Ivy Tutors Network Logo
SHSAT ELA Practice

SHSAT ELA Practice

SHSAT ELA practice can be daunting. We know what you’re thinking. How can I possibly read and understand all these complex passages with words I’ve never seen before – under a time limit too! While the SHSAT is certainly difficult, it’s not impossible. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best ways to practice and prepare yourself for the ELA section of SHSAT.

Ivy Tutors Network
Ivy Tutors Network
High School Admissions
SHSAT

SHSAT ELA practice can be daunting. We know what you’re thinking. How can I possibly read and understand all these complex passages with words I’ve never seen before – under a time limit too! While the SHSAT is certainly difficult, it’s not impossible. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best ways to practice and prepare yourself for the ELA section of SHSAT.

What ELA Topics Are on the SHSAT?

There are two categories of ELA questions on the SHSAT: Revising/Editing and Reading Comprehension.

Revising/Editing assesses students’ knowledge of syntax and grammar, and their ability to correctly edit and revise passages.

Reading Comprehension tests students’ ability to read and understand prose and poetry passages in English and correctly answer multiple choice questions that focus on comprehension and analysis.

How Many Grammar Questions on the SHSAT?

The SHSAT contains 9–11 revising/editing questions. These are divided between standalone questions and a series of questions based on a single passage. For the standalone questions, students are given a sentence or short paragraph in which they must identify a grammatical error and/or suggest how to revise it. The passage questions are less about grammar and more about how to structure writing to increase coherence and flow. Students will be asked to add, remove, or move around individual lines to make the passage more logical.

SHSAT Reading Comprehension Practice

Independent reading is the single best way to practice for the reading comprehension portion of SHSAT. When students read regularly, they become better at retaining information, acquire a greater vocabulary, and also develop the skills to read passages more quickly without missing important information. Students are encouraged to read in a wide variety of genres: novels, newspaper articles, scientific periodicals, poetry etc.. But reading anything is better than nothing!

When doing independent reading, here is an exercise that can help hone your comprehension skill for the SHSAT:

  1. Choose a short to medium article or story.
  2. Read it. Don’t try to remember everything on the first read, but do try to get a clear idea of the topic or main events of the passage. While reading, underline any words you don’t know.
  3. Write a few lines summarizing the main idea of the passage. For nonfiction, what’s the topic? What does the author have to say about the topic? For fiction, who are the characters or narrator in this excerpt? What happens between them/what events take place?
  4. For each paragraph, write a few lines summarizing the main idea/events of the paragraph.
  5. Look up the vocabulary you don’t know and write them with their definition in a devoted section of your notebook so that you don’t forget.

We recommend doing this several times with multiple different passages. The exercise is simple, but will train you to consistently read for comprehension with whatever text you encounter.

SHSAT Poetry Practice

It may sound overly simple, but the best way to practice for the SHSAT poetry section is to read poetry! This is easier said than done, as most students don’t read poetry outside of a school setting. To practice poetry analysis, you can visit poetryfoundation.org and look at the poem of the day. Read it once, then read it again, this time trying to take in the literal meaning of what the speaker is saying. Jot down a few lines summarizing the main ideas of the poem. Then read a third time and pay attention to how the metaphors, word choice, repetitions, and rhyme scheme deepen and contribute to these ideas. How do these figurative elements enhance or complicate the meaning of the poem? Choose a few of these divides and write down your insights. Believe it or not, you just analyzed a poem! See, that wasn’t so hard after all!

SHSAT Grammar Rules

Here are some essential grammar concepts that you should know for the SHSAT:

  • Subject-Verb Agreement - Can you tell if your verbs agree with the subject in number?
  • Verb Tense - Can you make sure your verbs are in the proper tense?
  • Comma Usage - Can you properly use commas to separate dependent clauses, appositives, and items in a list?
  • Misplaced Modifiers - This is when a phrase or clause is placed in a sentence so that it appears to modify or refer to an unintended word.

SHSAT grammar practice is important, but you should also trust your ear as a native English speaker. There’s a lot of grammar you could learn for this section, but it’s also really short, so studying each rule endlessly may not be the best use of your time. Look out for strangeness as you read. If something sounds off to you, it probably is.

SHSAT ELA Strategies

Here are some tips and strategies for making sure you maximize your chances of doing well on the ELA portion of the SHSAT:

