As a full-time professional tutor, Kenny Tan is very familiar with the material that appears on the SHSAT (Specialized High School Admission Test), having taken it himself for admission to Stuyvesant (Class of 2010). His proven approach to SHSAT tutoring has been cultivated over a decade of teaching the SHSAT to hundreds of students and receiving detailed feedback after the exam. Kenny is also the author of the Ultimate Guide to SHSAT Poetry, which has helped hundreds of students master what is likely the most difficult section of the exam.
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Students seeking to attend any of New York City’s elite Specialized High Schools (except LaGuardia HS) are required to take the SHSAT to be considered for admission. The competition to get into these schools is intense, and the SHSAT is challenging. No other factors—such as grades or an interview—are considered for admission, which means an outstanding test score is crucial.
There are two entry points to the Specialized High Schools, the 9th and 10th grades. Before COVID-19, the SHSAT was administered in late October or early November to 8th and 9th grade students living in New York City. (The testing schedule for this year’s SHSAT has yet to be announced.) The SHSAT is three hours long and consists of 114 questions divided between two sections (English Language Arts and Math). The 9th grade test is structured the same way but the Math content is significantly more challenging than on the 8th grade exam.
Because the SHSAT is the first time most students are taking a standardized exam that will have a significant impact on their future, anxiety can be a significant factor for many students. While I am an expert at helping students contend with anxiety, I recommend getting started on preparation at least six months prior to the test. Many students who have a specific school in mind begin preparation a full year or more before the exam.
One of the most frequent questions I am asked about the SHSAT is when students should begin preparing, and the answer varies depending upon the following factors: