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Your Guide to the SSATs

Your Guide to the SSATs

What the test is, how it is created, and how to prepare your child for the test

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The SSAT is an admissions test required by a number of private and independent schools across Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia and is one important step on the path to an independent school education.  

While the SSAT score is an important part of the entire admissions process, it’s not the be all and end all, so don’t stress too much over it.

Below are a number of frequently asked questions about the SSATs that will help you become better acquainted with what the test is, why it’s important and how the process works: pre-test, during the test and post-test.

As well, there are a number of tips to help your child prepare for the test. 

Why do some students need to take the SSAT?

A number of schools across Canada require prospective students to complete the test as part of their admissions package. The purpose of the test is to determine a student’s verbal, quantitative and reading skills, all things schools have expectations for in order for students to be offered entrance. The test provides important and meaningful information about the potential academic success of students, removing background and experience from the overall equation: meaning coming from money or a wealth of experience aren’t part of the test and don’t play a role in how the standardized test is scored.

SSAT tests are not designed to measure other characteristics, such as motivation, persistence, or creativity that may contribute to a students’ success in school.

How is the test designed?

The SSAT measures three things: verbal, quantitative, and reading skills that students develop over time, both in and out of school. There is an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving that schools who require the test believe are crucial aspects of one’s academic success. The questions vary in difficulty and are distributed in a way that will be different for every test taker, bringing their levels of ability into account.

The test is developed by committees made up of education experts and independent or private school teachers that help shape the test with questions that are rigorously reviewed to make sure they appropriately indicate a potential students’ strengths and weaknesses.

How reliable is the test?

According to the New Jersey-based company, very. The score reliability is higher than .90 for both the verbal and quantitative sections and is almost at that level for the reading section. These reliability results are considered above average by educational field standards.

What is a Norm-Referenced Test?

A norm-referenced test, like the SSAT, interprets each individual score to the distribution of scores for a comparison group, referred to as the norm group. The SSAT norm groups consist of all scores from the same grade and gender who have taken the test for the first time on one of the Standard Saturday or Sunday SSAT administrations in North America over the past three years. 

The SSAT reports percentile ranks, which are referenced to the performance of the norm group. It is important to remember that the SSAT norm group is a highly competitive group.

Among the flurry of private school application requirements, the SSAT test may be among the most nerve-wracking. Luckily, it's never too soon to begin preparing for this standardized aptitude test.

Here are some tips to ensure that you or your child is as prepared as he or she can be.

Tips for SSAT Success

Timing is key

Keep in mind that many schools like to receive SSAT scores no later than the February before the school year begins in September. Make sure you fully understand the requirements and essential deadline dates for your preferred school(s), since both of these vary from school to school.

Once you know the SSAT test will be required for a desired school, follow these steps:

  • Select a test site and location (Alberta and British Columbia dates and locations can be found here; and Ontario dates and locations here.)
  • Obtain necessary documentation
  • Select score recipients
  • Register for the test
  • Print SSAT admission ticket and manage SSAT account
  • Prepare for test (as noted below)
  • Review your score report.

Order a prep test

Help is only a click away. The Secondary School Admission Test Board publishes a book of full-length practice tests, Preparing and Applying, available online.

It contains:

  • Full-length practice tests (two Upper level, two Lower)
  • Scoring instructions and explanations
  • Descriptions and exercises for each type of question
  • Advice for using time efficiently.

The guide currently costs $30. Once you have received the test, run through it. It will give you a strong indication of what to expect from the SSAT. You should be able to breathe a sigh of relief at this point.

Prep courses

Some member organizations offer prep courses for the SSAT which may be helpful to prepare your child. It's important to note, however, that prep courses are not endorsed by the SSAT's governing body.

Work together with your child

Parents can help by going over test taking strategies with children and helping them practice. After issuing your child a timed test, go over the wrong answers with your child to help him/her figure out how to do better when taking the actual SSAT.

Get familiar with test format

Writing sample
  • Support or argue the topic statement (presented)
  • Use examples from personal experience, current events, history or literature
  • Students are given 25 minutes to complete this section
Quantitative (math)
  • Two sections, 25 questions each
  • Students do math computations as they would in school
  • Students are given 30 minutes to complete this section
Verbal
  • 30 synonym, 30 analogy questions
  • Students are given 30 minutes to complete this section
Reading comprehension
  • 40 questions based on seven reading passages
  • Questions measure your ability to understand what you read
  • Students are given 40 minutes to complete this section.

Note: there are many editions of the test to ensure students won't take the same test twice.

Bring your essentials

On test day, don't forget:
  • SSAT Admission ticket
  • Sharpened No. 2 pencils
  • A good eraser
  • Your positive attitude!

Keep it in perspective

Standardized test-taking can be particularly stressful. It's important to remember the test is often just one element of an independent school's admission criteria. Not everything hinges on the SSAT. It's not you who is being tested, it's the education you have received.

