SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admissions Test)
What is the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT)?
Administered by the Department of Education, the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) is taken by 8th and 9th graders for admission into specialized high schools in New York City, and is the only acceptance factor for eight of the nine specialized schools, making test prep a crucial factor in obtaining the best score possible.
When and who takes the test?
The test is usually given in the fall, one year before entry into the 9th or 10th grade. (i.e. The test is given in the fall of 2018 for entrance in the fall of 2019). Most students who take the test are 8th graders, who will be entering their first year of high school; The 9th grade SHSAT is offered for those who are taking the test for the first time, or for those who want a second chance at applying to a specialized high school.
While the SHSAT is offered twice, we recommend that 8th graders take the test; there are an extremely limited amount of seats that open up for entry into the 10th grade, so your child’s chances of being admitted to a school are much higher for entry into 9th grade.
Registering for the SHSAT:
Registration is done through your school’s guidance counselor who will issue you an admission ticket to take the test. Contact your school’s guidance office at your middle school or high school, to sign up.
SHSAT 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 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.
|Question Type||Description||Number of Questions||Question Breakdown|
|Revising/Editing||These Questions test your ability to recognize and correct language errors and to improve the overall quality of a piece of writing||20||5-7 standalone questions, and 2 passages with 6- questions each.|
|Reading comprehension||These questions test your ability to understand, analyze, and interpret what you have read.||37||6 reading passages with 5-7 questions each|
|Experimental||These questions do not count towards the final score and are for research purposes. The student does not know which questions are experimental.||10||These are interspersed throughout revising/editing and reading comprehension sections!|
The ELA revising/editing questions test your ability to recognize and correct language errors and to improve the overall quality of a piece of writing.
The ELA reading/comprehension questions test your ability to understand, analyze, and interpret what you have read.
There is no essay on the SHSAT!
|Question Type||Description||Number of Questions|
|Grid-In||These questions require the student to “grid in” their numerical answer choice in a chart of numbers.||5|
|Multiple Choice||These questions test what the student has learned in math class through the 8th or 9th grade. Each question has 4 choices.||52|
|Experimental Questions||These questions are interspersed throughout the test and do not count towards the student’s final score. The student does not know which questions are experimental while taking the test!||10|
- 5 grid-in questions
- 52 multiple-choice word problems and computational questions
- 10 experimental questions
The SHSAT Math section features word and computational problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, including some problems that involve working with fractions, decimals and statistics.
How is the score used by the specialized high schools?
All test scores are ranked from highest to lowest composite score (see below). The students are assigned to schools in order of highest to lowest score, according to their first choice until all available seats are filled.
Cutoff Scores for 2022 SHSAT – Out of 800 Points
|Specialized High School||Lowest Admitted Score||Highest Admitted Score|
|Stuyvesant High School||563||680|
|Queens Science at York||523||562|
|Staten Island Tech||525||658|
|HSMSE at City College||532||628|
|HSAS at Lehman||516||642|
The SHSAT employs a raw-to-scale scoring system. Each correct answer contributes one point to your raw score. The maximum raw score is 114 (57 questions in the ELA section and 57 in the Math section). There’s no penalty for incorrect answers, so it’s to a student’s advantage to attempt all questions.
Once your raw score is calculated, it’s converted into a scaled score for each section (ELA and Math). This conversion isn’t a simple proportional adjustment; it’s based on the test’s difficulty level and the performance of all students. Each section’s scaled scores typically range from 200 to 800.
Final Score and Ranking
The scaled scores for the ELA and Math sections are added together to produce your final score (maximum of 1600). This composite score is used to rank all students who took the test.
Students then list the specialized high schools they’d like to attend in order of preference. Starting with the highest scoring student, the NYC Department of Education assigns each student to their highest-ranked school where seats are still available. The process continues until all seats are filled.
Cut-off scores (the lowest score accepted for admission) vary from year to year and school to school, depending on the number of applicants and their test scores. Typically, the most competitive schools, like Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science, have higher cut-off scores.
Remember, the SHSAT doesn’t provide a percentage or a letter grade; the score is used solely for admission purposes to NYC’s specialized high schools. Good luck to all the students preparing to take this critical step in their academic journey!
A raw score is earned based on the number of correctly answered questions. The raw score is converted into a scaled score for each section of the test. Then a composite score is compiled from both sections. The highest composite score is 800.
The SHSAT is unusual in that it rewards students for being very good at one thing. A student who gets 70% correct in both sections won’t do nearly as well as someone who gets all of one section correct and only 40% of the other correct, even though their total number of correct questions is identical. Like many other tests, the SHSAT converts your raw score into a scaled score, which is supposed to take in account, the differences between versions of the test . However, they go one step further and give students many more points as they score higher and higher in one section. Each section (ELA and math) will include 57 items: 47 items in each section will be scored, with each question worth 1 raw score point, and the remaining 10 items in each section will be field test items that are not used in determining a student’s score.
Sample Scoring Table:
English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. Each section is scored out of a total of 400 points, giving a combined total of 800 points. The following chart provides a simple example of the scoring process:
|Test Section||Raw Score||Scaled Score|
|ELA||30 out of 57||350|
|Math||35 out of 57||375|
|Total||725 out of 800|
In this example, a student has answered 30 questions correctly in the ELA section, and 35 questions correctly in the Math section. These raw scores are then converted into scaled scores through a process determined by the test administrators, which takes into account the difficulty level of the questions and performance of all test-takers in that year. The scaled scores from the two sections are then added together to give a total score out of 800.
It’s important to note that this is just an example and the actual scoring process is more complex and can vary from year to year. The actual cutoff scores for admission to each of the Specialized High Schools can also vary from year to year, depending on the number of students taking the test and the scores they achieve.
Below is a sample scoring table for a given section of the SHSAT. Note that in the lower end of a raw score, questions are worth more points than in the middle range. However, once a student gets over 38 questions correct (in this example) the questions are worth more points again. This means that if a student does really well on one section, their score will be boosted even more.
Please note that the exact conversion from raw score to scaled score can vary from year to year and is determined by the test administrators based on a variety of factors including the difficulty level of the questions and the performance of all test-takers. This is a hypothetical chart to give a rough idea of what this might look like:
|Raw Score (out of 57)||Hypothetical Scaled Score (14 to 360)|
This is a highly simplified model and the actual conversion may not be as linear as suggested here. Additionally, the scaled scores for the ELA and Math sections may be calculated differently, reflecting the different difficulty and distribution of questions in each section. For the most accurate information, it is recommended to refer to the official scoring guides provided by the test administrators each year.
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Students in 8th or 9th grade who want to enroll in one of New York City’s specialized high schools must take the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). All students in the 8th and 9th grades who are current New York City residents are eligible.
The schools that require the SHSAT are:
- Bronx High School of Science
- Brooklyn Latin School
- Brooklyn Technical High School
- High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College
- High School for American Studies at Lehman College
- Queens High School for Sciences at York College
- Staten Island Technical High School
- Stuyvesant High School
To be redirected to the NYC Department of Education SHSAT page to learn more information, click here.
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