The Queens High School for the Sciences at York College (QHSS) is ranked number six in New York State for 2016, and it is routinely in the top ten (or even five) state high schools. This specialized high school in Queens is one of NYC’s nine specialized schools, so the only way to get an acceptance is by acing the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). We’ve gathered some important info about QHSS admissions so students can decide whether they want to study for the SHSAT and aim for an acceptance letter.
Queens High School For The Sciences | School Overview
QHSS is a powerhouse in New York State, sending 95% of its students to four year college programs and achieving top Regents score for nearly all of its students. With just under 500 students total, everyone at QHSS benefits from small class sizes and individualized attention over the high school years. The school does have a science and math focus, but it delivers strong results in other subjects, shown by average AP scores, and focuses on getting students into research and internship positions during their high school years. QHSS offers AP programs in most subjects, including the sciences, history, music, English, Chinese, Spanish, and more – each year approximately 20 students are AP Scholars with Distinction, showing they achieved at least a three on five or more AP exams. Nearly half of students receive an Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors (awarded for top Regents performance on different Regents exams). These scores are great news for students who plan to take lots of APs and highlight their subject strengths in the college application process.
The key strength of the school is its research program, which pairs up students with college professors on research projects. This kind of exposure early on in high school is rare for NYC students, and it can be a great tool on the path to a future scientific career. Additionally, for teens with a growing interest in pursuing science or medicine, this valuable experience can help open doors to top colleges and science programs.
Queens High School For The Sciences | Admissions Information
Admission to QHSS is determined solely by scores on the SHSAT, which any student interested in a specialized high school must take in the fall. This exam covers a variety of middle school topics, and tens of thousands of students sit for the test each year. The good news is that no additional work is required – students rank their high school preferences and (hopefully) get acceptance letters based on how highly they score. GPA does not factor into the admissions decisions at all.
Queens High School For The Sciences | What is the SHSAT?
The SHSAT covers everything from general math questions to reading comprehension to logical reasoning to scrambled paragraphs, so students need to take it seriously. The exam is broken into two main topics: fifty multiple-choice math questions and approximately forty-five verbal skills/reading comprehension questions. The verbal/reading section comes with many sub-sections: ten logic questions, five scrambled paragraphs, and approximately thirty reading comprehension questions paired with several reading passages. Unlike some other standardized exams, there is no essay question.
Queens High School For The Sciences | How is the SHSAT Scored? What is the Format?
All the questions on the SHSAT are in multiple-choice format. There is no guessing penalty. The test is approximately two and a half hours, and it is self-timed – teens should bring a watch and keep track of time carefully.
Scoring for the SHSAT is complicated! First, the Department of Education allocates raw scores to students and creates a curve. In February, students receive a scaled score from 200 to 800 based on the curve. Each specialized high school has its own cutoff scores for placement of new students.
Cutoff scores for QHSS the past three years are as follows:
Queens High School For The Sciences | How to Register and Prepare for the SHSAT
If a student wants to try for one of the specialized high schools, he or she must talk to the middle school guidance counselor and request an admission ticket. After the registration, students in 8th grade will receive an assigned Saturday or Sunday in late October. Accommodations for Sabbath observers are permitted with a rabbi’s note. Any current 9th grade students who wish to apply for 10th grade admission to a specialized high school will receive a November test date.
The SHSAT is a subject-packed exam, and students need to ace the test to have a good chance of acceptance at top specialized high schools. You can find plenty of additional SHSAT details in our earlier blog post on the SHSAT, including suggestions for studying and when to start prepping for the test.
This article has given you an overview of the Queens High School For The Sciences admissions process -- more details can be found at the official website of QHHS.