No, a week is generally not enough time to prepare. However, it is enough time to make improvements towards your score.

Each school has different expectations and minimum requirements for the SSAT. When schools look at your SSAT scores, they are not looking at how many points you got right, but rather, how well you did compared to other test-takers/applicants. Middle-ranking schools will often require that applicants score in the top 50% of test-takers, while top schools require that applicants score in the top 10-15% of test-takers. Schools tend to keep their expectations and minimums a secret, but you can use external sources to get a sense of their averages. I suggest Boarding School Review.

In order to figure out how much time you need to prepare, you should take a practice test to determine your percentile. Let’s say you score in the 40th percentile (better than 40% of the applicants). Are your schools of interest requiring that you score in the 90th percentile? If so, it will take months of preparation to get there. However, if your schools of interested require that you score in the 50th percentile, you can work towards that in a 1-2 tutoring sessions with me.

When I tutor students who are new to the SSAT, I share a dozens of quick and realistic ways to improve their score. In general, it takes students 2-3 months of consistent work to exhaust all of these direct methods for improvement. After this, they tend to “plateau”, in the same way that when people play a new video game, they get better rapidly at first, but then their improvement is slower and more steady. So, again, if you want to maximize your personal potential on the SSAT (hit your plateau), I would suggest 2-3 months of work.

Everyone’s maximum potential is different. For students who start off in the 5th percentile (in the bottom 5% of test takers), their realistic maximum potential could be something like 30th percentile. For students who start at 60th percentile, their max might be something like 80-85th percentile. For students who allocate a year to prepare, they can go well beyond their plateau, it just takes time.

I realize this can feel overwhelming when you are limited on time, but don’t get discouraged. Take a practice test and start targeting your weak spots today. You will still make improvements to your score with even a day’s worth of preparation. This can mean the difference between an acceptance or rejection, or on how much you get awarded in financial aid. Again, every day counts and improves your score, even if you don’t have enough time to maximize it. Do not give up; start practicing today!

In summary:

  • Determine the percentile expectations of the school you are applying to
  • Take a practice test to determine your weaknesses
  • Start preparing now, since any prep work you do will improve your score

If you need more support, you can contact me here. Good luck!

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Written by Lauren Fagen

Lauren is the owner and director of Genesis Tutoring. She builds strategies for advanced math courses and standardized logic tests. Working with only a handful of students at a time, Lauren ensures that each student and family has a clear path towards their academic goals. Outside of the tutoring centre, Lauren has a deep connection with animals, primitive survival, and making art.

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