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Great SSAT test preparation services! Our son got a 99th percentile overall on the November test, and still wants to take the December one to see if he can get a perfect score. Thanks for the help!
SSAT instructor Terri of Prepped & Polished teaches you how to avoid getting stumped by the attractor answer choices on the SSAT Synonyms section.
4 SSAT Synonyms Tips:
1. Anticipate the answer
2. Part of speech will be consistent
3. Before being drawn to an attractor, think of context of word
4. Master vocabulary and acquaint yourself with word parts and word origins
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SSAT Instructor Terri of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how use key strategies when answering tricky analogy questions.
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About Prepped & Polished:
Prepped & Polished, LLC is a premier educational services company founded by educators in 1999. Our mission is to provide you with the highest-quality customized learning experience available. We will help you achieve top grades, higher test scores, and meet your academic and professional-related goals. Whether you are looking for in-person or online Tutoring and Test Preparation, we are here to help you succeed. Our caring, dynamic educators graduated from some of the most elite schools in the nation, including University of Michigan, Harvard, Brown, and MIT. They are ready to provide you with the strategies, tools and guidance necessary to ensure academic and professional success. Prepped & Polished proudly serves Boston and its surrounding areas including: Weston, Wellesley, Wayland, Sudbury, Dover, Needham, Belmont, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Newton, Brookline, Sherborn, Carlisle, Boston
SSAT and ISEE Tutor Terri K. of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you six strategies and one bonus tip for the SSAT Creative Prompt in the SSAT Essay Section.
1. Prewrite your response.
2. Use a clear structure.
3. Decide what point of view and tense you will use.
4. Use effective imagery and vocabulary.
5. Use effective grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
BONUS TIP: Do NOT underestimate the power of your writing sample.
Full Word-for-Word Transcription
Tip Number 4: Your story should use effective vocabulary and good imagery.
Your goal is clear, lively writing that uses imagery, which is the 5
senses; figurative language like similes, metaphors, personification; and
well-chosen vocabulary that shows rather than tells. Use exciting verbs to
empower your writing. For example, ‘The pitiful defendant got on her knees
and asked for mercy.’ Substitute ‘asked’ for ‘pleaded for mercy’. Instead
of ‘Linda was scared’, you could write her, ‘Hands were clammy’, or ‘Her
body was quivering like a bowl of Jell-O’. Avoid ‘he said, she said’.
Reveal a character’s tone. ‘He asked contemptuously’, or you could say ‘She
snorted in amusement’. Check for overused words like ‘things’ and ‘stuff’.
Tip Number 5: Use effective grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
When you proofread, look for the two most common pitfalls which are
sentence fragments and run-on sentences. A sentence fragment is part of a
sentence that is punctuated as if it were a complete sentence. For example,
‘On that morning, I sat in my usual spot on the old wooden stool in the
corner of my mother’s kitchen.’ That fragment lacks a subject or verb. We
can correct that by saying, ‘On that morning, I sat in my usual spot, on
the old wooden stool in the corner of my mother’s kitchen.’ Run-on
sentences are two complete sentences that run together as if they are one.
If there’s two independent clauses in one sentence, you must make them into
two sentences separated with a period, joined with a comma and a
coordinating conjunction: And, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet, or connected
with a semicolon.
For example, here’s a run-on sentence: ‘Michael Jordan played for the
Chicago Bulls he was the team’s star player’; definitely a run-on sentence.
Here are 3 ways you could correct that: You could add a period and a
capital letter. You could put a comma and a coordinating conjunction ‘and’,
or a semicolon and have a lower case ‘H’. Then you would eliminate the
problem of a run-on sentence.
The best way to excel on the creative prompt is to read a wide selection of
materials to increase your vocabulary; this will enable you to select just
the right word whenever you need it. Reading your favorite authors empowers
you to improve your writing skills and develop your own writing style and
Here’s a bonus tip for you: Do not underestimate the power of your writing
sample. Schools use the writing sample as an indication of how well you
write under controlled conditions, to estimate your academic capability to
perform in an independent setting, and to compare your performance with
other applicants for admission or with your current academic record. Bottom
line, the essay is often used as the final judgment. I hope these tips
today will help you to write your best creative response on the SSAT. Good
Are you getting ready for the SSAT? Which of Terri’s creative prompt tips did you find most helpful?
SSAT and ISEE Tutor Terri K. of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you five power strategies and one bonus tip for the SSAT and ISEE Synonym section.
