Lower – Middle – Upper

The SSAT has three levels: Lower, Middle, and Upper Level.

The level you take depends on your grade when you write the test. While the Middle and Upper Level are almost identical in format, the Lower Level (introduced in 2012) is a bit different.

Elementary Level (for students in Grades 3-4, applying to Grades 4-5)

This level is relatively new, and isn’t as commonly required as the other levels. There’s a writing sample, where students write a short story based on a writing prompt. It’s sent to schools, but it isn’t scored. Other sections (Reading, Math, Verbal) are all multiple choice with 5 answer options, and include the same structure as the Middle and Upper Levels — but there’s no “guessing penalty”!

Middle Level (for students in Grades 5-7, applying to Grades 6-8)

The writing sample for Middle Level test writers offers a choice of two creative story prompts. It’s not scored, but a copy is sent to schools. Other sections (Reading, Math, Verbal) are all multiple choice with 5 answer options, and there is a quarter mark deduction for each incorrect answer.

Upper Level (for students in Grades 8-11, applying to Grades 9-12)

The writing sample for Upper Level test writers is a choice of a creative story prompt and an essay prompt. It’s not scored, but a copy is sent to schools. Other sections (Reading, Math, Verbal) are all multiple choice with 5 answer options, and there is a quarter mark deduction for each incorrect answer.

See Scoring and Breakdown for more details on individual sections and timing.