The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) is administered every fall by the NYC Board of Education. Students who score high enough on this test will have the opportunity for admission to some of the elite NYC Public High Schools. The odds of acceptance to these schools are 5 to 1. With only a 20% chance of getting in, why should a 7th or 8th grade student even bother preparing for this exam? There are several reasons:
• Standardized tests are a fact of life for most students. The experience of preparing for and sitting through a standardized test is an essential “dress rehearsal” for the college admissions process. Once in High School, students are subjected to the PSAT, SAT and ACT along with various Regents and AP Exams. The process of preparing for a big test gives students an invaluable sense of accomplishment. Also, big test experience will help temper the anxiety most students experience before important exams.
• The subject matter which must be learned in order to master the SHSAT is challenging but important. Difficult math, reading and reasoning problems appear on this test. However, learning hard concepts is a necessary evil. Students will be exposed to math, reading and logic problems they have never seen before. These lessons will give students a leg up on their classmates when these subjects are finally introduced in school.
• Given the age of the students taking it and how the exam is administered, the SHSAT is arguably more difficult than the SAT. No calculators are allowed for the math section. The reasoning and logic problems rival those found in a college freshmen philosophy course. Learning how to answer difficult multiple choice questions will make the SAT exam that much easier three years later.
• The prize if accepted is admission to a high school that is highly regarded nationwide. The Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report have recently ranked Stuyvesant and Bronx H.S. of Science among the top 100 U.S. Pubic High Schools. These schools have unparalleled reputations in the eyes of college admissions committees.