SHSAT Frequently Asked Questions

Due to the economic crunch, it may seem harder than ever to send your children to private schools. I would like to dedicate this mini-article on showing students and parents on what they need to do in order to get into one of the excellent Specialized Public High Schools in New York City. Please feel free to contact us at 1(800) 631-1757 or visit us at our website: Article by Frances Kweller, Founder of Kweller Prep Tutoring.

Q1: What Are The Specialized High Schools In New York City?

A: The Specialized High Schools of New York City are Stuyvesant High School; Bronx High School of Science; Brooklyn Technical School; Queens High School for the Sciences at York College; High School for Math, Science and Engineering; Staten Island Technical High School; High School of American Studies at Lehman College, and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.

Q2: Why Should My Child Try To Attend Any Of These Specialized High Schools?

A: Specialized High Schools are completely free. Students that attend Specialized High Schools score consistently higher on the Regents, SAT’s, ACT’s, and on other standardized tests, compared to students that attend other high schools. Admissions rates to top universities are also higher for Specialized High Schools, compared to regular schools.

Q3: How Does My Child Get In To A Specialized High School?

A: All students must take an exam, the Specialized High School Admissions Test or SHSAT, and achieve the required score set by each school. LaGuardia requires an audition as well, on top of the SHSAT.

Q4: A Specialized High School Is In My Neighborhood. Does The Location Of Our Home Affect My Child’s Admission Into A Specialized High School?

A: No. Admission to a Specialized High School is ONLY dependent on his/her score on the SHSAT, and on the priority (first choice) you place it on the application.

Q5: Does My Child’s Grades At His/Her Middle School Affect Admission Into A Specialized High School?

A: No. Admission to a Specialized High School is ONLY dependent on his/her score on the SHSAT. Your child’s GPA is not a factor in Specialized High School acceptance.

Q6: How Can I Find Out More About Each Specialized High School?

A: There is a Citywide High School Fair at Brooklyn Tech High School on around September 24 th and 25th, 2016, from 10 A.M to 3 P.M. (Address: 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217)

Q7: What Is Tested On The SHSAT?

A: English and Math. Specifically: Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, Unscrambling Paragraphs, Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. Your child must fully know the entire 8th grade math curriculum in order to pass the SHSAT, even though the SHSAT itself is only given in October of Grade 8.

Q8: What Is The Breakdown Of The SHSAT?

A: The SHSAT is a 2-hour and 30-minutes test. There is a 75-minute Verbal section containing 45 multiple-choice questions, and a Math section containing 50 multiple-choice questions. There are 5 Scrambled Paragraph questions, 10 Logical Reasoning questions, and 30 Reading Comprehension questions in the Verbal section. There are five answer choices for each question.

Q9: Will I Get Penalized For Wrong Answers?

No. But remember, you must answer at least 95% of the questions and GET MOST OF THE QUESTIONS RIGHT to have a competitive chance of gaining admission to Stuyvesant, as well as other Specialized High Schools.

Q10: Can I Just Predict My Score By Multiplying The Percentage I Get Correct On A Practice Test By 800?

No. Your raw score is converted to a scaled score. This scale is kept confidential by the New York City Department of Education. Scroll down to the bottom and you will see an estimated score chart.

Q11: Will I Have To Write An Essay?

A: No. The entire test is multiple-choice. However, knowing how to write a good essay is still extremely helpful on the test. On the SHSAT, there is a Scrambled-Paragraph section which requires an understanding of how sentences within a paragraph are interconnected.

Q12: Will I Have To Be Interviewed?

A: No. Although the Baccalaureate School for Global Education Exam (taken in Grades 6 and 8) requires an interview, the SHSAT and Hunter Entrance Exam do not.

Q13: Can I Take The SHSAT Multiple Times?

You can take the SHSAT a maximum of two times. You may choose to take it in the 8th grade, as well as take or retake it in the 9th grade. Testing in 9th grade is more competitive because there is a very limited number of spots open in each school for incoming 9th graders. We do not advise you take the test for “practice” in the 8th grade and then “seriously” in the 9th grade. To be crystal clear: your chances of getting into a Specialized High School are much better by taking the test as an 8th Grader. Remember that Stuyvesant takes 800+ kids entering Grade 9, but only 10 entering Grade 10. Also, it is more beneficial to enter a Specialized High School starting Grade 9, not Grade 10. This way, your child will have all of 9th Grade to get acclimated to the school, teachers, and competitive environment.

Q14: When Is The SHSAT Test Given?

