Most of the instructions you’ll find for how to take the SHSAT are directed at current 8th graders at public, private, and parochial schools in New York City. But, if you’re one of the 3,000 students in the City who are homeschooled, you might have special questions about how to register and take the SHSAT.
The timeline for homeschoolers who want to register and take the SHSAT is the same for students in traditional school settings (for more, see “Timeline for SHSAT Registration and Testing”). Your clock starts in early September. Whereas most students register for the SHSAT through their school counselor, as a homeschooler, there is a good chance that you will have to register for the exam at your local Family Welcome Center. (Family Welcome Centers are located in each Borough, and are set up to help families register for school and get information about special programs and accommodations through the Department of Education. To find the Family Welcome Center near you, and when they are open to help, visit: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/NewStudents/WelcomeCenters/default.htm .)
Of course, check with your parents. Many homeschooled students are part of homeschool cooperative groups, consortiums, or partnerships with traditional public or private schools which employ guidance counselors for their middle-and-high school families. In these cases, you can register for the SHSAT through the guidance counselor that works with your homeschool group.
Whether you register for the exam through the Family Welcome Center, or through the high school guidance counselor associated with your homeschool group, you will have to show proof that you are homeschooled. (The State of New York accepts your Individualized Home Instruction Plan, IHIP, and quarterly reports as proper documentation of being homeschooled.) You’ll also bring your ID (if you have one), birth certificate, proof of residence, immunization record, and the state-issued ID of your parents or guardians.
Make sure not to be late to register for the exam. If you miss the registration deadlines, you actually miss your chance to get into the specialized high school of your choice!
Get Your Test Ticket!
Just like students at traditional schools, the KEY to getting into the SHSAT for homeschooled high school students is the Test Ticket. You won’t be admitted into the exam without The Ticket, so you’ll need to make sure you get yours. After you register for the exam through the Welcome Center or your associated counselor, you will receive a confirmation in the mail that you have registered for the exam, and that you will be receiving the Test Ticket. In early October, you will either receive your Ticket in the mail, or you will pick up the Ticket from where you registered for the test.
Once you receive your Test Ticket, check it to make sure it is accurate. Your name should be spelled correctly, and it should include where you are going to take the test, when the test will begin, and if you have any accommodations that the State will need to provide. Your test location will be based on the location of the public school you are districted for, rather than where you live or where your homeschool coop is. So, you’ll figure out what district the public high school that you would go to (if you weren’t homeschooled) is located, and you will take the SHSAT there.
If your Test Ticket is incorrect in any way, hurry! Make sure to contact whomever you registered with to get an amended Ticket. The turnaround time between receiving the Ticket, and taking the test will always be very short, so make sure not to delay if you have a Ticket that has errors on it. Both you and your parent must sign the Ticket prior to test day. Then, once you have your correct Ticket, you’ll discuss with your parent or guardian which school or schools you prefer from the list of specialized high schools. Remember, you will indicate on test day which schools you want to consider you, in order of your preference. Just like students at traditional schools, you’ll submit your list with your Ticket at the test site, and won’t be able to make changes once you turn it in.
You may have questions that aren’t covered in this blog, specific to homeschooling and taking the SHSAT. Last year, the New York City’s Department of Education hired a guidance counselor to assist homeschooled students with gaining admission into any City school, including specialized high schools. Part of this counselor’s duties is to assist you with questions about registering for, and taking, the SHSAT exam. The counselor is only available part-time, often by appointment-only, in the Department of Education’s Central Office.