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SHSAT Practice Test
Specialized High School Admission Test

What is the SHSAT?

The Specialized High School Admissions Test or for short SHSAT is a test conducted by the Department of Education. It is the only requirement for admission to eight of the specialized high schools in New York. 

What are specialized public high schools in NYC? 

  • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School
  • 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

The only specialized high school that doesn’t accept SHSAT scores is the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, which requires auditions instead.

Who takes the SHSAT test?

Students who are eligible for taking the test should be residents of New York and are in the 8th or 9th grade. They must live in the 5 boroughs: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx. 

Find out how those successors pass the exam with our FREE on demand SHSAT prep Test!

Format and Content Outline

What is the content of the exam?

The SHSAT test is composed of 114 questions. It mostly has a multiple-choice format, and it takes at least 180 minutes to complete. 

Subject AreasNumber of QuestionsBreakdown of QuestionsTime Allowed
English Language Arts (ELA)57
  • 46 to 48 questions – Reading Comprehension
  • 9 to 11 questions – Revising or Editing
  • 3 to 4 questions – Informational Passages
  • 1 to 2 questions – Literary Prose Passages
  • 1 poem
  • 10 unscored questions
180 minutes
Mathematics57
  • 52 questions – Word and Computational Problems
  • 5 Grid-in questions
  • 10 unscored questions

English Language Arts

This subject area is mostly composed of Revising or Editing and Reading Comprehension questions. 

Reading Comprehension

One of the things that students must remember is the Parts of Writing. They must be able to figure out the main idea of the subject matter and its supporting details. The main idea is the point that the writer wants to explain. If you’ll be able to identify it, then it means that you have understood the passage. On the other hand, the supporting details are used by the writer as evidence to back up his statements or claims.  

Another is to differentiate the various structures of texts. They are Narrative Writing, Expository Writing, Technical Writing, and Persuasive Writing. 

  • Narrative Writing – It is the type of writing that makes use of storytelling. Different elements are present when it comes to this. There are characters and plots. Plots are vital since it is the flow of the story. It also makes use of conflict. 
  • Expository Writing – It is the opposite of the narrative. It is objective and straight to the point. It’s instructional or informational and makes use of the second-person point of view. 
  • Technical Writing – It is the type of writing that’s empirical in nature because it contains graphs, statistics, charts, and other visual information. It also contains jargon which is what makes it different from expository. 
  • Persuasive Writing – Its purpose is to persuade or change the opinion of the reader. It must have credible evidence to back up arguments. Otherwise, it would be filled with fallacies. 

In addition to that, students must know how to determine literary elements and poetic devices.

  • Literary elements consist of a lot of things such as point of view, characters, setting, and tone. All of these are vital for interpretation. Good writing requires that all of these elements are present.  
  • For poetic devices, it includes rhyme, structure, and rhythm.  

These are just some of the topics to be studied to prepare for Reading Comprehension. The next section would be the Revising or Editing portion.  

Revising or Editing

For students to know how to revise, they must go back to the basics. They must study nouns, pronouns, antecedents, adjectives, and verbs, among others. All of these are essential when it comes to formulating sentences. Punctuations and Sentence Structures also play vital roles. When it comes to sentences, depending on the punctuation, their meaning will change. 

Moreover, you must also review about independent and dependent clauses. They are strings of words that contain a subject and a verb. You should also know word usage and context clues. Word usage is about determining how words should be used appropriately in sentences. While context clues are those that will help readers understand unfamiliar words. 

The types of sentences  will always be relevant when it comes to revisions.  There are four types:

  • Declarative – It is a simple statement, and it ends with a period.
  • Imperative – It is a command, request, or instruction, and it ends with a period.
  • Interrogative – It is a question, and it ends with a question mark.
  • Exclamatory – It is a command or a statement that expresses emotions, and it ends with an exclamation mark.

Mathematics

This subject area focuses on a lot of topics from numbers and operations, geometry, and shapes to probability and statistics. There are a lot of things that students must have knowledge of.

A basic understanding of the mathematical number system is needed. There are real numbers and complex numbers, for that matter. There are also fractions, percentages, rational, and irrational numbers. The SHSAT Math can be more complicated to some because it requires a lot of reviews to remember formulas and equations. 

Students should also know algebraic expressions, such as monomials and polynomials. There are also algebraic functions such as exponential functions. They should be able to solve equations and systems of equations.  

 For probability and Statistics, they have to be able to summarize, interpret, and compare data. They should know how to make inferences and analyze tally charts, line plots, and picture graphs, among others. 

While for geometry and measurements, you must know the properties of triangles, polygons, circles, quadrilaterals, trapezoids, etc. They must be able to calculate perimeters and areas. Surface and volume areas are also part of the topics you should prepare for. These are just a few of the subjects that are covered in the admissions test.  

What is the scoring?

After completing each of the tests, the students will receive a raw score. It is based on the number of questions that are answered correctly. They are then converted into composite scores, which has a range of 800. These scores are then used as cut-off scores for specialized high schools. The SHSAT cutoff scores for 2019 are the following:

Specialized High SchoolsLowest Admitted ScoreHighest Admitted Score
Bronx High School of Science560665
Brooklyn Latin School527688
Brooklyn Technical High School525696
High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College524617
High School for American Studies at Lehman College519620
Queens High School for Sciences at York College514524
Staten Island Technical High School498631
Stuyvesant High School488505

What does the SHSAT look like?

