The SSAT: To Test or Not to Test?

For all the right reasons – among them the demonstrated link between family income and high test scores, the drive for diversity, and a recognition of different learning styles –  many independent schools have continued with the SSAT-optional stance that they adopted during the pandemic, just as colleges have largely continued with SAT/ACT optional admissions.  

Still, an SSAT-optional policy is not by any means universal, and test scores can still play a factor in independent school admission.  For this reason, we advise a moderate approach of keeping SSAT testing on the table, at least initially, for most applicants.  This involves taking a diagnostic test, reviewing results with your consultant, evaluating the trade offs and bandwidth for test prep work in a particular student’s context, and then charting a personalized path forward.

In general, if a student is a strong tester, submitting scores will speak to a legitimate strength and provide meaningful information to admission offices.  With grade inflation and the wide variety of grading policies and practices in schools, an objective piece of data is appreciated by admission teams, even when their school is committed to a test optional policy that does not disadvantage applicants without scores.

For students with Learning Differences, however, the data and narrative embedded in a neuropsychological test often take the place of testing, instead of an SSAT.

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that choosing not to test may take some schools off the table for a particular student.  Still, we know from direct experience that an increasingly wide range of excellent SAT-optional schools is available, and we continue to have the privilege of seeing our students thrive, learn, and grow toward their best selves in many different settings. 

About The Author

Jamie Paul