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Applerouth’s Guide to High School Admissions Tests for New York City Families

This article was last updated on May 1, 2017. 

If you live in New York City and your child is applying to high schools this year or next year, the steps to apply can be overwhelming. Applerouth Tutoring Services and NYC Admissions Solutions have put together this quick guide for you to determine which test your son or daughter needs to take and to provide you with information about each test.


SHSAT NYC Specialized High Schools Admission

Specialized High Schools Admissions Test

(The test is redesigned in 2017!)

The SHSAT is taken by 8th & 9th graders for admission to 8 specialized NYC public schools. On test day, students rank up to 8 schools in order of preference.

Students are given a single block of time (180 minutes) to complete the full test; time management is key to success.

  • Register through counselor
  • Late October (8th graders); Early November (9th graders)
  • Test Format:
    • ELA section (57 questions total)
      – 20 revising/editing questions
      – 5-8 stand-alone questions and 2 passages with 6-8 questions each
      – 6 reading passages with 5-7 questions each
      – All questions are multiple choice questions
    • Math section (57 questions total)
      – 5 grid-in questions
      – 52 multiple choice word problems and computational questions

Participating schools: The Bronx HS of Science; The Brooklyn Latin School; Brooklyn Technical HS; Stuyvesant HS; Staten Island Technical HS; High School for Math, Science and Engineering at the City College; HS of American Studies at Lehman College; Queens HS for the Sciences at York College.

ELA/Math & CTP4 Selective Public School Admission

State ELA/Math Tests

The State ELA/Math tests are taken by New York public school students in grade 7. The scores are used for selective public high school admissions.

If you attend independent school or your school doesn’t offer the state tests, you may not have taken this test. If that’s the case, look into scheduling a CTP4 or ISEE.

  • No private registration
  • Multiple choice, short-response, and extended-response format
  • Typically administered during the spring

Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP4)

The Comprehensive Testing Program is typically given by independent schools to assess their students.

The CTP4 is a paper/pencil test created by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). An online version is available.

  • No private registration
  • Series of tests measuring Verbal, Math, Writing, & Vocabulary skills
  • Administered by the school during the 7th grade

SSAT & ISEE Upper Level Independent School Admission

Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT)

The SSAT Upper Level is taken by any student seeking admission to a participating independent high school. Students receive a scaled score and a percentile rank. Schools use this rank to make admissions decisions. This test may be preferred by certain boarding schools.

Students who are not avid readers may struggle with the difficult vocabulary and passages of the SSAT’s verbal section.

  • Register at
  • Sections: Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Writing Sample
  • 8 “Standard” dates (Oct – Jun) 1 “Flex” date allowed per year

Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE)

The ISEE Upper Level is taken by any student seeking admission to a participating independent school. A student may test only when making a formal application to an ERB member school. This test may be preferred by certain day schools.

The ISEE’s tougher math section tests students’ exposure to advanced concepts, including trigonometry and factoring.

  • Register online at
  • Sections: Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Math, & Essay
  • Flexible testing dates Take alone, in group, or online


Test for Admission into Catholic High School

The TACHS is taken by 8th-grade students seeking admission to Catholic high schools in and around New York City. Test scores are submitted to schools along with middle school transcripts.

Students taking the TACHS have a chance to use the scores to apply to up to 3 schools.

  • Register at
  • Sections: Reading, Language, Math, Ability (Abstract reasoning)
  • Typically administered each year in early November


About NYC Admissions Solutions

NYC Admissions Solutions helps families and schools navigate K-college public and private school admissions—saving time, aggravation, and improving outcomes. Contact us today for a complimentary phone consultation or custom quote:, (347) 709-2258,

Applerouth is a trusted test prep and tutoring resource. We combine the science of learning with a thoughtful, student-focused approach to help our clients succeed. Call or email us today at 202-558-5644 or