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

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 child needs to take and to provide you with information about each test.

SHSAT NYC Specialized High Schools Admission

Specialized High Schools Admissions Test

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
  • Test is given in late fall.
  • Test Format:
    • ELA section (57 questions total)
      – 9-11 revising/editing questions
      – 3-4 short paragraph questions, 1 long paragraph with 6-6 questions
      – 6 reading passages or poems 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 City College; HS of American Studies at Lehman College; Queens HS for the Sciences at York College.

ELA/Math & CTP5 Selective Public School Admission

State ELA/Math Tests

The State ELA/Math tests are usually taken by New York public school students in grades 3-8, but these tests were NOT administered in Spring 2020. Scores will not be used for high school admissions in 2020-2021.

If you attend an independent school or your school doesn’t typically offer the state tests, look into scheduling a CTP5 or ISEE.

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

Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP5)

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

The CTP5 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.

  • 6 Sections: Verbal, Quantitative (2), Reading, Writing Sample, Experimental (unscored)
  • SSAT Test Dates + Options (2020-2021)

    Beginning in August 2020, students in the US and Canada taking the Middle and Upper Level SSAT will have three testing options:

    1. At-home testing

    2. Computer-based testing at a Prometric test center (up to 2 per year)

    3. Paper-based Flex testing (up to 1 per year)

  • Beginning Summer 2020, the SSAT at Home will provide students in the U.S. and Canada a secure computer-based testing option as COVID-19 limitations continue to evolve. Students can take this test 5 times per testing season (Aug 1, 2020–July 31, 2021).

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
  • ISEE Testing Seasons: Fall (Aug-Nov), Winter (Dec-Mar), Spring/Summer (Apr-July) 
    Unlike many other standardized tests, the ISEE does not have national test dates. Students may take the test once during each testing season, as listed above, for up to three times per year.


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 You must be registered in order for your scores to be sent to schools.
  • 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., (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