How to Practice for the SHSAT Exam

Only students living in the five boroughs may take the SHSAT.
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The New York City Specialized High Schools Admissions Test is given to eighth-grade students to determine whether they'll be given the opportunity to attend, free of charge, one of New York City's nine elite high schools, including the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School. Ninth-graders may also take the test if they didn't make it on their first attempt. Since admittance to the schools in most instances is solely dependent on the SHSAT, it's important to prepare.

1 What's on the Test

The multiple-choice SHSAT consists of 45 verbal questions and 50 mathematics questions. Each section takes about 75 minutes to complete. The verbal section includes questions on reading comprehension, organization of sentences in a paragraph and logical reasoning. The math section has both word problems and computation problems in algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and basic arithmetic. You are not allowed to use calculators for the math problems, but you may use scratch paper.

2 Student Handbook

The City of New York puts out a handbook each year that is available to download on its website. You can also get the handbook from your school guidance counselor. The handbook includes useful information about the specialized schools, the application process, the test-taking experience, the types of questions on the test, strategies and tips to remember for test day and sample tests along with explanations of the correct answers. Reading through the booklet, applying the tips and using the practice tests will enable you to be ahead for the test.

3 Study Guides

Numerous study guides are available to help you prepare for the SHSAT. Some of them cover the entire test, while others focus on one part of the test such as arranging sentences into paragraphs. Look for the latest version of the study guide and pay attention to the reviews to pick the best book. The study guides will help you target the areas that you need to work on and most have sample questions and practice tests. If you read through the study guide, work on the tests and still feel lost, an exam review course or tutoring may be helpful.

4 Practice Tests

The best way to prepare for the test is to utilize the many available online practice tests, as well as the tests in the study guides and handbook. Doing the practice tests will help you feel more comfortable on the actual test day since you'll know what to expect. Taking the practice tests will also show you if you need to try and work at a faster pace so you finish each section or whether you will have time left to go over your answers. When you score the tests, the scores will show you which areas you need to spend more time studying, as well as those that you have mastered.

Jill Kokemuller has been writing since 2010, with work published in the "Daily Gate City." She spent six years working in a private boarding school, where her focus was English, algebra and geometry. Kokemuller is an authorized substitute teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa.