Cracking the SSAT Upper Level: A Comprehensive Study Plan

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) Upper Level is a standardized test required by many independent schools in the United States for admission to grades 9-12. It is a challenging assessment that evaluates a student's verbal, math, and reading skills. To excel on the SSAT Upper Level, it's essential to have a well-structured study plan. In this guide, we will outline a comprehensive study plan to help you crack the SSAT Upper Level successfully.

Understanding the SSAT Upper Level

Before diving into your study plan, it's crucial to understand the format and content of the SSAT Upper Level:

 Test Structure

- Quantitative (Math): 50 questions (two sections)

- Verbal: 60 questions (two sections)

- Reading: 40 questions (one section)

- Essay (Unscored, but sent to schools): One essay prompt

 Time Allocation

- Quantitative: 30 minutes per section

- Verbal: 30 minutes per section

- Reading: 40 minutes

- Essay: 25 minutes

 Score Range

Each section of the SSAT Upper Level is scored on a scale of 500-800, with a total score ranging from 1500 to 2400.

Creating a Study Plan

 Assess Your Current Skills

Before you begin your SSAT preparation, take a diagnostic test to assess your current strengths and weaknesses. This will help you tailor your study plan to areas where you need the most improvement.

 Set Clear Goals

Define your target score for the SSAT Upper Level. Your goals should be specific, measurable, and realistic. Consider the admission requirements of the schools you're interested in and aim to exceed their score expectations.

 Allocate Sufficient Time

Plan your study schedule well in advance of your test date. Most students need at least 2-3 months of dedicated preparation. Create a daily or weekly study schedule that covers all test sections.

 Focus on Content Review

Quantitative (Math):

- Review fundamental math concepts, including algebra, geometry, and arithmetic.

- Practice solving a variety of math problems to build problem-solving skills.

- Work on speed and accuracy as timing is crucial.


- Expand your vocabulary by reading challenging books and articles.

- Practice analogies, synonyms, and sentence completions.

- Pay attention to context and word usage in sentences.


- Practice reading comprehension exercises regularly.

- Learn to identify main ideas, supporting details, and the author's tone.

- Work on time management for this section.


- Practice writing essays on various topics.

- Develop clear thesis statements and structured essay outlines.

- Work on grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary.

Use Quality Study Materials

Invest in reputable SSAT prep books, online courses, and practice tests. Look for materials that closely mimic the actual SSAT in terms of content and format.

Take Regular Practice Tests

Taking full-length SSAT practice tests under timed conditions is essential. It helps you get used to the test format, improves time management, and identifies areas that need further improvement.

Review and Analyze

After each practice test, thoroughly review your answers. Analyze why you got certain questions wrong and focus on addressing those weaknesses in your study plan.

Seek Help When Needed

If you struggle with specific topics, consider getting a tutor or joining a study group. Peer discussions and expert guidance can provide valuable insights and assistance.

Manage Stress

As the test date approaches, focus on stress management techniques like meditation, exercise, and healthy eating. Avoid cramming the night before the test; it's better to get a good night's sleep.

Test Day Preparation

- Familiarize yourself with the test location and regulations.

- Arrive early and bring required identification.

- Stay calm and focused during the test.

Final Thoughts

Cracking the SSAT Upper Level requires dedication, structured preparation, and a well-thought-out study plan. With consistent effort, a focus on your weaknesses, and ample practice, you can achieve your target score and open doors to prestigious independent schools. Remember that the SSAT is just one component of your application, so make sure to complement your strong SSAT scores with other aspects like recommendation letters, interviews, and a compelling application essay to increase your chances of admission. Good luck on your SSAT journey!