Retaking the SSAT can seem like a real pain. You’ve already taken the nearly three-hour test once — is it really worth it to give up a Saturday morning and countless nights studying just to take the same test again?
If you scored in the 99th percentile in every category, there is certainly no need to take it again. But the truth is, the majority of students see higher overall scores through taking the test more than once. Just think – you now have prior knowledge of the test to do better your second time through (some call this “SSAT wisdom”). Don’t doubt your capacity for significant score improvement!
The first step in gaining SSAT wisdom is a critical self-evaluation after you’ve finished taking the test. Were there types of questions you didn’t recognize? Did you run out of time during sections? Were certain sections harder than others? Did you score significantly better on some sections than others? Was it difficult to focus the whole time during a three-hour test? Did you get hungry, bored, or lose focus? Thinking back on the test and realizing where things went right and wrong is crucial to improving your performance the next time you take the test.
But, perhaps things were different and the test felt like a blur. You took it, and you saw your scores, but you have no clue which questions you answered right or wrong, or how you ended up with a score in the 43rd percentile (or 17th, 32nd, or 71st), but you know that your score doesn’t reflect you and that you can do better.
This is where SSAT practice tests come in: taking highly accurate full-length practice tests online will help you figure out exactly which types of questions you’re scoring right and wrong, and where you are making consistent mistakes.
Through practice tests and self-reflection, you will be able to determine your specific strengths and weaknesses and narrow in on a few specific areas of improvement for you personally. These areas of improvement could be anything from overall test-taking strategies such as time management or an improved guessing/skipping question strategy, to growing more comfortable with additional math concepts or vocabulary words. Focusing on one area or one strategy at a time will help you to simplify your study process and focus on what needs the most work.
If you’re not sure about which areas to focus on, tutoring can be helpful. If you think tutoring might be beneficial, talk to a parent and have them schedule a free diagnostic tutoring consultation, where a tutor will take a look at your initial test results and talk through with you the ways to best prepare based on those results. Beyond this initial consultation, you can opt to work regularly with a tutor to practice strategies for success.
Once you’ve determined your strategy for improvement, either with a tutor or on your own, it’s time to practice this strategy with practice questions and tests. Since you’ve already taken the real test once, you now have the added bonus of knowing exactly what to expect on test day. Simulate this test-taking environment while practicing. Don’t take more breaks than you’re given on the official test, and work to build your endurance – having a clear head and precision focus for such a long time is one of the most challenging things about test day!
On the day before your retake, remember to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. (Read 5 tips for exam day here.) Get a good night’s sleep the night before your test, eat a filling breakfast to help you make sure you don’t lose steam, don’t cram or stress out, and more than anything else, have a positive attitude! Visualize success and you will achieve it.
Remember, also, that schools don’t have to know how many times you’ve taken the test. You can send your best scores, all your scores, or even no scores, if you decide you would rather apply again next year – all the power is in your hands.