Various New York City students pass their SHSATs and get into an excellent high school. If Google has brought you here, you must want to be one of them. Are you curious about what the SHSAT entails and, more importantly, how to study for it? Are you a parent looking to help your child? Perhaps relay this article, or at least inform your child by pretending that you came up with it yourself?
In either case, we are here to give you a comprehensive look at the specifics of the SHSAT and how to study well enough so that the illustrious New York City high school you were eying is within your grasp.
What is the SHSAT?
Some of the highest-rated high schools in New York City, such as the Bronx High School of Science, the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College (located in in-state New York), and the Staten Island Technical High School, use the SHSAT Exam (which stands for the Specialized High School Admissions Test) as an admissions test.
The SHSAT Exam is designed with the intention of testing middle-school students (specifically the eighth and ninth-grade students) on their English and Mathematics skills.
If you want more information on what the SHSAT Exams consist of, then let’s talk about the English and Mathematical sections of the SHSAT Exam.
What’s on the SHSAT Exam?
The SHSAT covers two major subjects: English and Mathematics. The test is split into two different sections with their scores and forms of questions. Expect to answer dozens of questions and answer fewer incorrectly.
The English Section of the SHSAT Exam
Taking the English SHSAT Exam means taking two distinct sections/portions. The first section, “Revising and Editing,” measures your revising and editing skills (generally, your ability to point out and correct errors and improve quality. The second section, “Reading Comprehension,” tests basic reading comprehension (or the understanding, analysis, and interpretation of different texts in various forms of literature).
In the “Revising and Editing” section, a student identifies and corrects errors such as misused language, missing details, lousy organization, etc. You are given a sentence or quote to fix; it’s a whole, multiple-paragraph prompt in the second part. You have to answer between nine and nineteen questions.
In the “Reading Comprehension” section of the English SHSAT, you have many more questions to answer, ranging between 38 and 48 individual questions. This section has individual writing prompts with ten questions for each prompt. Even though it looks like more, “Reading Comprehension” is considerably lesser and arguably more fun: you flex your understanding and knowledge of subjective and involved reading concepts and engage with various genres and topics like fantasy, sci-fi, or non-fiction.
The Math Section of the SHSAT Exam
SHSAT Math tests your pre-algebraic and algebraic comprehension–nothing out of the ordinary extreme for a middle schooler or first-year high school student, but it is not easy for those unprepared! The Math portion of the SHSAT is only one section, revolving around the math you learned in the grade prior. The section comprises five grid-in questions (i.e., you have to make the questions yourself) and 52 multiple-choice questions.
Is the SHSAT Really Hard?
If you want an idea of how just difficult the SHSAT test is, around 30,000 students take the SHSAT every year, and only a mere twenty percent of those students earned a passing grade of about 500 or higher. The exact score you need to enter your target high school depends on the high school itself, but generally, they would not create a specialized test just so that any ambitious student can apply.
For a high school admissions test, twenty percent is very low odds. But statistics mean nothing without context. A lot is going on within a student’s mind that can impact their test performance, and perhaps you can be prepared–or lucky–enough to be one of those twenty percent. However, we can give a better, more concrete idea of how difficult the SHSAT Exam can be through example.
Consider this: you only have three hours to complete the SHSAT Exam and its dozens of questions, and you likely have to do it in a sterile, uncomfortable setting while being watched like a hawk by your instructors. You only have two chances to pass the SHSAT Exam; if you failed the exam in the eighth grade: you can retake the SHSAT Exam in the ninth grade–but if you fail again, then you may have to start looking for other ways to enter the Bronx High School of Science.
These challenges may make the SHSAT Exam seem incredibly daunting but remember that this is an admission test for extremely lavish schools. Be very wary that this will not be an easy test to pass. To pass the SHSAT Exam, you need to prepare. You need to study and hard! If you’re here, reading this article, looking for any help you can, you more than likely already know this to be the case, in which case, what you are looking for is advice and some form of direction.
How to Study for the SHSAT Exam?
