This post is an introduction to the general format of the exam.
The DOE tries to be transparent about the test. Every year, they release a handbook that explains what is on the test and some details on the scoring process. They also include two 8th-grade practice tests and one for ninth graders.
Page 21 of the handbook, attached below, is a decent summary of the exam’s content.
3 hours long, no scheduled breaks
57 ELA questions,
- 9 – 11 revising/editing questions (grammar)
- 46-48 reading comprehension
- all multiple choice
57 math questions
- 52 multiple choice, 5 grid-ins
10 field questions in each section, for a total of 20
field questions are worth 0 points, everything else is worth 1 raw point
raw points get scaled into scaled scores based on a secret formula
incorrect answers do not result in a subtraction of a point
The 9th-grade SHSAT
Sometimes admitted 9th graders don’t like their specialized schools and opt for another school. There is a 9th-grade exam in order to fill the vacant seats. Of which, there are few as very few leave the schools once they get in.
The 9th-grade exam has the same format, but higher level topics and questions. There are fewer practice tests released by the DOE and third-party publishers, which means there are significantly fewer resources for practice. The test is harder, and prepping for it is harder as well.
In the past, I have recommended some people not to take the 9th-grade test at all. Even if a person passes the 9th-grade test, they will be at a disadvantage when they join a specialized school. These schools move fast, and it’s challenging to match their pace after missing their freshman years.
Nevertheless, you can always decide after you get the results back.