Frequently-asked questions and additional resources
For more information about The Character Skills Snapshot and its usage, contact Meghan Brenneman, Ed.D., Director of Character Assessment Programs.
There is a plethora of literature that suggests character skills are important for success in school, work, and life. It is one goal of independent schools to foster these skills in their students. Learn more about character and assessment on this NAIS page authored by David Holmes.
The Character Skills Snapshot is a noncognitive assessment tool that measures character skills (initiative, intellectual engagement, open-mindedness, resilience, self-control, social awareness, and teamwork).
The Enrollment Management Association collaborated with admission directors, heads of schools, and teachers from more than 56 independent schools to develop The Character Skills Snapshot. Assessment development experts from the Educational Testing Service wrote some of the questions, and others were written by teachers and admission professionals from independent schools. It has been through rigorous pilot testing with approximately 12,000 students enrolled in or applying to independent schools across the country. Listen to a podcast with Dr. David Holmes, cofounder and codirector of the Institute on Character and Admission, and Meghan Brenneman, Ed.D., Director of Character Assessment Programs for The Enrollment Management Association, at the bottom of this page.
After comprehensive deliberation and a series of surveys, focus groups, and meetings, admission directors, heads of schools, and administrators selected the character skills they thought were most important to consider in an admission context.
The Character Skills Snapshot is intended for students seeing application to independent schools in grades 6 through 12. The Snapshot was pilot tested with students in grades 5 through 11. The measurement properties of The Snapshot are stable across these grade levels.
The Character Skills Snapshot is meant to capture a student’s perceptions of themselves in relation to the character skills. They should answer the questions on their own with no help from parent, guardian, or peers. In the unlikely event that students do attempt to fake their answers, they should find it extremely difficult to fake the forced-choice portion. Given that the situational judgment test portion (section 2) is knowledge-based, there is no real threat of faking.
It is not the same thing as the SSAT. The Character Skills Snapshot was designed to complement standardized cognitive testing measures like the SSAT to provide a richer, more well-rounded picture of an individual applicant. It is taken separately from the SSAT. Schools can choose whether and how to utilize The Snapshot in their admission processes.
The Character Skills Snapshot is administered online in a student's home or other location with internet service. It is not available on mobile devices and is not given at schools.
There is no cost for The Character Skills Snapshot if a student registers to take the SSAT; registration will be available through the student's SSAT account. If a student does not register to take the SSAT, the cost is $35.00.
For families having logistical issues with The Snapshot, please direct questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-683-4440 or live chat on ssat.org, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. Additionally, step-by-step tutorials and answers to many frequently asked questions can be found on the family Snapshot page at ssat.org/Snapshot.
Parents/guardians must create both parent and student SSAT accounts to take The Snapshot.
The Parent Account
The Student Account
Yes. Participating member schools can issue fee waivers to those in financial need from their member access portals (MAPs). We'll automatically generate an email that will be sent to families which will include the fee waiver code that families can use in order to gain access to The Snapshot. Directions for utilizing fee waivers for The Snapshot can be found here.
The Character Skills Snapshot must be taken in one sitting. In our pretesting, it took students an average of 30 minutes to complete.
Students may take The Character Skills Snapshot one time per testing year (August 1 - July 15th) The Character Skills Snapshot is intended to capture a snapshot of the student at the moment when they apply and results are valid for one year. Reports are accessible via your portal for one year.
A school must be a member of The Enrollment Management Association in order to receive Character Skills Snapshot reports. Member schools that use the ISEE or another admission test must let students know they use The Snapshot so that families can sign up to access it.
If a member school would like to use The Snapshot, they simply login to their Member Access Portal (MAP), click on the link titled Character Skills Snapshot, and follow the steps to opt-in to receive results.
Member schools will receive reports from those parents/guardians who select them as report recipients. A parent/guardian must choose to send Snapshot reports to a school. The reports will then be delivered to the schools Member Access Portal (MAP). Snapshot results are released according to the schedule listed online each year.
When a school is selected as a score recipient following the reciept of results by the parent/guardian, the school will receive results in real time.
Admission offices should use the information provided from The Character Skills Snapshot to complement other information required as a part of the application process, including SSAT test scores, interviews, grades, letters of recommendation, and other information. The Character Skills Snapshot is not intended and should not be used alone to make an admission decision. Schools are required to sign a fair use agreement prior to agreeing to accept Snapshot reports.
Yes, a student’s character skills are expected to change over time. There is a lot of research about the malleability of character skills.