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Preparing for the Character Skills Snapshot: What Every Family Needs to Know

Emily Cretella
May 21, 2023
3 minute read

So, your child is registered to take the Character Skills Snapshot (the Snapshot).

Amazing! That means you’re ready to provide potential private schools with a more consistent, complete picture of your student during the admissions process, which is a good thing, since there are so many factors that make your child unique. 

The Snapshot is one component of an admission process that can, at times, be complex and stressful. During the private school admission journey, students and families have a lot to do—from finding your right-fit school, to taking the SSAT, to writing an admission essay, to collecting application materials, to submitting the Standard Application Online (SAO), and more. 

Each of those steps requires preparation. But what about the Snapshot? How does your child prepare to take this assessment? 

The easy (yet not-so-easy) answer is: they don’t. 

That’s right. There is no true preparation needed for students to take the Snapshot because there are no right or wrong answers to the assessment. 

The Snapshot’s benefit to both admissions professionals and families is that it showcases many of the intangible character skills that make your child who they are by measuring initiative, intellectual engagement, open-mindedness, resilience, self-control, social awareness, and teamwork.  

Schools are looking for students who bring a unique mix of these character skills to their communities. Admissions professionals do not expect students to be strong in every area—they are looking for individuals who will grow and thrive within their programs and offerings. 

This means your child should answer the Snapshot questions openly and honestly, without fear of failing or providing a wrong answer. 

However, just because there is no preparation needed for the assessment itself, there are things families should understand prior to taking the Snapshot. 

4 Things to Know about the Character Skills Snapshot


<span class="text-color-orange" role="decoration">The Skills Measured</span> 

The Snapshot is an innovative online tool that measures student preferences toward seven character skills. These skills fall into three areas: skills that are intellectual in nature, skills that are intrapersonal in nature, and skills that are interpersonal in nature. Learn about each skill here.


<span class="text-color-lightblue" role="decoration">The Snapshot Questions</span> 

Snapshot questions fall into two categories: forced choice, and situational judgment. 

Forced choice questions present three statements and ask students to select the statements that are most and least like them. For example:

  • I enjoy difficult tasks
  • I easily adapt when plans change
  • I enjoy working with others

Situational judgment questions give students different scenarios with four responses to each. Students rate each response on a four-point scale, from not appropriate to very appropriate. An example would be: 

The scenario: Kainoa is assigned a group project, and the group needs to meet once after school to finish work before the deadline. The group wants to meet Tuesday afternoon, but Kainoa has baseball practice at that time.

Should Kainoa:

  • Ask his coach for permission to miss practice so he can work on the group project
  • Ask his group members to meet on another day that suits his schedule
  • Tell the group that he will do his portion of the work at home and send it to them later
  • Meet his group members on Tuesday rather than going to baseball practice


<span class="text-color-green" role="decoration">Interpreting Snapshot Results</span>

Remember: there are no wrong answers. The Snapshot is intended to capture your student’s skills at the moment they take the assessment, and these skills will certainly change over time. The resulting report includes information about how to read the results.  


<span class="text-color-orange" role="decoration">Submitting the Snapshot</span>

Once you get your student’s report, you can choose to send them to any school. If you are using the SAO to apply to schools, you can provide a parent/guardian character perspective narrative if you want to offer your own perception of your student’s character skills. 

Taking the Character Skills Snapshot is a great way to learn more about your child’s preferences, attitudes, and beliefs, all while elevating their voice in the admission process. It’s also one of the only components of the admissions journey that does NOT require any formal preparation, so enjoy the process!

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The Character Skills Snapshot is an innovative measure of student preferences, attitudes, and beliefs, helping schools get to know who an applicant is rather than just what they know from grades and standardized tests—letting their uniqueness shine. Add the Snapshot to your student's application today to help them stand out.