Let’s say you are a young, ambitious New York City student (or the parent of a young, ambitious New York City student). You want to get into the city’s best schools.
Students who pass the SHSAT Test, then you will be able to get admission to New York City’s best and most specialized high schools and enjoy a more prestigious life as a high school student.
There is only one question, and that is–how? When should you take the SHSAT Test? Timing is everything, after all, and you have only a short window to register, take the test, study, and succeed. So when should you take the SHSAT?
What is the SHSAT?
The Specialized High School Admissions Test (Test) is New York City’s special and unique admissions test for students to get into the city’s specialized high schools, including:
- The Bronx High School of Science,
- The Brooklyn Latin School,
- The High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College,
- The Queens High School for Science at York College,
- And the Staten Island Technical High School.
The SHSAT is designed to test English and Mathematics for New York City students who are finishing or just finished middle school (in other words, students within the eighth and ninth grades). These tests will be the most involved a student gets into Math and English since their post-procrastination panic the day right before a big exam.
How many questions are on the SHSAT Test, you ask? Well, that will have to depend on n the section of the SHSAT Test. The test is split into two sections: Math and English, each with their portions and individual formats.
The English SHSAT Test
The English portion of the SHSAT is split between measuring the student’s revising and editing skills (your ability to point out and correct language errors and improve the writing quality) and reading comprehension (your ability to understand, analyze, and interpret texts in different literature).
The Revising and Editing portion of the English SHSAT varies between nine and 19 questions. In the first part of the section, each question is based on its sentence or paragraph. In the second part, all questions are based on a single, multi-paragraph text. Generally, a student’s task on this portion is to identify and correct errors found in the test, including identifying a sentence with a mistake, such as misuse of language, missing details, confusing organization, and other errors.
The Reading Comprehension portion of the English SHSAT is much more involved, ranging between 38 and 48 individual questions (though this format is split amongst the individual prompts given, so you have around ten questions for every given prompt. Despite being much more extensive, this portion is comparatively more straightforward: you only have to understand concepts like exposition and arguments in various fields and genres, like poetry, adventure, science fiction, and satire.
The Math SHSAT Test
The Math portion of the SHSAT is comparatively more straightforward than the English portion. The Math portion consists of five grid-in questions (i.e., the test does not provide you a set of questions, and you have to make them yourself) and 52 multiple-choice questions. The material is based around mathematics based on your previous grade (i.e., the eighth grade test forms are based on material up to the seventh grade, and the ninth grade test forms are based on material up to the eighth grade).
The Math section tests you with a series of word and computational quests, such as pre-algebra, algebra, calculating averages, means, and percentages, and volumes, length, and width. Nothing too extreme for a middle schooler or first-year high school student, but certainly daunting if you are not prepared!
Understanding the difficulty of the SHSATs may require comparing them to different forms of specialized testing.
Who Takes the SHSAT Test?
The SHSAT is reserved only for New York City students in the eighth or ninth grades of school. The SHSAT test is free, thankfully, and there are minor requirements for actually taking the test.
The SHSAT Test is ultimately for the ambitious students who want to enter a good, prestigious school with all of their unique benefits. It is not at all required to go to high school or even to be successful. However, it is an excellent way to get a good head start, and it would help your college application if you are thinking that far ahead. The only thing you should be worried about is attaining the knowledge and preparedness to pass the test.
When Should I Take SHSAT Test?
You can only take the SHSAT Test up to two times. However, this rule only applies for students who took and failed the test in the eighth grade: you can retake the SHSAT Test in the ninth grade if you failed the test in the eighth grade, but if you failed the test in the ninth grade, then there are no second chances. The SHSAT test takes place in late October for eighth grade students and early November for ninth grade students.
With this in mind, the student should take the SHSAT first during the eighth grade, in which they will be given comparatively less difficult material. If you fail to pass the SHSAT test in the eighth grade, you have only one more chance in the ninth grade to pass the test. The next SHSAT Test would be more difficult for ninth grade students, as it now includes higher-level Math and English material, namely what high school students are expected to deal with. So there, you have to deal with the basic, primary material of a high schooler. But think of it this way, you would have two whole years to prepare for the test properly.
Okay, so now that we have given you a fundamental outline on when you should take and start preparing for the SHSAT Test, we need to ask, well, how do you actually register? Will there be any other, income-based hurdles to cross?
