Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT)

The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) refers to a standardized exam proctored to 8th and 9th graders in New York City. The SHSAT determines a student’s admission into the Specialized High Schools scattered throughout New York City. For eight of the nine schools, performance on the SHSAT is the only factor in earning an acceptance letter to these institutions.

Again, students cannot apply to attend these private schools. There is no application; instead, you complete the SHSAT to secure a coveted spot in NYC’s finest learning institutions.

What Content Appears on the SHSAT?

The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) is a 3-hour timed multiple-choice test with two sections, English Language Arts and Mathematics. There are 57 questions in each SHSAT section, but only 47 of the 57 questions will count towards a student’s score. Approximately ten questions are field test items, meaning they will not count towards a student’s score.

  • MATH: 52 multiple-choice, five grid-in questions
  • REVISING & EDITING: 9-11 questions
  • READING COMPREHENSION: Six passages with 6-10 questions each, 46-48 questions total; one passage will focus on a poem

SHSAT Language Arts Overview

Students should demonstrate competency with all grammar rules to perform well on the revising and editing questions. A majority of the questions in this SHSAT section measures the student’s ability to read and comprehend information. Students must also analyze and interpret passages they have read. The other questions in the section may involve adding commas to sentences, finding errors, revising sentences, and more.

SHSAT Math Overview

The SHSAT math section tests students in four critical areas: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and probability/data interpretation. Since the SHSAT math section has questions from the 7th-grade curriculum, students may already have a strong foundation of the concepts.


  • Real numbers including integers, prime numbers, rational numbers, and irrational numbers
  • Number sequences
  • Factors and multiples
  • Fractions and decimals
  • Arithmetic operations
  • Percentages, ratios, and rates
  • Absolute value


  • Algebraic expressions
  • Coordinate planes, slopes, and intercepts
  • Functions and relations
  • Linear equations
  • Inequalities
  • Rules of exponents and roots


  • Right, isosceles, and other special triangles Pythagorean theorem
  • Properties and measurements of circles
  • Polygons
  • Perimeter, area, and volume
  • Properties and measurements of three-dimensional figures

Data Interpretation

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Understanding data from charts and graphs
  • Frequency distributions
  • Probability
  • Means and averages

How to Calculate SHSAT Scores

Students will receive a raw score based on the number of correctly answered questions. That raw score then converts into a scaled score for each of the sections on the test. After that, students will receive a composite score compiled from both SHSAT sections. Each SHSAT section is worth 400 points, so the highest score possible is 800. Each year, the highest score is in the low 700s.

How to Prepare for the SHSAT

Students should begin SHSAT prep in 7th grade and throughout the summer before 8th grade. They should research the specialized high schools to discover the best fit. Define specific interests and speak with school counselors about your options.

Take practice tests at home or with a tutor. Understanding the format and layout of the test is crucial for the best preparation. SHSAT workbooks are available for purchase. Alternatively, students can receive a free SHSAT student handbook from the NYC Department of Education with practice questions. Time your practice tests and prepare the student to take the test within the given period.

Tutoring and test preparation seeks to alleviate testing pressure and improve time management skills. A trusted tutor can teach the student the ins and outs of the test and train them with real-world practice questions.

Start Your SHSAT Prep Today

The earlier you start your test prep, the better. Again, the SHSAT is the determining factor for acceptance into eight of the nine specialized schools in NYC, so starting your test preparation as early as possible remains critical. TestPrepScore and other private tutors are fully qualified to prepare your student for the SHSAT, so take advantage of the time and resources available to you now!