The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) is the sole admissions criterion for entry to eight of the New York City specialized high schools. Students in both 8th and 9th grade are eligible to take the exam. 9th graders take a slightly different exam, but the vast majority of students take the exam in October of their 8th grade year. Scores are scaled twice based on the raw amount of questions answered correctly on both the verbal and math section, with a maximum of 400 points on each of the two sections after the first scaling.
Admission is granted to the top scoring students, with varying cutoff scores for each school. Official cutoff scores are not released, but according to self-reported accounts, cutoffs from the last many years have ranged from 475 (~65% correct) for Brooklyn Latin to 565 (~84% correct) for Stuyvesant. Upcoming years will likely see an increase in cutoff scores by ~10-15 points. Students have three hours to complete the exam, can complete questions in any order, and are not permitted use of a calculator. The standard allotted time for the exam is 180 minutes; however, extended time and accommodations are available for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), 504 plans, and English Language Learners (ELLs).
Who should take the exam?
All students — including students attending charter, private, or parochial schools — that will be living in NYC during 8th or 9th grade are eligible to take the exam. Common Core State Test scores are a decent, but not perfect, predictor of success. If you received 4s on both sections of the exam in 6th grade, then you should almost definitely take the exam. If you received a 3 on one section and a 4 on the other section, then it it also almost definitely worth studying for the exam. Students who score lower than this can still gain entry to a specialized high school, but will likely require a larger amount of focused, personalized instruction. Outside of very rare cases, students need to study extensively for the SHSAT to find success. Taking a practice test and having a consultation will give a good indication of where you are and how much would be necessary to reach a score above the cutoff.
Admissions based off of the SHSAT is incredibly straightforward. Students are admitted to schools of their preference, starting from the highest scoring student. When a school has admitted their 9th grade capacity, they will stop taking students, creating a score “cutoff.” This score can change from year to year, especially for the smaller in-demand schools. As of 2019, the Discovery program has expanded from 5% of all seats to 20% of all seats. Since students entering the Discovery program scored below the cutoff, their will in effect by 15% fewer seats for non-Discovery program students, increasing the cutoff going forward.
When ranking your schools, you should rank purely based off of preference. There is no penalty to ranking a school highly that may be perceived as a reach, but if you rank the reach school below the school with a lower cutoff then you have 0% chance of getting in, since you would be admitted to the school with the lower cut off before reaching the schools lower on your ranking.
Specialized High Schools
New York’s eight specialized high schools are amongst the highest performing high schools in the country. For a more in depth look, visit our pages for the individual schools:
- High School for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering at City College (HSMSE)
- Stuyvesant High School
- Bronx High School of Science
- American Studies at Lehman College (HSAS)
- Brooklyn Technical High School
- The Brooklyn Latin School
- Staten Island Technical High School
- Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
What is on the SHSAT
Grammar and editing
In 2017, the SHSAT replaced scrambled paragraphs and logical reasoning with grammar and editing. Grammar and editing questions fall into two broad categories: questions demanding “copy” edits and questions demanding “content” edits. While the logical reasoning section can partially be found in some of the newer questions in reading comprehension, the “content” edit questions make ample use of the same material tested in the scrambled paragraph section. While there are only 9 to 11 questions on the grammar and editing section, students should aim for nearly complete mastery of this exam, as it is rule based and relates to a fairly narrow amount of material.
The grammar and editing section is broken into two parts. The first part includes standalone sentences and paragraphs. Students are asked to make edits to these sentences or paragraphs. The next section will include a ~350 word essay with various mistakes. Students will be asked to edit sentences, add new sentences, and delete sentences.
Students will find one or two questions relating to comma. Questions relating to commas have tended to test a student’s mastery of appositives and coordinating adjectives.
Questions relating to verb tense will be found in the context of a paragraph. As with all grammar questions, students must keep in mind that any element of a paragraph not underlined is necessarily correct. With this in mind, students can look for the tense of verbs surrounding the underlined portion for insight. If the paragraph exists in the present tense, then the student should most likely look for the present tense version of the underlined verb. In currently available examples, the SHSAT only uses simple tenses, so it is unlikely that students will need to master tenses such as past perfect.
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Examples of pronouns are he, she, they, them, or it. In order for the reader to identify the noun which the pronoun has replaced, it must take the place of the most recent, relevant noun. For example, if a sentence uses the pronoun “she”, then there must have been a female discussed very recently. Where there is no recent relevant noun or where it is unclear which recent noun is the most relevant, you have a vague pronoun. Students should read the paragraph before looking at the answer choices and identify all pronouns. Once they have identified all pronouns, they can begin looking for the noun which the pronoun is supposed to replace.
