Bonus Material: PrepMaven’s SSAT Guidebook

If you’re planning to be one of the 10% of students who enrolls in a private school, then you’ll likely have to take a standardized test as part of the private school admissions process. For many students, the SSAT is a real challenge, one that leads them to consider retaking it. 

And with good reason! A high SSAT score can be the difference between acceptance and denial at especially selective schools. At less selective schools, impressive SSAT scores might even earn you merit scholarships. 

At PrepMaven, we’ve worked with SSAT test-takers for over two decades. Through that time, we’ve developed a proven formula by which our Ivy-League tutors help students like you achieve incredible success on standardized tests like the SSAT.

In this post, we’ll use some of that experience to discuss whether you should retake the SSAT, how many times you should take it, and whether schools see how many times you take the SSAT. 

Plus, we’ll include links to our free SSAT guidebook, updated for this year’s test. It includes over 90 pages of information and guidance on everything from scoring policies to testing locations to question types!

Jump to section:
How Many Times Can You Retake the SSAT?
Why Retake the SSAT?
How Many Times Should You Take the SSAT?
Do Schools See All Your SSAT Scores?
Next steps


As we cover in our post on the SSAT Format, there are really three different SSATs: 

  • Elementary Level (students in grades 3-4)
  • Middle Level (students in grades 5-7)
  • Upper Level (students in grades 8-11)

Depending on which grade a student is in when taking the test (not which grade they’re applying to), they’ll take the corresponding SSAT. 

That’s an important consideration, since students taking the Middle Level and Upper Level SSATs can take it as many times as it’s offered throughout the year. They can also register for one SSAT Flex Test and two computer-administered SSATs.

The standard SSAT is offered throughout the year on specific dates at designated testing centers (usually a local school). You can read more about SSAT test dates and score release dates here

The SSAT Flex test is designed for students who can’t make one of the standard dates or times. Like the standard SSAT, it’s a paper test. The only difference is that there are more dates available, and you’d likely take the test in a different location. You can read more about SSAT Flex here!

The computer-based SSAT can be taken at Prometric Testing Centers or at home; it follows the same format as the standard SSAT but, of course, is taken digitally. 

So, in total, students taking the Middle or Upper SSAT can take it 9 times a year

Students taking the Elementary level SSAT, however, are capped at 3 tests per year. That includes 2 standard tests and 1 Flex test. 

Just because you can take the SSAT 8 times a year doesn’t mean you should. In fact, you definitely shouldn’t! Below, we’ll get into why you might want to retake the SSAT, when it’s a good idea to do so, and how many times you should. 


Because an SSAT score can be so important in private school admissions–especially if you apply to top schools like Lawrenceville, Choate, or Horace Mannyou want to do whatever you can to maximize the score you send. 

Because of that, there are plenty of excellent reasons to retake the SSAT. 

First, many students take the SSAT with no or insufficient prep. The fact is: maximizing your SSAT score potential means getting the best tutoring and using the best resources, ideally taking 3 months to prep for the test. 

Some students, however, take the SSAT cold and expect a great score. Some take a couple practice tests and think they’re ready. Others might work with a tutor who isn’t an SSAT expert. 

In any of these cases, these students simply haven’t had the resources to achieve their score potential! You need a rigorous test prep schedule, the best resources, and the right tutor to see the best possible results. 

We’ve written blog posts on those very things! You can find our list of the best SSAT Prep Resources here. And you can find our expert review and ranking of the 13 Top SSAT Tutoring Services–it’s updated yearly, so you know the tutors on that list are the best

If you haven’t dedicated sufficient time and resources to SSAT prep and aren’t happy with your score, you should retake the SSAT. Worried about a test prep timeline or the best testing date? Contact us for a free test prep consultation!

But, even if you’ve done everything right, there are still great reasons to do some more prep and retake the test. 

Many students just have an off day–it happens to even the best test takers! You might not have gotten a lot of sleep, you might have had a loud or distracting testing center, or you might have been sick. 

Any factor like that will affect your SSAT score, and you’ll benefit from a retake. 

However, even if you feel like everything went perfectly right on your first SSAT attempt, you should still retake the test

Why? 

Simply put, because almost every single student sees their standardized test score improve on the second and third attempt. 

We’ve spent decades coaching countless students to success on the SSAT and other standardized tests, and we’ve seen this pattern repeat itself every year. 

