9th Grade SHSAT

SHSAT learning for 9th grader

The SHSAT (Specialized High School Admissions Test) is a highly competitive exam administered to eighth and ninth-grade students in New York City who wish to apply to one of the city’s eight specialized high schools.

Ninth graders take the same SHSAT as eighth graders, but there are a few critical differences that the ninth graders need to be aware of in order to ace the SHSAT.

What is the 9th-grade SHSAT?

The SHSAT for the 9th graders is a 3-hour long test and is usually conducted in November. The exam can be taken by both first-time applicants as well as those who couldn’t meet the cutoff score in the 8th grade SHSAT. 

The SHSAT comprises two sections, Math and English and the highest possible score for each section is 400. It implies that the highest you can score in the SHSAT is 800 points.

The SHSAT cut-off scores vary from school to school and it certainly becomes more challenging every year owing to the increasing number of applicants and the limited number of spots available in schools. So,  generally speaking, 9th graders need to be more prepared and score about 30 to 45 points higher than what the 8th graders need to score.

Why is the SHSAT for 9th graders more competitive?

The format of the SHSAT exam for both the 8th and 9th graders is the same, but the content for 9th graders is a lot more complex than that for the 8th graders. For instance, in the 9th grade, there are quite a few additional topics to be covered in Maths. Also, the difficulty level in reading and editing is a lot more than what it is in the 8th-grade syllabus.  

Also, the number of seats available in each of the specialized schools is pretty less for the 9th graders as compared to the availability of spots for the 8th graders, which is evidenced in the following table.

Seats offered for the 9th Grade SHSAT

The 9th Grade SHSAT offers fewer seats for specialized high school admission in NYC than the regular 8th Grade SHSAT, primarily because fewer students take the 9th Grade SHSAT. Most students who want to attend a specialized high school take the test in 8th Grade. Additionally, students who secured their place in the specialized school through the 8th Grade SHSAT wish to continue their 9th Grade from the same school, making limited seats available for 9th graders from other high schools. The specialized schools also aim for academic equivalence, ensuring most students get admission right after 8th Grade to prepare them for the challenging college curriculum from the start.

In the following table, the drastic difference in the number of SHSAT seats for 8th graders and 9th graders is clearly evident.  

High School

9th Grade Seats

10th Grade Seats




Bronx Science



Queens Science – York College



Staten Island Tech



HSMSE – City College



HSAS – Lehman College



Brooklyn Tech



Brooklyn Latin






*Source: 2019 NYC High School Directory

Difference between the Regular SHSAT and 9th Grade SHSAT

The regular SHSAT and the 9th Grade SHSAT are separate exams used for admission to eight out of the nine specialized high schools in New York City. The 8th Grade SHSAT is typically administered in late October, while the 9th Grade SHSAT is usually held in mid-November.

The regular SHSAT is taken by students in 8th grade, whereas 9th Grade SHSAT is given by students in 9th grade. Some students miss the opportunity to take the regular SHSAT exam in 8th Grade, due to an illness, or non-availability in the city at the time of the exam. Those students are given a chance in 9th Grade to try their luck. Additionally, students who appeared in the 8th grade SHSAT, but didn’t pass it, can also retake the SHSAT in 9th grade. 

One key difference between the two exams is the topics. The regular SHSAT primarily assesses math and verbal reasoning, while the SHSAT prep for 9th graders requires them to obtain excellence in additional subjects like algebra, geometry, and trigonometry too.

9th Grade SHSAT Cutoff scores

For 9th Grade admissions to Specialized High Schools, there are no published cutoff scores available. However, based on the exam’s difficulty level and seat availability, the 9th Grade SHSAT Cutoff scores to get admission into specialized high schools is generally about 30-40 points higher compared to 8th Grade admissions. As an example, if a student needs around 570 for admission in 8th Grade, they would need approximately 600-610 for admission in 9th Grade. It’s important to note that the specific cutoff scores for the 9th Grade SHSAT can vary each year, depending on other factors such as the number of available seats and the number of students taking the test.

How can a 9th grader ace the SHSAT?

If a 9th grader has missed out on making it to one of the specialized schools in the eighth grade, they still stand a chance. Although the number of seats available in each school is too less, the positive aspect is – the number of 9th graders appearing for the SHSAT is about a tenth of the number of students who appear for the SHSAT in the eighth grade.

If the students are determined to settle on nothing below the specialized schools, they can still aim to ace the SHSAT for 9th graders. But, determination alone can’t do wonders!

To better the admission odds, it is best for the students to seek SHSAT tutoring from a reputed institution.

How can Kitab help you ace the SHSAT?

Kitab is a renowned tutoring institute that has helped 85% of its students to get selected for Specialized High Schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech.

At Kitab, we believe in equally shouldering all our students’ dreams to achieve the finest education from specialized schools. To maximize the chance of success for SHSAT aspirants, we have a team of highly qualified and experienced teachers who make use of the well-curated and comprehensive curriculum to tutor our students. Moreover, we do not trap our students in rote learning, instead, we equip them with intelligent tactics to solve challenging problems in minimum time. 

Apart from the attributes mentioned above, we mentor our students on a one-to-one basis, take rigorous practice tests, and provide regular feedback to ensure that their learning and success metrics are meticulously tracked. 

So, make Kitab your dependable learning partner to achieve your dream of making it to NYC’s Specialized High Schools. Good luck!