​Specialized High School Test | What's On the SHSAT, Scoring, and Format

Many families in New York City may have heard of the SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admissions Test), but not everyone may know the purpose of the exam. In order for students to attend one of the specialized high schools in New York, they must get top scores on the SHSAT: there’s no other way to be admitted. Students who are interested in these schools should take their SHSAT prep seriously and make sure that they have a great chance at admittance.

Specialized High School Test | Who Takes the SHSAT?

The specialized high schools in NYC include:

  • Bronx High School of Science

  • Brooklyn Latin School

  • Brooklyn Technical High 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

If middle school students are interested in these high schools, they’ll have to take the SHSAT in the fall of 8th grade (or November for 9th grade students hoping to get seats in 10th grade).

As a quick note, the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts is also a specialized high school. This school requires prospective students to submit portfolios or audition to get a spot, so students with these skills won’t take the SHSAT.

Specialized High School Test | What’s Tested on the SHSAT?

The SHSAT covers two main topics: mathematics and verbal skills/reading comprehension. There are fifty multiple choice math questions. The verbal section has plenty of sub-sections: there are ten logic questions, five scrambled paragraphs, and approximately thirty reading comprehension questions paired with several reading passages. There is NO essay section on the SHSAT.

Specialized High School Test | How is the SHSAT Scored? What’s the Format?

Because there is no essay on the SHSAT, all the questions come in multiple choice format. There is no guessing penalty on the exam, so students should feel free to choose an answer for every question. The entire exam takes approximately two and a half hours, but students can pace themselves for each section. That makes it essential for test-takers to have a watch and to be mindful of their time on each question!

Scoring on the SHSAT is a little confusing. The Department of Education curves the exam results each year, and they convert each student’s raw score using this secret equation. Once this process finishes in February, students receive a score from 200-800. Each of the specialized high schools selects a cutoff score, and they admit students who exceeded that score until all the seats are filled for the next school year. In order to have the best chance at a great placement, test-takers should aim for top scores on both sections of the SHSAT, and students should spend some time doing SHSAT prep.

Are You Considering Test Prep for the SHSAT?

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 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 powerful, resourceful, creative and calm manner.

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