Hunter High School FAQs

Hunter College High School Exam Arrival Instructions

Dear Parent,

Your child is scheduled to take the Hunter College High School Exam on Friday, January 10, 2020 on the first or second floor of the Hunter West building. Hunter West is located on the southwest corner of E. 68th Street and Lexington Avenue. To allow for easier entry into the building, we are allowing all first AND second floor test takers to form a line on E. 68th Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues.

The E. 68th Street line will be for 1st and 2nd floor testers only.

The E. 68th Street line is separate from the larger line that forms on Lexington Avenue.

Students on the E. 68th Street line will be allowed into the building at a separate entrance than the other test takers.

When you arrive to the Hunter West building, please inform a staff member that your child will be taking the exam on the first or second floor. You will be directed to the appropriate line.


We look forward to welcoming your child tomorrow!


HCCS Office of Admissions


Hunter College High School Admission Test FAQ’s

Q1: What Is The Hunter College High School Admissions Test?

1. The HCHS admissions test is an English & Math-based examination given to students in the 6th grade, only to determine admission into Hunter High School for grades 7-12.

Q2: Where Is The Hunter College High School Test Held?

2. The exam takes place at Hunter College High School, on the Upper East Side of New York City, AS WELL AS at Hunter College. The high school’s address is 71 East 94th Street, New York, NY 10128. In total, there are three locations where the test is administered:

  • HCHS – 94th St. between Park and Madison Avenues
  • Hunter College – West Building at 68th St. and Lexington Avenue
  • Hunter College – North Building at 69th St. between Park and Lexington Avenue

Q3: How Many Times Can My Child Take The Hunter College High School Exam?

3. You have only ONE chance to be admitted into Hunter College High School via an admissions exam. This is only ONCE, and admissions are only granted to students in the 7th grade. As stated on their website, “It is given once per year, with no make-up dates or rescheduling.”

We know this may not seem fair, but we did not make up the rules, so please, don’t be mad at the messengers.

Q4: How Can My Child Take The Hunter College High School Test?

You can take the test by invitation only! Students who achieve the highest scores on the ELA & Math state tests are invited to sit for the test. Your child must score in the 90th percentile on the ELA and the Math state tests to qualify. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you do not have the necessary ELA or Math State Scores, then you must submit your children’s school’s scores from the private school directly to Hunter. For example, your child must have scored in the 90th percentile in both Math and in English on the Terra Nova exams or ERB’s.

Note: Many parents call us at Kweller Prep to see if there is anything that can be done if their child scored just one or two points below the Hunter cut off. The answer is no. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing that can be done. To try to prevent this from happening, our suggestion is to participate in heavy preparation for the fifth grade ELA and Math state exams, which is something that Kweller Prep offers!

Remember, if you do not meet the Hunter cut off, you can also try for the Baccalaureate High School Entrance Exam and the Anderson Test in the 6th grade as well. Please leave private school options open too, by taking the middle-level ISEE or SSAT. Many private schools offer incredible scholarship opportunities for those who score in the top percentile on the ISEE or SSAT.

Q5: What Are The Cut-Off Scores For The ELA & Math?

The scores for the 2016 Hunter College High School Entrance Exam were 357 in Math AND 346 in ELA. To emphasize, your child must achieve BOTH SCORES in order to qualify to take the HCHS Entrance Exam. NO EXCEPTIONS!

For private school students, the scores vary, but they usually must reach the 90th percentile or higher in both Math and in English. If your private school (such as UNIS) doesn’t offer any testing, be prepared for a slightly more stressful journey in order to take the Hunter Entrance Exam. Your child will have to sit for a “pre-qualifying exam” in November, and won’t receive the results until December to see if he or she qualifies. This particular test is based on the Terra Nova exams and covers high-level math and reading.

Q6: What If My Child Does Not Have 5th Grade Scores? Can He Or She Still Sit For The Test?

Yes. You can request that your child’s principal write a letter of recommendation to allow students who do not have any fifth grade scores to sit for a Qualifying Exam. This particular “pre-test” is usually held in late November. We will elaborate on the qualifying exam towards the end of this article. This also applies if your child was sick or absent on the ELA/Math State Test day for New York State.