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List of Your Guide to the SSATs


 FEATURED SCHOOL     OPEN HOUSE      SCHOOL EXPO EXHIBITOR

FILTERS:
 
  •  
  • Name
  • Cost
  • St. Michaels University School (est. 1906)   820 Victoria Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, V8S 4N3

    • K to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school
    • Boarding school
    Independent K-12 boarding & day school in Victoria, BC, Canada focusing on university prep. Find out how a SMUS education can benefit your family.  
    • Progressive
    • Standard- enriched
    $17,235 to $61,590 /year
    Day & Boarding Coed 17235 5-17 Victoria

    Elmwood School (est. 1915)   261 Buena Vista Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1M 0V9
    (Buena Vista Road / Springfield Road)

    • Preschool to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (370 students)
    Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from JK to Grade 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Ottawa
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    $12,956 to $22,980 /year
    Day Girls 12956 2-17 Ottawa

    TFS - Canada's International School (est. 1962)   306 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario, M4N 1T7
    (Bayview / Lawrence)

    • Nursery/Toddler to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (1225 students)
    TFS - Canada's International School offers Canada's only bilingual IB programs from PK to Grade 12. Average class size is 12 to 22 students. Entrance Scholarship to Grade 7 is available.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto, Halton-Peel
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Accelerated
    • French immersion
    $17,600 to $31,100 /year
    Day Coed 17600 1-17 Toronto

    Country Day School (est. 1972)   13415 Dufferin Street, King, Ontario, L7B 1K5

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (740 students)
    The Country Day School offers JK-12 in a co-ed, non-denominational environment located 40 minutes north of Toronto on a beautiful 100-acre campus in King.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $24,100 to $27,950 /year
    Day Coed 24100 3-17 King

    Upper Canada College (est. 1829)   220 Lonsdale Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 2X8
    (St Clair Ave W / Avenue Rd)

    • SK to Gr. 12 (Boys)
    • Day school (1072 students)
    • Boarding school (88 students)
    Located in the heart of Toronto, Upper Canada College is the oldest independent boys' school in Ontario. Our graduates are highly regarded by top universities and post-secondary institutions worldwide.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Liberal Arts
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Accelerated
    $30,860 to $61,560 /year
    Day & Boarding Boys 30860 4-17 Toronto

    TMS (est. 1961)   500 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4C 5G1

    • Preschool to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (750 students)
    Internationally recognized since 1961, TMS is a not-for-profit independent university preparatory school located in Richmond Hill where students, faculty and staff regularly Go Beyond.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Montessori
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Accelerated
    $14,075 to $25,440 /year
    Day Coed 14075 2-17 Richmond Hill

    Appleby College (est. 1911)   540 Lakeshore Road West, Oakville, Ontario, L6K 3P1
    (Lakeshore Road West / Fourth Line)

    • Gr. 7 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (491 students)
    • Boarding school (273 students)
    Appleby College in Oakville is recognized globally as one of Canada's leading independent schools. Breadth, excellence, innovation and caring are the characteristics that define the essence of the Appleby experience.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto, Halton-Peel
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $33,510 to $65,980 /year
    Day & Boarding Coed 33510 12-17 Oakville

    Branksome Hall (est. 1903)   10 Elm Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 1N4
    (Bloor Street East / Mount Pleasant Road)

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (834 students)
    • Boarding school (66 students)
    Branksome Hall is an all girls school in Toronto, from JK to Grade 12, including 56 boarding students. Tuition ranges from $28,995 to $31,245 for day students.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Liberal Arts
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    $29,590 to $56,855 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 29590 3-17 Toronto

    Crescent School (est. 1913)   2365 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M2L 1A2
    (Bayview Avenue / Lawrence Avenue East)

    • Gr. 3 to Gr. 12 (Boys)
    • Day school (735 students)
    Crescent School is a Toronto independent school for boys only, Grades 3 to 12. Tuition starts at $30,750. Crescent offers a variety of extra-curricular activities including sports, arts, outreach and robotics.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $32,350 /year
    Day Boys 32350 8-17 Toronto

    Meadowridge School (est. 1985)   12224 240th Street, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, V4R 1N1
    (240th Street / Dewdney Trunk Road)

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (562 students)
    Meadowridge is an IB Continuum World School that supports the development of the whole child in a safe, supportive and challenging environment. See for yourself and join us for a tour every Friday from 9:00am to 11:00am.  
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    $20,400 to $30,400 /year
    Day Coed 20400 3-17 Maple Ridge

    University of Toronto Schools (est. 1910)   371 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2R7
    (Bloor St / Spadina Rd)

    • Gr. 7 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (650 students)
    University of Toronto Schools offers programs for grades seven to 12. Its average class size is 25 students.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Liberal Arts
    • Accelerated
    $23,590 /year
    Day Coed 23590 12-17 Toronto

