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SHSAT Test Prep

The SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admissions Test) is used by the New York City Specialized High Schools to determine admission into the school. Performance on the SHSAT is the sole factor used when determining admission to a New York City Specialized High School. Certain other schools in the country also use the SHSAT for admission. The SHSAT is broken down into two large sections – Verbal and Math. However, the verbal section is actually broken down into Revising/Editing and Reading Comprehension.

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The SHSAT is used for Admission to the Following Schools in NYC

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

*Note that Fiorello H. Laguardia High School is also a specialized high school, but it does not use SHSAT for admission.

What is on the SHSAT?

The SHSAT is comprised of two parts: Part 1 – English Language Arts and Part 2 – Mathematics. The parts can be taken in any order; questions may be answered in any order.
The ELA (English Language Arts) part of the test tests students, abilities to revise and edit sentences, paragraphs and passages. The ELA part also includes reading comprehension questions.
The Mathematics part covers a wide-range of topics, including arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.

Format of the SHSAT

Standard testing time •180 minutes
ELA section (57 items) •20 revising/editing questions: 5-8 stand-alone questions and 2 passages with 6-8questions each (see attached sample questions)
•6 reading passages with 5-7 questions each
•All questions are multiple choice questions
Math section (57 items) •5 grid-in questions (see attached sample questions)
•52 multiple choice word problems and computational questions
Other notes •All multiple choice questions (all ELA questions; all math questions except grid-in items) will have 4 answer choices instead of 5.
•All passages in 2017 will be nonfiction passages; starting in 2018 literary passages and persuasive passages (e.g., editorials) could be included on the test.
•Embedded field test passages and items will be interspersed throughout the relevant sections of the test (10 items in each section); students will not be able to determine which questions are the field test questions.

Sample Questions

Sample SHSAT Revising/Editing Question

Sample revising/editing question from 2017-2018 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook


Sample SHSAT Reading Comprehension Questions

Sample reading comprehension questions from 2017-2018 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook


Sample open-ended math questions from 2017-2018 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook


Sample SHSAT multiple choice math questions

Sample multiple choice math questions from 2017-2018 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook

How Should I Prepare for the SHSAT?

First Step: Practice Test

Assuming you already did your research and have decided that you want to attend a Specialized High School, the first step in preparing for the test should be to take a practice test with diagnostics that allow you to measure your strengths and weaknesses. The Specialized High Schools Student Handbook typically has two full-length practice tests in it. If you did not receive it yet, you can google it. Here is a link directly to it: 2017-2018 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook. Note that prior to the 2017-2018 handbook, the test had a different format and different questions. The older handbooks can be a good resource for math and reading comprehension questions, but ignore the scrambled paragraph questions and logic questions.

Next Steps

Your next steps depend on how much time you have until the test. If you have sufficient time, you should review all of the topics on the test. Just because you are good at a certain topic, doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. The questions on the test are tricky and may require you to apply knowledge of a topic in a way that you are not familiar with. Also, the test is timed, so it is important to be proficient enough to be able to answer the questions quickly.
If you are limited on time, a good strategy may be to focus on the part you are best at, ELA or Math, and try to ace it. If you are not clearly better at either section, focus on the topics that can have the biggest impact on your grade – the question topic with the most wrong answers.

Continuously Practice and Measure

While you are reviewing, take practice tests with diagnostics to see how you are improving. This will give you some insight into how to adjust your studying if necessary.

Other Advice

Getting into a specialized high school is a big deal. However, whether or not you get in will not define who you are and what you can achieve. It is possible to put so much pressure on yourself that you cannot focus during the test and constantly second-guess yourself. Realizing that the test won’t make or break who you are will allow you to think more clearly and excel.
The other way to reduce stress is to be prepared. If you prepare well for the test and have done well on the practice tests, you shouldn’t worry on test day.

Resources for SHSAT Prep

  • The Specialized High Schools Student Handbook – The handbook typically contains two practice tests and sample questions. Be careful to use the 2017-2018 handbook or newer version. Older versions have practice tests that are a different format than the current test. However, older handbooks can be used to practice reading comprehension and math.
  • Public Library – Most libraries have test prep books that you can borrow.
  • YouTube – There are many videos on YouTube for SHSAT prep. This is a good free resource, but you will have to search through a lot of videos to find really good content.
  • Review Books – Many books are available for SHSAT prep. It is best if you are able to look inside them before you buy them, either physically or digitally. If there are tips for scrambled paragrpahs or logic, then the review book isn’t up to date. You can look through a book in-person at a book store and then order it online for cheaper in most cases. Even a Barnes & Noble, the book is typically less expensive on the website than in the store.
  • Tutors – Some tutors have many years of experience with SHSAT prep. When hiring a tutor, make sure to ask if the tutor has lessons specifically for each section and if the tutor will provide diagnostic tests. It is possible to find a good tutor on Craigslist, but there are also many unqualified tutors. Try to get a referral from someone else who has used a tutor in the past. The benefit of using a tutor is that the student will receive 1-on-1 attention. The student will be more likely to feel comfortable asking questions. Sessions can be geared toward the individual needs of the student.
  • Test Prep Classes – Classes can be a more affordable option than 1-on-1 tutoring. The classes are normally structured to go over the entire test, rather than focus on the needs of one individual student. In some cases, the classes can get very large and students will not receive the attention that they need. Our classes are kept small to allow some 1-on-1 attention for each student.
  • Online SHSAT Prep – There are many benefits to online test prep. First of all, it is typically less expensive than 1-on-1 tutoring or prep classes. The time of the sessions is usually more flexible, assuming the lessons are prerecorded. Some online classes are live. Feedback is almost instantaneous since a computer is grading tests and sample questions. A good online prep program will be able to analyze students work and get detailed feedback. Our online SHSAT Prep is available here.

What are the Specialized High Schools?

Here is the list of the eight specialized high schools that use the SHSAT for admission, along with some information to find out more about each.

  • Stuyvesant High School
    345 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10282
    www.stuy.edu
    (212) 312-4800
  • Staten Island Technical High School
    485 Clawson Street, Staten Island, NY 10306
    www.siths.org
    (718) 667-3222
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
    29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217
    www.bths.edu
    (718) 804-6400
  • Bronx High School of Science
    75 West 205th Street, Bronx, NY 10468
    www.bxscience.edu
    (718) 817-7700
  • The Brooklyn Latin School
    223 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206
    www.brooklynlatin.org
    (718) 366-0154
  • High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York
    240 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031
    www.hsmse.org
    (212) 281-6490
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
    2925 Goulden Avenue, Bronx, NY 10468
    www.hsas-lehman.org
    (718) 329-2144
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
    94-50 159th Street, Jamaica, NY 11433
    www.qhss.org
    (718) 657-3181

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