1. When you know the stem word, cover the choices. Think of the word phrase or definition closest in meaning to the stem word. Then look for that word among the answer choices.
2. If you don’t know the stem word, put it in context.
3. If the stem word is positive then the answer choice must be positive. If the stem word is negative then the answer choice must be negative.
4. Use prefixes and suffixes to provide clues to figure out the meaning of words.
5. Use all the power strategies to help you eliminate. Cross out answers that are farthest from the meaning of the stem word. On the ISEE always guess. On the SSAT guess after eliminating at least two answer choices.
BONUS TIP: The best way to excel on the SSAT and ISEE synonyms is to READ and look up unfamiliar words right away to increase vocabulary knowledge.
Power Strategy #5: Eliminate. Use all of the power strategies to help you
eliminate. Cross out answers that are farthest from the meaning of the stem
word. This is a real timesaver and will keep you on track. Remember on the
ISEE, always guess. There’s no penalty for guessing so you can even take a
wild guess if you don’t know the answer. On the SSAT, guess after
eliminating at least 2 answer choices.
Here’s a bonus tip for you: Of course, the best way to excel on the SSAT
and ISEE with synonyms is to read all kinds of material, whether it be
literature, magazines, editorials, newspapers. Look up unfamiliar words
right away and add them to your growing vocabulary. You never know, you
might see one of those words on the ISEE or SSAT synonym portion. I hope
these power strategies will help you to get your best score on the synonym
section of the ISEE and the SSAT. Power-up and good luck.
Are you preparing for the SSAT or ISEE? Which of Terri’s power strategies did you find most helpful?
Terri K. ISEE/SSAT Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you a four step strategy for mastering the ISEE and SSAT Reading Comprehension section.
1. Skim the questions first to focus on info you will need.
2. Read the passages quickly to get the big picture.
3. Read the questions and answer choices.
4. Answer every reading comprehension question on the ISEE, even if you have to guess. (on the SSAT-guess if you can eliminate one or two answer choices)
Step number three: Read the questions and answer choices. Do not spend more
time on the passages than the questions. Spend about a minute per passage
and a minute to a minute and a half per question. Focus on answering the
questions, not studying or learning the text. Do not keep rereading
portions that you don’t understand.
If you don’t know the answer, go back to the passage. All the answers to
reading questions can be found in or inferred from the passages. Use line
references to help you locate information. All word-in-context questions
send you back to line reference or a paragraph indicator. Cross out all the
answers that you can eliminate. The answer choice must be both true and
must be the best answer to that particular question. Number four: Answer
every question on the ISEE, even if you have to guess. On the SSAT, guess
if you can eliminate one or two answer choices. Knowing what to expect on
the ISEE and the SSAT is half the battle to gain confidence and get your
best score possible.
One last tip: Familiarize yourself with the kind of questions that you’ll
find on either test, and it will make it much easier to handle the
questions. Is it a main idea question? Is it a supporting idea or detail
question? Is it an inference question? Is it a word context question? Does
it have to do with tone or figurative language or maybe organization and
logic? Knowing these different types of questions will help you to select
the best answer. Well, I hope this information and tips will help you to
get your best score possible. Good luck.
Are you preparing for the SSAT or ISEE? Which of Terri’s tips did you find most helpful?
“I am happy to provide a recommendation for Prepped and Polished, both for math tutoring and SSAT test prep tutoring.
Perhaps it would help to know first our circumstances. My son also is in 8th grade and looking to apply to boarding schools. We are New Yorkers (home in Manhattan) but due to my husband’s work have been living in Asia for almost 5 years (Singapore and Tokyo). Prior to living in Asia my son attended a private school in Manhattan.
Our son has been working with Prepped and Polished since April/May 2013 via Skype. Initially he did a two week cram session prior to his taking the SSAT the first time last April, 2013. He has been doing weekly SSAT and Math tutoring since. Our son is a strong student at school and gets consistently high grades. Because our lives in the last five years have had much relocation and changing schools we found our son’s language arts and math curriculum to have fallen behind the levels being tested on the SSAT.
The preparation work has not only given him a big leg up curriculum-wise but has also made him more confident with taking the test. Our son has taken the test twice and will take it at least once more (maybe twice depending on his scores). From the first to second test he doubled his scores. The biggest impact of the tutoring has been learning strategies, getting used to a very long and intensive test time as well as covering a lot of materials that is directly related to what will be on the test.
I can’t begin to tell you how much it helped to calm our son’s nerves his feeling more prepared for the 2nd test. The math tutoring he is receiving has also helped with his math class this year at school even though they are covering different materials than his school class.