How to Register for the SHSAT?
Do not rush yourself in registering for the SHSAT: the test will take any eighth or ninth grade student in New York City who files for test registration. There is no harsh requirement, like paying for a ticket, though there are some expectations for the student when actively taking the test, such as bringing their own No. 2 pencils.
Keep in mind that while you can register for the test at any time, it would take around two weeks for the ticket that is proof of your registration. The test is administered in centers in New York City’s boroughs, in schools such as the Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the Long Island City High School in Queens, and the Bronx High School of Science in the Bronx.
When Should I Start Studying for the SHSAT?
Since there is no hurdle to entering the SHSAT Test, a student should begin studying as soon as possible. The SHSAT test is based primarily on subjects already known to middle schoolers or first year high school students, so what you are currently going through or trying to learn isn’t going to be distinctly different. If you are already doing well in your grade, then you have a pretty good foundation to start with. However, this will still require a dedicated study regiment!
On average, only 30,000 students take the SHSAT every year. In 2008, 29,000 students came in, took the test, and only 6,000 students achieved a passing grade and were given admission to New York City’s specialized schools.
Those are starkly low odds, all things considered (6,000 out of 29,000 students is around a 20 percent success rate!). However, statistics are not the only measure of difficulty. The only accurate way to gauge your success is if you take the test. Do not be scared off by the small numbers or intimidating symbols. You have to take the initiative and do it yourself.
So: how exactly do you study for the SHSAT Test?
How to Study for the SHSAT Test?
How do you pass the SHSAT test? Much like with any test, it requires an intense amount of study. If you are taking this test, you are already on the warpath to a future in secondary education. Commonly, this means that you may be finishing or are fresh out of high school. If so, you will have a comfortable time studying since you have already done so for the past four years. If this is your first in a long while that you have even touched the subject of math (and I don’t blame you!), then studying is especially important for you. You will need to understand how to take a test all over again.
Thankfully, we have just a few crucial tips to help you get right back into the studying mood, as well as how to study again:
Create a Study Schedule
What is as important as reading and studying the material is forming a coherent schedule that will allow you to understand and use it. Cramming is an ineffectual way to study, and cramming mere days before the test is a recipe for a disaster cake decorated with half-remembered details and panic attacks.
You need to know how to manage your time, whether you have it or not, in such a way that studying is both feasible and productive. It would be of the most benefit for you to choose a period to study and what material you will focus on in that time. However, it would be best if you also remembered to take breaks and space your study time out evenly.
We recommend studying for two hours every day, including weekends, with ten-minute breaks to break up the studying flow.
Take the SHSAT Practice Tests
There are many different SHSAT Test preps and practice tests available on the internet, designed to give you a clearer idea of what the ultimate test would be like. Understanding the fundamental material is very important, but applying that knowledge where it matters is even more critical. It is the difference between knowing how to drive and putting yourself into the driver’s seat.
We recommend taking practice tests as a regular exercise and trying out the questions and examples on those tests in your free time. It is unlikely that the same questions would appear on the final test, so don’t treat practice tests as if you found some hidden cheat code. Completing the actual SHSAT Test would have to take you all of your knowledge, effort, and attention.
Start Reading Material
Studying for the SHSAT Test requires collecting all sorts of reading and study materials, including notebooks, pencils, pens, scratch paper, and of course, textbooks. Additionally, you should check the mountainous stash of old homework and test results to see what you have already done.
The biggest hurdle in a test is often trying to figure out what the test question is asking of you in the first place. Recognize keywords and instructions to go into a particular question knowing what it is you have to do before you do it.
However, do not just memorize details and instructions, but truly understand why certain equations work the way they do and what exactly goes into answering a question.
Additionally, there are specific study guides for the SHSAT Test. They provide specific details on the test and develop a study regiment, including sample questions and their accompanying answers. The best SHSAT prep books are found online, much like the test itself.
Wrapping Things Up: When Should I Take SHSAT?
When should you take the SHSAT? The most straightforward answer is “when you are ready.” If you dedicate yourself and study, then passing the SHSAT will be easy. However, you do not have all the time in the world to get yourself ready. You need to take the initiative and put yourself out there! This all sounds like a gigantic hurdle to cross, but the test is only as hard as you let it be.