Standardized Tests

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the SSAT for high school admission

What is the SSAT?

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT), is an admission test administered by the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB) to students in grades 3-11 to help determine placement into independent or private elementary, middle and high schools. Since curricula, teaching and assessment standards vary from school to school, the SSAT is used by some schools as a standardized admissions test to determine if a student can do the work at their school.

Please click on the [small banner] on the left item column for SSAT class schedule and registration form.

 

The SSAT in its current form is pure paper based, there is no Oral test, no Speaking test and no Listening test either. The test consists of a short essay and a multiple-choice aptitude test which measures your ability to solve mathematics problems, to use language, and to comprehend what you read, and a short essay. It is administered on 3 levels:

• Elementary (for students currently in grades 3-4)

• Middle (for students currently in grades 5-7)

• Upper (for students currently in grades 8-11)

Reasons for taking the SSAT

The SSAT measures student ability. It is not an achievement test; therefore, it acts as a common denominator for schools in measuring a student’s academic capabilities, regardless of school record.

Who should take the SSAT?

Students interested in attending private boarding schools, or independent secondary schools in the U.S., will need to take the SSAT. Admission officers of these schools will use SSAT score to judge the current and potential ability of the students to handle their school curriculum.

Structure of SSAT

Both the Middle and Upper level SSAT consist of the following modules:

1. Verbal (not oral test)

The verbal questions (on paper) test your vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and ability to relate ideas logically.

2. Quantitative (Math)

The quantitative questions test your ability to solve problems involving arithmetic, basic algebra and geometry, and concepts.

3. Reading Comprehension Sections

The reading comprehension section tests your ability to understand what you read. All tests are printed and administered in English.

The test also includes writing a brief essay, the style of the writing sample will differ depending on which level test you take. Your essay is not graded, but a copy will be sent to schools or consultant.

Note also administrations of the SSAT in 2012-13 will also include an experimental section of 16 questions. This section will not be scored, but features questions that may appear on future versions of the SSAT.

Three Test Sections of the SSAT

It is a pencil-and-paper test, with an essay and multiple choice sections.

1. Quantitative Math (60 Minutes): two sets of 25 multiple choice, each to be completed in half an hour

2. Verbal (30 Minutes): student to answer 30 synonym and 30 analogy questions

3. Reading Comprehensive (40 Minutes): student to answer 40 questions based on approximately 7 passages

* Writing (25 Minutes): student to write an short essay arguing or supporting one topic statement (this part is not for scoring).

 

Scoring of the SSAT

All questions on the Secondary School Admissions Test are equal in value and scores are based on the number of questions correctly answered, less a one-quarter point for each question answered incorrectly. No points are awarded or deducted for questions left unanswered.

The Secondary School Admissions Test score report provides scaled scores for each section, as well as percentile ranks for each category, comparing a student's score to others of the same grade and gender who have taken the test in the U.S. and Canada on Standard test dates in the past three years. Also in the score report are estimated national percentile ranks and projected 12th grade SAT scores for test takers in grades 8-11.

How to read the Scores Report

the SSAT consists of 3 sections: Quantitative or Math, Verbal and Reading Comprehension. For grades 8-11 each section has a possible 800 points perfect score theoretically allowing a 2400 points total. There is a Writing Sample or Essay but it is not scored.

Upon receiving their scores, students can send the results to the independent schools they wish to apply to. Each school then evaluates the scores according to its own standards and requirements (Students may take the exam on Standard test dates as often as they choose).

Regarding SSAT

 

SSAT SCORING: SCALED SCORES VS. PERCENTILES

One of the biggest sources of confusion regarding the SSAT involves how scores are reported. While both scaled scores and percentiles are reported, independent school admission offices have historically relied more on percentile ranks..

Note that SSAT essays are not scored. Copies of your essay are sent to schools along with your score report. The importance of your essay in admissions decisions varies from school to school, but it is generally much less important than your percentile rank.

Raw Scores

Every question on the SSAT is worth one raw point. The easiest question is worth just as much as the most difficult question. There are no points for skipped questions. Each incorrect answer results in a ¼ point penalty. The total number of correct answers, minus the total penalty for incorrect answers, is the raw score.

Scaled Scores

Your raw score is converted to a scaled score. Each SSAT has a slightly different scale to account for any small differences between tests. As a result, no test date is easier or harder than any other. A 600 on one test indicates the same level of performance as a 600 on another test. You receive a scaled score in each of the three sections: Quantitative, Verbal, and Reading. Your scaled scores are added to create a total score.

Percentiles

Your section scaled scores and total scaled score are given Percentile ranks, indicating how well you scored compared to other test-takers of the same grade and gender. For example, a 60th percentile score indicates that you performed the same as or better than 60% of test-takers. Your percentile rank is based on scores from all students in your grade who have taken the test over the past three years.