Q7: How Competitive Is Admission To Hunter College High School?

This school is absolutely excellent, on the glitzy Upper East Side, and completely free, so competition is high and fierce. Students from all 5 boroughs of New York City will be competing for just a few select spots. It is one of the most selective public high schools in the United States.

Out of about 3,000 test-takers, about 175 are offered admission on the basis of the exam. Hunter College High School is consistently ranked as one of the top public high schools in the nation. Only about 6% of the students who take the Hunter College High School exam get into the High School; this means that it is harder to get into Hunter College High School than it is to get admitted into Harvard University, a school with a 8% admission rate! Hunter also houses an elementary school which accepts 25 boys and 25 girls from the Manhattan borough only. The gifted high school is open to all five boroughs. Sorry, we don’t prep kids for that test; it’s just not our thing!

Q8: What Kinds Of Colleges Do HCHS Students Later Attend?

Each year, approximately 25% of HCHS students are accepted into Ivy League universities (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Cornell, Brown and Dartmouth). Several more attend Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2006, HCHS reported a record high of a 60% acceptance rate into the Ivy Leagues– as if 25% was not impressive enough! Over 90% of Hunter grads matriculate to a top tier college.

Q9: Is Hunter High School A Specialized High School?

No. Hunter is not a Specialized High School. Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Latin, and Brooklyn Technical are among the seven Specialized High Schools that require a SHSAT test score to attend.

Please see Kweller Prep’s Article, “SHSAT: Frequently Asked Questions”, to learn more about the SHSAT. The article can be found here:

*If you are interested in enrolling your child in our SHSAT prep course, please note Kweller Prep starts SHSAT prep classes the summer before the 7th grade (when your child finishes grade 6). Please plan accordingly. The SHSAT takes place in October of 8th grade, and again in early November of 9th grade; the exam is free and open to all NYC students. There is no pre-qualification needed. Kweller Prep runs excellent 8-week summer camps in preparation for the Specialized High Schools. We highly suggest 2 summers of practice before taking this difficult and important test.

Q10: Who Is In Charge Of Hunter College High School?

Hunter College High School is independently funded by the New York State Board of Higher Education, and is run by Hunter College. The Hunter Parent Teacher’s Association further funds the school with vast resources. In fact, the Hunter PTA is well known for raising millions of dollars for students, as well as the school as a whole. The school is exempt from many stringent rules laid down by the Department of Education. Hunter is not a part of the Department of Education, but rather operates as a separate entity for gifted students.

Q11: Is The Hunter College High School Test Free?

Nope. Taking the Hunter test ($70) actually costs more than taking the SAT ($51).

Q12: Is Taking The Test Worth It Then?

Definitely! If you get in and pass the test, you can get a full six (6!) years of outstanding education for free! At a breakdown of about $12 a year, it’s certainly a steal!

Q13: How Do I Pay For The Hunter Test?

You can pay online with a credit card or debit card. You can also pay by money order. No checks are accepted. The fee is not refundable, under any circumstances. Hunter does not mess around!

Q14: What If I Can’t Afford To Pay For The Test?

Too bad. You will still have to pay, just less. Hunter shows no billing mercy. You cannot take this test for free. Students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch may apply for a reduced administrative fee for the entrance exam. This doesn’t make the test free, but will make it cheaper. Again, I did not make up these rules, so don’t be mad at the messenger. Applications must be accompanied by a money order for the reduced fee of $35, the completed Reduced Fee Application form, and documentation for BOTH parents. There is no way to avoid the “both parents” part. You have to provide many annoying supporting documents as well.

Here is some free advice:Pay full price. I know of a family who failed to provide tax supporting documents in time and, over a measly $35.00 fee reduction, that student wound up missing the Hunter application deadline and absolutely no exceptions were made; their kid couldn’t take the test. By the time the parents realized they had to provide further proof (request was sent via an email they rarely check) to obtain a reduced fee, they missed the application deadline. It’s just not “worth” it. Let his parents’ missed opportunity serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of you.

