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The breakdown

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) has four sections (170 questions total) and one unscored essay prompt. It'll take approximately 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete the test with a couple of short breaks built in.

The exam is administered on three levels:

Current Grade

Appropriate Test Level

Grades 3-4

SSAT Elementary Level Test

Grades 5-7

SSAT Middle Level Test

Grades 8-11

SSAT Upper Level Test


Number of Questions

Question Types


Writing Sample

1 (unscored) prompt

Topic statement which you will be asked to respond to (support or argue), using specific examples from personal experience, current events, history or literature

25 minutes


5 minutes

Quantitative (Math)

25 multiple choice

Number Concepts and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis, Probability

30 minutes


40 multiple choice (7 passages)

Main Ideas, Details, Inferences, Word Meanings, Author’s Purpose and Tone, Opinions and Arguments, Predictions

40 minutes


10 minutes


60 multiple choice (30 synonyms and 30 analogies)

Vocabulary, Verbal Reasoning, Ability to Relate Ideas Logically

30 minutes

Quantitative (Math)

25 multiple-choice

Number Concepts and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis, Probability

30 minutes


16 multiple choice

Verbal, Reading, and Quantitative-style questions

15 minutes


167 questions

3 hours, 5 minutes

Testing normally begins at 9:00 am, and ends between 12:30–1:00 pm. Make sure you arrive about ​30 minutes early.

Registration Details

The SSAT middle/upper level test fee is $127 ($45 late fee, $35 change fee). The international fee is $247 (outside the US, Canada, Am. Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and USVI). You may be eligible for a fee waiver if you are unable to pay it, though waivers are limited. Contact your admission office if you have more questions about test fees or waivers.

What's a good SSAT score?

All questions on the SSAT are equal in value. Raw scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly minus one-quarter point for each question answered incorrectly.

The SSAT score report will include multiple sets of scores and percentiles:

Scaled Scores

Scaled score for each section (Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, and Total)
Grades 5-7 (Middle Level): 440-710 (V/Q/R), 1320-2130 (Total)
Grades 8-11 (Upper Level): 500-800 (V/Q/R), 1500-2400 (Total)

SSAT Percentile Ranks for each category (1-99%)

The SSAT percentile ranks compare your scores to similar students who have taken the SSAT in the past three years. Heads up, the essay section is not graded, but a copy of the essay will be sent to a school or consultant.