Dangling Modifiers (Incorrect Construction)
The most common instance of dangling modifiers occurs in conjunction with dependent clauses. A dependent clause lacks either a subject or object. As the name implies, the clause depends on the independent clause for the missing noun. However, as there are two nouns in any independent clause, it can sometimes be difficult for the reader to identify which noun the dependent clause depends on. In order to avoid this confusion, a reader should always assume that the noun in the independent clause that is closest to the dependent clause is the necessary noun. If the incorrect noun is closest to the dependent clause, then it will “modify” the wrong part of the dependent clause, thus constructing a dangling modifier.
For example, take the following sentence: “After searching for a year, the tomb was finally found by the archeologists.”
Here, the dependent clause “After searching for a year” is lacking a subject — who was searching for a year. Given the context, we know that the archeologists were searching. However, since “the tomb” is directly after the dependent clause, we must instead assume that the tomb searched. In this case, “the tomb” is a dangling modifier.
In the 2017 SHSAT practice test, Pearson used the grammatical term dangling modifier. In 2018, however, the same question was changed to “incorrect construction.” For the 2019 exam, students should be aware of both possible ways of constructing the question.
As of the 2018 SHSAT exam, every test has come with one question that tests a student’s mastery over thesis statements. This question will often come at the beginning of the questions related to the short grammar and editing passage. It will ask the readers to either add a sentence to the first paragraph or to replace the final sentence of the first paragraph. Students should be aware that a thesis statement always comes at the end of the introductory paragraph and that a good thesis statement summarizes the main claims present in the body paragraphs. Students should avoid answers that focus predominantly on what they perceive to be the strongest claim of the three body paragraphs and avoid choosing the answer that best discusses only the first body paragraph’s claim.
Precision questions will give students a sentence, followed by four possible versions of the sentence, each with certain words or phrases altered. In general, we can think of precise language as coming in two forms.
The first way that an author adds precise language is through “quantitative precision.” Quantitative precision is the process of limiting the number of phenomena potentially represented by the word. For example, hundreds is more precise than many. In turn, 356 is more precise than hundreds.
The second way that an author adds precise language is through “categorical precision.” Here, the author goes from using a broad category to discuss a topic to an example or type of that category. For example, “soccer” is more categorically precise than “sport” and “lecture” is more categorically precise than “teach.”
Precise language does not require adhering to the content given. We do not need to know that someone plays soccer to know that “soccer” is more precise than “sport.” Similarly, we do not need to know that a teacher “lectures” to know that the word “lecture” is more precise than “teach.”
In 2017, the SHSAT removed scrambled paragraphs. However, while scrambled paragraphs were removed, the content that they tested remain prominent in the grammar and editing section. Questions related to the passage within the the grammar and editing section will frequently ask a student where a sentence would best be placed. Just like on the scrambled paragraphs of yesteryear, students should use three main strategies for placing these sentences.
Pronouns and “Pointing” Nouns
As discussed above, pronouns must always replace the most recent relevant noun. If there is a pronoun at the beginning of a sentence that you are tasked with placing, then you should be looking for the relevant noun that it replaces. While less prominent on the sentence placement questions than scrambled paragraph questions, “pointing” nouns have the same function. Pointing nouns are noun phrases such as “that idea” or “this house” which reference another noun. Like pronouns, pointing nouns require that the relevant noun to which it is pointing be directly before.
As discussed above, transition words tell the reader how they should be interpreting the relationship between two sentences. If the sentence you are placing has a transition word, then follow the strategies listed in the “transition words” section.
In schools, you will learn many different ways of constructing body paragraphs. Schools frequently use “R.A.C.E” (Restate, Analyze, Cite, Examine), “R.A.C.E.R” (Restate, Analyze, Cite, Examine, Repeat), “C.C.E.D” (Claim, Context, Evidence, Discuss), or one of numerous other acronyms or initialisms. In all of these, there is a consistent conceptual flow between claims, evidence, and the discussion of evidence. To create a sound argument within a paragraph, authors should make claims, provide evidence that support those claims, and discuss how the evidence supports the claim. As test takers, we can use this to our advantage. If the sentence being placed is a claim, then it must come before the evidence. If it is evidence then it must follow the claim. If the sentence discusses evidence, then it must follow that evidence. Identify the “type” of sentence that you are placing, and then find the relevant sentences within the paragraph.
