SHSAT Tutoring

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 Poetry¹, which has helped hundreds of students master what is likely the most difficult section of the exam.

Schedule a complimentary consultation now to begin planning your child’s SHSAT preparation. Together, we’ll get your child on track to attend a Specialized High School.

¹Paid link – as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Bonus: As a thank you for visiting our website today, you may download a free copy of our SHSAT Black Book. This eBook is filled with tips and study strategies for the SHSAT and includes free access to 16 practice tests.

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.

A Difficult Test. An Easy Choice.

Having taken the SHSAT (Specialized High School Admission Test) for admission to Stuyvesant, and with over a decade of experience teaching the SHSAT, Kenny knows all the material that will appear on the exam. His personalized, one-on-one SHSAT preparation will ensure your child is positioned to achieve his or her greatest potential.
Not every student has the aspiration or aptitude to attend a Specialized High School, but for those who do, Kenny has a proven approach to SHSAT tutoring that’s been cultivated from years of hands-on experience helping students get outstanding results. He will design a plan and strategy to help your child become an elite student who attends a Specialized High School.

When is the test taken?

These dates are for students who are applying during the 2023-2024 school year for admission in the 2024-2025 school year:

  • Wednesday, November 8, 2023: SHSAT School Day Testing
  • Saturday, November 18, 2023: SHSAT Weekend Testing (Day 1)
  • Sunday, November 19, 2023: SHSAT Weekend Testing (Day 2)
  • Sunday, December 3, 2023: SHSAT Weekend Testing (Day 3)
  • Saturday, December 9, 2023: SHSAT Weekend Testing (Day 4)

Click here for the full admissions timeline.

When should preparation begin?

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:

  • Is the student working at grade level?
  • Are there concepts or material on the SHSAT that require significant review?
  • Does the student typically perform well on important tests and standardized exams?
  • Is anxiety a factor in performance?
  • Is motivation an issue?
  • Does the student have a learning disability that needs remediation?
  • Is the student able to focus full attention on preparation?
  • Does the student have time to complete homework assignments as part of preparation?
  • Is the student applying to the most competitive Specialized High Schools, such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, where a high score is more imperative?
  • How important is it to the student to gain admission to a Specialized High School? Is it a high priority?
Some students begin SHSAT preparation as early as the 6th grade, but most students start sometime in the 7th grade. Especially with students in this age range, it’s vital not to be in the position of “cramming” a few weeks or months before the exam. My experience has proved that getting started early and investing in calm, measured preparation spread over a longer period absolutely reduces pressure and makes a substantial difference in results. Rushing to prepare immediately before the SHSAT generates significant pressure and can sometimes cause debilitating anxiety in students who have never previously exhibited symptoms of being anxious. Even high performing students generally begin preparation a year or more before the exam. I am mindful of how pressure can adversely affect performance, which is why my professional SHSAT test preparation is designed to alleviate anxiety and improve test-taking skills relevant to the SHSAT.
I recommend completing an initial session and assessment as early as possible. In some instances it will be apparent the student is well positioned for the exam and doesn’t need to begin at that point; in other instances we may identify significant areas that need to be addressed over a longer period. If you have doubts or questions about the ideal time to begin SHSAT prep, contact me and I can help you make an informed decision.

What’s on the SHSAT?

The test is 3 hours long and consists of two sections:

English Language Arts (57 Questions): The ELA section consists of two parts—Revising/Editing and Reading Comprehension—as described below.
  • Revising/Editing
    • Number of Questions: 9-19
    • Skills Assessed: ability to recognize and correct language errors and improve overall quality of writing
    • Format: 
      • Part A: each question is based on its own sentence/paragraph
      • Part B: all questions are based on a single, multi-paragraph text
  • Reading Comprehension
    • Number of Questions: 38-48
    • Skills Assessed: ability to understand, analyze, and interpret texts from a variety of genres
    • Format: 5-6 texts, including informational and literary, followed by 6–10 questions
Mathematics (57 Questions): The Math section consists of word and computational questions in either a multiple-choice or grid-in format. There are five grid-in Math questions and 52 multiple-choice questions. Math questions on the Grade 8 test forms are based on the New York State Learning Standards through Grade 7. Math questions on the Grade 9 test forms are based on material through Grade 8.

How is the SHSAT scored?

