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

A Parents Guide to SSAT Preparation

Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep video In this prepcast video, I will provide you with free SAT help and I will discuss how you as a parent can best help your child prepare for the SSAT. In particular, I address some issues to look out for when using the SSAT’s own study guide, entitled “PREPARING AND APPLYING

A Parents Guide to SSAT Preparation (transcript)

I am assuming that you are a parent whose child is preparing for the SSAT and you want to do whatever you can to help your child get the best score possible. I have this book; it happens to be the book published by the SSAT Board. It is called “Preparing and Applying for Independent School Admission and the SSAT.” You can get this book when you register for the test. You can also get it online at the SSAT Board’s website. It is probably the best book on the market, so you would want to get a copy for your child.

There are four practice tests in the book: two lower level tests and two upper level tests. There is a lot of overlap between the upper level tests and the lower level tests. Many of the same questions appear on both the upper level test and the lower level test. The two tests have another common denominator; they both have a lot of flimsy questions. When you review with your child, for example, the synonyms that he/she has missed, I guarantee you will have trouble with some of them also. When it happens just put your arm around your child and say “You know what honey, I think I may have gotten that one wrong too. I think you had a very good reason for picking the one you did, so don’t worry about it.” That’s the message you need to send your child.

Again, this book is filled with ambiguity and it is very likely that your child will, on numerous occasions reason a certain way and come up with the wrong answer. This does not mean that his/her reasoning is faulty; it just means he/she did not reason the way the person who designed the question did. Trust me, as you review with your child, there will be moments when you are going to have to look your child in the eye and say “You know what, I do not know if I would have gotten this one right either. Try not to worry about; let’s just keep reviewing.”

The point to highlight for your child is this: There are going to be tough calls throughout the test. Get used to it. I always tell kids who I tutor privately, “You could put twenty really smart kids in a room and administer this very test and upon grading the tests, you would see that for several questions there were different answers chosen by various members of the group. So, do not sweat it. Regardless of the answer you choose on a tough question, you are going to be in good company. The test will require you to make difficult choices. There will be questions that really have you torn between two or more answers choices. Just pick the best one and move on to the next problem. That is the way to go. Again, you will always be in good company.

You will do your child a great service when you admit that you too would have been stuck or gotten that question wrong on that particular question. You are human and it is okay for your child to see that. They will learn that you do not need to be perfect to do well and that you do not need to be in the ninety-ninth percentile to get into an independent school. Let alone one of the thousands of American colleges after high school.

For many independent schools in the United States, as long as your child scores above the 40th percentile against other SSAT test takers, he/she will have crossed that admissions threshold. Most admission policies will then direct staff members to look only at your child’s grades, teacher recommendations and on-campus interview impressions. In summary, do not stress out about the test. Enjoy the time working with your child. Remember you are going to have trouble with some of the questions in the practice book too, so do not be surprised when it happens.

Karl Schellscheidt
Copyright 2006 — All Rights Reserved, ePrep, Inc.

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