Most test forms have had one question that asks students to find the “irrelevant sentence.” An irrelevant sentence, in the context of the SHSAT, fails to prove the topic sentence. Irrelevant sentences will often closely relate to an overarching theme of the passage or discuss an element of the body paragraph in greater detail than would otherwise be provided. However, being relevant to something in a body paragraph does not make a sentence relevant to the argument of that body paragraph. Identify what the paragraph argues—in your own words—and then find the sentence that does not directly work to prove that claim.
The 2018 version of the SHSAT radically altered the reading comprehension section. Based on the official practice tests released by Pearson, information released from the DOE, and reports from students who have taken the exam, the reading comprehension sections now consist of six distinct passages. Passages range in length from 500 words to 1200. In every exam, there will be one poem, one or two fiction stories, one or two short nonfiction essays, and one longer nonfiction essay. Each passage is accompanied by six to ten questions. All questions are multiple choice.
Short Informational Nonfiction
Short nonfiction passages are roughly 500 words. These passages are consistent with passages as the appeared in older versions of the SHSAT. Short nonfiction passages may be scientific, biographical, or historical. In general, they will have a fairly narrow focus and a standard five or six paragraph structure. Examples of past topics include the relationship between Charles Dickinson’s biography and the character of blah in his novel blah, the origin and purpose of pigment in flowers, and the history of tea ceremonies in Japan. In the past, these passages have been accompanied by one main idea question and a combination of information-recall and inference questions.
Long informational nonfiction
Longer nonfiction passages were introduced with the 2018 exam. One major difference between the long nonfiction passages and the traditional short nonfiction passage is their source. On the official practice tests, the short nonfiction pieces were always written specifically for the exam. Long nonfiction passages, on the other hand, tend to be public domain essays. By not being made for the exam, long nonfiction passages tend to have a higher vocabulary, more complicated conceptual structure, and longer paragraphs. In the practice tests, these passages will also be accompanied generally by an infographic. However, reports from students indicate that infographics will not always appear on the actual exam.
Along with the new passages came new questions.
These questions may ask how a sentence contributes to the organization or structure of the passage. While the relationship between paragraphs has always been important, past versions of the exam focused more heavily on information within paragraphs. For these questions, students instead must attend to the differences between various sections of the passage. The correct answer will generally be the one that best demonstrates the distinct focuses of the passage.
“Problem and Solution” questions
These questions, as the name indicates, as the student to identify how an other introduces a problem and solution within a paragraph. In general, these can be interpreted as paragraph summary questions.
These questions may ask the reader how the author used historical sequencing in a paragraph or across paragraphs. While these may sometimes rely mostly on paragraph summarizing, the relationship between the various events and assessing correlation versus causation is critical on these questions. Students will likely see answer choices that correctly assess the general use of sequencing while allocating too much causal power to one event.
One of the most unique nonfiction styles that students encounter are pieces that are nonfiction but literary in nature. In the information provided in 2017 concerning the new version of the SHSAT, the DOE informed students that the new exam would potentially have memoirs, editorials, or more philosophical essays. These passages have never appeared in common core state tests, and thus are particularly difficult for students. Often, they will use more metaphorical language and have less clear main ideas than the traditional short nonfiction passages. Questions types for these passages closely mimic those found on the new long nonfiction passages.
As of 2018, the exam will always host one or two fiction stories. These passages will tend to be excerpts from longer passages. In the informational flyer distributed by the DOE following the 2017 change, students were informed that fiction passages can possess a very wide range of genres, including adventure, science fiction, historical, and many others. Students should not assume the genre of a passage they see, and be on the lookout for passages that use metaphor, irony, or humor. Passages will tend to be public domain, and thus use more antiquated language than you would generally find on a common core state English test. Fiction passages have new question types that test a student’s master of literary techniques. Students may be asked to interpret a simile, metaphor, tone, or language use.
Poetry passages are notoriously difficult for students on standardized exams. Besides questions relating to the main idea of the poem or stanza, questions will also heavily rely on the correct interpretation of the overarching metaphors. Students are encouraged to pay particular attention to any formal element of the poem, including rhyme scheme, for hints about how to interpret the poem.
