The SSAT At Home 2020-2021: What You Need to Know

Bonus Material: PrepMaven’s SSAT Guidebook

Students applying to private schools now have three SSAT testing options for 2020 and 2021:

  • The Computer-Based SSAT At Home
  • The Computer-Based SSAT At a Prometric Testing Center
  • The Paper-Based SSAT

We walk families through the ins and outs of these testing options in a separate post. 

We’ve had many of our parents and students ask, however, about what to expect if taking the SSAT At Home. 

The most available of the testing options–it will be administered every Saturday beginning September 26, 2020–the SSAT At Home gives students the ability to test remotely in the comfort of their own homes!

What does this mean and what can you expect? We answer these questions and more in this detailed post.

You’ll also get access to our SSAT Guidebook, a comprehensive guide for families approaching this test for the first time. Grab it below.

Here’s what we cover:

What is the SSAT At Home?

Students in the U.S. and Canada only will be able to take a computer-based SSAT At Home beginning September 26, 2020. 

This is a digital (non paper-based) SSAT students can take remotely, at home, within a specific testing window.

The SSAT At Home requires, in general, the following:

  • A typed writing sample (as opposed to handwritten)
  • Internet access
  • Appropriate testing environment / equipment
  • The capacity to navigate between a digital interface and scratch paper (for figuring)

The SSAT at Home will be available every Saturday from 9 AM to 3 PM EST and the first Sunday of each month, and parents can register their student for an SSAT At Home between 24 hours and 90 days in advance. If you need to reschedule an SSAT At Home, you can do so up to 7 days in advance of the testing date.

Students with approved testing accommodations are also eligible for the SSAT At Home. This means that you’ll have to have these accommodations approved before registering for your exam.

The SSAT At Home is delivered by EMA’s partner, PSI, and administered through a secure web application “with continuous AI monitoring, data forensics, and live remote proctoring.”

What does this mean? Live proctors administer each SSAT At Home and monitor test-takers via webcam. Students must also select their answer choices to questions digitally, although they are permitted to use scratch paper for figuring.

At the time of publishing this post, EMA has outlined At Home testing dates through the end of January 2021

What You’ll Need to Take the SSAT At Home

EMA has strict requirements for At Home test-takers, especially when it comes to technical and room requirements.

Students will need the following to take the SSAT At Home:

Technology

  • A laptop or desktop computer (not a Chromebook) 
  • An internal or external webcam
  • A speaker to hear the proctor (headphones aren’t permitted)
  • A microphone to speak with the proctor (headphones aren’t permitted)
  • Stable, consistent internet connection
  • A system check 
  • The Secure Browser provided by PSI, EMA’s remote proctoring partner (this can be installed before Test Day)

Room/Environment

  • A quiet room where you can be alone during testing (i.e., a bedroom, library study room, classroom, etc.) 
  • A clear work surface, with your keyboard and mouse in front of you
  • A regular chair for sitting (not a sofa, for example)
  • No visible signs or posters that could be helpful on Test Day

EMA also specifies on its website that students must be “dressed appropriately,” as the system might ask for an ID photo in the form of a selfie during virtual check-in. It does not define what this should look like, but we encourage students to dress as if they were attending school (i.e., no sweatpants!).

What Test Day Will Look Like

It’s very important for test-takers to be punctual, given EMA’s late policy! For this reason, be sure to install the Secure Browser needed to launch the exam before Test Day. 

(EMA does not specify how soon you’ll be able to install this browser after registering for an SSAT At Home.)

Once you’ve launched your test, you’ll have to go through a security check on your computer. Then you’ll be asked by the remote proctor to give a scan of your testing room with your webcam.

**Parents and guardians can be present for this set-up part of the SSAT At Home, but they have to leave the room once testing begins.**

EMA says that students can talk to their proctors at any time during this process if they have questions. (It does not say, however, if students can do so while testing.)

Note: There is a late policy for SSAT At Home testing–if you haven’t launched your test 15 minutes after the test’s start time, it will no longer be active. Students can launch their test up to 30 minutes before their scheduled testing time.

Other Resources

Some students may not have the technology or testing environment needed to take the SSAT At Home. We thus encourage parents to take a look at the following as they explore this SSAT testing option: 

Should My Student Take the SSAT At Home?

Many of our families are asking us this question right now. In general, the answer to this question depends on the following: 

  1. Access (i.e., internet connection and equipment)
  2. Application deadlines / testing timeline
  3. Testing accommodations
  4. Health & safety

Many families feel that the SSAT At Home is the best option from a healthy and safety perspective right now, given that it allows students to take the test remotely. 

It also is the one SSAT testing option with the highest number of testing dates, with a relatively flexible rescheduling policy. This can be beneficial for students applying to private schools this fall & early winter, especially as scores arrive within four days of testing.

Yet some students might not be able to meet EMA’s At Home testing requirements, even if “tech waivers” are permitted for these students. Test-takers with accommodations might be limited by the format of the exam (i.e., some students might need to take a paper exam as opposed to a digital exam).

We want to emphasize that, according to EMA, there is no difference between the three testing options with respect to the following:

  • Registration cost
  • Content
  • Length
  • Format

In the meantime, we invite our SSAT families to check out the other SSAT testing options to see which will be a best fit for their student.

Download Our Free SSAT Guidebook

We discuss SSAT testing options, including the new SSAT At Home, and much more in our free SSAT Guidebook.

SSAT Resources_Guidebook

Here’s what you’ll find in this Guidebook:

  • 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!


Kate_Princeton Tutoring_AuthorBio Kate

Kate is a graduate of Princeton University. Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.