Published: August 9, 2019
For students planning on applying to private schools in Canada or the United States, getting a good SSAT score is an absolutely essential component of the admissions process. The SSAT sets an international standard for admissions, and can be taken at the elementary, middle, or upper levels depending on the age of the child and the grade at which they intend to enter. Some of Canada’s most elite private elementary and secondary schools, including some of Toronto’s most venerable institutions, rely on this test when deciding which students to accept.
For this reason parents who want to enrol their children in one of these schools need to make sure their children are adequately prepared for the rigours of this exam. At Prep Academy Tutors we are often asked specifically how younger children and teens can improve their chances at a good SSAT score.
While there is no shortcut for mastering the basic material and skills that are tested in the three sections of the exam (quantitative, verbal, and reading comprehension), students who are unfamiliar with the format of the test are unlikely to achieve the kind of high score that is needed to get into one of Toronto’s top private schools.
For this reason, we have prepared a few tips specifically designed to help students from the Greater Toronto Area to receive high scores in all sections of the SSAT.
Start Practicing Early
There are several different test dates throughout the course of the year for the SSAT, but one of the most common mistakes that parents make is putting off preparation until the month before the exam. While some students may still be able to turn around a good score in that time, our SSAT prep tutors in Toronto have often found that this does not give students enough time to really learn the test.
If you want to ensure a successful result, you should start planning at least six months in advance, as this will help give your child time to adequately prepare before test day rolls around. Most children who take the test successfully also use an extended test preparation package of one kind or another that will the give them an opportunity to try practice tests and to become familiar with the way the test grades performance.
Study Practice Exams
Ask anyone who is familiar with the mechanics of the SSAT, and the first piece of advice they are likely to give a future test-taker is to invest in studying practice exams. It is possible to find information about how the test is scored (and helpful tips on what to look for in areas like reading comprehension) in handbooks to the exam, but nothing will be quite as effective as giving your child the opportunity to take a practice test.
Practice exams are available as part of study packages. While free practice tests may be available at the elementary level, middle and upper-level students will generally need to pay for practice test packages. For this reason, it is a good idea to be strategic about using practice exams, and to work students up to these materials, using tools like tutoring support to help students prepare.
Given the fact that the SSAT itself needs to be completed within three hours and five minutes, it is a good idea to use the practice exams to mirror the actual experience of taking the test as closely as possible. Time management is a major component of the SSAT, so make sure your child knows how to prioritize difficult questions and use their testing time wisely.
The Enrolment Management Association, which administers the SSAT, has also compiled a lot of information and advice to help parents and students alike know what to expect from the test. It is a good idea to explore some of the test-specific webinars they have put out providing advice on how to understand things like the middle and upper-level score reports.
Hire a Local Tutor to Help with SSAT Prep
Any child getting ready for the SSAT is going to need to spend a lot of time in preparation studying on their own and with parents and peers. But this independent study will be much more effective if it is augmented by direct SSAT instructional help from a tutor who understands the test and can help provide practical help in passing it.
This is because tutoring can help make independent study more efficient by targeting a student’s particular areas of weakness. Every student has their own particular strengths and weakness, and someone who finds the quantitative part of the exam that focuses on math skills easy may struggle with reading comprehension. Hiring a tutor who can enhance the strengths while shoring up weaknesses will help build your child’s confidence heading into the SSAT.
As a Toronto-based tutoring agency, we understand the importance of the SSAT for getting into prestigious institutions like Upper Canada College, and we have experience dealing with the challenges involved in preparing for the test. If you want to know more about our approach to tutoring and how we can help your child, click here for more information.
Getting into an elite private elementary or secondary school is often the first step toward a successful career in law, medicine, finance, or the arts, and if you want your child to get the kind of lifelong advantage that attends this kind of education, you first need to make sure they make the grade for entry.
The SSAT may be a demanding test, but it is not insurmountable. With enough preparation and the right help, any child can ace it. Get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors to find out more.