Q15: How Do I Register For The Test?

You can register online on the Hunter College High School website. Click on the “Admissions” tab on the top menu bar. Hunter has a ton of rules and regulations so please read everything carefully to ensure you properly registered your child to sit for this test.

Q16: What If My Child Needs Test Accommodations (Extra Time Or A Scribe For The Test)?

That’s fine. If your child receives test accommodations already at school, you must send Hunter the 504 plan or IEP directly to the school via fax or email. Be sure to confirm the receipt. Generally, Hunter will absolutely offer extended time if your child already receives this accommodation at his or her school. Remember that receiving accommodations will not hurt your child’s chances of being accepted into the school. Just be sure to submit the proper paperwork within a timely manner.

Here is some more free advice: Do not fear taking the Hunter Test if you need test accommodations! Kweller Prep has helped several happy students who received test accommodations gain admission into Hunter, and we can gladly provide references if necessary. Please do go ahead and take this test no matter what your testing circumstances are! You never know! Just be sure to provide Hunter with the proper accommodation documentation by their strict deadlines so you can take this test to meet your unique needs.

Q17: When Is The Application Deadline?

The application deadline is typically in early-to-mid-November. The online system will close at that time. There is no other way to receive an admission ticket for the test, so make sure to register before the deadline. This past year, registration opened on September 16th, 2013. Tickets for the Entrance Exam will be sent by mid-December by email. Please be sure to keep this ticket!

Q18: What Day Is The Hunter College High School Test?

The HCHS entrance exam is held on the second Friday morning of January. Be prepared for crazy snow storms, sub-zero temperatures, and lots of traffic. Yes, you and your 12-year old will have to stand outside in the freezing cold around 7:30 AM prior to taking a highly competitive, 3-hour long entrance exam. Be sure to dress appropriately.

Q19: How Long Is The Test?

The exam is 3 hours long, including the time to write the essay. Each section is not timed. Your kid basically receives a booklet and can decide which section (Essay, Critical Reading, or Math) he or she wants to start first. The proctor then collects the test three hours later. Since 2014, the grammar section was removed. In 2016, students chose one essay topic from the two options provided.

Q20: What Time Does The Exam Start?

In past years, the Hunter College High School Admissions Test started at 9:00 AM, but most students and parents tend to arrive by 8:00 AM, some even as early as 7:30 AM. Expect it to be freezing cold, and expect there to be thousands of parents and kids at the test centers that morning. Oh, and NY1 news reporters are at the scene each year, filming and interviewing, so you might get a TV cameo! (Thanks for the 2016 NY1 shout out, KP kids!) However, don’t let all of this distract your child- make sure that he or she realizes that the test will be starting very soon!

Q21: What Is The Breakdown For The Hunter Admissions Test?

This test contains three sections:

  • 30 Multiple choice MATH questions (used to be 35)
  • 50 Multiple Choice ENGLISH (reading comprehension) questions (used to be 60)
  • 1 Essay
  • There are 5 possible answer choices: A, B, C, D, or E.
  • A student’s essay will be read only if he or she scores at least in the 80th percentile on both the Reading & Math sections.

There is NO GUESSING PENALTY- make sure to answer every multiple choice question. You never know!

Q22: What If My Child Goes To Hunter For Elementary School? Does That Guarantee That My Child Will Get Into Hunter High School?

Yes. With only a few exceptions, Hunter admits 50 students from its elementary school into the high school.

Q23: What Are Some Interesting Facts About Hunter College High School?

