Taking the SHSAT is optional. But, I’m seeing more and more every year some kids are ONLY getting an offer from a specialized school and not a main round. While a specialized offer is great as they are generally terrific schools, they’re not always the best fit for a child in the end.
As you’re thinking about ranking specialized schools - head’s up your child lists them when they take the SHSAT - I’d suggest being thoughtful about it instead of throwing schools on a list, which many do just to get an offer.
For instance: a kid who lives far out in Brooklyn ranks Stuyvesant first, Bronx Science second and gets Science. That commute, to a school with an 8am start time, is brutal and not really feasible. Or someone on the upper west side who is offered a seat at Staten Island Tech. Commute is too hard. I’ve seen both, and many more unexpected outcomes happen. On the very off chance this is your only offer, make sure everything on your specialized list is a good fit, reasonable commute, and a school you and your child would be happy with. Keep in mind specialized offers are set in stone - there are no waitlists. What you get is what you get.