SSAT Success: Test Day Tips

Stories, know-how, and guidance from the experts in educating boys.

SSAT Success: Test Day Tips
Ollie Rothmann

SSAT Success: Test Day Tips

We are almost one week away from the first SSAT date of the new academic year! Who’s excited? If you're not, you should be! Why? Because the first SSAT test date ushers in a new season of exploring private school options. Along with many academic institutions, Avon Old Farms School is beginning the new enrollment year for private school admissions. This fall, students have the opportunity to explore schools across the nation. When you apply to schools, you're sketching the blueprint for the foundation of your future. During this fall and winter, you will be painting a portrait of yourself with the different application requirements for admissions committees at the schools to which you choose to apply. To help you prepare, I would like to touch on the SSAT as the first element of your admissions file because the first testing date is right around the corner!

What is the SSAT? "The SSAT is the admission exam required by many of the finest independent schools in the world. The SSAT is a timed, multiple-choice test which includes a brief unscored writing sample" (


If You’re Not Early, You’re Late

"If you're not early, you're late" is a rule to live by taught to me by Brian Doyle, Dean of Students at Avon Old Farms, the Connecticut private school for boys. More than likely, the SSAT test will be administered in a building that you have not seen before. So, plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the test to find the building, check-in, and acclimate to your surroundings. An early arrival will enable you to be comfortable, confident, and content when the test begins!

Double, Triple-Check

You should arrive at the testing center with your printed student admission test ticket along with a few good ol’ fashioned #2 wooden pencils. Also, bring some form of photo identification so that the test administrators believe that you are who you say you are. We recommend that you bring a drink and some snacks for the allotted breaks. No one wants to be thirsty and/or hungry in the middle of a standardized test, so put in the extra effort to bring a bottle of water and a snack with you. Oh, and be sure to guard your snacks with ferocity, as others will not be as well prepared as you!

Go Off the Grid

All testing centers prohibit the use of cell phones, watches, tablets, and calculators. You won't be able to use these items at any point during the test, not even during breaks. It will benefit you to leave these items at home.


Remember, this test is only one piece of your admissions application file. You have many other elements of your application that complete the admissions committee’s illustration of you; so, don't feel like the world is on your shoulders. Take a deep breath and do your best. You can always sit for the test again if you are very unhappy with your score.

Key Takeaway for Parents

Keep in mind that admissions committees around the nation analyze SSAT test scores differently. Some schools strongly consider the scores for admission into their school, while others will use the scores as indicators for which levels students may be placed in their math and english classes. It is important for each child to do his or her best on the test, and that is all we can ask for. Some students will take the test once and be satisfied, while others will take the test several times over. My advice is to avoid stressing your children out about the SSAT to the point where they lose focus of their classroom performance. The transcript reigns supreme.

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Avon Old Farms Class of 2011

Director of Financial Aid