  1. Hunter places the majority of its students in top universities and Ivy League Colleges. Roughly 25% are accepted into Ivy League universities, and over 90% attend a top- tier college or college program.
  2. Hunter is an open campus, which means that all students can actually leave the school building to get lunch and walk around the beautiful Upper East Side area during free periods, not to mention that Central Park is only a block away!
  3. Hunter College High School is completely free, and one of the absolute best high schools in the United States.
  4. Admissions rates to Hunter (7%) are on par with admissions rates to Harvard (6%).
  5. The majority of students at Hunter College High School are White and/or Asian. Lack of diversity at the school has been the subject of controversy, as well as many news articles; this issue was even featured in the New York Times. While many claim that the admissions criteria may be the cause, Hunter stays strong in its belief that the one single admissions exam, offered only once in January of 6th grade, is the best and only way to determine a child’s entry point into this gifted school.
  6. There are about 180-200 students in each grade (7-12).
  7. Class sizes at Hunter average 20-25 students, which are significantly smaller than many public schools, including Stuyvesant High School, which averages 30-35 students.
  8. During the 12th grade, students at Hunter College High School can take classes at Columbia University for college-transferable credits.
  9. Students must take French, Latin, or Spanish starting in the 7th grade. Get your Kweller Prep tutors ready!
  10. The Wall Street Journal refers to Hunter High School as a “feeder”, or a major sender, to the Ivy Leagues.
  11. Hunter students produce the highest SAT scores in New York City, averaging a 2200/2400. Obviously, these students also possess among the highest SAT scores in the nation.
  12. Hunter College High School is consistently ranked as one of the top public high schools in the nation.
  13. The PTA at Hunter raised $3.76 million (!!!!!) dollars from 2007 to 2012 for its students, only topped by PS 6 ($4.35 million) and PS 41 (3.9 million) and PS 29 (3.78 million) in all of NYC. According to the Daily News, Hunter was referred to as being at the “top” of the money class.
  14. Although Hunter College High School is completely free and technically a “public” school, many say it operates like an elite private school, comparable to Upper East Side schools that charge $40,000 a year in tuition.

Q24: How Many Students From Queens Take The Test?

Roughly 1,200 of the students who take the HCHS test are from Queens, New York.

Q25: Are Calculators Allowed For The Test?

No. Calculators of any form are not permitted on this test.

Q26: When Do I Get My Test Results?

Results are usually available by the end of February.

Q27: What’s The Difference Between Stuyvesant High School And Hunter College High School?

  1. To get into Hunter H.S., you need to take their admissions test in January of 6th grade. To get into Stuyvesant, you need to take the SHSAT test in October of 8th grade or in 9th grade. You have one entry point for Hunter (7th grade) but two entry points for Stuyvesant (9th and 10th grade).
  2. Hunter H.S. starts from Grade 7, while Stuyvesant starts from Grade 9.
  3. Hunter College High School is more of a humanities (English & writing) based school, while Stuyvesant is more of a science and math-based school. Hunter College High School students are well-known (and frequently recognized by me!) for their outstanding writing abilities. Many produce solid 800/800 scores on the writing and essay components of the SAT.
  4. Stuyvesant, with thousands of students, is located in downtown Manhattan, while Hunter, with hundreds of students, is located on the Upper East Side.
  5. Hunter is affiliated with Hunter College; you can easily take classes there for transferable CUNY college credits. Hunter also allows students to take classes at Columbia University for transferable college credits as well. Stuyvesant HS stands alone with no college affiliation.
  6. Overall, both school’s reputations are excellent.
  7. Kweller Prep runs prep courses and offers tutoring for both tests. While the exams are both English and Math-based, the format is different, and so are the question types. You should prep separately for these exams, as prep for one exam will not be applicable for the other.
  8. The Hunter College High School test requires students to write an essay, similar to the SAT, while the Stuyvesant High School test, the SHSAT, does not.

Q28: Which Of The Two Schools Do You Prefer?

That’s definitely a tough one, because my company employs both Stuyvesant and Hunter grads, and I don’t want to offend anyone by picking a favorite. Both schools are excellent choices, each with stellar reputations. With that being said, if given the choice, I would personally choose Hunter over Stuyvesant. I don’t want my Stuy grads to be upset, but personally, I’m more of a humanities-based person, and I really like the idea of my own kids having the same circle of friends from the formative years, starting with 7th grade, and attending the same small school in the quiet, enclosed Upper East Side.

Downtown is crazy and noisy; I experienced all that chaos throughout college at NYU. I would prefer to spare my kids from that and would rather, if given the opportunity, opt for Hunter. Knowing what I know about this magnificent school, if I had to pick one over the other, I’d pick Hunter.

