Private School Admission Tests

Standardized admission tests, or entrance exams, are a common step in a holistic private school application process. Since 1957, the Enrollment Management Association (EMA) has led the way in developing and administering equitable admission assessments.

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Why are admission assessments necessary?

First, it’s important to recognize that standardized tests aren’t the sole criteria for admission decisions. Private schools aim to admit students poised for success in their programs, and standardized tests complement subjective evaluations such as interviews and teacher recommendations by providing objective measurements. Think of it as a system of checks and balances to show whether all application requirements tell the same story about potential students. 

To help admission teams gain a holistic 360-degree view of applicants, EMA provides two distinct and industry-leading assessments—the SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) and the Character Skills Snapshot.

The gold standard in cognitive admission assessments, the SSAT is available for students applying to third grade through high school. The SSAT evaluates students’ verbal, math, and reading skills, along with an unscored writing section. Accommodations are provided to test-takers with disabilities, and fee waivers are available to qualified students.

The Snapshot is an innovative measure of student preferences, attitudes, and beliefs toward seven character skills. It complements the SSAT by helping admission teams get to know who an applicant is rather than just what they know for the test—letting their uniqueness shine. Fee waivers for the Snapshot are also available to qualified students.

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Let’s Talk About Fairness in Standardized Testing

Listen to Dr. Keith Wright from the Enrollment Management Association discuss questions about fairness in standardized testing as they relate to the SSAT.

Are standardized tests biased?

The Enrollment Management Association believes standardized testing—when developed and utilized properly—is an essential and powerful tool that provides objective insights into a student’s success in the first year after the assessment. The SSAT demonstrates academic success at a given point in time, reduces bias, and increases fairness by counterbalancing subjective factors such as grade point average in a student’s application.

How does EMA reduce bias and promote fairness?

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By adhering to testing standards.

From a testing development and scoring perspective, EMA adheres to the standards from The Standards of Educational and Psychological Testing, the American Education Research Association (AERA), and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME).

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Through strict test development practices.

Every aspect of EMA’s assessments undergoes validity studies and fairness reviews to remove items that all students wouldn’t understand—e.g., questions about a particular religion or terminology specific to certain regions. EMA continually re-evaluates these items.

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Via statistical analysis.

EMA routinely analyzes test scores to ensure items aren’t biased toward certain groups. Schools are also encouraged to review a student’s profile holistically, and EMA offers the Character Skills Snapshot to provide a balanced assessment perspective.

EMA goes the extra mile for equity.

As a non-profit and the leading provider of secondary school admission assessments, all of us at The Enrollment Management Association take our responsibility seriously to help increase access and remove barriers to private and independent schools. EMA fee waivers have enabled thousands of students to take the SSAT, allowing them to apply and enroll in outstanding schools. SSAT fee waivers also provide free access to the official online practice materials, helping students achieve their personal best. 

EMA also provides SSAT-at-Home testing kits free of charge, complete with a laptop and a mobile hotspot for internet access, to increase testing accessibility.

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The Official SSAT Practice

The path to bright SSAT results starts with studying. Only EMA's official Online Practice and Guide Books feature four full-length tests with 600 questions created by the same people who develop the SSAT. Compared to the competition, it's no competition—you get more and pay less with our official study guides!

Get started today with the free online Mini-Practice Test to identify focus areas.