Students receive SSAT tutoring at Open Door Education in Acton and Concord


As families begin the often confusing process of applying to private high school, we hear a variety of questions about the SSAT. Here are answers to those we hear most frequently.


When should my child take the SSAT?

The SSAT is offered eight times over the school year, beginning in October; test dates can be found here. Check with the schools to which your student is applying as to the final possible date that will meet their deadline.


Can my child take the SSAT more than once?

Yes. Most students plan to take it twice.


How much preparation will my child need?

Even the strongest students benefit from SSAT test prep. It’s a difficult test, and familiarity with the types of questions, format, and, of course, material covered makes a huge difference. We recommend minimally four sessions; students see the greatest benefit from 6-12. In particular, vocabulary practice is time-intensive–there are no shortcuts.


What is the most important element of the private high school application?

Answers to this question vary. Private school admissions officers will say that the SSAT is not the most important factor; however, it is rare to see acceptance of a student whose scores are far outside the school’s typical range. Other top factors include interviews with student and family–they aim to build a well-rounded student body with a diversity of talents and interests, supported by involved parents. Grades, recommendations, and extracurriculars are also of high importance. Essays and short answers on the applications themselves are also indicators of whether the student will be a good fit.


How many schools should be on my student’s list?

Most students have a good idea of a few schools they’d like to attend, and families in Eastern Massachusetts are fortunate to have multiple excellent choices nearby. No matter the reputation of the school, however, it’s important to do your own online research to learn whether the environment is right for your child, and then schedule a tour during a school day. If you already know your student will be applying, request an interview the same day.


Am I too late for this year?

Most private and Catholic high schools have mid-December application deadlines. In most cases, admissions and financial aid/scholarship decisions are made by February.


Where can I learn more?

Here is more detail about the SSAT we have compiled. If you are interested in working with an admissions consultant, please contact our office for a list of consultants we recommend. Below is a list of some of the top private and religious affiliated schools in our region.


Area private schools

Highest range of SSAT scores

Buckingham, Browne, and Nichols, Cambridge

Cambridge School of Weston

Concord Academy, Concord

Deerfield Academy, Deerfield

Groton School, Groton

Middlesex School, Concord

Milton Academy, Milton

Nobles and Greenough, Newton

Phillips Academy Andover, Andover

St. Mark’s School, Southborough


Middle range of SSAT scores

Brooks School, North Andover

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall, Waltham

Dana Hall School, Wellesley

Lawrence Academy, Groton


Catholic High Schools

Boston College High, Boston

St. Sebastian’s School, Needham

Xaverian Brothers, Westwood


If you are interested in SSAT tutoring, email to schedule a free consultation. Open Door also prepares students for the lower and middle levels of the SSAT and ISEE.