  1. Always answer the question as phrased. The way the questions on the SHSAT are constructed makes the test particularly difficult for students. Not only does the test require close reading of the passages, but of the questions as well. There will be answer choices that may make accurate statements about the passage, but because they don’t answer what the question is asking, are actually traps. Students need to be careful to choose the answer choice that directly responds to the question as it is phrased, even if it is less vivid and specific.
  2. Find evidence for your answers. If you can’t identify textual evidence for your answer, chances are that it’s incorrect. When practicing, get in the habit of undermining the lines or words in the passage that justify your answer choice.
  3. Do the easier passages first. For some students, it may be beneficial to start with a passage in a genre they find easier to read (non fiction instead of fiction, for instance) in order to rack up as many correct points as possible. You can take the passages in any order, so you can try starting with the genre you like better, or experiment with both ways on practice tests. There are 6 reading comprehension passages with 6–10 questions each (3–4 of these will be information, 1–2 will be literary, and 1 will be a poem).
  4. Answer every question. Every question on the SHSAT is worth the same amount of points. There is no benefit to answering the harder questions over the easier ones. You should never linger too long on one question. If it’s difficult, mark it, guess and come back later. Blank answers and wrong answers are treated the same, so there is no penalty for guessing. If you don’t know the answer, you should always guess, since there’s a chance you’ll get it right. If you can eliminate 1 or 2 first, all the better.

Ivy Tutors Network has been the industry leader in SHSAT preparation for over 19 years. To see where you are in the SHSAT prep process, start by taking a diagnostic exam with us. We’ll send you a comprehensive score report to help you assess your strengths and weaknesses. We can then match you with one of our experienced SHSAT tutors, who will help you develop the best strategies for mastering the ELA portion of the SHSAT.

design

Take a Diagnostic Exam in NYC

Start with a diagnostic SAT, ACT, SHSAT, ISEE, SSAT, TACHS, or AP test so you know where you stand and where you need improvement. Knowledge is power!

Related Blog Posts

How to Get into Staten Island Technical High School
By Ivy Tutors Network
How to Get into Staten Island Technical High School
Staten Island Technical High School (SITHS) is a top-rated public magnet high school in NYC, and one of the 9 specialized high schools. For approximately 1330 students, Staten Island Tech offers a completely free college-preparatory education, including specialized courses in science and engineering. With amazing academics, a diverse student body, and exciting extracurriculars, SITHS is truly unique. Want to apply? Here’s what you need to know…
How to Get into Queens High School for the Sciences (QHSS)
By Ivy Tutors Network
How to Get into Queens High School for the Sciences (QHSS)
Founded in 2002, Queens High School for the Sciences is one of the 3 newer specialized high schools located on City College campuses. With small class sizes, a diverse student body, and devoted faculty, Queens High School provides both an intimate and intellectually rigorous educational experience. It’s also completely free to attend, making it a highly sought after option for NYC families. Want to apply? Here’s what you need to know…
How to Get into the High School for Math, Science and Engineering
By Ivy Tutors Network
How to Get into the High School for Math, Science and Engineering
The High School for Math, Science and Engineering is one of NYC’s 9 specialized high schools. Public and completely free to attend, HSMSE provides students with a first class education in the STEM fields, in addition to a rigorous and well rounded general academic program. The faculty are famous for their quality and dedication to teaching, and the student body (approximately 500) is one of the most diverse in the city, representing all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. In this article, we’ll tell you more about what makes HSMSE special, and what you need to know to get the chance to attend…
How to Get into Brooklyn Latin High School
By Ivy Tutors Network
How to Get into Brooklyn Latin High School
Brooklyn Latin High School, more commonly known as Brooklyn Latin, has many unique features that differentiate it from the other specialized high schools. In this article, we’ll tell you what makes Brooklyn Latin special, and what you need to know to get the chance to attend.
How to Get into Brooklyn Technical High School
By Ivy Tutors Network
How to Get into Brooklyn Technical High School
Brooklyn Tech is the largest of the NYC specialized high schools, with a particular emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Here's what you need to know to apply...
How to Get into The Bronx High School of Science
By Ivy Tutors Network
How to Get into The Bronx High School of Science
Bronx Science is one of the 8 specialized high schools of New York City for which you have to take the SHSAT (specialized high school admissions test). Bronx Science has produced eight Nobel Prize-winning alumni, more than any other secondary school in the country. Here's what you need to know about the admissions process...
How to Get into Stuyvesant High School
By Ivy Tutors Network
How to Get into Stuyvesant High School
Stuyvesant is a top rated, public high school in lower Manhattan, considered by many to be the “crown jewel” of the NYC public school system. With over 3000 students, Stuyvesant is known for its rigorous academics, unique course offerings, and exciting extracurriculars. It attracts both top students and top teachers. Here's what you need to know to get the chance to attend this amazing school...
SHSAT Exam Policies - Important Things to Know About Testing Day
By Ivy Tutors Network
SHSAT Exam Policies - Important Things to Know About Testing Day
The SHSAT is offered just once a year for 8th or 9th graders in the Fall/Winter. Because you can only take the exam once, it’s absolutely essential to make sure everything runs smoothly. Based on the most common questions we receive from our students, here are the most important things you need to know going into SHSAT Test Day.
Everything You Need to Know About the SHSAT
By Ivy Tutors Network
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!
SHSAT Test Prep: What You Need to Know
By Raphael L.
SHSAT Test Prep: What You Need to Know
Here’s our guide to developing a SHSAT test prep strategy that will cater to your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses.

Contact Us

I am a...