A: The test is held late October for 8th Graders; you will be assigned a date – Saturday or Sunday – after you register. The test is held early November for 9th graders. The test is held mid-November for Sabbath observers. A letter of proof from a Rabbi must be presented as evidence to allow your child to test on a Sunday. You can’t just register to take the test on a Sunday.

Q15: How Can I Register To Take The SHSAT?

A: You must speak to your Guidance Counselor and request for an Admission Ticket.

Q16: When And Where I Can Register To Take The SHSAT?

A: Last year (2015), registration for the SHSAT and LaGuardia auditions began mid-September and ended in October. Your school’s Guidance Counselor has all the information necessary to register your child.

NOTE: If your child attends a private school, the school’s Guidance Counselor must (by New York State law) give the student the opportunity to register for the SHSAT. Please make sure that no matter what kind of school your child attends, he/she is able to register for this test if you desire to do so. If your child is home-schooled, you must contact the local home-school counselor to show proof of home-schooling in order to register your child for this test through STEMS, a special database for SHSAT registration. Also, please note that, unfortunately, there is no way that you can keep SHSAT registration a secret from your private or parochial school, or school counselor. Many parents have approached me to ask me this; after checking, there is no way to do this. Unfortunately, many private schools do not want to see their students leave, and sometimes SHSAT registration books are kept hidden from them. Please remember that, by law, all NYC students must have access to SHSAT registration.

Q17: Can I Just Walk In To Take The Test?

A: No. You must have a printed admission ticket on hand to test. You cannot take the test without a printed admission ticket.

Q18: How Much Does This Test Cost?

A: It is completely free, paid for by NYC tax dollars. (Yippee! Finally… something is free.)

Q19: How Can I Get Into The Specialized High School Of My Choice?

A: You must score above the cutoff score for that specific school; this is the only way. Please see the Kweller Video: Getting into Specialized High Schools up top for more information. In this video, she explains how to select Specialized High Schools on your registration ticket.

Q20: What Are The Cutoff Scores For Each Specialized High School?

A: It changes from year to year, based on the performance of the applicant pool of that year. Stuyvesant typically has the highest cutoff score, followed by Bronx Science, and then York High School in Queens. Please focus on the SCHOOL, not the cut-off score. Be sure to VISIT every school in person to see if this school is for you. Do not, I repeat, do not choose your schools based on the cut-off scores, as each school is very different from each other.

Q21: How Many Months In Advance Should My Child Prepare For The SHSAT?

A: Depending on your child’s level, we recommend at least 3 to 6 months of heavy preparation. This can be time consuming and costly, but well worth all the effort. The Specialized High Schools in NYC are among the best in the country, and completely free as well.

Q22. What Is The Best Way To Prepare For The Test?

A: Kweller Prep, of course! Here, students can take multiple proctored practice tests, and work through some of the toughest math and English questions on the SHSAT with experienced tutors who have taken the SHSAT and received excellent scores on it. Yes, you can study on your own, but it is incredibly difficult to do so and receive the scores necessary to get into the Specialized High School of your choice.

At Kweller Prep, we offer an 8-week intensive SHSAT Summer Camp program. Many students attend this program two summers in a row, during the summers after 6th Grade and 7th Grade. The actual SHSAT is in October of 8th Grade, and it is a HUGE MISTAKE to wait until September to study for this test.

Q23: What Are Some Basic Facts Of Each Specialized High School?

Bronx High School of Science

Address: 75 West 205th Street Bronx, NY 10468

Subway: 1 Train to 238th St; 4, B, D Trains to Bedford Park Blvd

Bus: BX03, BX1, BX10, BX2, BX22, BX26, BX28, BX2838, BX38

Number of Students: 3,017

Bronx Science has had 132 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, eight graduates who have won Nobel Prizes, and six graduates who have won Pulitzer Prizes. In addition to its reputation for excellence in science, Bronx Science emphasizes the humanities and social science courses. Because parents are sometimes hesitant about having their children take the subway early in the morning, some students opt to pay and take Vallo Transportation, a private bus company that serves Manhattan and Queens.

Brooklyn Technical High School

Address: 29 Fort Greene Place Brooklyn, NY 11217

Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5 Trains to Nevins St.; A Train to Hoyt & Schermerhorn St.; B, Q, R Trains to DeKalb Av; C Train to Lafayette Av; D, N Trains to Atlantic Av; F Train to Jay St-Borough Hall; G Train to Fulton St; M Train to Lawrence St.

