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SHSAT Practice Tests

The SHSAT is a specialized test for students in eighth and ninth grade to determine admission to New York City's nine specialized high schools. Use an SHSAT practice test to help prepare for this exam. 

The SHSAT has endured a lot of evolution through the years so it’s always been a bit shaky as far as finding the right resources. But the core of the test has always remained the same. 

Thanks to the power of the internet, students have access to a lot of valuable resources to help them ace this important test. The key is to find the highest quality resources and then study them carefully. So how do you know if a resource is valuable?

Well that’s a bit tricky. It takes careful research and tedious digging to validate resources found online. So we’ve done all of the work for you and made a list of resources that are sure to help. 

Summary: Try a free SHSAT practice test and other resources below to prepare for the exam.

Free SHSAT Practice Tests

Category Practice Test Provider
SHSAT Math SHSAT Math Practice Test Test-Guide
SHSAT English Language Arts SHSAT English Language Arts Practice Test 1 Test-Guide
SHSAT English Language Arts SHSAT English Language Arts Practice Test 2 Test-Guide

Other SHSAT Study Resources

Resource Notes Provider
2021 SHSAT Practice Tests - Official Try 2 official practice tests from the official SHSAT provider. Practice test 1 starts on page 258 and practice test 2 starts on page 362. NYC Department of Education
2020 SHSAT Practice Tests - Official Try 2 official practice tests from the official SHSAT provider. Practice test 1 starts on page 58 and practice test 2 starts on page 142. NYC Department of Education
SHSAT Vocab Review 130+ flashcards on various SHSAT vocab terms. Quizlet
SHSAT Math Review 55+ flashcards on various SHSAT math terms. Helpful hints included as well. Quizlet

SHSAT Test Format

The SHSAT is a three hour multiple choice exam. Let’s take a closer look at the format. The format for this test tends to get changed quite a bit but don’t let that intimidate you. Even if the format might be laid out differently, the core material stays the same. 

The SHSAT is designed with a 7th Grade curriculum in mind so always keep that in mind as you prepare and use SHSAT practice tests. Students will need to possess strong knowledge of the common core modules that are taught in 7th Grade. 

To summarize, the SHSAT has two sections –English Language Arts and Mathematics. There are also 10 random questions that are called “field questions” and they don’t count against the score. However, students have no way of knowing which questions these are. 

Breakdown of the SHSAT Exam

(click on image to enlarge)

Section Number of Questions Skills Tested
English Language Arts Section 57 Questions (47 Scored) Revising, Editing, and Reading Comprehension.
Math Section 57 Questions (47 Scored) Basic Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Data Interpretation.

Section 1: English Language Arts Section

This section of the SHSAT will test a student’s ability to read and comprehend passages of text, as well as their grasp of advanced English. 

  • Revision/Editing: Sentences are presented to the student and they have to determine what’s wrong with it. Students are expected to understand all of the important grammar rules. 
  • Reading Comprehension: Students will have to read six passages and answer questions regarding each passage. These questions are designed to gauge a student’s ability to understand complex passages. 

Section 2: Mathematics Section

The math section of the SHSAT will test a student’s ability to perform complex math. It’s comprised of four parts – basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation. 

  • Basic Arithmetic: First and foremost, this section will test a student’s knowledge of real numbers, prime numbers, and rational/irrational numbers. Fractions, order of operations, and other math basics are also tested here. 
  • Algebra: Functions, relations, and inequalities are showcased in this section so students will need to have advanced understanding of algebraic expressions. 
  • Geometry: The properties and measurements of angles are tested here. Additionally, students should expect questions related to Pythagorean Theorem and 3D figures. 
  • Data Interpretation: This area tests a student’s understanding of advanced data sets including probability, permutations, and statistical analysis.

SHSAT Test Administration, Registration, and Test Dates

Students will have to register with their counselor in order to take the SHSAT. Upon approval, they will receive a ticket that lists the date and time. This ticket also gives them admission into the exam. 

