A comprehensive guide to the SSATs

The SSAT: what it is and how to prepare for it

The SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) is an admissions test required by a number of private and independent schools across Canada. It's one important step on the path to an independent school education. Read more


List of private schools requiring the SSAT

 
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Upper Canada College


Toronto, Ontario
St Clair Ave W/Avenue Rd
 
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"Located in the heart of Toronto, UCC provides transformational learning experiences in a supportive, caring environment. Our highly sought-after graduates are awarded International Baccalaureate and OSSD diplomas.

  1. High-achieving, all-round students
  2. Challenging but rewarding IB program
  3. First rate academics, athletics and arts
  4. 19 different sports and 80+ clubs

—From the school

  • Gr. SK to 12 (Boys)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $38,600 to $75,200
 
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Upper Canada College 38600 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Boys

Branksome Hall


Toronto, Ontario
Bloor Street East/Mount Pleasant Road
 
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"Branksome Hall is Toronto’s only leading International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for girls in JK-Grade 12, developing the leaders of tomorrow through the nurturing of curiosity and critical thinking at every age.

  1. Picturesque 13-acre urban campus
  2. Athletics and Wellness Centre that prioritizes healthy food and living
  3. IB programs: JK to Grade 12
  4. Leadership opportunities for all grades and students

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $38,990 to $78,600
 
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Branksome Hall 38990 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls
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"Balanced Academics, Arts, Athletics & Student Wellness. We value best practices & evidence-based approaches. University preparatory & 21st Century Tech-Rich & Future Proof school. Enriched and rigorous curriculum.

  1. International Baccalaureate PYP/MYP
  2. Co-Educational & Non-Denominational
  3. STE[A]M
  4. Gifted High performance school

—From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $22,600 to $23,600
 
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Delano Academy & Delano High 22600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Coed

The York School


Toronto, Ontario
Yonge St./St. Clair Ave.
 
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"The York School is a JK-Grade 12 Gender Inclusive IB World School in midtown Toronto. Our mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are engaged citizens of the world.

  1. International Baccalaureate World School (JK - Grade 12)
  2. 100% university placement rate
  3. Gender inclusive learning environment
  4. Focus on social-emotional and experiential learning

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $40,350
 
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The York School 40350 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

Havergal College


Toronto, Ontario
Lawrence Avenue West/Avenue Road
 
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"Havergal has been preparing young women to make a difference since 1894 through its innovative curriculum and future-ready programming with a focus on wellbeing and student agency.

  1. Beautiful 22-acre campus in the heart of Toronto.
  2. Innovative curriculum and future-ready programming for students.
  3. Small class sizes with a focus on wellness and student agency.
  4. Award-winning Art, Music and Drama departments.

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $41,520 to $79,905
 
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Havergal College 41520 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
Delta, British Columbia
56th/19 Ave
 
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"Southpointe Academy is the only secular International Baccalaureate (IB) Continuum World School south of the Fraser River authorized to deliver the entire range of IB programs from K-12." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $21,600 to $42,825
  • Day school
  • 663 students
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Southpointe Academy 21600 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Bayview/Hwy 407
 
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"TMS is a leading, accredited independent school that offers a unique design of Montessori and International Baccalaureate programmes. Our students thrive in academics while building a foundation of Significance for life." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $20,850 to $36,770
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TMS 20850 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Buena Vista Road/Springfield Road
 
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"Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from PreK to Gr. 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $16,970 to $32,800
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Elmwood School 16970 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
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"TFS - Canada's International School offers an exceptional bilingual education from age 2 to Grade 12. Average class size is 12 to 22 students. Entrance Scholarship to Grade 7 is available." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $23,070 to $39,020
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TFS - Canada's International School 23070 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
17 Avenue SW/69 Street SW
 
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"Rundle students enter their post-secondary schools of choice thanks to our enriched academics and character, leadership, and wellness pillars. We proudly live by our values, Together: Be Kind, Be Curious, Be Well." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $16,800 to $21,800
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Rundle College 16800 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
240th Street/Dewdney Trunk Road
 
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"Our practices in teaching and learning are exemplified by our outstanding academic results and are achieved through the active engagement of the head, heart, and hands." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $28,400 to $38,400
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Meadowridge School 28400 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
West Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Collingwood’s personalized and inclusive approach fosters academic excellence and well-being as our students explore opportunities across the four strands--academics, athletics, arts and service learning." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $27,100 to $30,750
  • Day school
  • 1256 students
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Collingwood School 27100 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Cawthra/Lakeshore
 
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"TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) offers the Ontario, France and IB programs from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 7 in Mississauga. We are bilingual, coed, non-denominational and and IB World School." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 7 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $21,620 to $31,390
  • Day school
  • 200 students
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TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) 21620 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Stratford Hall takes learning beyond IB with its IDEA Lab, OEE and partner schools, where students strive to develop harmony between the urban and natural world through activities like camping, music, and orienteering." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $28,220 to $32,970
  • Day school
  • 545 students
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Stratford Hall 28220 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Fort Erie, Ontario
Central Avenue/Wintemute Street
 
