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SHSAT Practice Test

What is the SHSAT?

The SHSAT, or Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, is an examination used to determine admission to eight of the nine specialized high schools in New York City. These specialized high schools are known for their rigorous academic programs and competitive admissions process. The SHSAT is offered to eighth and ninth-grade students in New York City who wish to attend one of these schools.

The test assesses a student's skills in two main areas:

  1. English Language Arts (ELA): This section includes reading comprehension questions based on passages and revising/editing sentences or paragraphs to improve their grammar, usage, and structure.

  2. Mathematics: This section covers a range of topics including arithmetic, algebra, probability, statistics, and geometry. Students are tested on their ability to solve problems and apply mathematical concepts.

The SHSAT is known for its challenging nature, reflecting the high academic standards of the specialized high schools. These schools include Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, and five others that offer focused studies in areas such as science, mathematics, engineering, and the arts. The schools are intended to serve the needs of highly gifted students who are looking for an academically enriched environment.

How do I Practice for the SHSAT?

Practicing for the SHSAT is crucial for students aiming to secure a spot in one of New York City's specialized high schools. Here are strategies and tips to effectively prepare for the SHSAT:

  • Understand the Test Format and Content

First, familiarize yourself with the test's structure, types of questions (English Language Arts and Mathematics), and the scoring system. Knowing what to expect can help reduce test-day anxiety and improve performance.

  • Use Official Practice Materials

Start with official SHSAT practice tests and materials provided by the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE). These materials give the most accurate representation of the test questions and difficulty level.

  • Develop a Study Plan

Create a study schedule that allows ample time to cover both the ELA and Math sections. Include time for reviewing concepts, practicing questions, and taking full-length practice tests to build stamina.

  • Focus on Weak Areas

Identify your weaknesses in both the ELA and Math sections through practice tests. Spend extra time reinforcing these areas with targeted practice and review.

  • Enhance Reading and Writing Skills

For the ELA section, improve your reading comprehension skills by reading a variety of texts, such as fiction, non-fiction, and articles. Practice summarizing passages, analyzing arguments, and identifying key points. Enhance your grammar and writing skills by reviewing rules and doing editing practice.

  • Master Math Fundamentals

Review and practice key math concepts covered on the test, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and word problems. Focus on understanding concepts rather than just memorizing formulas.

  • Take Timed Practice Tests

Simulate the testing environment by taking full-length, timed practice tests. This helps build time management skills and familiarizes you with the pacing needed to complete the test within the allotted time.

By following these steps and dedicating yourself to consistent practice, you can improve your chances of performing well on the SHSAT and securing a spot in one of New York City's specialized high schools.

Official SHSAT Practice Test PDF with answers.

SHSAT Practice Questions

English Language Arts (ELA)

Total Questions: The ELA section typically contains 57 questions.
Question Types:

  • Revising/Editing: These questions test grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and organization skills. Students are asked to improve sentences or passages.

  • Reading Comprehension: This part includes several passages followed by multiple-choice questions. Passages may be literary or informational texts.


     Below you will find 3 ELA sample questions-

1. Which of the following sentences uses the correct form of the verb?

A. She have finished her homework.

B. She finished her homework.

C. She finishing her homework.

D. She finishes her homework.

Answer & Explanation:
The correct answer is (B). "She finished her homework." This sentence correctly uses the simple past tense of the verb "to finish," which is appropriate for an action completed at a specific time in the past.

2. Read the passage below and answer the question that follows:

"Despite facing numerous challenges, the explorer remained undeterred. His determination was evident to all who accompanied him on the journey."

Which word best describes the explorer?

A. Fearful

B. Indifferent

C. Resolute

D. Hesitant

Answer & Explanation:
The correct answer is (C). "Resolute." The passage describes the explorer as someone who remained determined despite challenges, making "resolute" the best word to describe his character.

3. Identify the main idea of the following paragraph:

"Global warming poses a significant threat to polar bear populations. As the ice melts, these creatures find it increasingly difficult to hunt for food, leading to a decline in their numbers. Conservation efforts are crucial to ensure their survival."

A. Conservation efforts can save polar bears.

B. Polar bears are excellent hunters.

C. Global warming threatens polar bear populations.

D. Ice is melting at an unprecedented rate.

Answer & Explanation:
The correct answer is (C). "Global warming threatens polar bear populations." The paragraph primarily focuses on the impact of global warming on polar bears, making this the main idea.


  • Total Questions: The Math section usually contains 57 questions.

  • Types of Questions: Questions are multiple-choice and cover a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:






-Word problem


     Below you will find 3 math sample questions-

1. A triangle has base lengths of 4 units and a height of 5 units. What is the area of the triangle?

A. 9 Square Units

B. 10 Square Units

C. 20 Square Units

D. 40 Square Units

Answer & Explanation:
The correct answer is (B). 10 square units. The area of a triangle is calculated as 12×base×height21​×base×height. Here, 12×4 units×5 units=1021​×4 units×5 units=10 square units.


