NEST+m Middle School Admissions Test| What You Need to Know

NEST+m (New Explorations in Science, Technology, and Math) is a public school in Manhattan for gifted and talented students.

There are three separate entry points for NEST+m middle school and high school: students may take the entrance exam in 5th grade for entry into 6th grade, or a different exam for 9th and 10th grade entry. 

Like many of the other specialized schools in New York City, it requires students to pass an entrance exam in order to be admitted to the high school. However, in 2018 (for 2018-19 school year), NEST+m is not requiring a screening exam for entry into the middle school.  Instead students will be scored on a rubric (see below).


The school has released the chart below to explain its middle school admissions process. The chart shows the admission rubric the school uses to select its incoming 6th grade class.  This means that your child will need to obtain a very high score on the end of year State Math and ELA exams to have a chance of admission, since this is the main criterion for entry.

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NEST MIDDLE school admissions | What's On the nest+m Exam?

Please note: In 2018, (for 2018-19 school year), NEST+m has announced that it is not going to have a screening exam for entry into the middle school. Instead students will be scored on a rubric (see above).  

In the 2017-18 school year, 4601 students applied to the middle school for the 47 seats available. However, only 750 (or approximately 18 percent) of the four thousand or so applicants were invited to take the middle school entrance exam, based on the admissions selection criteria, which include grades and results on State-wide ELA and Math exams.

NEST+m does not publish any practice exams or sample questions, but important admissions information including test dates can be found on the school websites.

Since both the middle and high school have low acceptance rates (a paltry 1% according to 2017-18 numbers for the middle school, and about 3-4% for the high school, according to an former school administrator), students will  need to get high scores on the ELA and Math end-of-year State tests, and may want to think about preparing in advance for the entrance exam. 

However, students can find it difficult to prepare because NEXT+m offers little information about the test. 

The middle school exam is conducted at NEST on designated test days, and for 6th grade entry all students attempting to join the school must score well on a unique IQ test created by the school.

This exam is similar to the OLSAT Level E exam (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test), which tries to measure intelligence in children.

This exam is challenging because it requires students to complete about seventy questions in under an hour, and these questions cover verbal reasoning and comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and pictorial/pattern analysis. This can be a lot to ask of fifth grade students, so interested families might want to work through some OLSAT Level E exams in order to prepare.

NEST High School Admissions

The admissions test for ninth and tenth grade admissions is a little more straightforward, and it is based on the SHSAT exam that many students will take while applying for specialized high schools.

The SHSAT covers math, logic, scrambled paragraphs, and reading comprehension. One of our previous blog posts has a comprehensive explanation of the SHSAT content.

Please note that students applying for NEST+m high school admissions need to rank NEST+m on their high school forms after taking the admissions test.

NEST plus M test for Middle and High School | How Can Students Prepare?

Since there are no official practice exams for either the middle school or the high school admissions tests, students will want to look at the OLSAT exams and the SHSAT practice tests in order to prepare.

Since 5th grade students might not have taken a tough test like the OLSAT Level E before, doing plenty of practice exams will be helpful.

The OLSAT covers topics that students may not see in school, like analyzing patterns and shapes, so kids will need to think a little differently in order to do well.

For students who want to join NEST+m for high school, taking many SHSAT practice tests will also be a wise choice. Since most kids will take the SHSAT anyway in order to apply for specialized high schools, kids will only have one test to prepare for.

Even though the NEST+m exam is a shorter version of the SHSAT, students should still do the full practice exams in order to cover as many different questions as possible.


For students interested in entering the 6th Grade at NEST+m for the 2017-18 school year, the entrance exam dates are in late January/February. 

Online registration for admissions opens in September.

Please note that for the 2018-19 school year, a new process was put in place for qualifying for the NEST+m middle school entrance exam.

Previous to 2017-18 school year, any student could take the entrance exam. Now, only selected students are invited to take the entrance exam.

For the school year 2017-18 (and presumably beyond), the selection of students to take the exam was based on a rubric, which includes (among other criteria) a child's scores on the NYS ELA and Math tests (or other standardized exam such as the CTP-4, if your child is at private school).

Though the NEST+m website reports that the minimum score your child needs to be considered is 3.0, our experience with student families this year indicates that the actual score a child requires on the State tests in order to be invited to take the entrance exam is considerably higher than a 3.0 on the State tests, and in most cases higher than 4.0.


We've created NEST+m practice tests and questions to help students get started preparing for the NEST+m exam. Begin your child's preparation by downloading the 10 free NEST+m test practice questions below.

These questions are faithful to questions on the OLSAT Level E -- the test upon which the NEST+m middle school exam is based. Practicing with these questions will help students know what to expect on test day.

Click the link below to download the questions.

Selection Criteria for Middle School Admissions in 2017 (for 2017-18 school year)

Results on the NEST+m test are not the only criteria that will determine whether your child is offered a spot at NEST+m.   There are several other criteria that will be used to evaluate your child.  See the chart below for more information:

Enrollment Weighting

Entrance Exam
Test Scores: English Language Arts
Test Scores: Math
Course Grades
and Punctuality 5%

The school also provides information on the selection criteria 'ranges', which are shown below.

  • Course Grades: English (85-100), Math (85-100), Social Studies (85-100), Science (85-100)
  • Standardized Test Scores: English Language Arts (3.0-4.5), Math (3.0-4.5)

Keep in mind that these ranges can be changed based on the applicant pool in a particular year.


Standardized tests are high-stakes in NYC, and you probably have questions about how to best help your child prepare for the NEST+m exam and for the end of year ELA and Math tests, which NEST+m use as criteria to select the students who will be invited to take the entrance exam. 

Origins Tutoring can help address these concerns, and guide your family through the stressful standardized test preparation process for NEST+m, and other middle schools in NYC.

Our approach is simple: each student will receive the undivided attention and the expertise of a dedicated tutor experienced with the NEST+m admissions test, and who places a premium on delivering the highest quality test preparation in the most effective and time-efficient manner possible. 

If you think we could help your child achieve his or her personal best on the NEST+m admissions test or State-wide tests, please call 917.287.7927 for a complimentary consultation now.