A Parent's Guide to New York State Tests
Here's everything you need to know about New York State tests for students in elementary school through high school, plus the 2020-2021 exam dates.
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Although they are optional, these tests are required for placement in certain schools.
Gifted and Talented
Students entering kindergarten through third grade sign up in the fall to take the untimed Gifted & Talented test in the spring. There are two parts: The non-verbal assessment asks kids to complete patterns, sequences, and connect ideas in order to demonstrate an understanding of relationships and an ability to solve problems. The verbal section requires children to respond to oral instructions about tasks such as detecting likenesses and differences, recalling words and numbers, defining words, following directions, establishing sequence, and solving arithmetic problems. Answers are machine-scored for an overall score between 1 and 99. A score of 90 or above qualifies the student to apply for placement at G&T programs.
2020-2021 Gifted and Talented Exam Dates: Families must file a Request for Testing in the fall and the test is administered to students in January 2021.
Specialized High School Admission (SHSAT)
Students in eighth or ninth grades who plan to enroll in one of New York City’s eight specialized high schools (The Bronx High School of Science; The Brooklyn Latin School; Brooklyn Technical High School; High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College; High School of American Studies at Lehman College; Queens High School for the Sciences at
York College; Staten Island Technical High School; and Stuyvesant High School) must take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test in the fall. The multiple choice-format test evaluates the skills and knowledge the student has acquired via the NYC public school curriculum through seventh grade. Students are tested on reading comprehension, including revising and editing, as well as problem-solving skills in math. The test is 3 hours and scored out of 800 total points. (Fiorello H LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts admits by portfolio or audition, while LaGuardia High School considers audition and academic records).
2020-2021 Specialized High School Admission Test Dates: Due to COVID-19, registration for SHSAT has not happened yet (details TBA).
These exams are given in high school and the scores help predict college readiness and placement.
Advanced Placement Exams
These standardized pencil-and-paper exams are given at the end of the year in 38 specific subjects (which match a specific AP course). A few courses have different ways to assess what students have learned—for example, AP Art and Design students submit a portfolio of work. Most U.S. colleges grant credit, advanced placement, or both for qualifying AP scores. Colleges also look favorably on students who excel in AP classes and on the exams.
2020-2021 AP Exam Dates: May 3-7, 2021; May 10-14, 2021
The ACT (an abbreviation of American College Testing), which is accepted by all 4-year U.S. colleges and more than 225 colleges abroad, covers four academic skill areas: English, math, reading, and science reasoning. There is also an optional 40-minute writing test. The 3-hour test is multiple choice and high scorers attract college acceptances and financial aid. (Most colleges and universities will accept scores from either the SAT or ACT, but according to the Princeton Review, college-bound students are increasingly taking both.) Most high school students take the ACT during the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year. It's important for students to leave time to re-take the test if they need to raise their score before applying to college.
2020-2021 ACT Exam Dates: Dec. 12; Feb. 6, 2021; April 17, 2021; June 12, 2021; July 17, 2021
While it won’t count toward college admissions, the PSAT (Preliminary SAT), taken by high school sophomores and juniors, is good prep for the SAT and the scores are used to identify National Merit Scholars and award merit scholarships. The multiple-choice test has two sections: Math (algebra, geometry, and trigonometry) and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, consisting of passage-based questions. It is scored out of a total 1520 points.
2020-2021 PSAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Exam Dates: Oct. 29; Jan. 26, 2021
The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by the College Board which provides colleges with one common data point to compare all applicants. The SAT is comprised of two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing is comprised of two tests, one focused on reading and one focused on writing and language. The test is 3 hours and scored out of 1600 total points (800 point for each section).
2020-2021 SAT Exam Dates: Nov. 7; Dec. 5; March 13, 2021; May 8, 2021; June 5, 2021