Character Skills Snapshot
The Character Skills Snapshot is a 20-30 minute online assessment created by the Enrollment Management Association (EMA), provider of the SSAT admission exam.
During the application process for U.S. high school admission, the application itself, grades, and test scores only tell part of the story of each applicant. The Snapshot gives additional perspective into student’s character.
Snapshot measures eight character skills that are also common values in independent schools.
Depending on school culture as well as the mix of the admitted incoming class, different schools might have slightly different preferences for one character skill over another. Generally speaking, however, admission values all eight skills listed above. This means the more skill categories on which the student scores high, the better the student demonstrates to the admission that he or she is able to use these essential skills to excel at their school in and outside the academic realm.
After answering all the questions, the student will receive a performance level rating for each character skill as either “Emerging”, “Developing”, or “Demonstrating”, with “Demonstrating” being the highest level. If a student earns “Demonstrating” on one character skill, that means the student already has a clear understanding of this skill and is able to use it on a daily basis. “Developing” means the skill is present and still in the process of development, and “Emerging,” the lowest score, means the student is starting to show signs of this skill.
According to Dr. Jinghua Liu, Chief Testing and Research Officer at the EMA, there are four reference groups based on SSAT middle level and upper level grouping: male and female groups for students either in G5-G7 (applying for G6-G8) or in G8-G11 (applying for G9-G12). Depending on which demographic group a student falls, his or her results are only compared with others within the respective group to determine the performance level for each character skill.
Scoring among all identified skills is relative to some extent as well. Section 1 consists of 19 forced-choice questions. Each of the three statements in the question highlights one of the eight character skills. The first statement emphasizes Intellectual Curiosity, the second Social Awareness, and the third Self-Control. By indicating one out of three as best-fitting and another as least-fitting, leaving one as mediocre, the student is self-identifying. After 19 questions, the student will have revealed how well his or her eight skills are developed relative to one another.
In section 2, the skill which the question is asking is less obvious. The section contains 10 situational judgment questions, the only other type of questions present in the assessment. In each of these questions, the student will be given a scenario commonly encountered in school life with four possible actions to deal with the situation. The student then will be asked to rate the appropriateness of each action according to his or her own judgment.
Character Skills in Admissions
According to Dr. Liu, the EMA has made it clear and repeatedly emphasized to independent schools that they should not base their admission decisions on The Snapshot results alone. Among SSAT, interview, recommendation letters, personal statement, and many other components, The Snapshot is merely one piece of the big equation that admission officers are trying to solve to better understand their applicants. It is a supplement, rather than a replacement, for any other components.
Schools Using Snapshot
Following the release of EMA’s Character Skills Snapshot assessment late September, many schools have opened up to the idea. As of October 12, 2017, almost 600 schools have decided to accept The Snapshot in their admission process, most of which considering it an optional component of the application for this first year.
Students may take the Character Skills Snapshot assessment starting September 27, 2017 for one time per admission cycle. Those who take the assessment before December 10, 2017 will have their results collected for analysis and receive their reports on December 15. Thereafter, reports are delivered within two weeks of completion of The Snapshot.
Students may take The Snapshot at home, or any location with an internet connection. It is not available on mobile devices, and is not given at schools.
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.