SHSAT Tutoring

A Difficult Test. An Easy Choice.

At Next Level Learning we have prepared students for the SHSAT (Specialized High School Admission Test) for almost two decades, which means our SHSAT instructors know the material that will appear on the exam. Our personalized, one-on-one SHSAT preparation will ensure your child is positioned to achieve his or her greatest potential.

Not every student has the aspiration or aptitude to attend a Specialized High School, but for those who do we have a proven approach to SHSAT tutoring that’s been cultivated from years of hands-on experience helping students get outstanding results. At Next Level our professional SHSAT instructors will design a plan and strategy to help your child become an elite student who attends a Specialized High School.

At the conclusion of each one-on-one session, our instructors compose a report that provides a summary of the session including successes, challenges, expectations going forward, specific notes about progress, and homework (if any is assigned). If parents have feedback or a suggestion about the next session, they can simply reply to the session report and our director will follow-up with the instructor. Session reports are a valuable communication tool that allows parents to stay informed and involved without having to speak to their child following each session, which can sometimes exacerbate anxiety.

Why is the SHSAT such a big deal?

With the exception of LaGuardia High School, students who want to attend any of New York City’s elite Specialized High Schools are required to take the SHSAT to be considered for admission. The competition to get into these schools is intense and the SHSAT is difficult. Unlike most other schools, no other factors such as previous grades, extracurricular activities, admissions essays, or interviews are considered for admission, which means an outstanding test score is vital.

When is the test taken?

The SHSAT is administered in late October or early November to 8th and 9th grade students living in New York City.

When should preparation begin?

One of the most frequent questions we are asked about the SHSAT is when students should begin preparing, and the answer varies depending upon the following factors:

  • Is the student working at grade level?
  • Are there concepts or material on the SHSAT that require significant review?
  • Does the student typically perform well on important tests and standardized exams?
  • Is anxiety a factor in performance?
  • Is motivation an issue?
  • Does the student have a learning disability that needs remediation?
  • Is the student able to focus full attention on preparation?
  • Does the student have time to complete homework assignments as part of preparation?
  • Is the student applying to the more popular Specialized High Schools, such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science where a high score is more imperative?
  • How important is it to the student to gain admission to a Specialized High School? Is it a high priority?

Some students begin SHSAT preparation as early as the 6th grade, but most students start sometime in the 7th grade. Especially with students in this age range, it’s vital not to be in the position of “cramming” a few weeks or months before the exam. Our experience has proved that getting started early and investing in calm, measured preparation spread over a longer period absolutely reduces pressure and makes a substantial difference in results. Rushing to prepare immediately before the SHSAT generates significant pressure and can sometimes cause debilitating anxiety in students who have never previously exhibited symptoms of being anxious. Even high performing students generally begin preparation a year or more before the exam. At Next Level Learning our highly trained SHSAT instructors are mindful of the ways in which pressure can adversely affect performance, which is why our professional SHSAT test preparation is designed to alleviate anxiety and improve test-taking skills relevant to the SHSAT.

We recommend coming in for an initial session and assessment as early as possible. In some instances it will be apparent the student is well positioned for the exam and doesn’t need to begin at that point; in other instances we may identify significant areas that need to be addressed over a longer period. If you have doubts or questions about the ideal time to begin SHSAT prep, contact Next Level right away and we can help you make an informed decision.

What’s on the SHSAT?

The test is 3 hours long and consists of two multiple-choice sections:

  • English Language Arts (ELA): Contains 57 questions: 20 revising or editing questions and 6 reading
    passages with 5-7 comprehension questions each.
  • Mathematics: Contains 57 problem solving questions in basic math, algebra, probability, statistics, and
    geometry. All questions are multiple choice except for 5 “grid in” questions where the student must
    generate their own answer.


The SHSAT is scored separately in the math and verbal sections and then scaled and added together to produce a total score. This score is used to ‘rank’ students and higher ranked students are awarded their first choice of specialized school.

It’s important to note that the scores for each section are not scaled linearly, which means more points are awarded for correct answers the closer the student gets to a perfect score in each section. For example, if student A scores 30 out of 50 questions in verbal and 30 out of 50 in math, and student B scores 45 out of 50 questions in verbal and 15 out of 50 in math, then student B will have a higher scaled score despite both students answering the same number of questions correctly. For this reason, the SHSAT tends to favor ‘lopsided geniuses,’ or those kids who can score exceptionally well in one of the two sections.

When are the SHSAT scores released?

The SHSAT exam is held in the fall and results are typically released to schools the following March.

What is a good SHSAT score?

Determining a “good” SHSAT score is complicated by the variables involved in deciding the cutoffs for each Specialized school, which vary from year to year. For example, the cutoff for Stuyvesant (typically the most popular and competitive school for admissions) can range from the 550s to 570s depending, among other factors, on how many students select it as their first choice school in a given year. At Next Level our SHSAT instructors are familiar with the requisite score ranges for each school and can advise students as to whether they are in contention for the school(s) they are targeting.

Get Started

No matter where you are in deciding next steps for your child to take the SHSAT, it is never too early to speak to an SHSAT expert at Next Level Learning and beginning the planning process. As stated, the SHSAT is a difficult exam for the vast majority of students, and it is therefore important to ensure you put your child in the best position to excel and perform to his or her greatest potential. Please contact Next Level Learning now about how to obtain the best SHSAT tutoring in New York.

Our Approach to Tutoring