TACHS Exam for Catholic Schools in NYC: What You Need to Know

What is the TACHS Exam for NYC Catholic Schools?

The Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools (TACHS) is the entry exam for Catholic high schools that New York City children need to take.

In other parts of the country, students sometimes take the Cooperative Admissions Exam (COOP) or the High School Placement Test (HSPT), but the TACHS is standard for New York City.

The Test for Admissions into Catholic High Schools is administered in the fall to current 8th grade students, who need the scores to begin a Catholic high school in 9th grade.

The exam is approximately three hours long, and it covers four sections that include critical reading, math, and language arts.

The TACHS is entirely multiple choice and does not require students to write an essay.

Who can take the TACHS Exam?

Students take the TACHS in the fall of 8th grade. The test is timed in this way so students have covered all the necessary middle school material needed to do well on the TACHS. This exam may only be taken once, so students need to do well in 8th grade on the exam in order to begin 9th grade at a Catholic school.

What is on the NYC TACHS exam?

The TACHS is divided into four sections: math, language arts, ability, and reading.

The math section covers all of the basic mathematical concepts learned in middle school, though students should still do some review before sitting for the exam.

It will be helpful for students to remember common math formulas, particularly for geometry, as they will be necessary for the exam. Additional topics on the exam include fractions, sequences, probability, integers, and analogies.

Questions also test deductive reasoning skills, ability to estimate, and sometimes concepts are tested with word problems. There are TACHS practice exams that can provide sample questions in these areas for students who want to brush up.

The language arts section tests students on basic writing skills, including spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc. This section also includes paragraphs that the student will have to put in logical order, as well as questions about how to organize paragraphs and create clear topic sentences.

The reading material is covered in two sections. The first section tests students’ knowledge of vocabulary words and how those words are used in context. Sample questions require students to define words used in a sentence and how to properly use nouns, verbs, and modifiers.

The second reading section covers reading comprehension and critical reading, all through looking at passages and answering questions about those passages. While these passages are not designed to be exceptionally tricky, they are long, which requires students to learn to read under pressure and to answer questions efficiently during the exam.

The ability section has a strange name, but it’s essentially a logic and reasoning section. The questions in this section test how students can follow patterns and sequences, solve abstract problems, and complete visual sequences.

Did the Tachs EXam Change in 2016? What Does The Updated TACHs exam look like?

There were several changes to the format and content of the TACHs exam in 2016. This information was reported to us by families who took the test in 2016, soplease keep in mind that this is anecdotal evidence and not the line from the offical test publisher, which has not -- at time of wriitng -- released a new format test.

The new approach seems very much in line with the general movement towards aligning standardized tests with 'common core' material, including the redesigned SAT.

The math section's alignment with common core standards means that students will have to grapple with more word problems rather than questions with straight-forward computation. In addition, the new format no longer includes an estimation section, which had previously asked students to approximate or round numbers.

In terms of the ELA section, the format of the grammar questions changed in that they are no longer segmented into the type of grammatical error (e.g: punctuation, capitlaization) students need to identify. It is also reported that the vocabulary section, which assesses students’ knowledge of definitions, is no longer on the test.

Why did the test makers change the TACHS? Well, they are trying to level the playing field for students by making tests more 'test-prep resistant', including taking out portions that are considered especially tricky because they are not normally taught in the public schools. For example, kids no longer have to memorize hundreds of arcane vocabulary words that are not useful in real life.

How is the TACHS exam scored?

Each correct answer on the TACHS is worth one point. This raw score is converted to a scaled score based on the difficulty and questions of that year’s exam. Students also get percentile ranks to see how they stack up against their peers. Because there are roughly 200 questions on the exam, raw scores range up to 200 before they are converted to scaled scores. There is no penalty for answering questions incorrectly, so students should pick an answer for every question.

How do you register for the TACHS test

Register on the TACHS website starting in August (see Resources for more details). The cost is approximately $55 per student. There are paper registration forms available, which usually must be completed by the first week of October. The online registration is gnerally extended a bit longer -- until mid October.