To date, we have had 3 different tutors from Prepped and Polished. I am genuinely impressed with all of them. These tutors keep the sessions moving and productive. My son always has homework from the sessions and NEVER complains about either the homework or sessions. Rather he has asked for this support.
From my perspective, the fact that we’ve been able to work out the sessions via Skype half-way around the world is testament to the competency of the tutors and the flexibility of the overall management of Prepped and Polished. They truly want what is best for each student to reach his or her best potential.
You can not begin to understand how wonderful it feels to have this kind of support from half way around the world! People in Asia (except Japan) sometimes do not understand client support/service the way we do in America. So to be able to have access to top notch tutors and people like yourself is like having a little bit of home with us here in Singapore.”
By Terri K., SSAT Essay Writing Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC
The SSAT includes a writing section which may be administered either before or after the multiple-choice sections of the test. Students are presented with a choice of two prompts (one essay, one creative) from which the student will choose one. You will have 25 minutes to plan and complete your writing sample which can be up to two pages.
Your essay is not scored by SSAT. Instead, a copy is sent to each of the schools that receive your score report. However, do not underestimate the power of your writing sample. Schools use your writing sample as an indication of how well you can write under controlled conditions, so approach the writing piece with this in mind. Schools use your scores to estimate your academic capability to perform in an independent school setting, to compare your performance with other applicants for admission, or with your current academic record. So, bottom line, the essay is often used as the final judgment.
Here are 10 tips to help you to be more successful on the writing portion of the SSAT:
Each essay question consists of a topic (short phrase, proverb, or question) and an assignment (usually to agree or disagree with the position taken). There is no right or wrong answer.
1) Stick to the topic: So many students go off on tangents instead of discussing the topic. Rephrase the question in your own words to make sure you understand what it is asking you. You may be creative in your approach, but you need to take a clear position and support that position with specific examples from your own experience, the experience of others, current events, literature, or history. Although you do not know the topic ahead of time, you can be prepared. Prior to the SSAT, think about meaningful personal experiences and observations, favorite literature, as well as current and historical events that interest you. Read some editorials – a great way to learn how good writers give opinions and provide examples. You will be relieved if you can apply some of this information on test day.
2) Have a plan for your essay: 25 minutes is not much time, so you need to budget your time in order to complete your essay. You will need to write more than a short paragraph. A great essay lacking a conclusion will not be viewed favorably. Contrary to what many students think, planning your essay makes the writing process easier, faster, and more organized. Allow 3-5 minutes to decide on your stance, brainstorm two to three examples that support your thesis, and make a brief outline for 3-5 paragraphs. You probably will not have time to write a 5-paragraph essay. Allow 15 minutes to write your essay as neatly and legibly as you can. Allow approximately 5 minutes to revise and proofread your essay.
3) Show – don’t tell: Rather than explaining why you believe a statement is true or not, use relevant examples that illustrate the point that you want to make. Preferably, use examples other than from your personal life. Reading the newspaper on a regular basis will give you material for good supporting examples for your essay while improving your vocabulary.
4) Grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure: When you proofread, check for two of the most common errors: sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
Complete sentences have a subject and verb and make sense when standing alone. Example: On that morning I sat in my usual spot. On the old wooden stool in the corner of my grandmother’s kitchen (fragment-lacks subject and verb). Correct: On that morning I sat in my usual spot, on the old wooden stool in the corner of my grandmother’s kitchen.
When two independent clauses appear in one sentence (run-on), they must be joined with a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet), with a semicolon, or made into two sentences separated by a period. Avoid monotony by varying the rhythm and length of your sentences.
5) Word choice: Check for the overused words – “things” and “stuff”. Replace words that do not add quality to your essay with more detailed, advanced academic vocabulary. Use exciting verbs to empower your writing. Also, check for pronouns (him, her, they, it) that have no antecedent. This error makes an essay very confusing.
6) Legibility: Remember that people who are not familiar with your handwriting will read what you write. Try to write or print so that your writing is legible to those readers. Admissions officers read many essays, and if your writing is difficult to decipher, it may not be received as favorably. Edit carefully, just putting one line through a word or phrase that you revise.
