Tremendous or Terrible? How can I tell if my child has competitive SSAT scores?

  • December 14, 2018

One of the most common questions we receive from parents is, “How well did my child score on the SSAT?”  This is a difficult question to answer for several reasons but the short answer is—it depends on which school your child is applying to, as well as their personal and academic background. Although this answer may seem like a bit of a letdown, read on for a slightly more specific answer.  

Firstly, here is a quick guide to the SSAT scoring system. Students are scored in three sections: Verbal, Quantitative/Math, and Reading. Each section is scored separately, and then all sections are summed into one score as follows:

Level Section Score Range Sum Score Range
Elementary 300 – 600 900 – 1800
Middle 440 – 710 1320 – 2310
Upper 500 – 800 1500 – 2400

In addition to these scores, a percentile, as well as a score range is reported. A percentile is basically the percentage of scores in a testing pool (of students) that are lower than or equal to your child’s scores. For example, if your child scored in the 75th percentile, he or she scored higher than 75% of students who took this test in the last three years (the sample pool). A score range is meant to account for the fact that scores would likely vary slightly (up or down) if your child took the test more than once over a short period of time. Therefore, their score is really thought of as a range, rather than an exact measure of their competency.

But how do you know if your student scored well on the SSAT? Most schools will state that there is no distinct cutoff emplaced as applications are considered holistically. They will use SSAT scores in combination with other factors such as GPA, teacher recommendations, interviews, and extracurricular activities.

However, SSAT scores are commonly used as a point of reference. That is to say, if a student scores above a certain percentile, they will move on to consider the remainder of their application. Although most schools don’t publicize the percentile they are looking for, the majority review applications from students who have scored above the 50th percentile. More competitive schools may be looking for students who have scored above the 75th percentile.

If you are interested in a specific school, it might be useful to call the school admissions office and ask what the average SSAT score was for the previous incoming class. Although they will not always share this information with you, it’s worth a call if they will! Overall, it seems as though shooting for a score above the 50th percentile is a safe bet.

Also, you can take the SSAT more than once. You may take the SSAT on any or all of the standard test dates. However, you may only take the SSAT on one FLEX test date per year. In addition, some participating schools or consortiums may have a policy of considering only one score and may regard additional tests as invalid.


For more FAQs about the SSAT, click here.

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