When showing up for the test, students will be required to take the SHSAT in order of personal preference.

SHSAT Exam Requirements

The SHSAT is for students who are looking to apply for a specialized high school and is for 8th and 9th graders, although the majority of applicants are 8th graders. That’s really the only requirement. 

SHSAT Test Scores

Students do not get penalized for incorrect answers. The overall score is determined by the correct answers. That’s known as the raw score. Then that score is converted using a scaling system between 200 and 800 that changes from year-to-year. It’s based on the average of other students’ raw scores. 

Schools use this scale to determine a student’s eligibility so each one will have different requirements based on minimums set by boards and seat availability. 

It’s also worth noting that scores for 9th grade students looking to enter into specialized schools at a 10th grade level are higher than 8th graders. The 9th grade version is also considered more difficult due to the advanced questions that are asked.

Tips for Scoring Higher

According to the Associated Press, over 30,000 students take the SHSAT every year. That means students need to gain every possible advantage to get the highest possible score. Here are a few tips that will help. 

  • Wear a watch so you can keep track of how much time is remaining. Students who don’t wear a watch might start rushing when they don’t need to. 
  • Never leave a question blank. If you don’t know the answer, then take a guess. 
  • Don’t let yourself get hung up on a single question. Move on from it and come back later. 
  • Read questions carefully and identify keywords so you understand what it’s asking. 
  • Write out math solutions legibly.
  • Don’t rush through “easy” questions. Pay close attention and be sure you get them correct.
  • During the Reading Comprehension section, focus more on the questions than you do on the passage itself. 
  • Try not to let the volume of this test overwhelm you into being nervous. Trust in your preparation.

SHSAT Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the SHSAT Important?

The SHSAT is a test that’s given by the Department of Education in New York City to determine a student’s eligibility into specialized high schools in the New York City area.

These are public schools that are highly selective and often a goal for motivated middle school students. As a result, they have a much more detailed admission process.

Eligibility requirements are based on average scores from the pool of students who take the test in a given year. This is due to the limited number of students accepted into specialized high schools.

In short, students who are looking to get into these elite high schools have to score high on the SHSAT. That makes it essential that students properly prepare and take an SHSAT practice test.

Do All Specialized High Schools Require Students to Take the SHSAT?

The short answer is no. Schools like Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School do not require the test, but an audition which makes it even more difficult to gain admission. But most specialized high schools require students to take the SHSAT.

When is the SHSAT Administered?

The SHSAT is generally administered in early October for 8th graders taking it and in the middle of October for 9th graders. In most cases, any 9th graders who take this test are looking at a second chance to apply to a Specialized High School.

Experts do not recommend waiting until the 9th grade to take the test since the seats available for 10th graders is even less than for 9th graders.

What Knowledge Does the SHSAT Test?

There are two major areas that the SHSAT will test – English Language Arts and Mathematics. It’s going to dive deeper into these subjects than most tests so students applying for Specialized High School will need to have advanced knowledge in both of those areas.

How Do Specialized Schools Use the SHSAT Score?

Students taking the SHSAT will receive points for each question that they answer correctly. This is known as the raw score. That raw score is then changed into a scaled score for every section of the test and a composite score for the whole test. This is calculated using the averages of students for that current year.

Specialized High Schools will then receive the scaled scores along with the application. Students will then be placed into their chosen Specialized High Schools if their scores are high enough. The main reason the score requirement changes each year is because seat availability changes.

How Do Students Register for the SHSAT?

Students must speak with their guidance counselor in order to register for the SHSAT. They will issue students who register a ticket that allows them to take the SHSAT.

SHSAT Takeaways

The biggest takeaway is that students need to prepare in advance for the SHSAT. It’s designed to filter in students who are prepared for specialized high schools so it’s safe to say that those who properly prepare will be successful. Use our free SHSAT practice tests and flashcards to help prepare for the exam.

Last Updated: 10/1/2021

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