We have reached our destination: how do you study for the SHSAT Exam? The same as any test: you devise a rigorous schedule, practice your material, and immerse yourself as much as possible into your homework, classwork, and any other type of work that is required to pass. Here are some of the best ways to study for the SHSAT Exam.
Create and stick to a tight study schedule
First, you need to understand that what is more crucial to studying than actually studying the material is getting yourself to keep learning consistently. You will not get the results you want if you think waiting until the last minute to cram your unused textbooks and old lecture notes will get you to pass the exam. No, it’s forming a consistent schedule that forces you to partition on particular material at a time that will allow you to understand and use it.
The most academic students need to know how to manage their time. Take the time to map out your schedule, including when and how long you study material for a day or a whole week.
Study for around two hours every day, including weekends. Break it up with short breaks; it helps keep your mind fresh on the material.
Practice and memorize the SHSAT Practice Exams
SHSAT Exam preps and practice tests available on the internet give you a more intimate idea of how to take on the actual exam would be like. Memorize the questions, how they are written, and what the questions expect you to understand. Fundamentals are essential but applying them where it matters is even more so.
Practice should be a consistent part of your study regimen. Don’t expect to use these practice tests as a cheat sheet–the test-takers themselves commission these, and they know that people use them.
Read some new material
Finally, gather all sorts of reading and SHSAT study materials, including notebooks, pencils, pens, scratch paper, and of course, textbooks. These materials will give you insight into what the subjects consist of. Swallow them and their wreath of knowledge like pills.
How Long Should You Study for the SHSAT Exam?
Many online sources will tell you that prepping for the SHSAT Exam will be difficult. As a student, you will have very little time in between attending regular classes, doing regular classwork, and staying home to focus on your homework to dedicate yourself to studying for the exam. The SHSAT Exam is a grueling three hours of work, and you need much more than that in studying to get a good score.
As for your dedicated “sitting down and paying attention to the material study time,” studying for the SHSAT Exam will consist of a lot of your free time; you can consider all that time to be part of your study time. Thankfully, however, a lot of what you are currently learning in school will help prep for the exam.
Generally, it would be best to study for the SHSAT for at least an hour a day or five hours a week. The SHSAT Exam is a long and challenging process, so you have to match the energy of that hurdle with your own.
3 Strategies to Improve Your SHSAT Score
You may have already taken the SHSAT Exam and become one of the eighty percent. Perhaps you have a good reason for your current ability falling behind the curve. Maybe you have a terrible experience with tests, and you want to make absolutely sure that you will not fail this one.
In any case, you want not just to study but improve your study and retain your knowledge and skills. We have three concise but valuable strategies to help you improve your SHSAT score.
Develop new ways to absorb information
If the way you are reading or studying is not allowing you to retain the necessary knowledge, then perhaps look at new ways to maintain that information. If reading the textbooks isn’t enough, then write down the key notes and additional material in a textbook. Have the material read out loud to you. Meet up with friends or classmates and have them offer their methods of studying.
Improving your score means approaching new ways to engage with your material, which leads to the next point.
Surpass your limits and engage in new material
Consider the possibility that you are not paying enough attention to the subjects you think you understand, or maybe you overestimate how much you know about what you know. If you feel like this properly paints your situation, approach relevant subjects where you think you miss something crucial.
Repeat, repeat, and repeat the material you already understand
Let’s consider that you are just not studying hard enough! Drill the material into your head through nothing but sheer repetition and grit. Write every single reason it’s right and every single reason it’s wrong. If you found the correct answer, find it again and again.
With proper implementation of these three strategies with the last study tips, you will see your SHSAT score go from “never had a chance” to “welcome aboard, sport” in no time.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for the SHSAT Exam
Studying for the SHSAT Exam will not be a simple task or passing it. You need to buckle down and sacrifice what little free time you have to secure a brighter future. Parents, you need to gain a more vital awareness of your student’s activities and help them focus and study if they need to. Between you and the next four years in one of the best high schools in the state is this exam. If you are one hundred percent dedicated and willing, you will ace the SHSAT Exam with no problem!