Think about the most fun that you’ve had in school (apart from hanging with your friends!). It might have been a pottery class that showed you that you are going to be the next Rodin. You might be thinking about the music class that motivated you to be the next Jay-Z. You might have written a poem you never knew you had in you. Or, you might have worked on an idea for design improvements for the Brooklyn Bridge. The new SHSAT is meant for you!
Just like any test, the new SHSAT measures your abilities in certain areas. So, it will explore your knowledge of how to read passages effectively, to write English, and how to edit and revise other people’s writing. The problem-solving that you have been honing over your lifetime at school will be applied to math, as well.
What hasn’t changed
Don’t panic because you are taking the “new” SHSAT and some of your older friends took (or talked about) the older version of the SHSAT. In fact, if you have friends who actually took the old test, you should discuss the exam with them. Some of the aspects of your test will be the same as when they took it, and somethings will have improved to help students like you do even better with the new format.
What hasn’t changed about the SHSAT are important logistics about who can take the test, how to register for the test, and how the test is used in admissions decisions for the specialized high schools. You will register for the SHSAT in the same way that your older friends did, beginning with telling your school counselor that you want to take the test. (You’ll learn more about where to register and how to register for the test in the Blog post “Where do I take the SHSAT?” It also remains true that admission into the eight specialized (non-LaGuardia) high schools is completely determined by the score students receive on the test. Students will be placed in their preferred school based on how many students the school can accommodate (without breaking fire codes!), how many other students chose the same school, and how well those students performed on the test. Every question on the test is still important to landing students into their dream school. Finally, each school is required to make accommodations available for students who are eligible to take the exam and to enter as the school as a freshman.
It’s good news that what hasn’t changed about the test were all the things about the exam experience that helped everyone who is taking the test know what to expect about signing up, and the role of the SHSAT in getting into a specialized high school.
There’s even more good news… look at what has changed about the exam!
What has changed?
Have you ever played a video game that required you (or your team) to problem solve to get to the next level? Then, you’ll be set to tackle the new SHSAT. It’s a test that—on the surface—looks a lot like other tests you’ve taken your entire life, but behind the scenes, the new SHSAT in its entirety sets you out on a problem-solving mission. The new format is built to let you problem-solve your way through verbal and mathematical reasoning…just like you do when you beat a video game.
This isn’t just good news—it’s fantastic news. What it means is that you can worry less about whether you know all of the answers, and focus more on the brainteaser each question poses. It also means that, as puzzles, each question can be untangled to reveal the correct answer, and can be more easily unlocked with the clues you’ll learn through ArgoPrep.
Take the new format, for starters. The exam your buddies took included a “Verbal” and “Mathematics” section. Your exam has an “English Language Arts” (ELA) section, but it’s broken down into two parts: (1) a Revising/Editing section (which applies your critical thinking prowess to passages other people have written) and (2) a Reading Comprehension section (which will allow your abilities to read-to-problem-solve shine). The Math section has become more, well, fun! Rather than just bubbling in a correct answer, you’ll get to use a grid for five items on the exam. The questions are applied to real-world scenarios, and let you flex your applied math muscle. The new format is awesome for you because you can triumph over the exam even if you don’t remember the material from your entire lifetime’s worth of schooling! You’ll learn inside tips and strategies to turn the SHSAT into a game so that, if you use the strategies, you put yourself in a position to beat the game.
There’s one more amazing way your test has changed from that of your friends—and, really, you need to brag about this to them. Each answer on your test will only have four possible answers. Four! Previous exams had five answers that were possible. The test you are taking is 20% easier just by its format alone!
The SHSAT gods keep working to make this test better for students, so this exam will have some questions that are “field test questions”—they won’t count toward your score. They are testing the test question to see if they are good questions to include in future tests. You won’t know if a question is a field test or not, but to make up for including some questions that don’t count for your score, the testing time has been bumped up to 180 minutes total.