The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is a standardized test used by many independent schools in the United States and Canada for admission into middle and high school. The test is divided into three levels: Elementary, Middle, and Upper.
The Upper Level SSAT is taken by students in grades 8-11 and includes a writing section that requires students to write an essay or short story in 25 minutes. While this section is not scored, it is still an important component of the SSAT as it is sent to the schools to which the student is applying. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the SSAT essay, including tips for preparation and what admissions officers look for in a writing sample.
The Writing Sample section of the Upper Level SSAT consists of one prompt and a blank page for students to write their response. Students are given 25 minutes to complete the task, and they can choose between writing a story or an essay. The prompt is usually broad and open-ended, allowing students to showcase their writing skills and creativity. Some examples of past prompts include:
As you can see, the topics can vary greatly, and students must be prepared to write either a narrative or persuasive piece. It is essential to note that the essay is not graded, but it is still an essential part of the application process. Admissions officers use the writing sample to get a sense of the student’s writing style, personality, and ability to express themselves effectively.
Practicing ahead of time with some essay prompts is a good idea to prepare for the SSAT essay. This will not only help you become familiar with the format and time constraints but also give you an opportunity to work on your writing skills. Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing for the SSAT essay:
As mentioned earlier, the Upper Level SSAT essay requires students to write either a story or an essay in 25 minutes. It is crucial to understand the expectations of each type of writing and practice accordingly. For example, if you choose to write a story, make sure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and that the characters and plot are well-developed. If you decide to write an essay, ensure that you have a strong thesis statement, supporting evidence, and a conclusion that ties everything together.
The best way to improve your writing skills is by practicing with a variety of prompts. You can find past SSAT essay prompts online or in study guides. Make sure to time yourself while practicing, so you get used to writing within the 25-minute time frame. Additionally, try to write about different topics to challenge yourself and expand your writing abilities.
While the SSAT essay is not graded, admissions officers still consider it as part of the application process. They will be looking for a strong writing style free from spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. Therefore, it is essential to proofread your essay before submitting it. You can also ask someone else to read it and provide feedback.
As mentioned earlier, the SSAT essay is not scored, but it is still an important component of the application process. Admissions officers look for specific qualities in a student’s writing sample, including:
With these qualities in mind, it is crucial to choose a subject that you are comfortable talking about and avoid overly dark, violent, or inappropriate subject matter. Remember, the essay is not just about showcasing your writing skills, but also giving admissions officers a glimpse into who you are as a person.
Now that you understand the format, preparation, and what admissions officers look for in an SSAT essay, let’s discuss some tips for writing a successful essay.
Before you start writing, take a few minutes to brainstorm and plan your response. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay has a clear structure. You can jot down some key points or create an outline to guide your writing.
Admissions officers are looking for students who can effectively communicate their ideas through writing. Therefore, it is essential to use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures to make your essay more engaging and interesting. Avoid using repetitive words or phrases and try to incorporate descriptive language to paint a vivid picture for the reader.
If you choose to write an essay, make sure to support your arguments with evidence. This could include personal experiences, examples from literature or history, or statistics and data. Providing evidence shows that you have done your research and can back up your claims.
Transitions are words or phrases that connect ideas and help the reader follow your train of thought. They make your essay flow smoothly and show a clear progression of ideas. Some examples of transitions include “furthermore,” “however,” and “in conclusion.”
As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to proofread your essay before submitting it. Make sure to leave some time at the end to read through your essay and make any necessary corrections. This will also give you an opportunity to add any final touches or make revisions if needed.
The SSAT essay may not be scored, but it is still an essential part of the application process. It allows students to showcase their writing skills, creativity, and personality to admissions officers. To prepare for the essay, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the format, practice with different prompts, and pay attention to grammar and spelling. Admissions officers look for strong writing skills, creativity, maturity, and the ability to follow instructions in a student’s writing sample. By following these tips, you can write a successful SSAT essay that will impress admissions officers and increase your chances of being accepted into your desired school.