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Everything You Need to Know About the SHSAT

Everything You Need to Know About the SHSAT

The SHSAT is the doorway to getting into Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and 5 other fantastic, free NYC public schools!

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SHSAT
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What is the SHSAT test?

The SHSAT is The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, which is required for admission to the 9 specialized public high schools of New York City.

There are 9 specialized high schools in New York City:


These schools are known for their academic rigor, top teachers, driven students, great course offerings and exciting extra-curricular opportunities. The alumni of these fantastic high schools tout amazing accolades; Bronx High School of Science alumni, for example, hold 8 Nobel Prizes.

How many people take the SHSAT?

An average of 30,000 NYC eighth graders take the SHSAT every October. This 3-hour test is the only criterion for gaining entry into one of New York City’s nine specialized public schools. These schools combined only accept approximately 6,000 students each year, which means that 82% of those students who apply are rejected.

What is the SHSAT test date in 2022?

The 2022 SHSAT has not yet been announced.

In 2021, the SHSAT took place the first week in December, although the exact date usually varies by school. Visit the DOE website to find your exact date.

How to register for SHSAT?

To register for the SHSAT, you need to log into your MySchools account. If you do not already have an account, you can create one.

When you are logged into your account, you will be given the option to rank the specialized high schools in order of preference. Give some thought to this and make sure you are truly listing schools in the order you would want to go to them.

Once registered, you will then receive a personalized test ticket with information on when and where you will take the test.

You can also register for the SHSAT through your school counsellor.

How long is the SHSAT test?

The test is 180 minutes and you can only take it once. There is a make-up date in case of emergencies and a November date for 9th graders and students with special needs. The SHSAT is probably the longest test your student will have ever taken — if you can believe it, it’s the same length as the SAT.

How is the SHSAT scored?

Based on the numbers of questions answered correctly, students receive a raw score, which is then converted to a scaled score out of 800.

The test is meant to be very hard. But the good news is that you don’t have to get an A (or 90%+ of the questions correct).

We estimate that kids whose scores qualify them for a specialized high school only need to get 70% to 80% of the questions right (depending on the school you are aiming for). The test is heavily curved based on the performance of all the students who take the test that year as compared to the number of spots available. The curve is done separately for the Math Section and for the English Section.

Because How is the SHSAT scored, students are asked which school is their #1 – #8 choice, the curve is also affected by this ranking. A score that is good enough to get into Stuyvesant but prioritizes Bronx Science over Stuyvesant, the student will likely go to Bronx Science and leave an extra spot for someone who may otherwise have had a score that’s on the cusp of getting into Stuyvesant or Bronx Science.

The SHSAT rewards people who are much stronger in one subject over the other.

If you are a math genius and get every math question right, you only need to get approximately 10 out of 57 questions right on the English to get a spot in one of the specialized high schools of NYC. Same goes for “left brain” geniuses: if you get a top score on the grammar and reading comprehension sections (57 questions altogether), you don’t have to get very many math questions right to get into the school of your choice. We estimate that if you get all the ELA (or math) questions right, you need to get fewer than half of the questions right on the 2nd section to earn a spot at Stuyvesant.

Want more good news? You can choose which section to do first, the math or English … or you can even skip around. You are free to do the 114 questions in any order you like.

How do you pass the SHSAT?

The SHSAT is not a pass/fall test. Instead, there are cut-off scores for each of the specialized high schools. More on this under the next heading…

What are the NYC specialized high school test scores?

The cut off scores for acceptance (out of 800 / 400 Math + 400 ELA) to the specialized high schools of NYC are listed below with their corresponding 2022 numbers. The 9th Specialized High School in New York is LaGuardia High School, which requires an audition rather than the SHSAT test.

SHSAT Score Cut-offs 2022

  • Stuyvesant 563
  • Bronx Science 524
  • Brooklyn Latin 497
  • Brooklyn Technical 506
  • HSMSE @ CCNY 532
  • HSAS @ Lehman 516
  • Queens Science @ York College 523
  • Staten Island Tech 527

How many questions are on the SHSAT?

There are 57 ELA (English) questions and 57 Math questions.

What are the SHSAT ELA questions?

Of the ELA questions, roughly 9 to 11 questions now test grammar and the remainder test reading comprehension through questions which ask students to interpret what they have read in 6 text passages provided during the exam.

What are the SHSAT math questions?

Of the math questions, there are 52 multiple choice questions and 5 grid-in questions, where students have to fill in the correct numerical solution without being given answer options to choose from. SHSAT math questions are both word problems and equations.

There are questions that pertain to:

  • Numbers/Operations
  • Rates per Unit
  • Order of Operations
  • Percent/Ratios/Proportions
  • Fractions/Decimals
  • Discount Interest
  • Factors/Primes/Divisibility
  • Exponents & Radicals
  • Absolute Value
  • Scientific Notation
  • Counting Principle
  • Imaginary Operations
  • LCD & GCF
  • Age/Times/Clock
  • Sequences/Counting
  • Charts/Diagrams
  • Even/Odd

8th-grade Algebra

  • Solving for X
  • Plug-ins
  • Inequalities
  • Geometry
  • Circles
  • Triangles
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Number Lines
  • Probability, Combinations, Mean/Median/Mode

 How to prepare for SHSAT?

  • Start with a practice test to see where you stand today — you can do one with us … or time yourself at home;
  • Answer all the questions, even if you run out of time and you take a complete guess — the SHSAT does not penalize you for wrong answers — your score is just based on how many questions you get right;
  • If you are much better at Math than English or the other way around, work on getting as many questions as possible right in that section, then tackle the easiest question types in the other section — don’t spend too much time focusing on the hard questions in the section that is hardest for you;
  • Eat a big breakfast and maybe another energy bar and drink right before going into the test. There are no breaks and no food allowed and you wouldn’t want hunger pangs or low energy due to hunger to cost you this test (also, check out our article about SHSAT Exam Policies); and
  • … take SHSAT tutoring and get to know more of these strategies!

Things we haven’t covered in this article:

  1. SHSAT for 9th graders
  2. What are the other great Public NYC High Schools and how do I apply? (article coming soon)
  3. The Discovery Program – i.e. free test prep for the SHSAT for those who qualify based on income level, minority status and other factors.

Sources referenced:

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