Posts Tagged ‘SSAT Reading’

How to Tackle Specific or Detailed SSAT Reading Questions

SSAT Instructor Terri shows you how to recognize and approach specific or detailed questions on the SSAT reading section.

For more information, visit: Prepped and

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What was your biggest takeaway from this episode about how to tackle specific or detailed SSAT reading questions? Do you have any questions for Terri and Alexis Avila?

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August 10th, 2017
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SSAT/ISEE Reading Comprehension: A 4 Step Strategy for Success

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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.
ISEE Test Prep and online SSAT prep
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)

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi. I’m Terri from Prepped and Polished in South Natick, Massachusetts.
Today I’m going to share some tips with you on how to improve your reading
comprehension score on the ISEE and the SSAT. Although both tests are very
similar, there are some key differences on the reading comprehension
component that could impact your score and perhaps influence which test you
decide is best for you.Let’s talk about guessing. The ISEE has no penalty for guessing, which
means that omitted questions and wrong answers are weighed the same. The
number of correct answers becomes your raw score, and that’s converted to
your scaled score. So if a student has a strong inclination toward a
certain answer, he or she can guess without fear. By contrast, the SSAT
subtracts a quarter point for each incorrect answer. So a student has to be
much more strategic about guessing.Let’s talk about the passages. The SSAT utilizes various passages from
fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, whereas the ISEE, the reading’s comprised
of nonfiction only. So now I’m going to talk to you about your reading
comprehension four-step strategy for success for either the ISEE or the
SSAT. Step number one: Skim the questions first to focus on the information
that you’ll need. Step number two: Read the passages quickly to get the big
picture. Why did the author write the passage? Be an active reader, and
that means marking up the passage, making notes in the margin as you read,
underlining main ideas, supporting ideas, word choices that are special,

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?

Post your tips/comments below.

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October 16th, 2013
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Janice T. (Braintree, MA)

“I hired a tutor for my son for SSAT testing for nine weeks. My son took the test and received 54 percentile in verbal, 55 in reading and 64 in math. I was disappointed in the tutoring services. I found Alexis at Prepped and Polished on the Internet and decided to give him a call. It was the best decision I made. After only FOUR sessions my son took the test again and scored 74 percentile in verbal, 75 in reading and a whopping 86 percentile in math. Alexis is very knowledgeable in the SSAT testing. My son found it easy to learn from him. Don’t hesitate and make the call to Prepped and Polished. It was the best decision I made and I’m sure it will be the best decision you’ll make too. He is worth every penny.”

February 1st, 2013
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Five Important Changes to the SSAT Test

New SSAT Changes

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Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts lists the five most important changes to the SSAT test.

1. The SSAT created a new Elementary Level Test for 3rd and 4th graders.
2. The SSAT Lower Level test is now called the SSAT Middle Level Test.
3. Teachers will write the SSAT questions.
4. There is now an experimental section.
5. The SSAT Writing prompts have changed.

