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Study Tips To Prepare For The SHSAT

Studying for the SHSAT can be a daunting task for many students that wish to take on the challenging exam and score a chance to attend one of the Specialized High Schools. Don’t know what the SHSAT is? Read our article explaining what this exam is by clicking here. Here, we have some tips for improving your score on each section of the exam.

Revising & Editing:

The Revising & Editing section of the SHSAT is the first section you will encounter on test day. This section is sort of a prelude to how the SAT Writing section is set up. You have to solve grammatical and syntax errors in this section.

  1. Read for Syntax: Syntax is key in finding errors in the paragraph/sentence that is given. Understanding the syntax of the medium will help detect what is wrong and easily arrive at the solution faster. At some points in this section, understanding syntax will be more important than understanding the meaning of the medium.
    The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.
  2. Identify any run-on sentences in the paragraph that is given: Often, if there is a run-on sentence, that sentence is what the question is asking you to revise and edit. Fix it yourself before looking at the answer choices, and go with the choice that is closest to your own fix.
  3. Does any part of the paragraph/sentence seem redundant? If something seems redundant or out of place, it most likely is and should be taken as a big red flag that this is the revision that needs to be made in this problem.
  4. Analyze the meaning and context: Obviously for this section, you will need to analyze the meaning and context of the problem being asked. This is a big part of revising and editing not only in this exam, but also when writing essays and research papers later on in your education career.
    To examine carefully and in detail so as to identify causes, key factors, possible results, etc.
  5. Look at word choice: Anything wrong with the word choice? Finding an issue with the word choice can help solve the question being asked easily.

While you read the paragraphs/sentences in this section, identify any and all potential errors that you come across. Once you identify them, be sure to solve them yourself before looking at the answer choices.

Reading Comprehension:

With reading comprehension there’s not a whole lot of advice that will come in handy for you. There’s only one way to improve your reading skills. That is to… READ. READ. READ. READ.

  1. Annotate the passage: The late Dr. Khan once said “your pencil is your best friend on the exam”. After reading every paragraph, try to underline one or two key ideas of the paragraph regarding the subject of the passage. Annotating will help you answer questions faster as you won’t have to reread paragraphs when answering the questions, thus reducing the time wasted in the section.
  2. Read and reread passages: Now, this doesn’t mean reread a whole passage, you do have limited time after all. As you’re annotating each paragraph of the passage, if there’s something you didn’t understand, give it an extra look over and look for context clues to help you get there.
  3. Avoid using outside knowledge: Ever started reading a passage about something you’re passionate about and then think about the things you already know about the topic? Yeah, don’t do that here. Try to stick to the knowledge that is only provided in the passage. This can be one of the tricks that the tastemakers play on you on test day.

Be sure to time yourself when practicing. On average, it should take you about 6 minutes to go through the problem set of one passage.

Mathematical Comprehension:

There’s one major thing I always preach to students practicing for the SHSAT. Master the basics of math completely. Having a solid foundation will make solving any of the harder questions that much easier.

  1. Read and solve carefully: A big portion of the questions in this section will be word problems. Pay very close attention to any small details and actively think about the question being asked. You can know all the concepts in the world, but if you make careless mistakes when solving the problem, then you aren’t exactly making any progress.
  2. Analyze the word problems: A common trick that test makers will try to play on you on test day is stuff extra information into the problems to see if you get confused and fumble the question bag.
  3. Follow the trend: The SHSAT tends to follow a familiar formula for their questions every year. Doing more and more practice problems and exams gets you conditioned to avoid making any silly mistakes in the solutions. Take this with a grain of salt however, getting into the mindset of just following the trend to solve your problems will cause major issues if the test decides to throw a curveball. This is why you have to always be careful when reading and analyzing a question.

The Math section of the SHSAT tends to have 5 short answer grid-in problems before the multiple choice questions. Be sure to be thorough with those because it’s easy to make mistakes in short answer questions. 

While following these tips can make studying for the SHSAT easier, the best way to improve scores on the multitude of practice tests is to just keep practice. The old saying goes “practice makes perfect”, and that is true when it comes to test prep. The more effectively you practice, the better your chances are of snatching the score that you want.

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