Specialized High School Exam |Ten Tips for the Exam

Any student who plants to attend a specialized high school in NYC has to rock the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT). These ten tips will help test-takers get ready for top scores!

1. Understand the Importance of the Specialized High School Exam

Based on how the specialized high schools were created, the only admission criterion for new students is high scores on the SHSAT. These schools aren’t allowed to consider additional factors, so the only way to get in is to achieve a great SHSAT result is above that school’s cutoff score. In some ways, this admissions policy makes sense and equalizes the playing field, but it also amps up pressure for students to get an awesome score.

2. Know the Format of the Specialized High School Exam

Before jumping in with studying, students should make sure they understand what’s on the test. Over the two and a half hour exam, test-takers must answer questions on various math topics and reading comprehension passages, unscramble scrambled paragraphs, and complete ten logical reasoning questions. This means students must be strong in both math and language arts skills, or else they can’t achieve a top score.

3. Practice Scrambled Paragraphs and Logical Reasoning Questions

While some of the math topics on the SHSAT are pretty standard, the scrambled paragraphs and logical reasoning questions might be new to some students. Definitely make time to sit down and practice these areas, because they count for a lot of the verbal section.

4. Develop Reading Comprehension Strategies

Since students pace themselves on the exam, there’s no suggested time for the reading passages and their paired questions. Finding ways to shave off minutes here will open up time for tougher parts of the exam, so test-takers should practice going through reading comprehension passages. Techniques including looking for key words/transition words, making note of important points, and reading questions first can help save time.

5. Always Choose an Answer

There is no guessing penalty on the SHSAT, so test-takers need to choose an answer for each question. Leaving even a single question blank means missing out on a potential score boost.

6. Practice Pacing

The entire SHSAT takes around two and a half hours, but students must pace themselves through each section. They’ll make it through the exam by spending about 1.5 minutes on each question, but that’s just a benchmark. Having a watch and making smart decisions about the time left is key on test day.

7. Review Your Math

The SHSAT tests many topics, and not every student will be strong in each area. Go through practice problems and see which of the following skills need improvement: algebra, factoring, substitution, geometry, basic graphic, and logic. Spend extra time on the tough stuff.

8. Do Challenging Math Problems

In addition to many math topics, the SHSAT requires students to answer complicated word problems. A great way to get ready for these questions is to pick up a challenging math problem book and work through a few every day.

9. Take Practice Exams

Nothing’s better than taking real, timed practice exams and seeing scores for each section. That’s the best way to target areas of improvement.

10. Fill in Weak Spots

Whether it's taking practice tests, working through questions, or reviewing topic lists, any test prep students do will reveal weak spots. These are the areas to fix up before test day, and they’re extra important as students try to reach a top score. Once students start building up these areas methodically, they’ll be closer to a good score.

Are You Considering Test Prep for the Specialized High School Exam?

Preparation for the SHSAT 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 Specialized High School Exam, 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 powerful, resourceful, creative and calm manner.

Please call 917.287.7927 now for a complimentary consultation to discuss how Origins Tutoring can help your child achieve his or her personal best on the Specialized High School exam.