How to Succeed on the SSAT: Part I

  • Posted By: Nora Martin
  • September 16, 2014

Reading Comprehension Section

Cover Up Answer Choices

Reading Comprehension (RC) is about understanding what you are reading. You do not need outside information to do well on this section. You also do not need to be experienced in the topic of any given passage. Creativity may harm more than help. What you need to do is cover the answer choices and think up answers in your head based on the PASSAGE. The passage contains your answers and you want to read the provided answers only when necessary. Why? Because wrong answer choices are meant to be tricky! The biggest SSAT trick is: do not let wrong answers trick you! In non-math sections, this means you should (1) think up your answer before reading answers and (2) eliminate worse answer choices, whenever possible!


For the couple of RC question types that cannot be solved by covering answer choices (such as, “Which of the following is…” or “All of the following do…. EXCEPT”), solve by reading through the answer choices and marking each one true or false (T or F); students who do this accurately will be left with just one T or F among several of the opposite – this “odd one out” is your best answer.


Verbal Section


Read the capitalized word. If you have no idea what it means, omit the question. It is important that students do not spend too much time on the synonyms as the analogies will take more time (and can be easier because they offer more context). Synonyms can be done quickly but can be impossible when the vocabulary is unfamiliar. However, with time you can become familiar with enough words and word roots to significantly increase your score in this section. So, study vocabulary and read books that challenge you!


Learn the different types of SSAT analogy relationships; synonyms, antonyms, greater/lesser, one of a type, etc. This will help your brain to understand and classify analogies as you come across them. Remember that your strategy is to make up a sentence for the question words that describes their relationship. You then compare this relationship to the relationships between the answer choice words. Note that order matters: Kitten is to cat is NOT the same relationship as dog is to puppy. Don’t let SSAT analogies trick you!
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