Test Preparation

For more information about the SSAT changes, visit the SSAT Official Website

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey everyone, Alexis Avila, Prepped & Polished, LLC here at South Natick,
Massachusetts, and Happy New Year. It’s 2013. There have been some changes
to the SSAT, the private school admissions test as of late. I’m going to
let you know about five of these changes.The first change is the SSAT test now has the elementary level test for
students currently in third and fourth grade. Basically, the elementary
level test is an abbreviated version of the SSAT test. It has all the
classic SSAT sections. You have the quantitative math section, verbal
section, which consists of synonyms and analogies, the reading
comprehension section, which is basically 7 passages each with 4 questions,
and then you’ll have a writing section, which is basically a 15 minute
section of a student is shown a picture and then asked to tell a story with
a beginning, a middle, and end about what happened in the picture. The
writing section, of course, is not officially scored, but sent right to
private schools.Change number two is SSAT has officially renamed what was previously known
as the Lower Level Test to the SSAT Middle Level Test. If you are currently
in grades 5th, 6th, and 7th grade, you will take the SSAT Middle Level
Test. If you are currently in grades 8th through 11th grade, you will take
the SSAT Upper Level Test as always.Change number 3 is now 100% of the test questions on the SSAT will be
written by independent and private school teachers rather than the
corporate test writing service to write the questions. The SSAT basically
wants these questions to adequately depict the material found in
independent and private schools.Change number four to the SSAT is now the SSAT will incorporate an
experimental section, but it does not count towards the student score. It’s
kind of similar to the SAT test that you find in high school, but in this
case, you’ll get 16 extra questions that the SSAT will analyze to determine
if they’re relevant for future tests.Change number five to the SSAT is in the writing section for Middle Level
and Upper Level test takers. So if you’re taking the Middle Level SSAT
test, you will be presented with two creative prompts, and you chose to
write one. If you are going to take the Upper Level SSAT test, you will be
presented with a creative prompt and an essay prompt and choose one. If you
need some examples on types of creative prompts that they might present
you, I highly encourage you to go to the website and order the
official SSAT Study Guide. Just look around that website to see if you can
get some free information.If you have further questions, feel free to email me at I wish you good luck on the SSAT. I will
talk to you soon.

Are you taking the SSAT? What questions do you have about the SSAT changes?

Post your tips/comments below.

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January 30th, 2013
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The 5 Best Tips for the SSAT Reading Section

Best Tips for the SSAT Reading Section

SSAT Reading TipsBy Grant Hanada, Tutoring and Test Preparation Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC

The reading comprehension section for the SSAT tends to be one of the hardest parts of the test for most students. Very few students are actually taught in school how to prepare for these types of reading passages and even fewer are given specific advice on how to tackle this in an effective way under time pressure. Here are 5 great tips for students to have when they approach the SSAT reading comprehension section:

1. You choose which passages to read.
Before the test, you should spend some time practicing all the various types of passages (historical, story, science, etc.) and know which ones you are stronger in. During the actual test, nobody will stop you from completing the passages out of order. Quickly browse each passage as soon as time begins and start answering the easier passages first and save the hard ones until the end. It is ok if you don’t have time to completely finish the hard passages, you can still get a great score!

2. Don’t read the entire passage like a book.
It is not important to know every detail like you would when doing a book report. Start each passage by doing a quick scan of only the introduction, the topics sentences of each paragraph, and the conclusion. You should be able to do this in less than 1 minute. Just gather the overall ideas and the general tone of the passage. That is it, don’t try and read the entire passage at once. When you get to the questions you will read specific parts more closely.
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3. Separate “specific” vs “general” questions.
There are always 2 types of questions—specific or general. A specific question will point you to a very specific part of the passage and often the exact line numbers. Do these types of questions first and leave the general questions for later. When you answer specific questions you should read a few lines before and after the specific area you are looking at for context, but make sure the answer you pick is directly related to the information in the specified lines from the question. General questions are much more broad and should be answered last because after you answer all the specific questions you should know the entire passage well enough to answer questions about the main purpose.

4. Be careful on “definition” questions.
Many passages will have a question that asks you to answer what a certain word means in the context of the passage. Usually the reason this word is important is because it is being used in a different manner than you are used to seeing. Be very wary of picking answers that are the typical dictionary definitions. Also, if 2 answer choices are synonyms of each other and since 2 answers can’t both be correct, most likely neither one of those answers are correct.

5. Be a skeptic.
As you look at all your answer choices you should be negative and critical toward every one. Imagine that they are all incorrect and that it would take direct evidence to convince you that an answer choice is really correct. Therefore, when deciding which answer is best, you need to find hard evidence from the passage to fully prove that an answer is the best. Also, be sure to not have any prior assumptions about topics. If you know a lot about dogs and the passage happens to be about dogs, forget everything you know. The answers must come directly from the passage alone. Remember, you are not picking a “perfectly correct” answer; you are picking the best answer.

Grant Hanada has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology from UCLA, and is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Boston University.

To know more Best Tips for the SSAT Reading Section, do write to Prepped & Polished.

Did you find these SSAT Reading Comprehension tips helpful? Which tip affected you the most?

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January 13th, 2012
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