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About the SSAT Writing

The SSAT Writing section is not scored. On the SSAT Elementary Level, students are provided with one picture prompt and 15 minutes to complete the essay. The SSAT Middle* and Upper** Levels provides students with a choice of two written prompts and 25 minutes to write the essay. 
*SSAT Middle Level is provided with a choice of two creative writing prompts
**SSAT Upper Level is provided with a choice of one creative writing prompt and one essay prompt

The SSAT Writing section provides students with the opportunity to express themselves. Though it is not graded, the SSAT essay is submitted to the admissions departments of the schools to which the students have applied. This allows admissions department to assess students’ writing skills. The essay is not included in the score report, unless it is purchased to be included in the student’s online score report (except for the Elementary SSAT essay, which cannot be purchased).

SSAT Writing Prompts

The SSAT essay prompts are written in a way that allows students to tell admissions departments more about themselves and their way of thinking. Students are provided with two pages to write their essays on.

Elementary Level

Elementary SSAT Test takers are provided a prompt in the form of a picture. Students must write an essay based on the picture prompt and make sure that their writing sample is complete, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Middle Level

Both of the two Middle Level SSAT Writing prompts are creative. The response to the prompts must also be creative and make use of animated explanations. Students are expected to use grammar and vocabulary which conform to Standard English.

Upper Level

The Upper Level SSAT Writing section provides students a creative prompt and an essay prompt to choose from. If a student decides to respond to the creative prompt, the response must also be creative and make use of animated explanations. The creative prompt might be ambiguous and require the student for building the entire essay almost by himself or herself. If he or she responds to the essay prompt, the response must be supported by strong examples from the text.

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SSAT Writing Tips

Though the SSAT essay is not scored, it is still recommended that students write their essays as well as possible, as a copy of each students’ essay will be submitted to the schools selected during the SSAT registration process. Here are some helpful SSAT Writing tips to help your child produce the best work possible:

  • Begin the essay with a sentence either similar or identical to the one provided in the prompt
  • Write neatly in the space provided
  • Use proper grammar and vocabulary, conforming to the rules of Standard English. Pay careful attention to the rules of capitalization and punctuation
  • Stay on topic
  • Be creative, when suitable
  • Provide supportive information (statements, examples, etc.)
  • Maintain a standard essay structure, with an introduction, a minimum of two paragraphs in the main body, and a clear conclusion. Make sure your conclusion is tied back to the prompt and that you did not deviate from it too much
  • Stick to the expected word count of 350
  • Some people find making a list or a draft with their ideas before writing the actual essay useful – try to see whether it facilitates your writing
  • If you have enough time left, it is warmly recommended to go over your essay after you have finished writing and read it again to make sure the structure is logical and that you can easily understand the story
  • Keep your mind clear and writing-focused. Simple steps that might help are organizing your work environment and eating a healthy snack before you start writing

Click here to find out more about the other sections of the SSAT Test!

SSAT Practice Test

Admission to gifted and talented programs as well as independent schools has become increasingly competitive. Even with a high score on the SSAT, acceptance is not guaranteed. The SSAT essay section can give your child an opportunity to stand out against other candidates who may have the same score, and in that sense, be equally qualified.

Help your child succeed by making sure he or she is properly prepared for all sections of the test, including this one. TestPrep-Online currently offers a collection of Upper Level SSAT Practice Packs, and will soon release two following packs for the Middle and Lower Levels. All our packs are designed to provide your child with the opportunity to improve and progress. Our goal is the same as yours: To get your child the score s/he deserves.

The SSAT and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with TestPrep-Online or this website.

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