The math section of the SHSAT has been consistent for 17 years. Students will find the math section to be significantly more difficult than the common core math state test and slightly more difficult than the ISEE quantitative reasoning section. Due to the exam being timed and non-calculator, a high level of computational mastery is required for success on the exam. While nearly no questions will be purely computational, nearly all questions will require multiple computations. At SHSAT School, we classify the distinct question types on the SHSAT by arithmetic, algebra, quantitative knowledge, quantitative reasoning, and geometry. These categories can be arbitrary at times, as there are often pieces of knowledge necessary from multiple categories in one problem. For example, a question concerning mean may require the quantitative knowledge of the formula for mean, but would also require the ability to solve the equation algebraically and complete the various arithmetic steps along the way.
One reason students tend to struggle on the SHSAT math section is due to the prevalence of questions that make use of implicit, versus explicit, values or variables. Proportion questions frequently establish a ratio between multiple items only for the proportion itself to relate to the “total” of the ratio. Probability questions will give you information and then ask the chance of “not” doing something.
Students often complain that few questions on the SHSAT “look” like math. SHSAT math questions tend to be word problem heavy. However, roughly 10% of math questions on all practice tests do fall into a more traditional arithmetic style question. These questions may test a students knowledge of order of operations, partial numbers, and negative integers.
A large amount of questions in the SHSAT math section can be solved using various elements of algebra. Students who score highest on the exam frequently approach questions that may even be thought of as a separate category — such as geometry and statistics — using core algebraic concepts. The following are the most common algebraic concepts tested on the exam.
Basics Multi-Step Algebraic Equations
Most forms of the exam will have at least one question which gives a basic algebraic equation and asks the student to isolate a variable. Students must have mastery over order of operations and the properties of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and distribution. Students should master these questions before looking to solve any other algebraic questions.
Literal equations “look” like basic multi-step algebraic equations, but with one major twist: They only have variables! Students should use the exact same process used in the basic multi-step equations here.
Two tips related to literal equations
A fraction is equivalent to a division problem. If you are trying to “undo” a fraction, you can do so using multiplication. Furthermore, the reciprocal of two equal fractions will always be equal. If the variable you wish to isolate is on the denominator or a fraction, then it may be easier to “flip” the fractions on oth sides of the equation over cross multiplying or using additional steps of multiplication/division property.
Substitution is the most advanced mathematical concept tested on the SHSAT. Substitution can be used anytime a question involves multiple equations with multiple variables. These questions will often give you a word problem where we have two scenarios concerning two variables. After a student establishes the equations, they should isolate one of the two variables in one of the equations. Once a variable is isolated, the student can go to the other equation and replace the variable with the expression equal to the variable.
For example, read the following question:
“Juan and Neo earned $10,000 last year, when combining their different salaries. Neo earned three times as much as Juan. How much more did Neo earn than Juan.”
For this question, we would first establish two equations:
J + N = 10,000
N = 3J
Here, we already have the “N” variable isolated. As such, we can substitute the value of N in terms of J into the initial equation. Doing so gets us:
J + 3J = 10,000
Now that we have one variable in the equation, we can isolate the variable in terms of a value, to find that J = 2,500. If Juan earned 2,500 and Neo earned 7,500, then we know that Neo earned 5,000 more than Juan.
Questions Concerning “Mean”
While “mean”, or average, is statistical in nature, students will often solve questions related to mean using algebraic equations. The base equation for mean is (total)/# of data points = mean. With this in hand, we can populate the variables with values based on the word problem and then solve for the missing variable. Questions related to mean will often give you part of the total, the number of data points, and the mean. The question will then require that you isolate the (total), and then use the subtraction property to find the missing part of the total.
While many students will not use algebra to solve geometry questions, many of the most difficult geometry questions can be made simple if solved algebraically. This is particularly the case when a question relates to circles. No equations are given on the SHSAT, so students must memorize the equation for circumference of a circle—C=2piR—and area of a circle—A=Pir^2. With these in hand, students can populate the variables given and solve for the missing variable.
“Funky Symbol Problems”
Students may encounter questions with an odd symmetry within an equation. For example a question might start with an equation such as:
In this equation, any number to the left of an & sign will take on the features of x and any value to the right of the & sign will take on all of the features of y. So in this example, if x is 2 and y is 3, then you would do 2 + 3 – 2 * 3 to get the answer -6.
Plugging it in: While it is recommended that you learn the core algebra being tested on the exam, algebraic equations are a place on the exam where there are alternative approaches to solving the questions beyond knowing the material. Ultimately, algebraic equations come in two kinds. First, there are questions where the question is asking you to solve for a variable. For these questions, one of the answers will always make the equation accurate when substituted in for the variable. On these questions, students can plug in the answer choices into the equation in the question to find the correct answer.