Furthermore, I would rather my kids not have to start 9th grade in a brand new school, with brand new teachers, amidst the chaos and constant construction of downtown NYC. Kweller Prep staff and I do a tremendous amount of work with the college admissions process. Colleges look heavily at grades 9 to 12, with 11th grade being the most important year. Students already have enough to adjust to as they transition from middle to high school.

Keep in mind that the skill sets that your child will learn from our Hunter Prep course will help years later when he or she is preparing for the SHSAT. Also, students who get into Hunter can still try for Stuyvesant in the 8th grade. At least you’ll have a good two years of excellent middle school foundation to prepare your child for the rigors of high school. If your child is invited to take this test, it is quite an honor.

Please prepare well for this exam and for this incredible opportunity.

Q29: What Is The Hunter (“Pre”) Qualifying Exam

This is the test you take to see if you can qualify to take the Hunter test. The exam is given to students who have no test scores at all, have lived outside of NY State, or attended a school outside of NYS in the 5th grade, but are now residents of NY.

The ERB, Terra Nova, Stanford, Iowa, and CTP- 4 are usually the tests your child will take in the 5th grade. But, if your child did not take any of these exams, then he or she will require a letter directly from the school principal or head, stating that the child didn’t take any tests in the fifth grade, but is still eligible to take the Hunter exam.

Q30: How Do I Apply To Take The Qualifying Exam?

Once the parents submit an online application for Hunter, you must select “no scores.” Then, the parent will receive an e-mail saying that since your child has no test scores, he or she has to take the qualifying exam in November.

Q31: When Is The Qualifying Exam?

The qualifying exam is usually held in late November.

Q32: How Much Does It Cost?

The qualifying exam is an additional fee. The qualifying exam costs $90, in addition to the $70 to take the main test. That is $160 total (sorry to really break this down, but so many people ask).

Let’s be very clear with test fees: you must pay them, and pay them on time! A delay in paying the test fee, or not providing adequate documentation to HCHS to support a reduced test fee, means that your child could wind up being precluded from taking this test. This happens every year, so please be on top of this.

Q33: When And Where Do I Pay For The Qualifying Exam?

The $90 fee needs to be paid the day of the qualifying exam, November 23, by a money order (I don’t remember to whom). Please contact the school to find out to whom the money order should be sent to, if payable.

Q34: How Can I Register For The Hunter Qualifying Test?

  1. The new website for Hunter is
  2. Go to “high schools”. Click on “admissions”, and you will see a page that says welcome. Click on the “procedures” page, which will give you detailed information on how to apply. The application will ask you what type of scores your child has.
  3. Remember, if you have no scores, you have to go to your child’s school so that they will tell Hunter that your child is not eligible because the school does not offer the prerequisite testing, but that your child should sit for the qualifying exam.

Q35: What Is On The Hunter Qualifying Exam?

It is a combination of Reading and Math, both at a sixth grade level. The test consists of multiple choice questions, with no essay. There are roughly 60 English questions, and 30 Math questions. Apparently, you are not allowed write on the test booklet, so don’t underline or outline as you read.

Q36: How Will I Know If My Child Is Eligible To Take The Qualifying Exam?

Shortly after registering online, the parent will receive an email stating that Hunter has received a payment. The email will state whether the child has been picked to take the qualifying exam. Please don’t wait to start HCHS prep courses until after you get the results from the qualifying exam; the test is fairly easy. You are better off having your child start test prep early, sit for the qualifying exam, then continue test prep until you get results so that you don’t waste time.

Q37: When Will My Child Receive His Or Her Results Back For The Exam?

Parents will be notified within two weeks of taking the test.

Q38: What If I Live Outside Of New York State?

Hunter will not accept test scores from other states. They will look at the state scores from a parent, plus a proof of new address in New York City. You must reside in one of the five boroughs of NYC.

  • Step 1: Apply for the qualifying exam for the Hunter College High School Test
  • Step 2: Make sure to obtain a principal’s letter of recommendation. If Hunter does not receive this letter, then your child can’t take the exam.
  • Step 3: Mail the letter, or fax it to Hunter: (212)-860-1457
  • Step 4: Wait for an email from Hunter. Once you create an application, the system will create an email address that will have your child’s application ID.
  • Step 5: Receive an email that will say your child has to take the test. The next email will say “Thank you for payment – your child has no scores, so your child must take the qualifying exam.”