Bus: B103, B25, B26, B38, B41, B45, B52, B54, B57, B62, B63, B65, B67, B69

Number of Students: 5, 140

The school itself is large enough to fully accommodate for the student population and is equipped with a pool, weight room, and other facilities for the various sports teams. The curriculum at Tech emphasizes the practical applications of science. Students at Tech declare a major at the end of their sophomore year and take at least two periods a day of that subject in their junior and senior years. Majors include aerospace engineering, architectural engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, electronic engineering, environmental engineering, media, mathematics, biological science, industrial design, and law and society.

Brooklyn Latin High School

Address: 325 Bushwick Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11206

Subway: G Train to Broadway; J, M Trains to Flushing Av; L Train to Montrose Av; Z Train to Myrtle Ave.

Bus: B15, B43, B46, B47, B48, B57, B60, Q54, Q59

Number of Students: 336

Brooklyn Latin emphasizes the classics and Latin instruction. The school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, which offers college-level courses. A dress code is required, and consists of a white oxford shirt, school tie, khaki pants/skirt, black belt, and black shoes.

High School of American Studies at Lehman College

Address: 2925 Goulden Avenue Bronx, NY 10468

Subway: 1 Train to 231st St; 4 Train to Bedford Park Blvd-Lehman College; B, D Trains to Bedford Park Blvd

Bus: BX03, BX09, BX1, BX10, BX2, BX22, BX26, BX28, BX2838, BX32, BX34, BX38

Number of Students: 371

This school, quite obviously, has an emphasis on the humanities. Through the high school’s collaboration with Lehman College, students have access to the campus library and facilities. Students can also opt to take courses at the college during their junior and senior years.

High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College

Address: 240 Convent Avenue New York, NY 10031

Subway: 1 Train to 137th St-City College; 2, 3, B, C Trains to 135th St; A, D Trains to 145th St

Bus: M4, M5, M18, M100, M101, BX19

Number of Students: 407

HSME was created with the goal of promoting mathematics, science, and engineering, while emphasizing civic responsibility. HSME students have special access to the City College of New York’s (CCNY) facilities. Its small student population allows for close relationships with teachers.

Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

Address: 94-50 159th Street Jamaica, NY 11433

Subway: E, J, Z Trains to Parsons Blvd-Archer Av; F Train to Parsons Blvd

Bus: Q01, Q02, Q03, Q04, Q05, Q17, Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q25, Q30, Q31, Q34, Q36, Q40, Q41, Q42, Q44, A54, Q56, Q6, Q60, Q65, Q76, Q8, Q83, Q84, Q85, Q9

Number of Students:

This high school offers both a variety of AP courses, as well as College Now courses, both of which can be used for college credit. Students are given the opportunity to work with York professors on science projects.

Staten Island Technical High School

Address: 485 Clawson Street Staten Island, NY 10306

Subway: Staten Island Railway (SIR) to New Dorp

Bus: S57, S74, S76, S78, S79

Number of Students: 1020

Staten Island Tech students are all required to take Russian, the only language offered at the school. Sports teams are shared with McKee High School, and tend to perform extremely well. There is an art requirement, which is satisfied by technology and engineering classes.

Stuyvesant High School

Address: 345 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10282

Subway: 1, 2, 3, A, C, E Trains to Chambers St; 4, 5, J, Z Trains to Fulton St-Broadway-Nassau; 6 Train to Brooklyn Bridge; N, Q Trains to Canal St; R Train to City Hall

Bus: M1, M05, M06, M10, M20, M22

Number of Students: 3287

Stuyvesant is the most selective of all Specialized High Schools with the highest cutoff score. The school offers more AP exams than any other school in the city, and sends roughly a quarter of each class to the Ivy League and other highly selective colleges. Despite its reputation to be a pressure cooker, it has taken measures to lower the workload in recent years.

