Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

SSAT Test Prep for 5th & 6th Graders

K-12   Videos   SSAT
Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoThis is the first of four (4) videos focused on helping young students and their parents understand the basics of the SSAT test. What is the SSAT you ask? The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is an examination required for applicants to many U.S. private secondary day and boarding schools. The test is a paper-and-pencil test, complete with an essay and multiple choice sections. The SSAT consists of two parts: a brief essay, and a multiple-choice aptitude test which measures your ability to solve mathematics problems, to use language, and to comprehend what you read.

Unlike the SAT test, the SSAT is given to students at two (2) levels:

1) Lower (for students currently in grades 5-7)
2) Upper (for students currently in grades 8-11)

As you might imagine, the wide range of grade levels in both the Lower and Upper versions of the SSAT test creates different sorts of test preparation challenges for students in all grades. Join me in this four (4) part series which gives an overview of what to expect at each grade level.

SSAT Test Prep for 5th and 6th Graders (transcript)

Parents of 5th and 6th graders, welcome!

First thing to remember is this — don’t stress out, just relax. If you’re stressed out about the test your child’s going to pick up on that and they’re going to get stressed out. That’s certainly not going to help them! Downplay the importance of the test, it’s not going to make or break them in the admissions process. Tell them to go in, give it their best shot, and not worry about it. You’re going to love them when they come home regardless of what happens.

The first formal bit of information that you need to know is this, the test that your child is going to be taking is the lower level test. That test has been designed to challenge 5th, 6th, and 7th graders. So what’s going to happen is this:

Your child is going to start a section, they’re going to be feeling pretty good, and they’ll be getting a lot of questions right. Towards the end of a given section is when the child’s going to see a lot of problems that were designed to challenge the older kids. When they get to the end of a section, they’re not going to be able to get those answers.

They should not start guessing wildly. Please tell your child to expect to leave a lot of blanks at the end of each section. It’s not a big deal. When they get their percentile score back they’re only going to be ranked against students in their own age group, same grade and also same the same gender.

So if you’re the parent of a 5th grade girl and she goes in, her percentile score back is going to be based on how she did relative to other 5th grade girls on the day she took the test and for the prior two years. That’s what the percentile rank is all about and it will even things out. So again, it’s one test for 5th, 6th, and 7th graders. If you’re the parent of a 5th or 6th grader there’s likely to be a sea of many problems towards the end of each section that they can’t do. They’re not going to be able to get the answer. Make sure they skip it and they feel comfortable about skipping. This should not stress them out.

Last bit of advice for the parents of the 5th and 6th graders is this, before the test even begins a lot of kids get rattled and this is what happens:

They’re asked to answer their last name, their first name, their middle initial, their address and information of that nature. When you get to the first name, a lot of hands go up and kids will often say things like, “Well my name is William but everybody calls me Billy. What should I put down Billy or William?”

The answer is they should put down the name that is found on their admissions ticket. Whatever name you sign them up as is the name they should enter on test day. The other one that a lot of kids don’t know is their zip code and they feel weird raising their hand and asking the administrator what their zip code is. So make sure your child knows their zip code. The last one is the month of their birth in numerical form. So if they’re born in April they’re going to have to enter a 04 for April, if they’re born in December a 12 for December. So make sure your child knows the number that corresponds with the month of their birth. If you give them those bits of information and a heads up on that, it will help reduce anxiety before the test begins.

Again, when the test begins make sure they know that they’re likely going to have to leave a lot of blanks at the end. It’s not a big deal. They’re only being judged against kids their same gender and same grade. If they know that I think they’ll have a pleasant experience, you’ll have a pleasant experience, and they’ll maximize their score!

Karl Schellscheidt

Copyright 2006 — All Rights Reserved, ePrep, Inc.

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