The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) is an exam 8th and 9th graders must take for admission to Specialized High Schools in New York City. For eight out of nine of these schools, your performance on the SHSAT is the only admission factor.

The SHSAT is changing for fall 2017. Learn about the 2017 SHSAT changes and how you can prepare.

SHSAT Quick Facts

Frequency 1 time /year
Duration 3 hours
Sections English Language Arts, Math
Cost None
Max. Score 800 (composite score)

What is the SHSAT and why is it important?

Administered by the Department of Education, the SHSAT is a standardized test offered to New York City residents seeking admission to NYC's Specialized High Schools. These public high schools have a separate admission process from the general high school admission application and are highly selective. Out of more than 28,000 students who took the SHSAT in 2016, only about 18% were offered a seat at a Specialized High School. For better or worse, admission to these elite high schools is based solely on your SHSAT score, which means being properly prepared for the exam is crucial.

Specialized High Schools That Require the SHSAT

Eight of the nine Specialized High Schools in New York City require SHSAT scores for admission:

  • Bronx High School of Science
  • Brooklyn Latin School
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • High School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York
  • Staten Island Technical High School (newly designated)
  • Stuyvesant High School

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School does not require the SHSAT but requires an audition instead.

Note: You must live in one of the five boroughs of NYC to take the SHSAT.

When do you take the SHSAT?

The test is usually offered in late October for 8th graders and mid-November for 9th graders. The 9th grade exam provides a second chance for those not initially accepted to a Specialized High School. It is not recommended to wait until 9th grade to take the test.

How is the SHSAT scored?

Students earn a “raw score” based on the number of questions they get right. This raw score is converted into a “scaled score” for each section of the test and a “composite score” for the entire test. The highest possible composite score is an 800. 

What are SHSAT cutoff scores?

All SHSAT test takers are ranked from highest composite score to lowest composite score. Students are then assigned, in order, to their first choice Specialized High School until all available seats are filled. That means that SHSAT cutoff scores for each school vary from year to year, depending on the number of seats available and each student's high school preferences.

What’s on the 2017 SHSAT?

The SHSAT is changing in fall 2017 and will affect students applying for fall 2018 high school admission. 

  • Verbal
  • Math
  • English Language Arts (ELA)
  • Math
Length 150 minutes (Students spend time between the two sections as they see fit) 180 minutes (Students spend time between the two sections as they see fit).
Reading & Writing

45 questions total

  • 5 scrambled paragraphs
  • 10 logical reasoning questions
  • 5 reading comprehension passages

57 questions total

  • 20 revising/editing questions
  • 6 reading comprehension passages with 5–7 questions each
  • 10 experimental questions

50 questions total

  • A mix of word and computational problems

57 questions total

  • 5 grid-in questions
  • 52 multiple-choice word problems and computational questions
  • 10 experimental questions
Number of Multiple Choice Options 5 answer choices per question 4 answer choices per question

1 raw point given per correct answer

1 raw point given per correct answer

How do I register?

The only way to register for the SHSAT is through your middle school guidance counselor. Tell your guidance counselor that you plan to take the test, and they will issue you an admission ticket.