Bonus Article: Pros And Cons Of Stuyvesant

As a rising senior at Stuyvesant High School, I know the school like the back of my hand. With such experience, I can describe the pros and cons of my soon-to-be alma mater in a way that a guidance counselor or typical guide book will probably fall short. Here are the true reasons why you should (or, perhaps, should not) go to “Stuy”:


  • You will be challenged. Your classmates are some of the smartest and most motivated students from all five boroughs.
  • Probably the most Advanced Placement courses in New York City.
  • One of the best computer science programs in the country. Students can take up to three years of CompSci classes.
  • Many intriguing electives in every field, including Genetics, Molecular Biology, Poetry, Civil Law, Watercolor, Systems Level Programming, and more.
  • You can go off campus for lunch.
  • Great food options nearby. After a long day of classes, this becomes very important. There is enough variety to keep pretty much everyone satisfied. My favorite is Whole Foods right down the block.
  • You get to meet people like Jack Cahn.
  • Battery Park on the Hudson River, located just one block from the school, provides a really nice area for relaxation. Our track team, nationally ranked, meets there, so do the majority of students for lunch.
  • The Stuyvesant Sing! Production brings the whole school together for a few months every year.
  • You will leave Stuyvesant and be college-ready. Many Stuyvesant graduates say Stuyvesant High School make the Ivy League look easy.
  • Exam-based grading makes evaluations less arbitrary and more fair.


  • Very competitive. Your classmates are some of the smartest and most motivated students from all five boroughs.
  • Surprisingly low acceptance rates into top colleges due to strong applicant pool. What I mean here is that each college will only take so many kids from each school. So at times a school will meet its “Stuyvesant quota” and not take more students into its prestigious school. Don’t get me wrong here: almost everyone goes to a top college—just not always their top choice.
  • Persistent tension between administration and student body. There is a lot of bureaucracy at the school. Presidents, vice-presidents, governing bodies, student bodies.. Don’t expect things to change fast.
  • The Ministry of Cheating-prevention: OK so here the city of New York pays some guy over $100,000 a year to prevent cheating at Stuyvesant. He was hired after a cheating scandal during the 2012 NYS Regents exams. Don’t expect to copy homework from anyone at Stuy.
  • You will not get enough sleep. Enough Said.
  • Athletes beware: the lack of sports facilities this past year left the Soccer, Lacrosse, Football, Track, and Swimming teams without a true “home” to practice in.
  • STUYVESANT IS HUGE. The school contains about 3300 students, which can be a little overwhelming at times.
  • Stuyvesant is in the news every single year due to some kind of argument or scandal. It can be the most petty thing—but it will make the New York Times, which means your name can show up negatively in online searches, for all the colleges to see.
  • Lots of required classes. Stuyvesant students are expected to graduate with Advanced regents Diplomas, so many are forced to take classes they otherwise would not.
  • The language department is pretty weak. I feel like in my last year of Spanish I got worse; the classes in language are not structured as well as they could be, and there is plenty of room for improvement.
  • First year of Stuyvesant can be incredibly intimidating. Don’t expect an easy transition from middle school to high school. This is the part where I plug Kweller Prep, because almost all the tutors here are Stuyvesant Alumni. They can not only tutor you on the subjects at Stuyvesant, but provide invaluable mentorship and transitional support.

Overall, there is no question in my mind that the pros of Stuyvesant outweigh the cons. It’s a very special place, and you will get an invaluable free education. That being said, make sure you know what you’re signing up for. Although I’m sure you will have a lot of fun, Stuyvesant can be unpleasant and stressful at times. In the end, though, it will be worth it. Now go study for your SHSAT. The test is October 26 and 27 of this year.


  1. The SHSAT test is graded on a very sharp curve.
  2. There are two sections on this exam: the English section, which consists of Scrambled Paragraphs, Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and the Math section.
  3. Each section is graded separately.
  4. Each question is worth exactly 1 point except for the Scrambled Paragraphs, which are worth 2 points each.
  5. The highest possible raw score is 100, whereas for the scaled score is 800.


  1. Count the number of right answers per section and assign a point for each question, two points for each correct Scrambled Paragraph.
  2. You will have two scores, one for each section. These scores are referred to as your ‘raw scores.’ Each score should be between 1 and 50
  3. Use the conversion chart below for each section to see what you would get per section when scaled.











































































































The Traditional Statistic Is That Over 1/3 Of Stuyvesant’s Graduating Class Is Accepted To An Ivy League Or Tier 1 Nationally-Ranked School.


Newcomers To New York Can Sign Up For Specialized High School Exam And Audition For LaGuardia High School

Newcomers to New York City, who are entering 9th or 10th Grade in September, may register to take the summer exam for admission to one of New York City’s nine selective Specialized High Schools, and to audition for the arts school, LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts. From July 11 – August 24, families may register and pick up an admissions ticket for the test, and audition at any New York City Department of Education Borough Enrollment Office.