Alternatively, other algebra questions may give a rule about a variable, and then give answers that include the variable in an equation. For example, the question may state that:
“x times any other number will give you a negative integer. What will always be true?”
Here, we may know that x is necessarily a negative integer and have knowledge of all the properties associated with negative integers. However, even if you don’t know these properties or are confused how they relate to the question, you could still choose any negative integer as a value of x and plug that value into the answer choices.
While many proportion questions can be solved algebraically, it is recommended that students master proportions and know how to effectively use them on relevant questions. Proportions can be created anytime we have unlike terms that have similar relationships. Proportions depend on equivalent fractions and thus there are many ways of setting up a proportion that will give the right answer. What matters is not so much the particular way you set up the proportion, as your ability to recognize the different units, the relationship between the units, and any hidden or implicit variables.
Quantitative Knowledge is a broad category that includes knowledge of factors, multiples, prime numbers, and scientific notation. Students should have mastery of all four of these principles and be capable of rapid computations.
Quantitative reasoning questions are amongst the least streamlined questions on the exam. Historically, students have only had one or two of these questions on an exam.
Probability is the chance of something occurring that you are interested in out of a total amount of possibilities. When compounding distinct probabilities, students will need to determine the probability for each individual event, and then compound the probabilities by multiplying the fractions. On the SHSAT, probability questions will often give you information about one segment of a data set, and then ask questions about the rest of the data set. These questions will often use the word “not”. Probability questions will also frequently have one event impact subsequent events by having something “removed” from the question as opposed to “replacing” that element. For example, if a question tells a student that there are 5 red cubes in a bag of 20 cubes, and asks the chance of removing two in a row, then the first fraction would be 5/20, but the next fraction would be 4/19, accounting for the cube that was initially removed.
Timeline for Study
Successful students take many different approaches to the SHSAT. Some start studying for the exam as early as 6th grade, while others wait until the start of 8th grade. However, while you may happen to have a school tour guide who waited to study until the week before, the vast majority of successful students follow roughly similar calendars. The calendar recomended here is based off of the experiences of students and instructors at SHSAT School.
July-September of 7th Grade Year
Students should be assessed for mastery of foundational material. The math section of the SHSAT contains a large amount of computations. To succeed within the time parameters, students must have absolute mastery of foundational material such as multiplication, partial numbers, and negative integers. If a student scores fours on their ELA and Math 6th grade state tests, then they will likely have sufficient mastery of foundational material.
September – December of 7th Grade Year
Students should learn the full 7th grade curriculum in math and ELA. The SHSAT tests much of the same content as the 7th grade state test, albeit at a more difficult level. Since most students will be looking not only at specialized high schools, but also elite screened schools that use the 7th grade state test and 7th grade GPA, we recommend that students master all material that may be seen in 7th grade before shifting attention to SHSAT exclusive content. Getting ahead of the curriculum will allow students to accel in-school, alleviate any non-SHSAT related pressure, and allow the student, tutor, or parent to learn any content area that may need special attention. A good tutor will be able to incorporate SHSAT concepts into the 7th grade curriculum, ensuring they are ready to deepen their understanding of the material once SHSAT-specific preparation begins.
January – March of 7th Grade Year
Students should take their first practice test between this period. If a student is interested in Stuyvesant, then they should take their first practice exam earlier. This is the period in the preparation cycle where students and parents should be researching Stuyvesant and other scores with higher cutoffs, so that they will have time to increase their studying if necessary. Students should also take a 7th grade state test practice test in January, assuming they have already learned their 7th grade curriculum, to ensure they will easily get a high 4 on the state test. On your first exam, you should aim to have at least a 400. If you are below a 400 on your first exam, then you will want to increase your out of school studying.
Based on practice test scores, students should begin targeted SHSAT practice, focusing on the particular style of passages found in the ELA section, the more complicated ways that the exam tests algebra and proportions, and learning the full grammar and editing curriculum. By the start of the summer, students who are not planning on taking intensive classes should have already learned the content on the exam once. At the end of the school year, it is advisable that you take your next practice test. Students should be decently over 400 by the end of their 7th grade school year. A good goal for students aiming for Brooklyn Tech is 450 by the end of the school year. If you are aiming for Stuyvesant, then you should be over 500 by the start of July.