Q39: What Is The Best Way To Prepare For The Hunter College High School Examination?

Kweller Prep. Here, students can take multiple proctored practice tests, and work through some of the toughest math and English questions on the Hunter College High School Entrance Exam with experienced instructors, many of whom have attended Hunter themselves.

Yes, you can study on your own, but it is incredibly difficult to do so. Visit our website, or register for classes, at

Our main office is large, spacious, family-friendly, and is located in Forest Hills.

VERY IMPORTANT! Hunter Pre-Qualifying Exam Details

Parents must have one of the following browsers: Internet Explorer version 8.0 or up, Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. Without using one of these browsers, you will not be able to see the edit screens.

  • Arrive in person on November 23 with a money order for $90.
  • Sit and take the test. All exam questions are multiple choice. You must bring and use number 2 pencils.
  • The test has no essay, is 2.5 hours, and most kids finish early – they can leave after 2 hours.
  • The test is held on Saturday, and results are in by Tuesday. Hunter will mail your child’s results to you.
  • You must score 90 or higher on the Reading and Math – each section independently- to take the pre-qualifying exam— EACH section.
  • Once you submit the application, you’ll get all the details.
  • Look at the PDF sample Hunter exam and study non-stop until the test!

Sample Email From Hunter About The Pre-Qualifying Exam

Thank you for your application to Hunter College High School (HCHS). Your child’s Application ID is XYZ. The Application is submitted and your Order ID is 123. Your payment has been received.


You indicated that your child does not have scores from 5th grade to establish eligibility for the HCHS entrance exam. HCHS must receive verification (in the form of a letter) from your child’s principal or guidance counselor that this is the case, along with a recommendation that s/he be permitted to sit for the Qualifying Exam.

We must receive this letter NO LATER than NOVEMBER 8th, in order to schedule your child for the Qualifying Exam. Students without scores who do not take this exam cannot qualify for the entrance exam.

The Qualifying Exam will be administered at HCHS on November 23rd. There are additional fees for the exam, payable directly to the tester on test day. Sabbath observers will be scheduled for the exam on November 25th.

Once we have received the letter from your principal or guidance counselor, we will contact you about the procedure for sitting for one or both sections of the Qualifying Test.

The Fees for the Testing

$90.00 for Reading and Mathematics tests
$60.00 for Reading test only
$60.00 for Mathematics test only

Students must achieve at least the 90th percentile on the Reading test and the 90th percentile on the Mathematics test in order to be eligible to sit for the HCHS entrance exam. No exceptions are considered.


Tickets for the exam will be mailed by regular mail in December. Please do not call the office to inquire about your child’s application or exam ticket.

If you do not receive a ticket for the exam by December 18th, you may reply to this email with your child’s name, address, school name, guidance counselor’s name and phone number. We will not respond to phone inquiries about exam tickets. Use this email address for any other problems or questions you may have, such as a change in address.

Your exam ticket mailing will include all the information necessary for test day, including an overview of the test process, information for drop-off and pick-up of students, as well as exam scoring and results notification. You may find current information about the application process, as well as a sample of the Entrance Exam at our website:

Sample Eligibility Letter (Usually Received In September Of 6th Grade)

Sample Of ELA English State Test Scores Needed For 2012 Admission To Take The Hunter High School Entrance Exam

Sample Congratulations Letter For Passing The Hunter Pre-Qualifying Exam

Hunter Acceptance Letter – Expect Results To Be Released By March 15 Via An Email To Parents!

Sample Test Day Instructions- The Test Is Given Every Year On A Friday In January

Hunter Test Invitation- The Kweller Prep HCHS Course Starts In September As Well.

Hunter PTA Described In Daily News As “Head Of The Money Class” For Raising $3.74 Million Dollars



Disclaimer: Kweller Prep Programs are not refundable. Read our policies and procedures here.