SHSAT basic facts and helpful hints


Below are dates and locations for the SHSAT. 

The exam generally has 2 seats: 8am (or so) and 12pm (or so). Now the the test is a bit longer, those start times could change a bit. 

You get an entrance ticket (which is an 8.5x11 printout) from your guidance counselor. That generally happens the week of the test. Put it in a safe place - your child HAS to bring it to the test with them. 

Times are assigned, usually by school. You DO NOT get to pick when your child takes the test. Both my kids got the 8am on Saturday slot. 

Kids rank schools ON THE EXAM ITSELF. Be clear about rankings before they head in.


In the past, kids could bring water and snacks in. Mine chose to bring neither, thinking they’d be a distraction.

A watch is ok. As I’ve mentioned, Jack asked for an analog watch, as suggested by his test prep company. While the DOE doesn’t specify not digital, we all felt more comfortable with that choice.

Make sure you check subway lines before the test and are clear about getting to the testing location.

We got there about 1/2 an hour before the start time - there were already people online but it wasn’t bad. 

Some kids are cool with parents accompanying them. Others want to go alone. 

Kids are admitted into the building and sit with whomever they were on line with. I had NO IDEA that’s how things worked the first time and the last view I had of my daughter was as she was swept away in a sea of strangers on the overpass footbridge to Stuy. Having learned that lesson, Jack and I crossed the highway itself, he hung out online with friends, and while they were all nervous, it helped being with people he knew. They sat in the same room and that helped as well. 

I chose to meet both kids after their exams. Iz and I went out to eat with a bunch of her friends and their parents. Jack thanked me for holding his phone and then headed out to Shake Shack and to play basketball. 

Not all schools give a pass on homework the weekend of the SHSAT. Jack took the exam on Saturday and had a whole bunch of work to do on Sunday.

There is tremendous pressure around this test. But it’s just a test. Specialized high schools can be terrific options but they’re not the only game in town. “It’s only a test” was our mantra and we repeated that often. 

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