July – August
If you have not been spending regular time on SHSAT practice the previous three months, then it is advisable to sign up for an intensive SHSAT course or intensive tutoring of some other kind. If you have been studying, or after taking the intensive, then you want to study an amount that is commensurate to the level of improvement necessary. Studying during the summer is advisable for all scenarios so that you do not regress in your mastery, but the farther you are from your ideal practice test score, the more time you should give towards study. This is the period of time where students who are having timing issues should be focusing on practice tests and developing strategies for finishing within the allotted time. This is also the period to start documenting anything that may be necessary for a new 504 plan. Students will often prefer having no plan if they are doing well in school, but that does not mean that they are not eligible for a 504 plan nor that they wouldn’t benefit from one. The added time you get from having a 504 plan that dictates extra time is valuable for almost any student, but for students who truly need the time, it can be incredibly valuable. By the end of the summer, students aiming for Brooklyn Tech should be at a 480 on practice tests. For students interested in Stuyvesant, students should be at a 550 by this time.
September and October of 8th Grade
The fall of 8th grade is traditionally incredibly stressful for students and parents. During this period, students will be visiting schools, preparing for admissions to schools with other requirements—whether portfolios, the TACHS, or the ISEE—going on auditions, and doing many other high school related activities. While students will be very busy, it is critical that they take a measured look at their performance on practice tests from the start of the schools year and ensure sufficient practice time in their schedule. By this period, students will often have diverged in their needs. A tutor or parent that is leading the student’s preparation plan should have a very detailed list of question types that the student needs to work on. Students that are still struggling with completing the exam due to endurance issues should be looking to take weekly or biweekly practice tests. Students will frequently increase their rate of practice tests during this period and use the results to guide the rest of the week’s practice in a targeted fashion. Students enrolled in SHSAT School are welcome to attend weekly practice tests and have the analytics direct their weekly instruction. Students who are using SHSAT School software but are having their instruction from school, outside tutors, or anywhere else are also welcome to have their instructor create an instructor dashboard so that they can more easily assess the student’s specific needs and ensure they are practicing efficiently and with purpose.
A student’s final score follows a multi-step process. First, the student’s raw correct answers are calculated for each section. As of 2017, each section has 57 total questions, 52 of which are graded. The remaining 5 questions in each section are used to compare the different forms of the exam. Once a student’s raw correct answers are determined, the score is converted to a first scaled score. This scaled score awards points based on a standard curve, as opposed to linear, from 0 to 400. In effect, this means that a student who gets 0 raw answer correct would get 0 points, while a student who gets 1 raw question right receives 50 points. Similarly, the difference between getting 51 questions correct and 52 questions correct is 50 points. However, for the vast majority of the range of possibilities, students will only increase their score by 4 points if they increase the amount of raw questions correct.
Once this first scaled score is calculated, students’ scores are then calculated through a second scaled score. This second scaled score relates the 11 forms of the exam to each other. Once a student has the second scale score, both the ELA and math section scores are added, getting a final composite score. As of 2015, most forms have a maximum score of 730-760, as opposed to the 800 normally cited. However, while one would expect this second scaling to radically impact scores, students tend to get similar scores on their real SHSAT as their final practice test(where we only do the first level of scaling), indicating that the second level of scaling is not having an overly large impact.
Due to the non-linear scoring for the SHSAT, students are often told that they should focus more on their better subject. At SHSAT School, we DO NOT recommend this strategy except in extreme situations. Ultimately, the point difference between different raw scores is fairly consistent for the vast majority of outcomes. It is only after answering 90% of the questions correctly that the points start increasing, and only after 95% when the difference is overwhelming. On the other hand, the cutoff for Brooklyn Tech in 2018 was ~485, which required answering about 65% of the questions correctly. For most students, the best way to accumulate points is by focusing on learning new material and mastering the easiest to master material. Every student comes to the exam with different base knowledge and a different learning profile and should build a preparation strategy around those qualities.
The Discovery program exists for promising students who attend low-performing schools, and only missed the cutoff by a small number of points. In past years, nearly 30% of admitted students scored within 15 points of the cutoff, leaving many students very close. Students that are eligible often Discovery Program must apply after receiving their test results. If successful, they will take a summer program. If they are successful in the summer program, then they will matriculate. Historically, students who have gained entry to a specialized high school have outperformed students who scored within 15 points of the cutoff. Starting in 2019, eligibility for the Discovery program was changed and the number of seats reserved for Discovery program students was increased from 5% to 20%.