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The SSAT: A look at the test's format, structure, and question types

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is a standardized test that many students take when applying to private or independent middle or high schools. The SSAT is offered at three levels: Elementary, Middle, and Upper. Students currently in grades 3-4 take the elementary level exam, grades 5-7 the middle level, and grades 8-11 take the upper level exam.

SSAT Test Format, Structure, and Question Types

The SSAT includes three main sections: verbal, quantitative, and reading. It also includes an unscored writing sample. The Middle and Upper Level tests are broken down into six sections—one writing sample, one verbal section, two quantitative sections, a one reading section, and one experimental section to test new questions. The Elementary Level test has only one quantitative section and five sections total. Total testing time for the Elementary Level exam is 2 hours and 5 minutes; testing time for Middle and Upper Level exams is 3 hours and 5 minutes. The breakdown of each section is as follows:

Section Total Testing Time & Breakdown Number of Questions & Types Content/Skills Covered
Verbal 30 minutes (one section) 30 synonym questions vocabulary

30 analogy questions

vocabulary and verbal reasoning skills


60 minutes (two 30-minute sections)

50 multiple-choice questions

math computation and reasoning


40 minutes (one section)

7 reading passages and 40 questions

reading comprehension

Writing Sample

25 minutes (one section)

1 essay prompt

writing skills

Experimental Section

15 minutes (one section)

16 Questions

Sample questions: 6 verbal, 5 reading, 5 quantitative

Related Topics

  • For more information about the SSAT Verbal section, visit the SSAT Verbal page.
  • For more information about the SSAT Quantitative section, visit the SSAT Math page.
  • For more information about the SSAT Reading section, visit the SSAT Reading page.

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