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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Tannenbaum

New York Specialized High Schools and The SHSAT



The SHSAT is very high stakes. As public schools, NYC specialized high schools are free of charge but, at the same time, the best of these schools offer an education and track record of students getting accepted to elite colleges that one would expect from a highly prestigious private school. For many NYC families of humble backgrounds, acing the SHSAT is an amazing catapult, and it’s not uncommon for families to have their child start studying for the SHSAT a year-and-a-half in advance, or more. In a given year, a student can only take the exam once. The test is three hours long, no break included. For families serious about the SHSAT, it makes sense to study hard and to start early.


In terms of preparation, it sometimes makes sense for a student to prepare for the SHSAT and either the ISEE or SSAT (most likely the ISEE). This might seem surprising, but one of the reasons is that by a student taking a test for private schools, it alleviates some of the pressure that comes with preparing for the SHSAT. Additionally, the ISEE, in particular, lends itself to helping a student get ready for the SHSAT because the two tests are similar in terms of math, but, overall, the ISEE math is harder and, thus, can make the SHSAT math feel easier. As far as the price tag of a private school vs. the free tuition of a specialized high school, private schools often offer very generous scholarships to students who do very well on the ISEE or SSAT and whose families don’t have the resources to cover the typical cost, so taking both the SHSAT and ISEE should be a consideration not only for affluent families.


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