For students who want to register by mail, the forms can be found at their Catholic elementary school or high school, or the neighborhood Catholic church, or some public elementary schools. Since registering online is faster, it is recommended.

After registering, students in Catholic elementary schools will get Admit cards (necessary for taking the exam) during school. Students who attend public or other non-Catholic elementary schools will have the cards mailed to their homes. On this Admit card, students need to write their top three choices for Catholic high schools. Selections will be made based on these three schools, so students must choose carefully.

When does the TACHS exam take place?

The exam traditionally takes place in November each year. For 2015, the TACHS will be administered on Friday, November 6th. There are no makeup dates for the exam. Results arrive at high schools in December, and Catholic high school admission letters are sent out in January. Students must choose their high schools in February. The TACHS calendar on the TACHs website includes all the important dates you need to know.

Where will my child take the TACHS exam?

Upon registration, you can choose a test site for your child. Then you can contact the test site directly to confirm that your child has a spot on test day. The TACHS administrators recommend that students take the exam in their particular diocese, as this helps the processing move more quickly.

What should my child bring to take the TACHS test?

As you might expect, all electronics, including calculators, cell phones, computers, etc, are not allowed at the test site. There is no eating and drinking during the exam, and students cannot bring scrap paper. All students should bring are number two pencils, erasers, some kind of identification, and the card they receive after registering for the exam.

Are there other benefits for taking the TACHS exam?

Students who achieve high scores on the TACHS have the chance to get scholarships for high school, which is great because some Catholic high schools can be pricey. That makes it even more important to aim for a top score: not only will a top score help your child get into a good high school, it can also help defray some of the costs of that school.

It is also possible to get scholarships based on high section scores for the TACHS. Sometimes students can even get scholarships based on overall scores and high section scores.

How to prepare for the TACHS exam

There are some general suggestions for students who plan to take the TACHS, and starting with these ideas is a good way to begin preparation.

For every section, students should remember that each question is worth one point. That means the toughest math problem and the easiest vocab problem are both worth the same amount once the test ends, so students should keep careful track of the time. Skipping hard questions and answering easy questions first will help students maximize their scores.

The math section requires students to do some memorization ahead of time and to practice test-taking skills. Since the test booklet doesn’t matter for score calculations, students should feel free to use it as scrap paper and cross off incorrect answer choices as much as possible.

There are also important formulas to memorize, particularly in geometry. Students should know how to calculate area and perimeter for common shapes, as well as the volume of general solids.

The measurements of angles are also key, especially for word problems. Math formulas including how to get averages will come in handy.

The language arts section requires students to have a good understanding of English grammar and sentence structure, as well as proper punctuation and capitalization skills. Reviewing comma, semicolon, and colon rules is important, and practicing proper spelling will help.

The TACHS always tests students on their ability to make words plural or singular, and it will catch mistakes with apostrophes.

The vocabulary questions require students to pay attention to words during the school year. All the cramming with flashcards can only do so much, which means that the best way to prepare is to read throughout the year and get used to lots of vocabulary words.

The reading comprehension section asks students to read long passages and answer questions about those passages, which means that students need to get comfortable with reading quickly and understanding the material they read. It’s helpful for students to take a practice exam so they understand just how fast they’ll need to read in order to make it through the questions in time.

One of the best ways to get ready for the TACHS is to take practice TACHS exams. If you would like to download a sample TACHS test (math section), please click the button  below. 

TACHS Exam for Catholic Schools NYC: Will private tutoring help?

There are many different test prep books available for students, so that’s a good place to begin TACHS prep. Private tutoring can be a great supplement to this self-studying, because it can help students find weak spots and get in lots of practice before the exam.

At Origins Tutoring, we believe that preparation for the TACHS Test 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 TACHS 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. Each student in our program receives the undivided attention and expertise of a dynamic and experienced coach who provides the framework to support each student on his unique path to becoming a master learner.

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 TACHS Exam.


For more information about the exam and test dates, visit the official TACHS website here. Registration will open in August for the upcoming exam.

The TACHS handbook has plenty of helpful information, and it includes sample test questions for students who want to begin preparing.