The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) can be intimidating because it has great power in determining your admissions to one of the prestigious high schools New York City has to offer. If you’re looking to improve your SHSAT score, here are some tips that will make a difference in your results:
- Identify your area(s) of weakness and start there
The SHSAT is comprehensive test that tests both your verbal and mathematics ability. The New SHSAT exam now includes a Revising/Editing portion on their English Language Arts section. You need to identify your area of weakness. How well do you know your grammar rules? Are you strong in determining vocabulary words using context clues? Do you remember all the geometry figures and their special properties? Making a list of what you concepts you struggle with can be very useful. The best way to determine the area of weakness is to take a diagnostic test.
- Take a series of practice tests
High-quality practice tests are the best tool at your disposal when seeking to boost your SHSAT score. Practice tests mimic the format and rigor of the SHSAT itself, and with a little discipline, you can simulate authentic testing conditions by blocking out all distractions and timing yourself. In this way, you can “scrimmage” for the test in an authentic manner rather than simply doing drills or reading from a book.
When you’re selecting a practice test to use, make sure it includes detailed explanations of all the answers. That way, if you miss a question or struggle with a certain type of problem, you can walk through it step-by-step and understand how to arrive at the correct answer next time.
- Set up a high-quality study group
Social interaction definitely makes studying for the SHSAT a lot more fun, but when you’re studying with a group, make sure you’ve put together a team that’s truly going to boost your score. Think about group dynamics and individual strengths when you create your study team. Make sure you have people who specialize in both ELA and math skills so that everybody is contributing something from their area of strength and gaining something in their area of weakness. You should also be sure to consider personalities, since people who want to dominate the conversation, disengage, or goof around will be poor study partners.
- Make the most of SHSAT official materials
Without a doubt, you want to make sure you have a copy of the latest SHSAT Official Student Handbook which includes two practice exams. We recommend taking one of the exams at the very beginning to determine your strength and weaknesses and saving the last exam after you have completed our fully comprehensive online course that prepares you for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.
- Practice timing your decision-making
Time management is critical even for strong students. Given the stakes of the test, it can seem crucial to pour over each answer and dive as deep as possible on each question. However, keep in mind this is a timed exam and you need to be able to answer all the questions in the allotted time.
Here’s a fun exercise to help you improve your SHSAT time management: give yourself a time limit on your small daily decisions in the weeks leading up to the test. If you only give yourself 30 seconds to decide what to have for lunch or a minute and a half to determine which movie you want to watch, you’ll get better at making decisive, informed choices in a short period of time. You want to build confidence in the choices you make.
- Read about news and current events in your spare time
This piece of advice may seem a little unrelated to the SHSAT test itself, but reading up in the months before your test day can actually benefit you a great deal. Regular reading is still the all-time best vocabulary acquisition strategy, and if you read actively, you’ll pick up new terminology like a sponge.
We know you are only in middle school, so we don’t expect you to understand every word written in a New York Times article! However, reading from high quality sources is the best way to improve your overall reading comprehension. Try to read one article a day from a respected source like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Doing this alone will put you at a major advantage in your academic life in middle school, high school and beyond! We want you to excel in life and not just this exam!