2. If x is a number that satisfies the equation 3x−5=103x−5=10, what is the value of x?

A. 1

B. 3

C. 5

D. 15

Answer & Explanation:
The correct answer is (C). 5. Solving the equation 3x−5=103x−5=10 for xx, we add 5 to both sides to get 3x=153x=15, and then divide both sides by 3, resulting in x=5x=5.

3. A rectangular prism has a length of 10 units, a width of 4 units, and a height of 5 units. What is the volume of the prism?

A. 50 Cubic Units

B. 100 Cubic Units

C. 200 Cubic Units

D. 20 Cubic Units

Answer & Explanation:
The correct answer is (C). 200 cubic units. The volume of a rectangular prism is calculated by multiplying its length by its width by its height. Here, 10 units (length) × 4 units (width) × 5 units (height) equals 200 cubic units.

SHSAT Scoring Breakdown

The SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admissions Test) uses a specific scoring method to assess the performance of students applying to New York City's specialized high schools. The scoring system is designed to provide a fair and standardized measure of a student's ability. Below is a detailed breakdown of how SHSAT scoring works, including examples and score ranges:

Raw Score

  • Definition: The raw score is the total number of questions a student answers correctly on the test. There are no deductions for incorrect answers, which encourages students to attempt every question.

  • Example: If a student answers 45 out of 57 questions correctly in the Math section and 50 out of 57 questions correctly in the ELA section, their raw scores would be 45 for Math and 50 for ELA.

Scaled Score

  • Conversion: Each raw score is converted into a scaled score through an equating process. This process takes into account the difficulty level of the test version to ensure that scores are comparable across different test administrations.

  • Score Range: Scaled scores typically range from about 200 to 800 for each section, but these ranges can vary.

  • Example: Suppose the raw score of 45 in Math converts to a scaled score of 350, and the raw score of 50 in ELA converts to a scaled score of 370.

Composite Score

  • Calculation: The composite score is the sum of the scaled scores from both the ELA and Math sections.

  • Example: Using the scaled scores from our example, 350 (Math) + 370 (ELA) = 720 as the composite score.

  • Score Range: Since each section scores range approximately from 200 to 800, the composite score could theoretically range from about 400 to 1600. However, actual score ranges might be narrower based on the test's difficulty and the equating process used.


Ranking and Admission

  • Ranking: Students are ranked based on their composite scores. The higher the composite score, the higher the student's rank.

  • Admission: Admission to each of the specialized high schools is determined by these rankings and the cutoff scores for each school, which can vary significantly from year to year.


Cutoff Scores

  • Definition: The cutoff score is the minimum composite score needed to gain admission to a specific specialized high school. These scores are not fixed and change annually based on the overall performance of the applicant pool and the number of available seats.

  • Example: If Stuyvesant High School has a cutoff score of 560 for a particular year, only students with a composite score of 560 or higher would be eligible for admission to Stuyvesant.

What is a Good SHSAT Score?

A "good" SHSAT score is one that:


  • Exceeds Cutoff Scores: Ideally, it should be above the admission cutoffs for the specialized high schools you're targeting. Since these scores change yearly, aiming well above recent cutoffs is wise.

  • Is Competitive: A competitive score is one that places you towards the top of the roughly 28,000 students taking the test, suggesting scores in the higher percentiles are desirable.

  • Meets Preparation Targets: Following the advised preparation targets—aiming for scores that progressively increase from 400 in the beginning of 7th grade to at least 650 by your final practice SHSAT—indicates solid preparation.

  • Maximizes Your Potential: While an 800 is a perfect score, striving for the highest score possible, based on your preparation, is key. Scores significantly above 650, based on practice tests, are generally seen as competitive.

In summary, a good SHSAT score is one that not only meets or exceeds the specific cutoffs but also reflects a strong performance relative to the competitive applicant pool, aiming as high as possible to secure a spot in your desired school.


Is the SHSAT only in NYC?

Yes, the SHSAT is specific to New York City. It is the sole admissions criterion for eight of the nine specialized high schools in NYC, which are public high schools known for their rigorous academics and focus on specific areas such as science, technology, and the arts. The SHSAT is designed to identify students for these highly competitive schools, and there's no equivalent test used for admission to specialized public high schools in other cities or states within the United States.

How Many NYC Students Take the SHSAT?

In December of 2021 28,000 took the SHSAT

How Long is the SHSAT?

The test is 3 hours long (180 minutes). This time includes both the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics sections of the test. Students are responsible for managing their time between these two sections to complete the exam within this allotted time frame. There is no separate time limit for each section, so it's important for test-takers to practice time management skills during their preparation.

Can I use a calculator on the SHSAT?

No, you cannot use a calculator on the SHSAT. The test is designed to assess your mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills without the aid of calculators. This means that all calculations needed to answer the mathematics questions must be done manually.

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