One of the best ways to know the exam structure and to prepare for it is to take SHSAT practice tests. You can look up free practice tests for SHSAT 2018. The past exams will be available as references for the students. 

Examples can also be taken from the book,  SHSAT Prep Books: 2019 & 2020:  

Revising or Editing 

1. The following sentence contains what kind of error?

Some workers use all their sick leave, other workers cash out their leave.

  1. Parallelism
  2. Comma splice
  3. Sentence fragment
  4. Subject-verb agreement

2. A student writes the following in an essay:

Protestors filled the streets of the city. Because they were dissatisfied with the government’s leadership.

Which of the following is an appropriately-punctuated correction for this sentence?

  1. Protestors filled the streets of the city, because they were dissatisfied with the government’s leadership.
  2. Protesters, filled the streets of the city, because they were dissatisfied with the government’s leadership.
  3. Because they were dissatisfied with the government’s leadership protestors filled the streets of the city.
  4. Protesters filled the streets of the city because they were dissatisfied with the government’s leadership.

Mathematics

1. A train traveling 50 miles per hour takes a trip lasting 3 hours. If a map has a scale of 1 inch per 10 miles, how many inches apart are the train’s starting point and ending point on the map?

  1. 14
  2. 12
  3. 13
  4. 15

2. A traveler takes an hour to drive to a museum, spends 3 hours and 30 minutes there, and takes half an hour to drive home. What percentage of his or her time was spent driving?

  1. 15%
  2. 30%
  3. 40%
  4. 60%

2. At the store, Jan spends $90 on apples and oranges. Apples cost $1 each and oranges cost $2 each. If Jan buys the same number of apples as oranges, how many oranges did she buy?

  1. 20
  2. 25
  3. 30
  4. 35

How else should I prepare for my SHSAT?

Aside from taking practice tests, there are many ways in which you can prepare for the exam:

  1. According to the SHSAT Prep Books: 2019 to 2020, a good strategy is to predict the answer. Before you read the choices, you can always try and think of an answer beforehand. This is especially easy if you already know the answer or you have studied for that particular question.  
  2. You should write down keywords. This will help you focus, and it will make you comprehend more the question you are answering. There are those that are not good at just scanning. They need to be able to process what they are reading first. That’s why it is convenient to jot it down on a piece of paper.
  3. You should choose answers that do not have hedges. Hedges are words such as most, almost, sometimes, and some. These words imply that the statement is not absolutely true or wrong. These are preferable to those that are straightforward. They also indicate that the author composed the choice carefully.
  4. You should avoid looking for true statements. Some questions can be tricky, so you should always read the question wholly. You should always choose the best answer.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can you take the test?

For 8th grade students, it is offered every year during the month of October. On the other hand, for 9th-grade students, it is offered every year during the month of November. 

How many times can students take the test?

They can take the standardized test twice: once in the 8th grade and once in the 9th grade.

Why should the SHSAT be kept?

The SHSAT test is an experience that is good for the students because it improves their academic skills. Most often, those that have taken the test and have enrolled in a specialized high school perform better than those that haven’t. It could be attributed to the fact that there are strict academic requirements.

How hard is the 9th grade SHSAT exam?

If 8th grade students want to retake the test, they can take it again when they are in the 9th grade. It won’t be difficult as long as they studied hard. Admissions into these specialized schools can be taxing but at the same time rewarding. So, it is always good to try and take the test. 

Is it the end of the world if I get a low score for the SHSAT?

No, it isn’t. There are no passing or failing scores for the test. It is a standardized test, which means that the scores that the students should take note of are the cut-off scores for the specialized high schools they want to enter. 

How to take the SHSAT because I am moving to New York?

If you moved to New York City before school opens in September, you could take the SHSAT in the summer, which is usually at the end of August. 

What is a good SHSAT grade to get into Stuy in the 9th grade?

The composite score is 800, the cut-off score for Stuyvesant High School is 488 to 505. But this can also vary. Most of the specialized high schools accept students with high grades until the spots are filled up. So, it is better to get as much of a high score as possible.  

What topics are on the 9th grade SHSAT?

There are many, but the test mainly focuses on ELA and Math. You have to review and study hard so that you can cover all of the topics in those subject areas. 

What can help prep for the 9th grade SHSAT?

There are many SHSAT preps that you can find online. At Practice Test Geeks, for example, we provide practice tests that will help you familiarize yourself with the exam. 

How to get 700 to 800 points in SHSAT?

It is not impossible to get those high scores if you study. Preparation is needed when it comes to taking the SHSAT, especially if you want to get admitted to your preferred specialized high school. 

Resources: 

https://www.schools.nyc.gov/

https://admissionsquad.org/blog/2019/3/21/2019-shsat-cutoff-scores

https://www.test-preparation.ca/shsat/specialized-high-schools-admissions-test-faq/

https://www.princetonreview.com/k12/shsat-information

https://prepmate.com/shsat-faq/

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