1) Pre-write your essay: The creative essay prompt is open-ended. For example, the prompt “And then she came in the door…” could be the beginning of an essay about almost anything you choose. Your essay could be about a friend, sibling, teacher, mother, detective, etc. Other examples of creative prompts are:
– “He couldn’t believe they wanted his help…”
– “The silence was deafening…”
– “He was hanging on by a thread…”
Again, the possibilities are endless. Try writing a creative essay in advance that could be adaptable to a variety of prompts. Do some research on a favorite subject or think about an accomplishment that you would like an admissions officer to learn about you. Hopefully, you can adapt this idea to a creative prompt on test day.
2) Writing a story: If you use the creative prompt to write a story, start with some tension and immediacy (the unusual, the unexpected, an action or conflict) to grab the reader’s attention. A good story has a conflict, a climax (when the rising action of the story reaches its peak) and a resolution (conflict is resolved). In 25 minutes, it is difficult to provide a complete resolution, so you want to reveal that the characters are beginning to change or are starting to see things differently.
3) Words/Imagery: Your goal should be clear, lively writing that employs imagery and well-chosen vocabulary that shows rather than tells. For example, instead of writing that Linda was scared, you could write that her hands were clammy or that her body was quivering like a bowl of jello. Instead of writing that John asked the question nervously, you could write – “Where are you going?” John stammered, staring at his sneakers. Make it riveting! Avoid he said, she said. Reveal a character’s tone; for example, “….she snorted in amusement…” or “…he asked contemptuously…”
4) READ, READ, READ: The best way to improve writing skills for either prompt (essay, creative) is to consistently read a wide selection of materials: newspapers (especially editorials), all types of literature, magazines, etc. Reading increases your vocabulary so that you can use the right word just when you need it. Reading books by your favorite authors empowers you to improve your own writing by developing the language you need.
Is your student taking the SSAT? What was your favorite SSAT essay tip?
Terri graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Connecticut, with a dual degree in Education and English. She has 15 years of teaching and tutoring experience as a licensed teacher (Grades 5-12). Terri works with students from elementary school through college, and serves as an incredible resource when it comes to preparing for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, MCAS). em>
“We are not from the USA and my boys were applying to Prep Schools and had never written a Standardized Test. We started the process very late and then found out that the boys had to write SSAT’s. The boys wrote the test in Nov and did very poorly. We were referred to Alexis. He spent several days with the boys over the course of a week. He gave them a lot of homework which they did. The boys were on Christmas holidays, but worked diligently as they respected and very much liked Alexis. They wrote the test again just after the holidays and did very well. I would definitely recommend Alexis. He understands kids and works very well with them, and obviously knows what he’s doing as reflected in the incredible improvement in my boys SSAT scores.”
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished talks about the differences between the ISEE test and the SSAT test.
1. The ISEE has sentence completion questions, while the SSAT has analogies.
2. The first ISEE math section (middle and upper level only) has quantitative comparison questions.
3. The ISEE has four answer choices and no guessing penalty, while the SSAT has five answer choices and a ¼ point deduction for wrong answers.
ISEE vs. SSAT expanded
Hi everyone, Alexis here, Prepped and Polished. Now, if you’re applying to
boarding or private school, you’re going to have to take the SSAT, ISEE
test or both. Now, what are the differences between the two tests?
The ISEE test has sentence completion questions. The SSAT test has
analogies. The ISEE test first math section has quantitative comparison
math questions, middle and upper level ISEE test only. The ISEE test has no
guessing penalty and four answer choices.
The SSAT test has a guessing penalty – one quarter point deduction for
questions answered incorrectly and five answer choices to choose from.
Now overall, the ISEE test is a little easier, more straightforward than
the SSAT test. After all, there’s no guessing penalty. However, the second
math section of the ISEE test has 45 questions. You have 40 minutes to do
them. That’s one minute per question – less than one minute per question
and that throws kids off, so be careful with the pacing there. I recommend
the ISEE test for students who aren’t good test takers because there’s no
However, lately, I find that the SSAT test is a more coachable test because
analogy questions are easy to master. Now the ISEE lower level test is for
students currently in fourth and fifth grade. The ISEE middle level test is
for students currently in sixth and seventh. The ISEE upper level test is
for students in eighth through eleventh grade.
The SSAT lower level test is for fifth through seventh graders. The SSAT
upper level test is for eighth through eleventh graders. Now overall, find
a private tutor who will teach you strategies and pacing for all components
of the test.
If you walk into the test knowing exactly what to expect, you’ll be that
much more confident, no matter what test you choose. Now I’m attaching a
link to this that elaborates on these tips.
Good luck to you, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Are you preparing for the ISEE or the SSAT? Do you have other questions about these tests?