Eligibility Requirements:

(Students Must Meet All Three Criteria)

  • Entering 9th or 1oth Grade for the first time in September 2016 AND
  • Moved to New York City after Nov. 1, 2015 AND
  • Did not take the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) or audition for LaGuardia in Fall 2010

Required Documents to Register:

  • Proof of Residence AND
  • Child’s Proof of Birth AND
  • Child’s Immunization Records, AND
  • Most Recent Final Report Card

Students must be registered and have an admissions ticket to be admitted to the test or audition.

Be aware that entrance to the specialized high schools is highly competitive. Most successful applicants spend a good deal of time preparing.

For more information, please visit the Department of Education’s website, or attend one of the summer high school information sessions.

Required Documents If You Are Moving To NYC And Want To Take The SHSAT

Thank you for contacting us to enroll your student in a New York City public school. Please bring your student and the documents listed below to the appropriate location.

You can find your zoned school online at:

Family Welcome Center locations can be found online at

This list of documents and more information about our schools is available online at

What to bring:

(Students Must Meet All Three Criteria)

  • Entering 9th or 1oth grade for the first time in September 2016 AND
  • Moved to New York City after Nov. 1, 2015 AND
  • Did not take the Specialized High School Exam (SHSAT) or audition for LaGuardia in Fall 2015

Required Documents to Register:

Bring The Following Documents With Your Student’s Name:

  • Birth certificate, passport, or record of baptism which includes the date of birth, or other official document of age (See Chancellor’s Regulations A-101 for documents accepted for proof of age)
  • Immunization Records
  • Latest report card/transcript (if available)
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or 504 Accommodation Plan (if applicable and available)

Bring Two Of The Following Proofs Of Residence With The Parent Or Guardian’s Name:

  • A lease agreement, deed or mortgage statement for the residence
  • A residential utility bill (gas or electric) in the resident’s name issued by a utility company (e.g., National Grid or Con Edison), must be dated within the past 60 days
  • A bill for cable television services provided to the residence; must include the name of the parent and the address of the residence and be dated within the past 60 days
  • Documentation or letter on letterhead from a federal, state, or local government agency, including the IRS, the City Housing Authority, Human Resources Administration, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), or an ACS subcontractor or the federal Office of Refugee Settlement, indicating the resident’s name and address, must be dated within the past 60 days
  • A current property tax bill for the residence
  • Rent receipt which includes the address of the residence, must be dated within the past 60 days
  • State, city, or other government issued identification (including an IDNYC card), which has not expired and includes the address of residence
  • Income tax form for the last calendar year
  • Official NYS Driver’s License or learner’s permit which has not expired
  • Official payroll documentation from an employer issued within the past 60 days such as a pay stub with home address, a form submitted for tax withholding purposes or payroll receipt (a letter on the employer’s letterhead is not adequate); must include home address and be dated within the past 60 days
  • Voter registration documents, which include the name of the parent and the address of residence
  • Unexpired membership documents based upon residency (e.g., neighborhood residents’ association), which include the name of the parent and the address of residence
  • Evidence of custody of the child, including but not limited to judicial custody orders or guardianship papers documents issued within the past 60 days with name of child and address of residence
  • If you cannot present the proof of residence documents in your name, please fill out a Parent Affidavit of Residency. All other affidavits can also be located in Chancellor’s Regulations A-101.



Dear Parent:

In response to your request, arrangements have been made for you and your child to review results from the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT).

Appointment Information:

Your appointment can be scheduled at:

Please indicate if you will need a translator during your test view. The appointment will be held at the New York City Department of Education, 131 Livingston St., Brooklyn, NY, 11201. The security staff will direct you to where the review will be held.

Important Information about Your Appointment:

The purpose of this meeting is to provide you with an opportunity to review a copy of the answer sheet completed on test day by your child. This meeting will be conducted by a SHSAT Content Specialist. If you do not wish to review the answer sheet but have other questions about the high school admissions process or eligibility for the Specialized High Schools, there is no need to schedule the appointment. For these questions only, you may contact Ingrid Wong, Office of Student Enrollment, at

You must be present at the review and must be accompanied by one or two parent(s)/guardian(s). We cannot conduct the review without at least one parent or guardian present. One hour has been allotted for the test review. Only you and parent(s)/guardian(s) will be allowed at the appointment.

Special Arrangements:

If you need to cancel or reschedule the appointment, please email as soon as possible. You may only reschedule your appointment once due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or an emergency. No exceptions will be made.

Please bring this letter with you to the appointment and show it to the security staff at the front desk in the Department of Education. If you have any questions, please contact Lucia Figueras.


Lucia Figueras
Office of Assessment
New York City Department of Education


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