Specialized High Schools Admissions Test

SHSAT is not used for NYC’s ninth Specialized High School
SHSAT is not used for NYC’s ninth Specialized High School

The SHSAT is offered to eighth and ninth grade students to determine admission to eight of New York City’s Specialized High Schools. In these reading comprehension questions worksheets, students are asked questions about the meaning, significance, intention, structure, inference, and vocabulary used in each passage.

The SHSAT is not used for NYC’s ninth Specialized High School: LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.

These high schools have collectively 6500 slots per year, but over 20,000 students a year test for admission.    The test is given each year in October and November.  Students may only test ONCE per year, but may test in both 8th and 9th grades.  A 7th grader who takes the test and performs well would be expected to start the next year and thereby skip 8th grade.  This is rare.

Students are asked to rank the schools in order of their preference.  Over the last decade Stuyvesant and Bronx Science have been the most highly ranked, and thus a higher SHSAT score is needed to enter one of them vs. other Specialized High Schools.  Literally, the schools most in demand by students have higher “cut-off” scores. Recently Bronx Science’s cut-off (the lowest admissible SHSAT score) was 517;  Stuyvesant’s was 559.  The other six were in the upper 400s.  Admission to these eight schools is currently based SOLELY on the SHSAT.  Grades, extracurricular activities, and family background have no bearing.

The SHSAT makers give students very few practice materials.  Student can study with some simulated materials, but it is best to have a tutor as a guide-and-instructor.

Like other standardized tests, the SHSAT is coachable.  Ivy Bound tutors teach to the test.  They often supplement the knowledge and the needed skills with a battery of “drills and skills”.  Students work with Ivy Bound tutors at their homes, typically 3 hours a week for part of the summer and then once a week for 90 minutes once school resumes.

Ivy Bound uses many of the same tutors who teach ACT and SAT to student in later years.  Indeed, some skills tested on the SHSAT overlap the SAT, and students who come to us two years later for SAT prep have a bit less work ahead of them.  Ivy Bound allows students to pair up and thereby have semi-private tutoring.  The families then split the tutor’s fee. This site has a large number of examples of tests that will be on exams this year – https://argoprep.com/shsat/what-is-shsat/

Please note: the SHSAT does NOT apply to applicants to Hunter College High School.  Its entrance test is unique.  HCHS make no information about it publicly available, but anecdotally, we know that many tested items are similar to those on the SHSAT.  Thus the skills learned in SHSAT prep will help with some aspects of the HCHS entrance test.

We look forward to helping you claim your place in a top-tier NY City school.