The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), taken by eighth and ninth graders, is the key to admission to some of the top schools in all of New York City. The test is notoriously difficult, with only the most skilled youth attaining a high score and getting into NYC’s specialized high schools.

So what are specialized high schools?

New York City has nine specialized high schools, which offer a more rigorous curriculum than most other public high schools in the city. The schools are intended to serve the needs of students who excel academically and artistically, according to the Department of Education. The schools are:

  • Bronx High School of Science
  • The Brooklyn Latin School
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College, in the Bronx
  • High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, in Manhattan
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
  • Staten Island Technical High School
  • Stuyvesant High School, in Manhattan

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.

When is the SHSAT in 2023?

The 2023 SHSAT will take place in November. See below for test date information taken from the DOE website:

Tuesday, October 3, 2023: High School Application & Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) Registration Opens

Friday, October 27, 2023: SHSAT Registration Closes

Wednesday, November 8, 2023: SHSAT School Day Testing

Friday, December 1, 2023: High School Application Closes

Thursday, March 7, 2024: High School Offer Release

What does the SHSAT test?

There are two SHSAT sections: English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Start to finish, the test will take you three hours (180 minutes).  

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).

How to prepare for SHSAT?

The key to mastering the SHSAT lies in ample and consistent practice. A student’s academic results in middle school are usually a good indicator of how they might fare on the SHSAT. The more students familiarize themselves with the kind of material covered on the test and work on testing skills like time management and concentration, the better their results will be.

SHSAT 3 Study Tips from Socrato.

  1. Start with a diagnostic practice test to provide a better sense of the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and a valuable roadmap for topics to review and testing skills they’ll need to master. We can help administer this test and provide a comprehensive report to help organize the test prep process.
  • Take additional proctored practice tests after several months of study, and/or a month before the test date, to gauge the student’ progress, inform their long-term test prep plan, and build their confidence in test taking. Like the diagnostic test, these tests should be timed and proctored (by a parent or tutor), re-creating the actual test conditions so that the student can accurately assess their test taking skills.
  • “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Practice is a good thing, but students who don’t first learn the content and strategies related to their test are just “practicing” or reinforcing their mistakes. Students should make sure they understand why they got the problem wrong (yes, all of them!) before moving on to more practice.