High School Admissions Tests:

Empire Edge offers tutoring for the SHSAT, SSAT and the ISEE high school admissions tests. Our adivsors have extensive experience working with students in middle school. This can be a great period of transition for students as they develop their interests and prepare for entry into high school. Students and their families may wish to apply for an independent or magnet school in New York City. Empire Edge is here to guide and prepare students through what is often their first exposure to standardized tests. 


The SHSAT is administered by the the NYC Department of Education and is offered to students seeking admission into NYC’s Specialized Public High Schools. There are nine Specialized High Schools in NYC, eight of which require an SHSAT test score. These schools have their own admissions process, and selection is highly competitive. In 2016, more than 28,000 students took the SHSAT. Of those, approximately 5000 students were offered a place at one of NYC’s Specialized High Schools. The test is available to 8th and 9th graders. It is highly recommended that students take the test in the 8th grade, as places for admission to 10th grade are extremely limited. Taking the test in the 9th grade is therefore recommended for those who would like to make a second attempt for admission into these schools. Your SHSAT score is the sole factor considered for admission to these 8 schools, so preparation is strongly advised.

SHSAT Fast Facts
FrequencyOnce per year - usually in late October for 8th graders and mid-November for 9th graders.
CostNo cost
Duration3 hours
SectionsEnglish Language Arts
Total score800 (Composite)


The SSAT is also known as the Secondary Schools Admission Test. This test is used for admission to private middle schools and high schools. Students wishing to attend one of these private middle schools or high schools can also choose to take the ISEE test. See below for more details on this test and how it differs from the SSAT. The SSAT comprises three different levels: the Elementary level test for students in 3rd and 5th grade; the Middle Level test for students in 5th, 6th and 7th grade; and, the Upper Level test for students in 8th grade. The structure of the test is the same across all three levels; each has a Quantitative section, a Reading Comprehension section, and a Verbal Reasoning section.

SSAT Fast Facts
FrequencyOnce per month from October to April, and once in June.
Registration Cost$132
Duration1 hour and 50 minutes (Elementary Level)
3 hours and 5 minutes (Middle and Upper Levels)
Sections and ScoresQuantitative
500-800 (Upper Level)
440-704 (Middle Level)
300-600 (Elementary Level)

Reading Comprehension
500-800 (Upper Level)
440-710 (Middle Level)
300-600 (Elementary Level)

Verbal Reasoning
500-800 (Upper Level)
410-710 (Middle Level)
300-600 (Elementary Level)

Not scored. However, the essay is sent to the schools to which the student applies.


The ISEE is the Independent School Entrance Exam. Like the SSAT, the ISEE is used for admission to private middle schools and high schools. The ISEE has three different levels, depending on which grade the student is in. The Lower Level test is for students in 5th and 6th grade, the Middle Level test is for those in 7th and 8th grade, and the Upper Level test is for students in 9th grade and above. The sections of the test are the same across each level – the Verbal Reasoning section, the Quantitative Reasoning section, the Reading Comprehension section, and the Mathematics Achievement section. These sections differ slightly across each level test. Students can choose between the ISEE or the SSAT if they wish to apply for admission to a private middle school or high school. See below for more details on how these tests differ.

ISEE Fast Facts
FrequencyDepending on location. Most testing dates take place in the fall and early winter.
Cost$105 (mail or online registration)
$130 (phone registration)
Duration2 hours and 30 minutes (Lower Level)
2 hours and 50 minutes (Middle and Upper Levels)
Sections and ScoresVerbal Reasoning
797-935 (Upper Level)
782-926 (Middle Level)
760-903 (Lower Level)

Quantitative Reasoning
815-940 (Upper Level)
791-927 (Middle Level)
766-911 (Lower Level)

Reading Comprehension
825-940 (Upper Level)
799-940 (Middle Level)
764-913 (Lower Level)

Mathematics Achievement
806-940 (Upper Level)
774-907 (Middle Level)
769-899 (Lower Level)

Not scored. However, the essay is sent to the schools to which the student applies.


The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is an exam taken in the 8th grade by students wishing to gain admission to parochial high schools. HSPT scores are also used for scholarship selection and curriculum placement. The test is administered by individual schools or dioceses. Test dates therefore vary from school to school. Students are normally only allowed to take the test once. However, under extenuating circumstances a school may allow a student to retest. The HSPT consists of five subtests: Verbal Skills, Quantitative Skills, Reading, Mathematics and Language. Students receive a score for each subtest. Students also receive a Total Cognitive Skills score, which is a total of Verbal Skills and Quantitative Skills. Additionally, students receive a Total Basic Skills score, which is a total of the Reading, Mathematics and Language subtests. The overall score, which is a total of all 5 subtests, is called the Battery Composite.

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