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Getting a Perfect Verbal Score on the SSAT – 8th graders

Just a quick reminder that boys and girls score differently.  As a result, we’ll share what it takes to score well for each gender specifically.  In the following, you’ll find what raw score it takes to score from 80% to 99% (a “perfect score” on the SSAT) on the verbal section of the SSAT.  Basically, you’ll learn how many questions out of the 60 possible questions on the Upper Level of the SSAT are needing to be correct.

SSAT Raw to Percentile Scores Calculator – Female 8th Grade

8th grade girls raw to percentile charts

99% Verbal Score Cutoff for Girls

In order to obtain the gold standard of SSAT scores, you need to be able to get 50 raw points on the exam.  In order to do so,  you will need to obtain either 50 correct answers without getting a single one wrong or obtain 50+ questions correct and only have only a few incorrect answers that keep you above the 50 point raw score.  Let us illustrate with a couple examples:

Example #1:

As you’ll learn from our tutors, the SSAT deducts incorrect questions from your overall raw score.  So, let’s say you answer all 60 questions, but get only 10 wrong.  While you obtained 50 gross raw points, you will be deducted 2.5 points from that gross total and only obtain 47.5 and receive a percentile between 96% and 99%.

Example #2:

Going into your second or third attempt and understanding that incorrect answers can penalize you, efforts are made to skip questions (omitting them) and you only answer 54 out of the 60 questions.  You get 51 correct, but miss 3 of them.  The 3 that are marked wrong will be multiplied by .25 and reduce your 51 gross total down to 50.25 and you will have made the bar which gives you a 99% percentile on the SSAT verbal section.

Do you know when to take the exam?  Check out the SSAT Test Dates coming up. 

How about a 90% SSAT Verbal Score?

For what is considered a score for the top 10% of SSAT takers, you will need to obtain at least a 40 raw score total.  Here, you could answer 50 questions, get 8 wrong and potentially score a 40 raw point total.  Remember, the 8 incorrect answers would total a “-2 raw score” which you would deduct from the 42 questions you did get correct and land you exactly at 40 raw points.  Again, you would have to be good enough to skip 10 questions you knew you would have imprecisely answered on the test.

Or an 80% Percentile?

You can see from the above chart, the 80% percentile of SSAT takers as girls in the 8th grade is closer to a raw score of 34 or 33.  Again, you might have to be good enough to skip many questions you felt you would get incorrect, but you would need to answer the remaining ones perfectly OR you would have to find a way to score enough correct answers so that any incorrect ones wouldn’t reduce you below 33 or 34.

SSAT Raw to Percentile Scores Calculator – Male 8th Grade

For boys, the calculations are a little more challenging — rather, you can score a similar raw score, but receive a lower percentile.  Does that mean boys are smarter or better at the SSAT?  Of course not, but it may mean they potentially receive more training or support.  It can mean multiple things, but regardless, these are what the SSAT board learned when examining past results.

99% Verbal Score Cutoff for Boys

The cutoff is a bit higher.  Male SSAT takers have to score a raw score of 55 or above.  It definitely means they can miss less and they must be more accurate in their efforts to choose which ones not to answer, if they choose this strategy.  At the same time, we’ve seen students score a bit higher in terms of percentiles despite this higher bar.  However, the past results indicate that the boys must be a bit more precise.

8th grade raw to percentile charts - boys

What if our boy is aiming for a 90% SSAT Verbal Score?

The male student will need to aim for a slight more than 40 points in terms of raw score.  It appears 41 or higher raw scores are receiving approximately these top 10% percentiles.


A male 8th grader taking the upper level exam and answering 50 questions, omitting 10 and getting 7 incorrect answers would obtain approximately a 90% percentile on his verbal section.  Basically, he would get 43 points reduced by 1.75 (7 X .25) and that would result in 41.25 raw points.  This should be approximately a 90% percentile on the verbal section.

An 80% Percentile?

Here, we need at least 35 raw points in comparison to girls needing 33-34.  There are several potential combinations that could get the student 35 points including:

  • answering 35 correct, omitting 25 answers
  • answering 55 questions, omitting 5, missing 16 receiving 35 raw points
  • answering 46 questions, omitting 14, missing 9 receiving 34.75 raw points
  • answering 47 questions, omitting 13, missing 10 receiving 34.5 raw points

How many correct answers should we aim for on the Verbal section of the SSAT?

For an 80% Percentile

As you can see, the range is large.  Your girl or boy can aim for as few as 33-35, but they will need to be precise in the remaining ones they omit.  If they plan on answering all the questions or many of them, they will have to have a high accuracy rate that doesn’t reduce their score down below 33-35.

For 90% Percentile

For girls, their raw points need to be 40 or higher and for boys, it has to be slightly higher.  Again, the different combinations are numerous.  So, it will depend on what strategy they decide.

And for the Perfect 99% Percentile

For female 8th graders, it’s 50 as a bar for the raw score and it’s 55 for the males.  At the upper end, it’s quite competitive for the male SSAT test takers for the verbal section.

Why care about such high scores?

Obviously, the top boarding schools in the country (and possibly the world) require these top scores.  For example, the Hotchkiss School (listed as the #5 program & one of the members of the elite “eight schools association”) requires reportedly an 85% Percentile or higher for admissions.  So, knowing what it takes by reading through our explanation can better help your students.

And if you’re in need of SSAT Prep, feel free to reach out to us for any availability.  Currently, we are booked completely, but it never hurts to check!  

*Note: all score estimations are based off of data provided by the Secondary School Admission Test Board in their 2011-2012 Interpretive Guide to the SSAT where they aggregated the most data on past students taking the exam from August 2008 to July 2011.  It is the largest data set in recent memory and is usually a good estimate for percentiles, scaled and raw scores.  As the market has become more competitive, there is a high likelihood that scores have inflated.  All guidance is strictly for informational purposes and are not guaranteed for any future test results on the SSAT.

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