    St. Clement's School (est. 1901)   21 St. Clements Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1G8

    • Gr. 1 to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (470 students)
    St. Clement's School develops outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $28,350 /year
    Day Girls 28350 6-17 Toronto

    Delta West Academy (est. 1993)   414 11 A Street NE, Calgary, Alberta, T2E 4P3

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (145 students)
    Accomplished, confident and innovative - adjectives that describe not only our programs but more importantly, our students! Developing critical thinking, creative problem solving and academic excellence for everyone.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    $9,900 to $17,550 /year
    Day Coed 9900 3-17 Calgary

    Duke Academy (est. 2013)   4576 Yonge Street, Unit 602, Toronto, Ontario, M2N 6N4
    (Yonge / Sheppard)

    • Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (30 students)
    • Homestay school (14 students)
    Duke Academy 4576 Yonge St. Unit 602, Toronto, ON, M2N 6N4  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $15,860 /year
    Day Coed 15860 14-17 Toronto

    Ridley College (est. 1889)   P.O. Box 3013, 2 Ridley Road, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2R 7C3
    (Ridley Road / Henrietta Street)

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (307 students)
    • Boarding school (358 students)
    Ridley College is an acclaimed co-educational boarding and day school that prepares meaningful and flourishing lives by teaching the habits of mind, body, and spirit, and the values needed to lead in a global society.  
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $14,500 to $60,900 /year
    Day & Boarding Coed 14500 3-17 St. Catharines

    Southridge School (est. 1995)   2656-160th Street, Surrey, British Columbia, V3Z 0B7

    • K to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (680 students)
    We place equal value on the development of academics and character. Our program is built around authentic, experience-based learning that develops the mind, body and spirit.  
    • Traditional
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    $14,750 to $25,250 /year
    Day Coed 14750 5-17 Surrey

    Oxford Tutorial College (est. 1988)   12 King Edward Street, Oxford, , OX1 4HT
    (n/a / n/a)

    • Gr. 10 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (150 students)
    • Boarding school (150 students)
    • Homestay school (150 students)
    Oxford Tutorial College is a leading independent college specialising in A-level and GCSE tuition for students grade 10 to 12, intending to go on to higher education at a good British University.  
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    • Special needs , Gifted
    $33,255 to $39,447 /year
    Day & Boarding Coed 33255 15-17 Oxford

    St. Andrew's College (est. 1899)   15800 Yonge Street, Aurora, Ontario, L4G 3H7
    (St. John's Sideroad / Yonge Street)

    • Gr. 5 to Gr. 12 (Boys)
    • Day school (367 students)
    • Boarding school (259 students)
    St. Andrew's College offers programs from grades 5 to 12 in Aurora. Its average class size is 17 students.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $27,825 to $57,940 /year
    Day & Boarding Boys 27825 10-17 Aurora

    St. Michael's College School (est. 1852)   1515 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5P 3H4

    • Gr. 7 to Gr. 12 (Boys)
    • Day school (1030 students)
    St. Michael's College School offers students in Grades 7-12 an enriched, Catholic, liberal arts education complemented by a diverse co-curricular programme.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $19,150 to $19,800 /year
    Day Boys 19150 12-17 Toronto

    Crofton House School (est. 1898)   3200 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6N 3E1

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (885 students)
    Crofton House School in Vancouver, BC is a university preparatory school with JK to grade 12 classes. Tuition starts at $16,000.  
    • Progressive
    • Standard- enriched
    $18,960 /year
    Day Girls 18960 3-17 Vancouver

    Academie Providence (est. 2002)   998 Frances Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 3L5
    (Donald St / Frances St)

    • 24 months to Gr. 8 (Coed)
    • Day school (200 students)
    Providence Academy is the only Private French Catholic School offering a trilingual program of study in Ontario with classes from nursery to grade eight. Tuition starts at $8,050  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Ottawa
    • Progressive
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $8,300 to $9,800 /year
    Day Coed 8300 1-13 Ottawa

    Buffalo Seminary (est. 1851)   205 Bidwell Parkway, Buffalo, New York, 14222
    (Soldiers Circle / Chapin Parkway)

    • Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school
    • Boarding school
    Independent day and boarding school for college-bound girls. Our STEAM curriculum is unique, and creative, independent thinking is valued. Located in Buffalo, NY, girls access the best of city living.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Accelerated
    US $19,840 to $46,715 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 19840 14-17 Buffalo

    Havergal College (est. 1894)   460 Rosewell Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 2H5

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (870 students)
    • Boarding school (50 students)
    Havergal College is an all-girls school in Toronto for students in JK to Grade 12. Preparing Young Women to Make a Difference Since 1894.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $30,820 to $55,500 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 30820 3-17 Toronto

