An important aspect of the SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) is how the test is scored. The Middle and Upper Levels of the test have a wrong answer penalty. This means that every question answered correctly earns 1 point, every question unanswered earns no points but also loses no points, while a wrong answer loses one quarter of a point. The major takeaway from this method of score calculation is the fact that students should be strategic about when they guess and when they don’t; a strong guessing strategy can be the difference between a good score and a great one.
It’s important to note that there is no wrong-answer penalty on the Elementary Level of the test. This quarter-point deduction only exists on the ML and UL tests. As a result, students should guess on every question on the EL test.
SSAT Wrong-Answer Penalty
Before we get to guessing and the SSAT wrong-answer penalty, let’s talk about timing. The SSAT is a timed test, so remember to take this into account when developing your guessing strategy. Focus first on the questions that you feel you can answer most easily. Get those points on the board! Then, return to the harder questions that you skipped and implement a POE, or Process of Elimination, strategy. Generally, with the SSAT wrong-answer penalty, if you can eliminate two or more answer choices you should certainly guess on the question—narrowing your odds on a question down to 1 in 3 tilts the math in your favor.
Don’t Get Down on Yourself!
The EMA designs the SSAT knowing that there will likely be content you have not learned in school yet. Try not to get frustrated—remember that it’s the test, not you. Keep in mind that the SSAT is timed, and if you get stuck, move on to an easier question.
Taking time to practice and prepare is another excellent way to combat this problem. Working with official SSAT materials will help students prepare for what to expect on an actual test. This is why we use and recommend Test Innovators: they have a direct partnership with the EMA and SSAT.
Get Started with SSAT Test Prep Today
While developing strategies in advance of your test date is important, practice is vital, and prepping for the SSAT is easier with an Inspirica Pros tutor! To learn more about how we can help you prep for the SSAT, give us a call today!