thoughts about the SHSAT

I met with a family last week and we spent time talking about the SHSAT. While the test isn’t until October (November for some), I wanted to put some thoughts out there both about getting ready for the test and the test itself.


The test was revamped a couple of years ago and is now 114 questions, up from 95. Those questions are evenly split between math and ELA (the section formerly known as English). 20 of those questions, 10 on each side, are field test questions and won’t count towards final scores. Scrambled paragraphs and logic questions are no longer. The test is now supposed to align more the common core (although they only changed the content of the ELA side, math remained the same). The test is now 3 hours, up from 2.5.

There are, in fact, some more fine tuning changes for this year:

The test is a lot. Test prep helps. 

People choose all different ways to handle test prep. Some kids do best in courses with other students, some with one on one tutors, still others prep on their own with test prep books. Some kids start prepping years ahead, others work in the few weeks before the test. It all depends on what works best for your child and your family. But, if the SHSAT is something you’re even considering, if you haven’t already worked out details, you might consider figuring out how you want to approach it now, rather than in the fall when the crunch of touring kicks in. In the High School 411 handbook, and on the website, are tutors and test prep companies that have been vetted by me and HS411 families. 

What I found with my kids and many, many others is that practice makes all the difference. Familiarity with the test itself. Learning how to keep track of time. How to let go of a question you’re struggling with and how to keep track of going back later. TIME MANAGEMENT. Taking practice tests. Getting comfortable with the format. A silver lining in all this, along with possibly earning a spot at a specialized high school, is that this is remarkable practice for the SAT/ACTs. My son is a junior at the moment and watching him do SAT prep is remarkably like SHSAT prep - he easily got back in the prep groove and those skills he honed in 8th grade are serving him well now.