Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) is required for admission to the 9 specialized public high schools of New York City (NYC). These schools offer a wide range of courses, are known for their academic rigor, and have outstanding teachers, motivated students, and exciting extracurricular activities. As an example, Bronx High School of Science alumni hold eight Nobel Prizes, among many other accolades.

There are 9 specialized high schools in New York City:

  • Stuyvesant High School
  • Bronx High School of Science
  • Staten Island Technical High School
  • Queens Science at York College
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • High School for Math, Science and Engineering
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • Brooklyn Latin High School
  • LaGuardia High School

Who can take SHSAT?

It is estimated that 30,000 NYC 8th graders take the SHSAT each November. The 3-hour test is the only requirement for admission to one of New York City’s nine specialized public schools. Every year, these schools accept approximately 6,000 students, which means that 82% of applicants are rejected.

SHSAT test content and length

The SHSAT is a timed, pencil-and-paper test and has two 57-question sections: English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Students have 3 hours to complete the test and you can only take it once. Student may use their judgment in determining how much time to spend on each section. There are 4 multiple choices per question. One raw point is given for each correct answer. No points are taken off for wrong answers. Moreover, SHSAT is likely to be the longest test student has ever taken – if you can believe it, it’s the same length as the SAT. A make-up date is available for emergency situations and a date has been set for 9th graders and students with special needs in November.

What Does the SHSAT Cover?

There are two main sections on the SHSAT. They are used to assess a test-takers ELA and Mathematical skills, as described in Table 1 and 2.

ELA: This part of the test contains 57 multiple-choice questions. Ten questions are not scored.

Table 1. Description of ELA section

Question TypeNumber of QuestionsDescription
Revising/Editing20To improve the quality of your writing, you must be able to recognize and correct language errors  
Reading comprehension37You will be tested on your ability to comprehend, analyse, and interpret the information you have read.  
Experimental10There are no points awarded for these questions, and they are only used for research purposes.

Mathematics: This portion of the SHSAT also has 57 questions, and only 47 questions are scored. Five are computational questions, referred to as” grid-in” questions. All of the other questions in this section are multiple-choice questions offering four answer options that test-takers must choose from.

Table 2. Description of Math section

Question TypeNumber of QuestionsDescription
Grid-In5These questions require the student to “grid in” their numerical answer choice in a chart of numbers.
Multiple Choice52These questions test what the student has learned in math class through the 8th or 9th grade. Each question has 4 choices.
Experimental Questions10These questions are interspersed throughout the test and do not count toward the student’s final score.

SHSAT: How is it scored?

Based on the numbers of questions answered correctly, students receive a raw score, which is then converted to a total scaled score out of 720.

Raw Score Calculation for ELA and Mathematics: As an example, suppose a student answered 52 questions correctly and 5 questions incorrectly out of 57 in ELA section then raw score will be 52 points. Similarly, if student answered all 57 questions correctly in Math section, then raw score will be 57 points, as show in figure 1.

Figure 1. Raw Score Calculation for the ELA and Mathematics

Source: Socrato SHSAT diagnostic report

Scaled Score Calculation for ELA and Mathematics: As discussed in the above section, student receive 52 and 57 raw points in ELA and Math respectively, which is converted to a scaled score of 360 for ELA and 360 for Math as per the scale score table provided by the SHSAT administration. Suppose that equivalent scaled score is 314 out of 360 for ELA and 360 out of 360 for Math. It can be observed from the scaled scores as shown in figure 2, points to perfect will be 46 and 0 for ELA and Math respectively. In total, the student achieved a scaled score of 714 out of 720, and 46 points to perfection.

Figure 2. Scaled Score Calculation for the SHSAT Test

If you already know about SHSAT and preparing for the upcoming SHSAT test, and do the practice test. Smart Strategy for SHSAT preparation:

  • Decide the target score goal.
  • Take the practice test.
  • Find the difference between the Test score and the Targeted score.
  • Analyse the practice test.
  • Identify the strengths and areas of improvement subject-wise and topic-wise.
  • Prepare first high-priority subjects and topics.
  • Take practice individual subject tests to check the improvement.
  • Take the full-length test before the actual test.

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