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SHSAT Math: Everything You Need To Know

SHSAT Math: Everything You Need To Know

The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) includes various math topics that evaluate a student's quantitative reasoning and problem-solving skills. The math section involves algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis. Familiarity with these key math concepts is crucial to excel on the SHSAT.

Noga B.
Noga B.
Test Prep
High School Admissions

What type of math is on the SHSAT?

The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) includes various math topics that evaluate a student's quantitative reasoning and problem-solving skills. The math section involves Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Data Analysis. Familiarity with these key math concepts is crucial to excel on the SHSAT.

How do you fill out the math section on SHSAT?

In the math section of the SHSAT, students are required to answer 5 “grid-in” questions and then 52 multiple-choice questions. The grid-in questions are open-ended and students must fill in the right numerical answer on the bubble sheet, as shown below. It is imperative to read each question carefully and identify the relevant information to solve the problem accurately. Careful bubbling of the chosen answers on the scantron sheet is essential in order to avoid any errors in recording responses.

SHSAT math bubble sheet

Is the SHSAT math section done in pencil?

Yes, a standard No. 2 pencil is required to fill out the math section of the SHSAT. Using a pencil allows for easy erasing and neat bubbling on the answer sheet. Do not use pens or mechanical pencils, as they may not be read correctly by the scanning system.

What are the SHSAT math skills needed to succeed on the test?

To succeed on the SHSAT math section, students should  have a strong foundation in fundamental math skills, including algebraic expressions, equations, ratios, percentages, geometry theorems, and data interpretation. Our SHSAT book includes the following math sub-sections:

  • Multiplication/Division
  • Exponents & Square Roots
  • Factors and Multiples
  • Algebra
  • Order of Operations
  • Simplifying Expressions
  • Equations & Inequalities
  • Number Lines
  • Absolute Value
  • Word Problem
  • Ratios, Rates, Percents
  • MMMR (mean, median, mode, range)
  • Geometry
  • Volume & Surface Area
  • Probability
  • Combinations
  • Patterns & Abstract Thinking

Typically, there are not as many questions on the test that require the higher level math, but it’s important to study these math concepts to get your best score. Problem-solving skills and quick mental math are also crucial to manage time effectively during the exam.

What are the types of questions on the SHSAT math section?

The SHSAT math section is made up of multiple-choice and “grid-in” questions that assess students' understanding of the math concepts. These questions may involve real-world scenarios, algebraic problem-solving, geometric principles, and data analysis. It is important to note that SHSAT math questions are often word-heavy, requiring careful reading comprehension skills for interpreting the right approach to solving the problems. Students must not only grasp the mathematical content, but also identify key information from the given passages to find the most effective problem-solving strategies. This combination of math skills and reading comprehension makes the SHSAT math section unique and challenging. Mastering this skill set is vital for excelling in the math portion of the SHSAT and achieving a competitive overall score.

What are the most difficult SHSAT math questions?

The SHSAT includes challenging math questions that require careful analysis and critical thinking. These questions may involve complex multi step algebraic expressions, advanced geometry problems, and intricate data interpretation. The last SHSAT practice exams that the Department of Education released in 2023 also included “box and whisker” graphs that are used for statistical analysis; many 7th grade students haven’t seen this type of graph before. Practice with the most difficult questions can help students build confidence and improve their problem-solving abilities. It's also important to note that calculator use is not allowed on the SHSAT, which can increase the diffulty level of the test for some.

SHSAT Math score guide

The SHSAT math section contributes significantly to the overall test score. Understanding the scoring system is crucial for test-takers to gauge their performance accurately.

Each correct answer earns points, while incorrect answers do not result in any deduction, so it is extremely beneficial to attempt to answer all questions, even if you run out of time and you have to guess on some questions in order to complete the bubble sheet. When calculating your “raw score,” each question answered correctly is counted equally. In other words, if you get 50 out of the 57 math questions correct, you raw score would simply be 50.

However, when converting to the scaled score, each question is worth more points if you get very few or very many questions right. For the first 10-15 questions you get right, each question could be worth approximately 8-15 points. Then, once you get about 49 or more questions correct, those last few questions are also worth 8-10 points out of a total of approximately 360 scaled points. The scaled score varies for every time a test is given, as it is graded on a curve (or scaled) depending on: (1) How many questions you get right and (2) how other students do on that exact test.

Depending on how other test takers do on the test, the cut-off score required (the sum of the math and English scores) to attend the specialized high school of your choice also changes. For those who are better at the Math section than the ELA section, one strategy is to focus on getting as close to all of the 57 math questions correct as possible, as those last 8 questions are worth more points and can really help boost your overall combined math and ELA score.

How do you improve on the math section of the SHSAT? Here are your SHSAT math study tips!

Improving performance on the SHSAT math section requires diligent preparation and practice. Here are some study tips to enhance math skills and boost confidence:

1. Review Key Math Concepts: Familiarize yourself with essential math topics, including Algebra, Geometry, and Arithmetic. Practice solving various types of problems to reinforce your understanding.

2. Take Timed Practice Tests: Simulate exam conditions by taking timed practice tests. This will help you manage your time effectively during the actual SHSAT.

3. Identify Weak Areas: Analyze your practice test results to identify areas of weakness. Focus on improving those areas through targeted practice. We recommend going over every wrong answer and figuring out what you did wrong and how you would get the right answer next time.

4. Seek Professional Help: Consider enrolling in an SHSAT preparation course or tutoring program. Expert guidance can provide personalized support and valuable insights.

5. Teach to Learn: Once you figure out how to answer a difficult question you’ve struggled with, explain it to someone else. Pick a friend, a sibling, or a family member and explain why it’s easy to pick the wrong answer and how one arrives as the right answer.

students teaching each other

What are some SHSAT math games to improve your score?

Wait, games?! Can you really prep for a difficult exam by playing games? Yes! Engaging in interactive math games can make the learning process more enjoyable and, therefore, more effective. Use online educational resources and apps that offer math games specifically designed to improve SHSAT math skills. We like the MathTricks app and Kahoot, for example. Games can reinforce concepts, enhance problem-solving abilities, and allow you to remain engaged in test prep even when you’re feeling fed up with doing actual SHSAT math problems.

By combining rigorous practice, effective study techniques, and the right resources, you can confidently tackle the SHSAT math section and enhance your chances of getting into one of the 8 competitive specialized high schools in New York City.


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