Percentile Ranks in Perspective

Your SSAT percentile might seem quite low because your scores are being compared to a very competitive group of other SSAT students. The good news is, depending on where you are on the scoring scale, a small difference in raw scores can result in a large difference in percentile ranking. For example, a student who gets a raw score of 25 (out of 60) on the Verbal section of the Upper Level SSAT will increase by nearly 20 percentile points by getting only 5 more correct answers. Having an effective plan of attack, building skills, and learning test-taking strategies can bring a large improvement to your SSAT percentile rank.

SSAT Scoring

Raw scores for each section are calculated by adding one point for each correct answer and then subtracting a quarter of a point for every incorrect answer. Scaled scores for each section are calculated using a conversion table, as shown in the abridged table below. These scaled scores are added together to create a total score. Scaled scores are assigned percentile ranks based on the percentage of students who scored at or below that level, as shown below.

How the SSAT is used?

When used for admission by independent schools, the test is only one piece of information that is considered. Schools also review the applicant’s school grades, extracurricular participation, teacher recommendations, essays and interview results. SSAT scores, however, do carry some weight in varying degrees among independent schools. Consequently, you should be as prepared to take the test as possible.

Knowing your academic strengths and weaknesses

Since the SSAT provides predicted 12th grade SAT scores for those students taking the test in the 7th through 10th grades, participation in this testing exercise will also provide you with valuable information regarding your educational strengths and weaknesses.

 

Administration of the SSAT:

A.   SSAT "National Test"

A national test is a group administration held at many sites in the USA, Canada and internationally on 8 Saturdays each year.

To register for the test go to : www.ssat.org

For the Test Calander, refer the SSAT site: http://www.ssat.org/ssat/test/test-calendar.html

* You may take a national test as often as you like, up to 8 times per year.

* You may register by mail or fax until the regular registration deadline.

* You may register online until the test date, if space is available.

* Additional late or standby fees apply for last-minute registrations.

B.   SSAT  "Flex Test"

A flex test is a group or individual administration on any date other than the national test dates. Institute of International Education (IIE/HK) administers the SSAT international and flex test in Hong Kong. If you are unable to take the SSAT on a regularly scheduled date, we may arrange a Flex test for you.

Although flex tests occur throughout the testing year, a student may only take the FLEX test one time.

If you have already tested at a FLEX administration this year (8/1/2012 - 7/31/2013), you may NOT register for another flex test.

If you have already tested and do not know what type of test you took, contact SSAT before continuing.

You should ONLY register for the flex test if you have already made an appointment with IIE/HK for the special administration date.

IIE/HK will charge an additional administration fee of HK$2,100 for the flex test arrangements. 

Procedures for Flex Test Registration

1. Schedule an appointment with the Institute of International Education (IIE/HK) by calling (852) 2603 5771 or via email to ssat@iiehongkong.org. Space for the test is limited, and it will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

2. Once you have an appointment, register online for the SSAT Flex Test and make the US$225 test fee payment by credit card at SSAT Flex website. Remember to print out the admission ticket immediately at the last page of the online registration. 

3. In addition, the Institute of International Education will charge an administration fee of HK$2,100 for the SSAT Flex arrangements. You must send a cheque of HK$2,100 payable to the "Institute of International Education" within 3 days of your registration.

4. Arrive 10 minutes earlier at the test venue on the test day with your admission ticket, photo ID, pencils, and erasers.

* A student is permitted to take the Flex Test only ONCE per academic year (August 1, 2012 - July 31, 2013). Students wishing to retest must register for an internationally scheduled test date.

 

Note 1. How the SSAT evolved

In the 1950s, ten independent school admission officers addressed the need for a common admission test. Because academic programs and standards among elementary and pre-secondary schools differed so widely, it was difficult to compare academic ability based on grades and other school-specific performance measures. To solve this problem, the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB) was formed, which developed the SSAT.

Note 2. Independent School vs Private School

the phrase “private school” is significantly more popular than “independent school.”

Independent School - An independent school is a non-profit institution governed by a board of trustees. It receives no financial support from the government, as public schools do, or from a church. It is the term most often used within the education world, yet is not familiar to most families.

Private school is the term most people use and are familiar with. The difference is that the term private school is a larger umbrella. An independent school is a private school, a private school could be a parochial or religious school, a Montessori school, or even a for-profit school. In other words, any school that is not a public school is considered to be a private school.

See also - NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools), http://www.nais.org

Remark: please refer to the official for the latest information on SSAT, http://www.ssat.org/ssat/info/home.html 

2012/2013 Fees and Payment (Flex Test)

SSAT International Test fee, plus additional administration fee to Institute of International Education (IIE/HK) US$ 225 + *HK$ 2100 (Rescheduling US$ 35 + *HK$ 210) (*: Only applicable to the Hong Kong Flex Test. Please contact individual consultants for specific fees in other countries.)

Refer to the official IIE site, http://www.iiehongkong.org/ssat.htm for latest information about the flex test.

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