testing time effectively.

All Dogwood tutors have a Master’s degree or above, as well as professional teaching experience. Their higher qualifications and teaching experience lead to more focused lessons, custom tailored for your student’s unique personality and learning style. With our help and guidance, students come to respect how their hard work will serve them well on the SSAT test and in school.

You may schedule SSAT Test Prep tutoring at the Dogwood learning center in Sandy Springs during the day or evening, including Saturdays and Sundays by appointment. Call 678-735-7555 to schedule a free SSAT practice test.

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Answers to math questions above: A, D, A.  Answers to analogies: C, D, B.  How did you score on this test for 5th, 6th and 7th graders?!

Summer ACT-SAT-SSAT Prep Is A Smart Way To Start

Vector sunset or sunrise icon. Vector sunset or sunrise icon. Sunset or sunrise logo design. Vector illustration.Why not start ACT, SAT or SSAT test prep this summer when students have their lightest workload all year? At Dogwood, we work with many rising juniors and seniors to prepare for ACT in September or SAT in August (a new date this year). We also help with SSAT for private school admissions, but more about this later. The ideal situation is to complete ACT-SAT testing before the college application process intensifies in 12th grade. There are two exceptions, described below, that call for testing later in 11th grade. For most students, however, it is practical and highly productive to prepare during the summer before junior year and take a test (or both tests, if desired) the recommended two or three times.  

What are the circumstances that should tell students to wait on starting ACT-SAT testing? For one, football players should wait until their season ends because they just don’t have enough time or energy to add test prep to their already demanding schedules. All students should try to schedule around their peak seasons so they don’t add test prep to an already full plate. For students who have conflicts all year long, try to start test prep early because procrastination is not your friend.

The other exception takes into consideration students with lower math skills. The math on both ACT and SAT is primarily algebra. If rising juniors struggle with basic math and plan to take Algebra II next year, they might want to wait until second semester to start ACT-SAT test prep. For students who will take pre-calculus or advanced math in junior year, there is no reason to delay test prep because there is no calculus on either ACT or SAT.

Take One of Each Test And Then Decide What To Do – A Bad Strategy

Some people think students should take the real SAT in August and real ACT in September so they can then decide which test to prepare for. We disagree. Why pay $50 per test and wait 4+ weeks for score reports that give you absolutely no detailed information? Come to Dogwood this summer and take ACT and/or SAT practice tests at no charge. Within a few days, you’ll receive a detailed score report that gives you much better information than the real ACT or SAT score reports provide. Our comprehensive diagnostic reports help you make informed decisions about which test is a better fit for your student and how professional test prep services can help improve the results. No cost, no obligation. Just reliable information you can use.

SSAT – Secondary School Admissions Test

Most Atlanta-area independent schools require the SSAT, a very challenging test that rewards good reasoning skills along with math, reading and verbal skills. Even the most talented students in grades 5-11 need tutoring help to achieve their best SSAT results. Because most private school admissions deadlines are around February, students should start SSAT prep in the summer. You should allow time for your student to take SSAT two or three times. We do not recommend taking the SSAT without proper preparation.   

Call Dogwood Tutoring and Test Prep today at 678-735-7555 to discuss your student’s needs and goals. We look forward to helping you navigate the complex maze of admissions testing.

Test Taking is a Lifelong Skill

ben-girl-studyingFirst, a true story. A mom was waiting for her eighth-grade daughter to finish her tutoring session for SSAT test prep (for private school admission). As we talked about the strategies and testing methods we teach, she explained how impossible it was for her to pass the medical board exam on her first attempt. So she decided to do some test prep, where she learned the same test-taking skills we’re teaching her daughter… and she passed the boards on her next try.

Some people may think the benefits of test prep just evaporate after test day. In fact, professional tutoring builds skills that pay dividends for students throughout school, college and career. When Dogwood’s tutors prepare students for ACT, SAT or SSAT exams, we help to improve their lifelong skills in three main ways.

