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Hunter College High School Program and Testing

Hunter College High School (HCHS), located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is a public school for gifted and talented students. Their accelerated program is designed to both challenge and prepare students to be active and engaged learners and future leaders. Students who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, complex thinking, as well as a love of learning are attractive applicants for this program. Hunter College High School remains a part of the Hunter College Campus Schools, which are administered by Hunter College of the City University of New York. HCHS educates students in grades 7 through 12. Below is a discussion of HCHS testing eligibility, admissions process, as well as the content areas covered on the entrance exam.

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Hunter College High School Program

Seventh graders entering HCHS are offered a wide variety of courses and programs that are designed to prepare them for the rigors of high school work. This first year can be considered an exploratory year; students are encouraged to take classes across different disciplines while also learning the academic expectations of grades 8-12. Seventh grade orientation materials explain how students can select their choice of foreign language, as well as how they can complete placement exams for both mathematics and language. This is especially pertinent for students who wish to take accelerated courses.

Here is the core curriculum of Hunter College High School:

ArtGrade 8, 9 (2 semesters)
MusicGrade 8, 9 (2 semesters)
Art or MusicGrade 10 (1 semester)
Foreign LanguageGrades 8, 9, 10 in target language (3 years)
Accelerants must continue in target language through 11th grade
EnglishGrades 8, 9, 10, 11 (4 years)
Communication/ TheatreGrade 8 (1 semester)
MathematicsGrade 8, 9, 10, 11 (4 years)
Accelerants must continue to study mathematics through 11th grade
Computer ScienceGrade 9 (1 semester) (Starting with the Class of 2020)
Social StudiesGlobal I, II, III, IV, V (5 semesters) + US History I, II, III (3 semesters)
Physical EducationGrade 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 (5 years)
HealthGrade 8 & 10 + CPR in 9th grade (3 semesters)
ScienceGrade 8 & 10 + CPR in 9th grade (3 semesters)
Electives5 full year courses, or the equivalent (2 semester-length courses can replace a full-year course)
Community Service75 hours (at least 50 hours must happen outside of HCCS)

Hunter College High School Testing Eligibility

Here’s an overview of the HCHS admissions process:

  1. Eligibility: HCHS is open to New York City residents only, and students must be currently enrolled in sixth grade to be eligible to take the admissions exam.
  2. Admissions Exam: The HCHS admissions exam is a multiple-choice test that covers math, English language arts, and essay writing. The exam is administered in January of each year.
  3. Exam Results: The exam is scored out of a maximum of 700 points, and students must score above a certain threshold to be considered for admission. The exact cutoff score varies from year to year, but it is typically in the mid-500s.
  4. Interview: Students who score above the cutoff score are invited to participate in an interview with a member of the HCHS faculty. The interview is used to assess the student’s potential for success in the HCHS academic program.
  5. Final Admission Decision: Admission to HCHS is based on a combination of the student’s exam score and interview performance. The final decision is made by the HCHS admissions committee and is typically announced in March.

It’s worth noting that the HCHS admissions process is extremely competitive, with only a small percentage of applicants being accepted each year. As a result, many families choose to hire tutors or enroll their children in test prep courses to increase their chances of success. However, HCHS has made efforts to reduce the influence of test preparation on the admissions process by implementing changes to the test format and weighting the interview more heavily in the decision-making process.

When you and your child are considering admissions to Hunter College High School there are several factors to be aware of. Admissions are open only to students entering 7th grade, and applicants are required to take the HCHS Entrance Exam. Applicants must live in one of the five boroughs and meet at least one of the criteria below:

1.) A sufficient score on the 2019 5th Grade NYS Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Test. The necessary scores to take the HCHS Entrance Exam are:

  • NYS English Language Arts (ELA) Scale Score= 625
  • NYS Math Scale Score= 625
  • Note: Students must have earned qualifying scores on both the 5th grade NYS ELA and 5th grade Math Test to take the HCHS Entrance Exam.

2.) A score in the 90th (national) Percentile of the 2019 5th Grade Reading Comprehension and 2019 5th grade math tests used at the student’s school.

3.) A score in the 90th (national) percentile from any of the listed standardized (2019) 5th grade exams:

  • ERB Comprehensive Testing Program 4
  • TerraNova
  • Stanford achievement Test
  • Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP 4)
  • Iowa Test of Basic Skills
  • Note: Any Scores from school- specific exams, or from one of the five exams listed above, should only be reported to the HCHS admissions office by the applicant’s middle school principal or guidance counselor.

In specific cases, if a child does not possess scores from one of these preliminary exams, HCHS will give a qualifying exam to the 6th grade student. The qualifying exam will be provided to homeschooled students or 6th grade students from academic institutions that did not offer an accepted examination. In order to receive any accommodations, it is necessary that the principal of the school provide a letter to the HCHS admissions office indicating that there are no documented scores from the list of acceptable exams. They must also provide a statement that acknowledges that the child is academically capable of performing on the HCHS exam.

What to Expect on the Day of the Entrance Exam

The student will receive a ticket (to sit for the exam) through the documented parent’s email address. This occurs once the application is complete and the child’s 5th grade test scores have been approved. If the student is verified to sit for the exam, they will be provided with a testing location and room for exam day. Admissions tickets for entry into the exam will be sent for both the parent and the child. Information about the time of pick-up and drop-off, locations and what to expect on the day of the test will also be included.

The HCHS Entrance Exam

The Hunter High School College entrance exam is a comprehensive three hour exam that is only offered once per year. The exam consists of an English and Math section, both of which are multiple-choice, as well as a writing assignment. The test is designed to provide the school with a picture of the student’s comprehension, problem solving and writing ability. In total the test will contain three sections:

  • 50 multiple-choice English Language Arts questions
  • 30 multiple-choice Mathematics questions
  • Writing assignment

(Note: Each multiple-choice question is presented with five possible answers: A, B, C, D, or E)

HCHS Exam Sections:

Critical Reading: During this portion of the exam, the student’s reading comprehension and analytical abilities will be assessed. The student will be required to read specific passages before synthesizing and interpreting  what they had read. Typically, the individual will be shown five or six reading passages, each of different lengths. These passages will be presented with multiple choice questions. It is the student’s job to answer the questions to the best of their abilities based on the specific content.

Mathematics: The mathematics section of the HCHS exam assesses the student’s problem solving abilities. This section is composed of a variety of problems that include estimation, fractions, decimals, percents, integers, ratios, visual and numerical pattern recognition and simple probability (just to name a few). Many of these questions require the student to engage in solving for multiple step solutions.

Writing Assignment: In the writing section the student will either compose an essay or a creative writing piece which must be up to two pages in length. The writing sample should reflect a sense of originality, detail and effective analysis. Each student will receive a piece of scrap paper which they will find in their test booklet. This extra paper could be used to create an outline, jot down notes, or to create a draft of his or her writing. It is a great resource to organize one’s thoughts before beginning to write. During some years the test is designed so that the student is given a choice of writing topics. At other times there is only one topic that the student must focus on.


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