    Mulgrave School (est. 1993)   2330 Cypress Bowl Lane, West Vancouver, British Columbia, V7S 3H9
    (Upper Levels Highway / Cypress Bowl exit)

    • Preschool to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (900 students)
    Mulgrave School offers programmes from Preschool to Grade 12 in West Vancouver. Its average class size is 20 students with teacher to student ratios of 1:8.  
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Accelerated
    $17,195 to $21,370 /year
    Day Coed 17195 2-17 West Vancouver

    Trillium School (est. 1991)   4277 14th Avenue, Markham, Ontario, L3R 0J2
    (14th Ave / Kennedy)

    • Nursery/Toddler to Gr. 8 (Coed)
    • Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (300 students)
    • Boarding school
    Trillium School is a montessori school that offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Markham.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Montessori
    • Accelerated
    $9,400 to $33,000 /year
    Day & Boarding Coed Coed 9400 1-17 Markham

    De La Salle College (est. 1851)   131 Farnham Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 1H7
    (Avenue Road / St. Clair Ave.)

    • Gr. 5 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (640 students)
    De La Salle College is a Catholic, co-educational, university preparatory school in Toronto from grade five to 12, with average class sizes of 22 students and tuition at $12,950.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $13,750 to $13,850 /year
    Day Coed 13750 10-17 Toronto

    York House School (est. 1932)   4176 Alexandra Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6J 2V6

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (656 students)
    York House School offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade 12 in Vancouver. Its average class size is 16 to 20 students.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Reggio Emilia
    • Standard- enriched
    $19,600 to $23,100 /year
    Day Girls 19600 3-17 Vancouver

    North Broward Preparatory School (est. 1957)   7600 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, Florida, 33073
    (Lyons Road / Yellow Bird Farin)

    • Preschool to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (900 students)
    • Boarding school (330 students)
    North Broward Preparatory School is a K-12 co-educational day and boarding school located in S. Florida located minutes from the beach with IB, AP, and LD classes set on 80 acres with year round hockey.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Accelerated
    • Gifted, Special needs
    US $24,200 to $58,000 /year
    Day & Boarding Coed 24200 2-17 Coconut Creek

    Bishop Strachan School (est. 1867)   298 Lonsdale Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 1X2
    (Bathurst St / St Clair Ave W)

    • JK to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (825 students)
    • Boarding school (80 students)
    Located in Toronto, The Bishop Strachan School is Canada's oldest independent JK to Grade 12 day and boarding school for girls, welcoming students from Toronto and around the world.  
    School Expo Exhibitor - Toronto
    • Traditional
    • Reggio Emilia
    • Student- paced
    • Christian
    $31,740 to $60,130 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 31740 3-17 Toronto

    Southwestern Academy (est. 1924)   2800 Monterey Road, San Marino, California, 91108

    • Gr. 6 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (34 students)
    • Boarding school (110 students)
    Southwestern Academy is a coeducational boarding and day school with a location in San Marino, California and Rimrock Arizona. We offer small class instruction with personalized lessons and an international student body.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    US $19,850 to $48,850 /year
    Day & Boarding Coed 19850 11-17 San Marino,Rimrock

    Rundle College (est. 1985)   Business Office - 4411 Manitoba Road SE, Calgary, Alberta, T2G 4B9

    • K to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (1080 students)
    Rundle College is a university preparatory school from Preschool-Grade 12 in Calgary, Alberta. Our small class sizes of 12-16 students, gives our students the advantage of and enriched and personalized education.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $11,700 to $16,000 /year
    Day Coed 11700 5-17 Calgary

    TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) (est. 1962)   1293 Meredith Avenue, Mississauga, Ontario, L5E 2E6
    (Cawthra / Lakeshore)

    • Preschool to Gr. 7 (Coed)
    • Day school (165 students)
    TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) offers programs from pre-kindergarten to grade seven. Its average class size is 12 to 22 students.  
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Accelerated
    • French immersion
    $11,900 to $26,150 /year
    Day Coed 11900 2-12 Mississauga

    Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (est. 1905)   RR 2, Okotoks, Alberta, T1S 1A2
    (Range Road 12 / 306 Ave W)

    • Gr. 1 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (670 students)
    Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School is an independent, private coeducational day school for Grades K-12 close to Calgary, AB.  
    • Traditional
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    $18,780 to $21,660 /year
    Day Coed 18780 5-17 Okotoks

    Foxcroft Academy (est. 1823)   975 West Main Street, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, 04426
    (Sanford St / Guilford Rd)

    • Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    • Day school (352 students)
    • Boarding school (98 students)
    Day & Boarding school with all boarding for International students Academic & Sports Grade 9 - 12 Tuition International $41,000 USD  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    US $22,000 to $41,000 /semester
    Day & Boarding Coed 22000 14-17 Dover-Foxcroft

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