Identify and plug gaps in foundational skills

As part of our test prep process, when we help students improve skills in math, reading and writing, it also helps them perform better in the classroom. One-on-one tutoring can often explain and clarify challenging topics more effectively than a teacher can do in a classroom. For example, students with improved grammar and writing mechanics will go on to write better essays and papers in college and beyond.

Teach students how to apply appropriate test-taking strategies

Testing is complicated and frustrating for many people. Test-taking strategies help students approach questions more methodically and accurately so they can achieve their best test scores. Better test results in school and college classrooms lead to better grades. On graduate admissions exams like GRE, LSAT and MCAT, higher-scoring students will have better outcomes with admissions and scholarship money. Later in life, better scores on professional licensure exams will lead to rewarding careers in fields like medical, legal, financial, real estate, engineering and education.

Professional tutors hold students accountable

Without ongoing adult supervision, many students struggle with the tedious test prep process. Just like any sport or performance art, test prep requires practice, practice, practice. In their weekly meetings, Dogwood tutors coach and support students as they refine their study skills and remain accountable to the test prep regimen. When it really counts, we help students to establish priorities, organize workloads, manage deadlines and use scarce time more effectively. Test prep is hard work, but our students learn to remain calm and focused on demonstrating their hard-earned skills.

Professional test prep is an investment that pays dividends for a lifetime. In the short run, it will help your child become a better test-taker and stronger student in school. That means better chances for admission at more colleges as well as greater opportunities for scholarship money. Longer term, students will have the skills needed to become better learners and test-takers in college and career. Call Dogwood Tutoring & Test Prep today at 678-735-7555 to see how customized test prep can open doors for your child for years to come.

Is self-study right for your child’s ACT, SAT or SSAT test prep?

ben-girl-computer-sqspaceThere is a lot riding on standardized tests like ACT, SAT and SSAT. Whether your student is applying to college or an independent K-12 school, the competition for admissions and scholarship money can be fierce. You have several choices on how to prepare, including self-study and professional test prep services.

At the very least, your student may benefit from independent study using free online resources such as Khan Academy and College Board. Or you may find books or videos online or at the public library. Self-study can be a good option if your child is disciplined and organized enough to squeeze test prep into his or her already full workload of homework and extracurricular activities. The test prep regimen is tedious and ongoing, but there are no shortcuts to improving scores. Whether you choose self-study or get outside help, it takes plenty of dedicated study and practice, practice, practice.

How Do You Know When Outside Help is Needed? Does your child…

– have trouble prioritizing all his school work and other activities?

– get great grades but struggle with standardized tests?

– feel anxious when testing?

– know how to do the problems but run out of time on the test?

– score well but want to score even better?

How Will Professional Test Prep Help Your Student?

– We help you determine whether ACT or SAT is a better fit

– We answer your questions about testing and discuss your strategic options

– We assign two expert tutors, a math specialist and an English specialist

– Our tutors customize each lesson based on your child’s individual learning needs

– We coach and motivate your child to stay on track and make progress

Dogwood’s expert tutors are here to explain and clarify even the most challenging topics. We identify and plug gaps in students’ reading, writing and math skills, and teach how and when to apply our proven strategies. Those strategies help to manage time more effectively and answer questions more accurately. Strategies help students approach the test more methodically, so they are more confident and less affected by stress and anxiety.

One word of advice: avoid the temptation to take a test cold. If you’re thinking about having your child take a standardized test without any preparation, take a practice test at Dogwood instead. You’ll see the results with no risk, stress or cost. And you’ll receive a complete diagnostic report with much more usable info than a real SAT or ACT report.

At Dogwood Tutoring and Test Prep, we’ll help you navigate the complex maze of SAT, PSAT, ACT and SSAT testing. Call Ivan at 678-735-7555 to learn more about helping your student achieve his or her best results on standardized tests.