When a student takes the SSAT for the first time in the real, official testing environment, there will always be a certain degree of stress and uncertainty. The very fact that it’s your first time taking the test for real will likely affect your score. 

Taking the SSAT for a second or third time allows you to overcome those first-test jitters and get closer to your maximum score potential. 

In short: almost all students should retake the SSAT at least once. 

Below, you can download our free SSAT Guidebook, covering all the logistics you need to know when it comes to SSAT retakes–and much more, including:

  • Fee waivers
  • Testing accommodations
  • Registration Process
  • Score reports (including how to interpret raw scores, scaled scores, and score ranges)
  • Different test versions (including computer-based versions and SSAT Flex)
  • Question types


As we imply above, 2-3 total testing attempts is usually the sweet spot. 

Of course, this also depends on your score goals! 

We go more into depth on SSAT Scoring here, but it’s important to remember what the whole point of the SSAT is. 

You’re applying to specific private schools, and you want an SSAT score that makes you a strong applicant for those schools. 

Setting your SSAT score goal should involve careful research on the SSAT score ranges at each of your intended schools. 

If you hit that score goal on the first try–great! If you hit on the second or third, that’s great too! The important thing is that you set a realistic SSAT Score goal and develop a clear test prep plan to reach it. 

Once you do, it’s perfectly fine to stop retaking the SSAT (though we still think you’d benefit from taking it at least twice). 

So, why not take the SSAT as many times as possible? 

Theoretically, there’s no downside in terms of your application (we’ll cover what schools see on your SSAT Score Reports below). 

But… once you start retaking the SSAT more than 3 times, it’s going to take a lot of time, energy, and money. 

You’ve likely got other priorities in your life, whether that be maintaining a high GPA or getting involved in productive summer activities. 

If you are taking the SSAT every two months or so, you’re going to be dedicating a lot of time and energy to those testing retakes. Not just the weekends you’re actually testing, but all the time you spend studying, reviewing, and worrying! 

Plus, if you don’t notice some score improvement as you retest, there’s likely another problem–one that won’t be solved by endless retakes of the SSAT. 

More likely, it’s a problem of poor SSAT prep resources, the wrong approach, or the wrong tutor. 

Rather than repeating the same mistakes, you should take time to address them. The easiest way? Work with one of our expertly trained, Ivy-League SSAT tutors. They’ll help you make sure your SSAT retake is actually productive! 


This is the big question many SSAT-takers ask! 

If you take the SSAT multiple times, do the schools you’re applying to get to see all your SSAT score reports?

The answer is no! When you get your SSAT score reports back after a test date, you will be asked to designate schools as score recipients. 

However, the school’s admission office will only see the SSAT score from the testing dates you report to them. 

This raises another question about SSAT score reporting: do schools see how many times you’ve taken the SSAT?

Again, the answer is no! Schools will see if you’ve taken the test more than once. 

However, schools will not see your exact testing dates. And they won’t see how many times you’ve taken the SSAT. 

In other words, there’s no penalty for retaking the SSAT as you try to maximize your score. 

Below, you can download our free SSAT guidebook, which includes:

  • 90+ pages of valuable SSAT guidance
  • Details about SSAT scoring, content, testing options, and more
  • An introduction to PrepMaven’s SSAT strategies for all 5 sections of the test
  • Information about SSAT prep resources
  • Application essentials for the top U.S. private high schools
  • and much more!


Retaking the SSAT is a great idea for almost every student. 

But… it can just as easily turn into a huge waste of time and energy if you’re not making the most of your SSAT prep. 

If you’re serious about improving your SSAT score and earning admission to selective private schools, you need a tutor who is a test prep expert in addition to being brilliant themselves. 

That’s what we specialize in: our tutors include undergraduates at the world’s most selective universities, PhD students at the top of their fields, and test-prep professionals who’ve tutored for over 10 years. 

Plus all of them receive specialized SSAT training from our co-founder and test-prep maven, Kevin Wong. 

If that’s the kind of support you’d like, contact us for a free consultation today. We’ll get you on your way to the SSAT score you want. 


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Mike

Mike

Mike is a PhD candidate studying English literature at Duke University. Mike is an expert test prep tutor (SAT/ACT/LSAT) and college essay consultant. Nearly all of Mike’s SAT/ACT students score in the top 5% of test takers; many even score above 1500 on the SAT. His college essay students routinely earn admission into their top-choice schools, including Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth. And his LSAT students have been accepted In into the top law schools in the country, including Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Law.