SHSAT prep

This morning someone asked me about SHSAT prep - whether to do a group course or do individual tutoring - and I thought I’d share some thoughts with everyone. 

Both my kids took the SHSAT. And both did both - a group course and one on one tutoring. Both asked for extra support with math. Some of the math on the test kids won’t have covered yet in school and both my kids felt more comfortable learning the subject matter rather than just test taking techniques. 

Courses are more about that, and that’s important. Time management is key on these tests. It’s 95 questions in 2 and a half hours. Finishing the entire test in itself is a feat. Knowing how to budget, when to move on, how to smartly eliminate answers - all help when setting for the actual test. But so much is covered in a group program, often specifics can get lost in the shuffle. 

You’ll find every kid is different. Izzy, my older one had a tutor for math for 3 weeks right before the test. Jack, my younger, started over the summer before 8th grade. She mostly read a book in her test prep class. He was diligent about doing the homework every week and, on his own, decided to do a practice test every Saturday for a couple of months to prepare. But both walked out of the test smiling (much to my surprise). Cracking the math nut made a huge difference to both and my younger one found all those practice tests made the actually test day feel relatively comfortable and familiar. He was so well versed at that point he came out saying the English was trickier than usual, the math wasn’t bad, and he answered all the questions - something he wasn’t always able to do on practice tests.

It’s important, when staring down the test, to talk to your kids about how they’re doing, what extra support they might need, if there’s info they’re not comfortable with or things they feel confident about. They know what’s riding on this one exam and peer pressure can get intense. In the hierarchy of NYC public schools, specialized are very often considered at the top but keep in mind, they’re not the best fit for everyone.