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Everything You Need to Know About Specialized High School

Students in New York City have many options when it comes to where they can attend high school. Those who are academically or artistically talented may want to consider NYC’s specialized high schools. The city’s nine magnet schools are open to current residents of any of New York’s five boroughs, including students who are English Language Learners and those with an IEP or 504 plan.

Here’s a complete overview of NYC’s Specialized schools and how to get into them.

Full List of Specialized High Schools

NEIGHBORHOODENROLLMENTKNOWN FORADMISSION CRITERIA
Bronx High School of ScienceVan Cortlandt Village2,997A rigorous STEM curriculumSHSAT scores
Brooklyn Latin SchoolEast Williamsburg681A liberal arts curriculum with an emphasis on the classics and Latin language instruction.SHSAT scores
Brooklyn Technical High SchoolFort Greene5,837STEM-based curriculum with university-level labs and tech classrooms. Students take courses in one of 19 different “majors.”SHSAT scores
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High SchoolLincoln Square2,819Dedication to the arts. Students receive conservatory-style training in art, dance, music, and theater, along with rigorous college prep.Competitive audition process and a review of academic records
High School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City CollegeManhattanville463Academic focus on mathematics, science, and engineering with an emphasis on civic responsibilitySHSAT scores
High School of American Studies at Lehman CollegeVan Cortlandt Village377Part of the curriculum is a three-year chronological study of American History. Students have access to library, athletic facilities, and classes at Lehman CollegeSHSAT scores
Queens High School for the Sciences at YorkJamaica474Curriculum is in collaboration with York College/CUNY and emphasizes mathematics and the sciencesSHSAT Scores
Staten Island Technical High SchoolNew Dorp1,320Emphasis is placed on mathematics, science, engineering, humanities, health, fitness and the performing arts.  All students take 3 years of RussianSHSAT scores
Stuyvesant High SchoolLower Manhattan3,335Liberal arts high school that is historically strong in mathematics, science and technologySHSAT scores

How to Get Into NYC’s Specialized Schools

SHSAT

The Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT) is the only admission criterion used for all of the schools on this list aside from Laguardia. Eighth-grade and first-time ninth-grade students should register for the exam by January 15, 2021. As part of your registration, you’ll rank your schools in order of preference.

In 2021, testing begins on January 27. (Note that the full timeline for this year’s SHSAT hasn’t yet been released.) After the tests have been scored, you’ll receive offers based on your preferences, scores, and the number of seats each school has. Students with higher scores are more likely to receive offers from their first-choice schools, because each school will determine a qualifying score based on the results and number of candidates who rank them highly.

Audition

Laguardia has a separate admissions process. Instead of taking the SHSAT, students audition for one or more of the school’s six studios outlined above. In 2021, students must register to audition virtually by February 22. (Learn more about the audition process.)

How to Apply to a Specialized High School

Feel confident this high school admissions season by knowing what to expect. Here’s an overview of the Specialized High School admission process.

ADMISSION TIMELINE
Summer before 8th GradeYou won’t register with your high school counselor until September, but summer break is a prime time to study. 
SeptemberRegister for the SHSAT through your high school counselor.Research academics, language programs, AP offerings and student organizations at each of your prospective schoolsAttend high school fairs
OctoberAttend Specialized High School open houses Receive your SHSAT admission ticket (or audition ticket for LaGuardia High School) from your high school counselor. Rank up to 8 Specialized High Schools in priority order and list on your admission ticket.* On test day, you’ll copy this list onto your SHSAT answer sheet.Double-check that all the info on your admission ticket is accurate! Sign the ticket and ask your parent or guardian to sign as well.Take the SHSAT and/or complete your LaGuardia High School audition
NovemberTake the SHSAT and/or complete your LaGuardia High School audition 
MarchReceive your SHSAT results. You’ll get a letter letting you know whether or not you received an offer to a Specialized High School. 

Will Going to a Specialized High School Help My College Chances?

Snagging a spot at one of NYC’s pecializedschools is highly-coveted; these schools provide top-notch teachers and educational resources. Students who maximize these resources and thrive in challenging classes, all while developing strong extracurriculars, will certainly be strong candidates for top colleges. In fact, these schools are “feeders” into Ivies and other prestigious colleges.

Keep in mind, however, that colleges evaluate students in the context of their high school. It’s not the end of the world if you’re not accepted to a specialized high school. If you maximize the resources you do have, that’s all that colleges can ask.

Whether or not you attend a specialized high school, the college process starts as soon as you begin ninth grade.

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