a bunch of info about the SHSAT and specialized high schools

The SHSAT is coming up and it never hurts to be on the same page about fundamentals and some points that might not be so clear so here it goes:


Your child ranks specialized high school in order of preference during the test itself. They don't need to list them all. If they're only interested in one, they only have to list one.

You only get one offer. There are no wait lists or appeals for the specialized high schools. Even if your child has a score that would qualify them for another school, how they rank on their test is it.

Kids can take the SHSAT again in 9th grade. 

LaGuardia is a specialized high school but has a completely different admissions set up than everyone else. 

ALL offers are sent out on one letter in late February/early March.

Kids can get main round AND specialized offers. They can also get offers from more than one discipline at LaGuardia if they auditioned. 

Once you make a decision and accept an offer, that's it. You can't change your mind about a specialized seat at a later day. That seat is relinquished. 

Each specialized schools is a very different place, with different focuses, sizes, commutes, sensibilities, and strengths. 

Cut off scores (the lowest score that earns entry to a specialized school), change every year and they’re never published by the DOE. But, this site does a good job at gathering info that’s self reported. You’ll notice on the screen shot below that both cut off scores and the ranking orders change. Stuy is ALWAYS first, meaning it’s the most popular school, but after that things shift every year. Generally the next group: Bronx Science, HSMSE, Staten Island, Queens College, and HSAS are pretty interchangeable in terms of cut offs. Brooklyn Tech is always below those - they have such a big freshman class which drives down their cut off score, and Brooklyn Latin is generally the lowest cut off:


I suggest you RANK IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE. If you put Stuy first because of its reputation and your kid has a great test day and earns a seat, but they really wanted to go to American Studies, they go to Stuy. Schools make offers based PURELY on test scores alone. A quick example: a kid who scores 515 and ranks Bronx Science third will earn a seat there over a kid who got a 510 but ranked it first. Schools fill up in order of popularity, which is how rankings change every year. Stuy fills up with first choices. Always. If you put it second, you don’t have a chance of getting in. It’s harder to tell with the rest, as the next group of schools change in popularity year after year. 

UNKNOWN STUFF: I heard this year many schools are encouraging families to print admissions tickets themselves and that there will be printers at the test site for people who can’t print at home. As thousands of kids sit for the test, I STRONGLY suggest you bring your ticket with you. And, in this brand new, unproven sign up system, I would still check in with guidance counselors to make sure everything is as it should be.