SSAT Test Sections

There are 5 sections on the SSAT: Writing Sample, Quantitative (2 sections), Verbal and Reading. The table below shows the breakdown of each section in the number of questions and allotted time.


Section Number of Questions Time Allotted
Writing Sample 1 25 min.
Break 5 min.
Section 1 (Quantitative) 25 30 min.
Section 2 (Reading) 40 40 min.
Break 10 min.
Section 3 (Verbal) 60 30 min.
Section 4 (Quantitative) 25 30 min.
Section 5 (Experimental) 16 15 min.


Writing Sample

The Writing Sample is 25 minutes in length and is the only section that is not graded, so it does not affect your score. However, it can still influence your admission to a school! This is your chance to shine as a clear-thinking, organized, creative and expressive writer. You will write a story in response to one of two given prompts, and can choose to include the prompt at the beginning or end of your story. Your narrative will be less than two pages in length, and should include setting, one or more characters, and plot. Some examples of prompts:

  • As they marched through the streets, the crowd cheered wildly.
  • It was the proudest moment of my life.
  • She trembled with fear as she approached the large, wooden door.

If you’re writing the Upper Level test, you can opt to write either a creative story, or an essay in response to a short prompt, such as, “What makes a good leader?”

Choose the type of writing that you prefer!


There are 50 questions spread over two Quantitative Sections, and the questions may test your knowledge of number concepts and operations, elementary algebraic concepts, data management and probability, measurement and geometry. According to, the following topics will be on the Quantitative Sections:


Number Concepts and Operations

  • Arithmetic word problems (including percent, ratio)
  • Basic concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Estimation
  • Rational numbers
  • Sequences and series
  • Frequencies


Algebra (elementary concepts of algebra)

  • Properties of exponents
  • Algebraic word problems
  • Equations of lines
  • Patterns
  • Absolute value



  • Area and circumference of a circle
  • Area and perimeter of a polygon
  • Volume of a cube, cylinder, box
  • Pythagorean theorem and properties of right, isosceles, equilateral triangles
  • Properties of parallel and perpendicular lines
  • Coordinate geometry
  • Slope


Data analysis/probability

  • Interpretation (tables, graphs)
  • Trends and inferences
  • Probability


Although these topics MAY be on the test, some are more common than others- see our breakdown under Sections in Detail.


The Verbal section has 60 questions, and it tests your understanding of the definitions of words, as well as the relationships between words. The first 30 questions are on Synonyms, and the last 30 are on Analogies. The best approach to preparing for the Verbal section is to build your vocabulary!


This section tests your ability to comprehend what you are reading. The Reading section has 7-8 passages with 5-6 questions accompanying each passage. Each reading passage is about 250 to 350 words in length, and excerpts may be narratives taken from novels, short stories, essays, and poems; or argumentative pieces, where the author has a definite opinion on a topic. Passages can belong to any of the following categories: Literary fiction, Humanities, Science or Social Studies. Reading comprehension questions may ask you to do any of the following:

  • determine the main idea
  • locate supporting details
  • make inferences
  • use context to find the meaning of a word or phrase
  • determine the author’s purpose
  • use word choice to determine the author’s tone, attitude, style and point of view
  • assess opinions
  • make predictions