Hunter High School Admissions Exam | How to Ace the Essay on the Hunter Exam


When sixth grade students take the entrance exam for Hunter College High School, they face English questions, Language Arts problems, and math puzzles of all sorts. The half-hour essay comes into play when students have met the cutoff score for the multiple choice questions, a number that changes every year. Based on answers to the multiple choice questions, about five hundred students are selected after the first round of scoring. At this point, graders read the essays of the top five hundred students. This makes it important to work toward getting a top score for the multiple choice questions, but also to show writing skills and creativity on the essay section.


On the Hunter website, you can find detailed information about the exam, along with a sample prompt. While the prompt changes every year, it tends to involve topics about New York or growing up, and there are plenty of opportunities for students to show creativity in their writing. Students don’t have to write a boring five paragraph analysis; they can tell a story about childhood, or give examples from daily life, or share ideas that have left an impression. The key is to write an essay that appeals to the graders, because only two hundred students will be admitted to Hunter.

Hunter High School Admissions Exam | How to Ace the Essay

Because the prompt is open and allows students to respond in several ways, some people might think that it’s an excuse to leave behind the rules of grammar. That’s not true at all! Students should still use essay format and aim to write five solid paragraphs with a catchy intro and conclusion. Even though the format is rigid, the content can be as creative as a student wants. Test-takers can feel free to use first person, particularly when telling stories about their lives. Figurative language and sensory details will help the graders feel as though they’re part of the story, so students should make sure that they know how to use similes, metaphors, and other writing techniques.

It can be challenging to write so much in half an hour, so students should do plenty of prep involving responding to an essay prompt. After reading the topic, students should make a quick outline of main points, because it’s key to have smooth transitions between paragraphs and a clear flow of ideas in the essay. Then test-takers should write for about twenty minutes, leaving a few minutes to check over their work for errors. Grammatical mistakes and writing errors will result in a lower score, so careful work is better than writing an extra sentence or two. At first these instructions may seem overwhelming for a sixth grader, but practice will help students ace the essay.

Hunter High School Admissions Exam | Are You Considering Test Prep for Hunter?

Preparation for the Hunter High School Admissions Exam does not have to be daunting and exasperating; instead, it can represent an important opportunity along a student’s path to learning mastery. Indeed, the perspectives and abilities acquired during preparation can be transformative and last a lifetime. 

Our two-track approach to mastering content and improving test-taking skills means that students will not only thoroughly understand the fundamental concepts and skills tested by the Hunter test, but  they will also excel in using essential techniques to improve attitude, endurance and focus. Our students hone their independent thinking skills while developing a resilient mindset so they can perform on test day in a resourceful, creative and calm manner. 

All students who work with Origins Tutoring undergo a diagnostic evaluation and are provided with full-length 'sample' Hunter High School practice tests. You can also access for free one of our sample tests here: 

To help your child achieve his or her personal best on the Hunter High School Admissions Exam, please call 917.287.7927 for a complimentary consultation now.


Origins Tutoring also offers the "Hunter College High School Preparation E-Guide"  The Preparation Guide is a test prep book devoted to helping students prepare for the HCHS admissions exam. It contains three practice tests and much more. You can learn about the Guide here.