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Preparing for the SHSAT

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New York City requires their eighth and ninth grade students to take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, or the SHSAT, to determine admission to one of the cities nine Specialized High Schools. On average, 20,000 students take the SHSAT test a year but only a fraction of those are offered admission to one of those schools. The students take the test during October and November but aren’t given their results until the following February. If a student receives an admission offer they have to decide by the end of February if they are going to attend that school the following September.

Admission Specifics

The schools in New York City that use the SHSAT for admission are as follows:

  • Bronx High School of Science
  • Brooklyn Latin School
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman college
  • High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
  • Staten Island Technical High School
  • Stuyvesant High School

It is actually a law in New York State that these schools are only allowed to use the SHSAT for determining admissions. If a student is granted admission to one of these specialized high schools, it is then expected they actually attend that school.

When a student takes the SHSAT they have to choose up to eight of the schools they want to attend in their order of preferences. Once the tests are scored, they are put in order from highest to lowest which also the order in which the list is processed. Each student is assigned to school they preferred the most that still has seats available. They will continue to do this until there aren’t any more seats available at any of the schools.

What to Expect

The SHSAT has two sections that it tests for logical thinking and high ability, math and English. The English (verbal) section has 45 multiple choice questions made up of 30 reading comprehension questions, 5 scrambled paragraphs, and 10 logical reasoning questions. The math section covers various topics such as pre-algebra, algebra, factoring, logic, basic coordinate graphing, substitution, and word problems. If the student is in 9th grade when taking the test, the math section will also cover geometry.

While there is no penalty for incorrect or unanswered questions, the total number of right answers is converted into a scaled score between 200 and 800 which is then used to determine the student’s standing.

To help you prepare you should consider visiting a specialized high school test prep center. If your intention is to get into one of the top-rated high schools in New York, then you want to be as prepared as possible for the SHSAT. At A+ Academy we can offer you the personalized training you need to ensure you receive the highest score possible.  We have  20 years of experience in test preparation, our teachers are licensed and have several years of experience in teaching the SHSAT. We also offer practice exams that simulates the actual exam.  With their training along with the simulation, once it comes time to actually take the test, you will be prepared.


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