There are three types of scores that result from the SHSAT scoring process. The ELA and Math sections of the SHSAT are treated separately in the scoring process until the end when the ELA and Math scores are added together for the final score, called the composite score.
  • Raw Score: SHSAT scores are based on the number of correct answers marked on scored questions, which is called a raw score.
    • When the number correct is counted, every question counts the same—one raw score point.
    • It doesn’t matter which particular questions you get right or wrong within each section (ELA and Math). You should not spend too much time on any one question because a question that you find ‘harder’ won’t get you more raw score points than one that you find ‘easier.’
    • There is no penalty for wrong answers.
  • Scaled Score: Because there are several forms of the SHSAT, raw scores from different test forms cannot be compared directly. The test forms are developed to be as similar as possible, but they are not identical. To make valid score comparisons, a raw score must be converted into another type of score that takes into account the differences between test forms. The conversion from raw score to scaled score is done separately for each section (ELA and Math). Two conversions are used to convert the ELA and Math raw scores into scaled scores. Those conversions are:
    • Calibration: Calibration takes into account any small differences between different test forms.
    • Normalization: Normalization adjusts scores to fit a normal (Gaussian) distribution. Both calibration and normalization are non-linear. As a result, the raw scores and scaled scores are not proportional. That means that an increase in one raw score point does not always lead to the same increase in scaled score points. For example, in the middle of the range of scores, an increase of one raw score point may correspond to an increase of three or four scaled score points. At the top or bottom of the range of scores, an increase of one raw score point may correspond to 10–20 scaled score points. The closer you are to getting every question in a section right (or every question wrong), the more your scaled score goes up (or down) for that section. Consequently, you should use any extra time for your stronger section.
  • Composite Score: The composite score is the sum of the ELA and Math scaled scores. The composite score is used to determine admission to a Specialized High School.
The scoring process (calibration and normalization) for the SHSAT is redone every year specifically for that year’s test. This ensures that a student’s score is calculated and compared only with the other students who took the SHSAT in the same year. Because of this, SHSAT scores cannot be directly compared between years and there is no set minimum or maximum score. The maximum score on each section is usually around 350 and the maximum composite score is usually around 700; however, the actual maximum and minimum scores change from year to year.

How are the results used?

Students are ranked according to their score on the test and assigned to a school depending on their rank, the priority in which they placed schools on their application, and the seats available at each school.

How are the results reported?

The results are reported as scale scores. Scale scores are based on the number of questions that the student answered correctly. Students receive scale scores for the ELA and mathematics sections of the test, which are added together to make their composite score.
After scores are released to the schools in the spring, students and their parents may review the results of their examinations by requesting an appointment with a Department of Education assessment specialist.

When are the SHSAT scores released?

The results from the regular administration of the SHSAT are usually released to parents in March/April.

Can I request an appointment to review a copy of my child's answer sheet?

You and your child may review a copy of your child’s answer sheet by requesting an appointment with a representative from the Office of Assessment.
The test view is solely an opportunity to view your child’s test and see the answers that she/he selected during the test administration. This is not an appeals process.
A link to request an appointment to view your child’s Specialized High School Admissions test (SHSAT) will be provided following the release of scores. You will have one month following the score release to request an appointment.

What is a good SHSAT score?

Determining a “good” SHSAT score is complicated by the variables involved in deciding the cutoffs for each school, which vary from year to year. For example, the cutoff for Stuyvesant (typically the most popular and competitive school for admissions) can range from the 550s to 570s depending, among other factors, on how many students select it as their first choice school in a given year. I’m very familiar with the requisite score ranges for each school and can advise students as to whether they are in contention for the school(s) they are targeting.

Get Started

No matter where you are in deciding next steps for your child to take the SHSAT, it is never too early to speak to me to begin the planning process. As stated, the SHSAT is a difficult exam for the vast majority of students, and it is therefore important to ensure you put your child in the best position to excel and perform to his or her greatest potential. Please contact me now to obtain the best SHSAT tutoring in New York.

Featured SHSAT testimonial

Kenny was great and helped our son get a score high enough to comfortably get into his first choice school, Stuyvesant. Kenny is patient, calm, and meticulous. He's also a good listener and pushes his students to understand and explain their thought processes to get them to reflect on strengths and weaknesses and embrace concrete plans to improve. With Kenny, our son took test prep seriously and he described test prep sessions as interesting and even fun.
- Jonathan Conning

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