## Mary S. (Wellesley, MA)

“Our son was accepted into Belmont Hill and St. Sebastian’s. We are thrilled with our choices!! Thanks so much for your help!!”

March 11th, 2013
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Testimonials

## 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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Testimonials

## New SSAT Changes

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.

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 SSAT.org 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
alexis@preppedandpolished.com. 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?

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January 30th, 2013
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## Mistake to avoid in the SSAT Math Section

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts shows you on his whiteboard one crucial mistake you do not want to make on the SSAT Math section.

After you do your math steps, make sure you go back to the question and answer exactly what the question is asking.

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey everyone, Alexis Avila, founder of Prepped & Polished LLC, here in
South Natick, Massachusetts. If you want to do well on the SSAT math
section, you have to wipe out those careless errors, and do steady, careful
work on the SSAT math.Time and time again, whether you’re a lower level or upper level student, I
see the same student make the same careless mistake on this particular
problem. So let’s go to the board. I’m going to show you this problem. This
is a relatively easy problem, but almost 75% of students get this one
wrong.”A \$15 shirt is on sale for 20% off. What is the sale price of the shirt?”
Students get really happy and excited, because they think to themselves
that this is an easy and manageable problem. So, what they do is they’ll
take \$15, get the 20% discount, so they’ll multiply it by .2, and then they
will get \$3. Knowing this is a time-pressure test, they’re going to
instantly go to choice ‘A’, and circle \$3. However, you don’t want to go
with ‘A’. You don’t want to go with \$3. You went for the trap answer.You have to re-read the question every time. After doing the math, go back
to the question and make sure you’re answering what the question is asking.
They want what the sale price of the shirt is. You got the discount. Now
you have to subtract 3 from 15. The new price of the shirt is \$12. You go
with choice ‘C’ and you move on to the next question on the test.

So just remember, you could be a really good math student, but not do well
on the SSAT math if you keep making careless mistakes. Avoid careless
mistakes and you’ll do well on the SSAT math section.

I’ll talk to you soon. Good luck.

How do you avoid making careless mistakes on the SSAT Math Section? Have you fallen trap to this type of question before?

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December 4th, 2012
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## Common SSAT Math Mistake

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished, LLC demonstrates on his whiteboard what not to do when solving an SSAT math problem.

Make sure that you pay attention to the units of measurement on a math question, and when necessary, make sure you convert the units of measurement.

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey, everyone. Alexis Avila, founder of Prepped and Polished, LLC, here in
South Natick, Massachusetts. Now, half the battle to doing well on the SSAT
math section, pace yourself well and to avoid making careless mistakes.
Now, I often see students make the same careless mistake over and over
again with this particular problem, so I’m going to show you this problem,
so you don’t make the same mistake. Let’s go to the board.”Nick buys a piece of licorice 150 inches long. If he plans to give away
all of the licorice by giving each of his 5 friends an equal piece, how
long should he cut each piece?” So the math is really easy with this
problem. We’re simply going to take 150, which is the total length of the
piece of licorice, and divide it by the 5 friends that he shares it with.
That is going to give us 30. Now this is where students get the problem
wrong. They’re going to say, “Oh, well, I solved the problem. I got 30.”
They’re going to go to answer choice ‘B’ and circle it, which says 30 feet.
But they didn’t convert their units of measurement correctly.They forgot that they have to take 30 inches, because 150 inches divided by
five gives each friend 30 inches of licorice, and now we got to convert 30
inches into feet. So don’t forget to do your units of measurement. 30
inches, we’re going to divide it by 12 inches, and that’s going to give us
how many feet is 30 inches. 2.5 feet. The answer is ‘E’, 2.5 feet, not the
trap answer ‘B’. Just make sure you notice the units of measurement on math
problems and convert them when appropriate. And overall, don’t make
careless mistakes on the SSAT math section, and you’ll do fine.

Do you make careless mistakes on the SSAT math section? How do you avoid making careless errors on this section?

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October 25th, 2012
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Featured, SSAT

## SSAT and ISEE: Matching Grade with Level

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished, LLC uses his online whiteboard to show you which specific level SSAT or ISEE test you need to take.

If your student is currently in 5th, 6th, or 7th grade he or she will take the SSAT Lower Level Test.

SSAT Elementary Level is for students currently in 3rd or 4th grade, the SSAT Middle Level Test is for students currently in 5th, 6th, or 7th grade, the SSAT Upper Level is for students currently in 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade. The ISEE Lower Level test is for students currently in 4th or 5th grade. The ISEE Middle Level test is for student currently in 6th or 7th grade. The ISEE Upper Level test is for students currently in 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade.

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Which level SSAT and ISEE test will your student take? Do you have any questions about the different SSAT and ISEE levels?

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July 20th, 2012
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Featured, ISEE, SSAT

## Best Tips for the SSAT Reading Section

By 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.

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.

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?