History of SSAT Ontario
Barbara Priscus, Former Vice-Principal, Academic of The Bishop Strachan School, introduced the SSAT to independent schools in Ontario.
BSS was the first Ontario school to adopt the SSAT in the early 80’s. UCC joined later. Through the efforts of these two schools, combined with the personal efforts of David Mumby and Regan Kenyon at SSATB, most independent schools in Ontario eventually came to join the Ontario Consortium.
Prior to the formation of the Consortium, parents were required to approach each of the schools to which they wished to apply in order to have their children write an in-house examination. This often meant that children would spend four to five consecutive weekends in test writing conditions in addition to the interviews that they had to undergo for each application. As a standardized examination, the SSAT has simplified this process in many ways. It is now used across Canada for entrance into independent schools.
However, the SSAT is still only one component of the admissions process. Schools still review school grades, extracurricular engagements, leadership involvement, teacher recommendations, essays and interview results. SSAT scores, however, do carry significant weight, though the specific weighting associated with the exam varies from school to school. Consequently, students should prepare to perform as well as they possibly can in order to bolster their chances of admissions to all the schools to which they wish to apply.
TO PREPARE OR NOT TO PREPARE? THAT IS THE QUESTION…
The SSAT measures a student’s academic ability, as well as his or her ability to think logically and solve problems systematically. In terms of the admissions process, the exam provides schools with a common measure for evaluating student ability, regardless of experience or background. In our experience, the SSAT is also a gauge of how well students take standardized tests. The SSAT is NOT like a school test. Most students have not been exposed to writing a three hour multiple-choice exam with a timed essay and scoring penalties. Students who experience test-taking anxiety might face difficulties in managing their time, which inevitably results in scores that do not reflect their abilities. Thus, performing well on the SSAT is not necessarily a matter of intelligence; rather, it is a measure of how well-prepared a student is to take a standardized test, demonstrate his or her abilities under time pressure, and score well. Students should become familiar with the SSAT scoring rubric and structure as well as the test format well ahead of their test date. They should work on their test-taking skills by practicing with fundamental SSAT content while at the same time work to develop their admissions interview skills by practicing with mock questions.
SSAT coaching can make a huge difference in a student’s test score. With proper coaching, a student's sophistication in test taking can improve significantly in a relatively short period of time. As parents, it is important to ensure that our children feel comfortable with the admissions process and their transition to a new school. We need to encourage them to prepare for a final exam just as we encourage them to practice before a soccer tournament, a piano recital, or a speech contest. We know that our children rely on more than just books and manuals to learn how to play soccer, play the piano and deliver speeches. Shouldn’t we provide them with more than just books and manuals to train for the SSAT as well?
PREPSKILLS® provides students with personalized teaching support to build confidence, practice test-taking skills, and alleviate test-related anxiety. PREPSKILLS® helps students achieve scores that demonstrate their abilities. We support students by ensuring that their “authentic” self shines through at the interview as well. At PREPSKILLS®, we have had the pleasure of working with thousands of families and supporting them throughout the admissions process.
As Educators, we are passionately focused on helping students develop the skills they need to translate preparation into opportunity™… one young mind at a time!
To your child’s success,
The PREPSKILLS® Team
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