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The Character Skills Snapshot for Private School Admission

Last year (2017) a new test was introduced by the Enrollment Management Association (EMA), the producer of the SSAT. The test is called The Character Skills Snapshot and was designed to provide additional information about students applying to independent secondary schools. This new tool is a 20-30 minute on-line assessment that measures eight essential character skills that were not previously considered in any objective way in the admissions process. The results of this new assessment complement the traditional evaluation tools utilized by private high schools such as the student’s grades, application essays, letters of recommendation, and the results of cognitive SSAT and ISEE standardized tests.

The Character Skills Snapshot was created to measure eight character skills deemed important in private secondary school admission. They are a student’s:

  • resilience
  • open-mindedness
  • responsibility
  • teamwork
  • social awareness
  • self-control
  • intellectual curiosity
  • initiative

Results are obtained by answering two types of questions:

  • Forced choice
  • Situational judgment.

The forced choice questions are used to measure seven of the character skills considered essential in private secondary schools. The situational judgment questions are employed to measure social awareness.

Forced Choice Questions

A forced-choice question presents a statement like “I work hard” and allows respondents to select an option on a scale ranging from Most Like Meto Least Like Me.

Situational Judgment Choice Question

A situational judgment choice question presents a potential point of conflict between two or more people like a group of students, a student and a teacher, or a student and a parent. Each of these scenarios is associated with four possible ways of reacting to the situation, and the respondent is expected to evaluate the appropriateness of each of this reaction and to choose from a continuum of Strongly Disagree toStrongly Agree.

Forced Choice Question Example

Instructions: Please select one statement that describes you MOSTaccurately and the statement that describes you LEASTaccurately

Question 1MOSTLike MELEASTLike ME
I enjoy difficult tasks.
I easily adapt when plans change.
It is difficult for me to concentrate when I am stressed.

Situational Judgments Question Example

Instructions:Please rate the appropriateness of each statement from 1 (not appropriate at all) to 4 (very appropriate). You may assign the same rating to more than one response.

Scenario 1

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

Not Appropriate2 3 Very Appropriate
Ask her coach for permission to miss practice so she can work on the group project.
As the group members to meet on another day that suits her schedule.
Tell the group that she will do her portion of the work at home and send it to them later.
Meet her group members on Tuesday rather than going to softball practice.

The rationale behind the development of the Character Skills Snapshot is that both character and personal growth are an integral part of education. But prior to the construction and implementation of this test, the admission process could only focus on an applicant’s cognitive skills such as writing and math. There was no way to quantify an applicant’s character skills such as integrity, resilience, and curiosity, which help carry every student forward into a successful life. Consequently, while an applicant’s character had always been an important part of the admission process, there had not been a tool to help determine and measure the character skills considered essential for growth, development, and achievement.

The Character Skills Snapshot is for students applying to independent schools for grades 6 through 12. It is administered online in a student’s home or other location with internet service and is not available on mobile devices. It is intended to capture a snapshot of the student at the moment they apply, so applicants can take it once each admission cycle (between September 2017 and the end of July 2018).

There is no cost for the Character Skills Snapshot if an applicant registers to take the SSAT. If an applicant opts to take a different admission test, the cost of The Character Skills Snapshot is $25.00 (

Still confused about the Character Skills Snapshot and wonder how to prepare for this new assessment instrument? The experts at NC Global Education are here to help you negotiate the entire private school admission process. NC Global is proud to be in the vanguard of expertise in the Character Skills Snapshot. Consult with the experts at NC Global Education by calling 833-258-8912, or dedicated Chinese line at 833-888-6232.