Big News for the SHSAT!

January 25, 2017


By now, you may have heard about the new changes to the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT).  The SHSAT is the method of admission into eight specialized high schools in New York, and with that level of importance, we can imagine there are a few questions about what’s different, like What does this mean? How does this impact my child’s future? Isn’t the New York School system complicated enough?


But first off, why the big change?


The Department of Education has stated that the changes implemented will help make the test more fair. There has been a high amount of criticism that these specialized schools have offered fewer seats to black and Hispanic students. While these groups are a significant part of the public school population, less than ten percent scored high enough on the admissions test to be accepted into these schools. Regardless, the DOE aims to increase diversity and representation within the applicants that are selected.


So what are the actual changes to the test?


Some of the significant changes lie in the reorganized English portion. There will no longer be “scrambled paragraphs” which typically are not taught in school. Kids who were prepared for this verbal reasoning section usually had a leg up over kids who went into the test and encountered this type of question for the first time. No changes have been made to the math section; this is slightly puzzling, because the math portion tests on material that is actually not typically taught in all middle schools. Still, the changes to the English portion of the SHSAT may help students’ performance by allowing them more time for analyzing other questions in the assessment.



So, O.K., the test got a little bit of a face lift! That’s good news, right? Although it may seem that these changes would make the material a bit easier for students, that may not be the case. Because the material on the test is not uniformly taught through public schools, parents actually have an increased responsibility to ensure that their child is adequately prepared. Tutoring, study aids, and other resources still might be the best option to prepare your child.


In the future, public schools in New York City hopefully can communicate and provide families with information and resources to prepare their children well in advance. In addition to this, providing a more uniform education throughout the public school system would greatly help to make the SHSAT more fair. But, for now, we highly recommend that parents encourage their children to study diligently and to become familiar with the material that will be on the test. Don’t assume a specific material was taught at your child’s school. The best way for students to excel on the SHSAT is simply by being prepared.


For questions regarding changes to the SHSAT, or for more information on our tutoring packages, please feel free to contact Bright Kids NYC at (646) 434-1084 or


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