# SSAT Prep: Boosts Math Ability and Confidence

By Daryl CapuanoGeneral Education Advice### “I hate math!”

So said Maria, a bright 7th grader who flourished in reading and writing but in her words “felt stupid” in math.

Maria – like many students – had not been grounded in the fundamentals.

When she started working with The Learning Consultants, she had aspirations to attend either Choate or Hopkins, as many students in Connecticut do, but she knew that her subpar SSAT math score could provide a challenge.

Over the course of working together, two goals were reached: her SSAT math score dramatically improved and her ability/confidence in math did so equally. I understand that we were retained for the former but know that the latter will make an equally significant difference in her life.

### 1. Reinforces Core Math Concepts

SSAT math preparation requires students to review and master a range of mathematical concepts, many of which are central to school curriculums. These include:

**Arithmetic**: Basic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, as well as fractions, decimals, and percentages.**Algebra**: Solving equations, working with variables, and understanding basic algebraic expressions.**Geometry**: Understanding shapes, angles, area, and perimeter, as well as applying geometric formulas.**Word Problems**: Interpreting and solving problems based on real-life scenarios.

Through SSAT prep, students revisit these topics regularly, reinforcing the material they learn in school. This consistent review helps cement foundational knowledge, which is critical for math success at all grade levels. By mastering these concepts, students find themselves better prepared for both the SSAT and their regular schoolwork.

### 2. Develops Problem-Solving Skills

One of the most significant benefits of SSAT prep is its focus on problem-solving, an essential skill in both math and other academic subjects. SSAT math questions are designed to challenge students to think critically and creatively. This helps students:

**Identify patterns**: SSAT questions often require students to recognize and apply mathematical patterns to solve problems quickly.**Analyze information**: Students learn to break down complex problems into simpler parts, an approach that can be applied to solving equations or tackling multi-step problems in school.**Apply math concepts**: The test includes a variety of problem types, encouraging students to apply mathematical theories and formulas in practical scenarios.

These problem-solving techniques are transferable to the classroom, where students frequently encounter complex math problems that require similar critical thinking skills. By practicing these approaches during SSAT prep, students build confidence in their ability to tackle challenging math assignments and exams at school.

### 3. Enhances Mental Math and Calculation Speed

A significant aspect of the SSAT is the time pressure. Students need to answer questions quickly and accurately, which means they must rely on strong mental math and calculation skills. Through SSAT prep, students practice:

**Mental math**: By practicing solving problems without the use of calculators, students improve their ability to perform basic calculations in their heads, which enhances overall math fluency.**Estimation techniques**: Learning to estimate solutions before calculating helps students save time and improve their ability to check their work quickly.**Efficiency in solving problems**: By practicing under timed conditions, students develop faster ways of approaching and solving math questions, which can be particularly beneficial during timed school tests or exams.

Improving these skills not only benefits students on the SSAT but also enables them to complete school math assignments and tests more quickly and efficiently, reducing anxiety and building confidence in their abilities.

### 4. Encourages Consistent Math Practice

Many students struggle with math simply because they don’t practice enough. SSAT prep provides a structured environment for students to engage in consistent math practice, something that’s essential for mastering any subject. During prep:

**Regular review**: SSAT preparation often involves weekly or even daily practice sessions, where students regularly review math concepts and practice problems.**Homework and practice tests**: Many SSAT prep courses and tutors assign homework and practice tests, keeping students engaged in math problem-solving outside of school hours.**Focus on improvement**: As students work through various math problems, they can track their progress and identify areas for improvement, allowing for targeted practice in weaker areas.

This continuous practice strengthens math skills over time. The regularity of SSAT prep ensures that students keep math concepts fresh in their minds, which translates into better performance in school math.

### 5. Boosts Confidence in Math Classes

Math can be a source of anxiety for many students, particularly if they struggle with certain concepts or feel unprepared for tests and assignments. SSAT prep helps alleviate this anxiety by giving students a deeper understanding of math and improving their skills. As students prepare for the SSAT, they often notice:

**Increased familiarity with math concepts**: By tackling challenging math problems during prep, students become more comfortable with the material they encounter in class.**Greater test-taking confidence**: SSAT prep teaches students to manage their time and approach difficult questions without fear, which translates to greater confidence during school math tests.**A sense of achievement**: As students see improvement in their SSAT practice scores, they feel more capable and motivated to tackle math problems in the classroom.

Confidence in math is a key predictor of success, and SSAT prep can help students feel more in control of their learning, leading to better grades and a more positive attitude toward the subject.

### 6. Prepares Students for Advanced Math

Many of the concepts covered in the SSAT Quantitative section, especially at the upper level, are more advanced than what students might typically encounter in their current grade level. For example:

**Advanced algebra**: Working with exponents, roots, and more complex equations prepares students for higher-level math courses.**Geometry**: The SSAT introduces students to geometric principles that they may not have encountered in depth yet but will be important as they progress through middle and high school.**Data interpretation**: Understanding graphs, charts, and data sets is an essential skill in both math and science, and SSAT prep introduces students to these concepts early.

By working on these advanced concepts during SSAT prep, students are often ahead of their peers in school. This gives them an advantage when they eventually encounter these topics in their regular math classes, making it easier to grasp new material and excel in more challenging courses.

CEO, The Learning Consultants and Connecticut’s top private education consultant

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