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How To: Adapt Tutoring Sessions For The Revised SHSAT

How To: Adapt Tutoring Sessions For The Revised SHSAT

Feb 02, 2017

On Monday, Clark reported the breaking news — there are big changes ahead for the NYC Specialized High School Admissions Test. Here’s everything you need to know to help your student succeed.

According to a recent article by AM New York, the test preparation industry is scrambling to adapt to the new Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) in New York City.

What is the SHSAT?

As stated by the New York Department of Education (DOE), the test is required for students in grades 8 or 9 who wish to apply to New York City’s Specialized High Schools. One of these Specialized High Schools, Stuyvesant High, is often ranked as one of the best high schools in the country. While all of these schools are public, admissions are determined by students’ SHAST results. This year, the exam will “undergo the broadest revisions in about two decades,” AMNY reports.

The purpose of the re-design is to align the test questions more closely with typical classroom curriculum. Changes will be in effect for the Fall 2017 exam, so now is the time for tutors to start developing a strategy. Here are four things tutors can do to make sure students are ready to go in time for test day:

1. Incorporate stress management into your lesson plans

Students take this test while they are in middle-school, so it’s likely they’ve never sat through an exam that has such a meaningful impact on their future. One of the best things a tutor can do is help their students manage stress. Make sure your students understand all the mechanics of the test so there are no unknowns or surprises on test day.

2. Utilize sessions to brush up on grammar

One of the most significant changes to the exam is the addition of “revising/editing” questions, which is a section that intends to test grammar. Thanks to the not-so-simple English language, many drills and lots of practice are essential to memorize grammar rules. Be sure to include grammatical review throughout your tutoring sessions.

3. Focus on subjects that your students have trouble with

Now that the test mirrors what middle-school students are learning in the classroom, focus on the same subjects your students typically have issues with in school. Tutors should take time to assess each subject to identify the shortcomings to hone in on.

4. Discuss and practice proper pacing

The new version is longer than it used to be, which means students may need to put in extra work up front to avoid burn-out by test day. Administering a full-length practice test is the best way to help students set a pacing benchmark. From there, encourage your students to wear and practice using a watch. You can help them prepare to track time and set interval goals based on pace. You may also want to consider incorporating additional time management strategies into your sessions (check out Clark’s tips on how to do this!).

Other important facts to know:
  • The test is increasing from 150 to 180 minutes

  • All multiple choice questions will now have 4 answer choices instead of 5

  • There will be an even number of Math and English Language Arts (formerly known as the verbal section) questions, with a total of 57 each

  • According to the DOE, the results are reported as scaled scores. This means final results are based on the number of questions that the student answered correctly; scores are scaled for the English and Mathematics test sections, which are then combined to produce the student’s composite score

  • Students are ranked according to their scores on the test and assigned to a school depending on their rank on the list, the priority in which they ranked their choices of schools and the number of seats available at each school

For a full list of FAQs visit the DOE website here.

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