Test Info: SHSAT
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The SHSAT (Specialized High School Admissions Test) is a standardized test developed by the New York City Department of Education and administered for entrance into the New York City Specialized High Schools. The eight Specialized High Schools that require the SHSAT as their sole criterion for admission are Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Latin School, Brooklyn Technical High School, the High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York, the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School. (One other Specialized High School, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, does not require the SHSAT but requires an audition or studio presentation.)
Students who are New York City residents and currently in grade 8 (applying to grade 9) or currently in grade 9 (applying to grade 10) are eligible to take the SHSAT. The majority of students who take the test are in grade 8, but students may take the test again in grade 9. To initiate the admissions process, students must submit a New York City Public High School Application to the Department of Education indicating their preference for a Specialized High School. Applications are given to all New York City Public School students early in the fall of grade 8 and are also distributed to independent and parochial schools. The test is given in the fall, in either late October or early November (students in grade 8 and grade 9 take the test on different dates), at locations in all five New York City boroughs.
The SHSAT is a multiple-choice test divided into two main sections: English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. The ELA section is divided into two parts: in the first, Revising/Editing, students demonstrate their ability to recognize and correct language errors and to improve overall quality of writing; in the second, Reading Comprehension, students demonstrate their ability to understand, analyze, and interpret texts. The Mathematics section consists of word problems and computational questions in either a multiple choice or grid-in format. It includes questions in arithmetic, algebra, probability, statistics, geometry, and (for grade 9 students) trigonometry . If students are not sure of a correct answer, they are advised to make an educated guess, since there is no penalty for an incorrect response. Students may take the test only once in grade 8 (and, if they so choose, once in grade 9), so an effective preparation strategy is crucial early in the application process.
For each of the two main sections, English Language Arts and Mathematics, students receive a scaled score out of 400 points. The formula that converts raw scores (the number of correct answers) into scaled scores is known only by the Department of Education and changes annually based on overall student performance. Students also receive a composite-scaled score out of a total possible 800 points, the sum of the Verbal and Mathematics scaled scores. Testers are then rank-ordered by their composite scores and assigned, one by one, to their highest preference school that has available slots until all available places in each of the selective schools are filled. The cut-off score for each school is not an absolute number: it is determined by the results of all students who took the test in a given year and the composition of their school preferences.
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English Language Arts (ELA)
- Revising/Editing (each question is based on its own sentence/paragraph in the first portion; all questions are based on a single passage in the second portion) and Reading Comprehension (6 texts, including informational and literary prose, with 6 to 10 questions each).
Number of Questions:
- Word problems and computational questions in arithmetic, algebra, probability, statistics, geometry, and trigonometry (for grade 9 only). 5 are grid-in and 52 are multiple choice.
Number of Questions:
Entire Time Allotted for Both Sections together: 3 hours
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