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"FEIA's environment fosters global awareness and advances our student body into responsible and globally aware citizens who are well-equipped for life beyond academics." —From the school

  • Gr. 6 to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $5,000 to $49,800
  • Day, Boarding
  • 188 students
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Fort Erie International Academy 5000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Donald St/Frances St
 
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"Promote academic excellence that stimulates the acquisition of language skills, the development of scientific and artistic competencies as well as the formation of a critical mind, in a multicultural environment." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $10,670 to $12,320
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Academie Providence 10670 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Foothills, Alberta
Range Road 12/306 Ave W
 
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"Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School is an independent, private coeducational, continuum IB (primary, middle, and diploma programme) day school for Kindergarten - Grade 12, located just outside of Calgary, AB." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $21,000 to $27,000
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Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School 21000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Don Mills Rd/York Mills Rd
 
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"Building on internationally acclaimed preschool reading success, SLI has grown into a hub for ground-breaking student achievement in literary, STEM, and artistic achievement across Pre-K - Gr 6 (offered on site/ online)" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 6 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $13,500 to $15,500
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Sidney Ledson Institute 13500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary eSchool Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
14th Ave/Kennedy
 
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"Trillium School is a private school that offers programs from pre-school to grade twelve in Markham with Montessori-based kindergarten." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $8,200 to $41,500
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Trillium School 8200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Day Coed
Aurora, Ontario
St. John's Sideroad/Yonge Street
 
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"With a tradition dating back to 1899, St. Andrew's remains the single largest all-boys boarding school in Canada. Our 126-acre campus provides our students with an ideal setting for learning and growth." —From the school

  • Gr. 5 to 12 (Boys/Girls)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $4,100 to $80,800
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St. Andrew's College 4100 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Day Boys Girls

While SSAT results are taken seriously, they're only one part of the admissions process. You should try, then, not to put too much emphasis on them. 

In this guide, we answer several important questions about the SSATs. We discuss the format of the test, how to prepare for it, and offer tips for success. To view a list of schools requiring the SSAT, click here.

Why do some schools require students to take the SSAT?

A number of schools across Canada require applicants to take the SSAT. The aim of the test is to assess a student’s verbal, quantitative, reading, and writing skills.  It can sometimes be a good indicator of potential academic success.

That said, SSAT tests are not meant to measure all traits that can contribute to academic success. For instance, the test doesn't directly assess motivation, persistence, or creativity.

Who designs the SSAT?

The test is developed by committees made up of education experts and independent or private school teachers. The questions are rigorously reviewed to make sure they're the appropriate degree of difficulty. 

How reliable is the test?

According to SSAT.org, very. The verbal and quantitative sections of the SSAT have a reliability score of higher than .90. The reading section has a slightly lower scoreThese scores are considered above average by widely recognized educational  standards.

What makes the SSAT a norm-referenced test?

The SSAT is a norm-referenced test. This means it interprets each individual score in relation 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 over the past three years. 

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

Among the flurry of private school application requirements, the SSAT test is one of 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 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 these vary between schools.

Once you know you will need to take the SSAT test, ensure you do the following:

Order a prep test

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

It contains:

The guide currently costs $30. Once you've received the test, go 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 organizations offer prep courses for the SSAT, which may help prepare your child. It's important to note, though, 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 giving your child a timed test, go over the wrong answers with your child, to help him or her figure out how to do better when taking the actual SSAT.

Get familiar with the test format

Section Testing time Questions Skills tested
Verbal 30 minutes (one section) 30 synonym questions Vocabulary

30 analogy questions

Vocabulary and verbal reasoning

Quantitative

60 minutes (two 30-minute sections)

50 multiple-choice questions

Math reasoning and computation

Reading

40 minutes (one section)

7 reading passages and 40 questions

Reading comprehension

Writing Sample

25 minutes (one section)

1 essay prompt

Writing

Verbal
Quantitative (math)
Reading comprehension
Writing sample

Sample SSAT questions

Below, are some sample SSAT questions for each section: verbal, quantitative, and reading. (Source: the Study Point, a test preparation and tutoring institute.)

Verbal


Answers: 1. (D), 2. (C), 3. (A); 1. (E), 2. (A), 3. (B), 4. (D)

Math
 





Answers: 1. (B), 2. (C), 3. (C), 4. (C)

Reading

Answers: 1. (C), 2. (C), 3. (B)

Levels of the SSAT

There are three SSAT levels:

  1. Elementary Level SSAT: For children currently in 3rd and 4th grades who are applying for admission to 4th and 5th grades.
  2. Middle Level SSAT: For children currently in grades 5-7 who seek admission to grades 6 through 8.
  3. Upper Level SSAT: For children currently in grades 8-11 who are applying for admission to grades 9 through PG (Post Graduate).

The day of the test

On test day, don't forget:

Standardized test-taking can be very stressful. It's important to remember the test is just one element of an independent school's admissions criteria. Many other factors will affect a school's decison.

Answers: 1. (B), 2. (C), 3. (C), 4. (C)

 

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