From Memberanda, Spring 2012
The Writing Sample Prompt Working Group, chaired by Pat Gimbel, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Deerfield Academy (MA), left the Annual Meeting in Phoenix energized and with a clearer sense of new prompt parameters for the writing sample portion of the Upper and Middle Level SSAT. Additional conference calls crystallized the group’s thinking.
Committee members agreed that students in grades 5-7 receive a choice of two open-ended, creative story starters ("I had never seen anything so beautiful"), and students in grades 8-11 receive a choice of two prompts – one a straightforward essay prompt ("What time period in history do you enjoy learning about most and why?") and the other a creative prompt ("The woman’s hands told the story of her life").
In January, an open call for prompt writers was issued. Twenty teachers from 18 schools answered the call and submitted hundreds of prompts for consideration in early April. The Working Group will next review the prompt submissions, and teachers will be compensated for each prompt accepted. The new prompts will replace the current "agree/disagree with this phrase/statement" format in the coming testing year.
Writing Sample Prompt Writers' Schools:
Academy of the New Church Boys School, PA
Carrollwood Day School, FL
Christchurch School, VA
CIS 303, NY
Gulf Stream School, FL
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, GA
The Hotchkiss School, CT
Indian Springs School, AL
Latin School of Chicago, IL
Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day, MO
Oak Grove School, CA
The Perkiomen School, PA
Pomperaug Regional High School, CT
Ridgefield Academy, CT
Sonoma Country Day School, CA
St. John’s Preparatory School, MA
St. Peter’s School, PA
Suffield Academy, CT