The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) is an exam 8th and 9th graders 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.

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.

Which Specialized High Schools require the SHSAT?

Eight of the nine Specialized High Schools in New York City require SHSAT scores for admission. Only Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School does not require the SHSAT—it requires an audition instead. Learn more about the Specialized High Schools.

When do you take the SHSAT?

The test is usually offered in late October for 8th graders and mid-November for 9th graders. The ninth grade SHSAT is for first-time test takers and for students who want a second chance to apply to a Specialized High School. We do not recommend waiting until 9th grade to take the test as these high schools have a very limited number of 10th grade seats available. View the 2017 SHSAT schedule.

What does the SHSAT test?

There are two SHSAT sections: English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Start to finish, the test will take you three hours (180 minutes). The SHSAT is changing for fall 2017. Learn about the 2017 SHSAT format and how you can prepare. 

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. 

How will Specialized High Schools use my SHSAT score?

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.

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.

How should I prepare for the SHSAT?

As with any test, you shouldn’t walk in unprepared for what you're about to face. Our comprehensive SHSAT courses and expert SHSAT tutors will help you master the content and teach you strategies to take the test with confidence.