These New York City schools are the only ones that admit students based solely on their scores on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), which students take in the eighth grade. They rank among the nation’s most competitive and demanding high schools.
1. Stuyvesant High School
385 Chambers St., Manhattan
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment: 3,292 Graduation rate: 96% College ready: 98.8% College enrollment: 97% Taking SAT: 823 Average total SAT score: 2133 Taking AP tests: 1,562 AP pass rate: 95.8%
This crown jewel of the NYC education system is the most coveted school in the city. Last year, 22,662 eighth-graders applied for 814 freshman seats.
With a cornerstone of science, mathematics and technology, Stuy offers a rich array of advanced classes from Differential Equations to Existentialism. Besides AP courses and seven world language, students can take unique electives. Intelligence and Security covers the history of espionage, counter-intelligence, and anti-terrorism — of keen interest since the school stands blocks from the World Trade Center. American literature classes include Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Women’s Voices. The new Physics of Music explores how sounds can powerfully affect our emotions and behavior. Students play in eight musical groups, from a jazz combo to a full symphonic band, plus two chorus groups. They run 150 clubs and compete in 41 sports, including co-ed cricket.
Stuy students rack up dozens of honors in many fields. Last year, 48 won medals in the Scholastic Writing Awards Competition. Two students were named semifinalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search — a drop from 11 in 2014, then the most nationwide — but insiders predict a comeback.
Internship coordinator Harvey Blumm helps students find stimulating summer and school-year gigs. One senior shadowed the gynecologist who delivered her 17 years earlier on hospital rounds. Stuy students are not just smart but “nice,” Blumm says. “What’s impressed me most is how much they look out for each other, are constantly helping/supporting their peers and friends, even while pushing themselves to learn and achieve at such a high level.”
2. Staten Island Technical High School
485 Clawson St., Staten Island
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment: 1,235 Graduation rate: 99.7% College ready: 100% College enrollment: 98.9% Taking SAT: 292 Average total SAT score: 2017 Taking AP tests:882 AP pass rate: 88.2%
Tech draws bright and motivated kids from all boroughs to a spirited beehive of learning and enrichment. All ninth-graders complete courses in Introduction to Robotics, Technical Writing and TV & Movie Studio Production. The aim: to build skills in critical thinking, writing, teamwork, collaborative problem solving and public speaking.
Last year, innovative kids developed Crypta, an anti-hacking device that uses fingerprints instead of passwords to log onto computer accounts, In June, senior Kevin Lin, from Brooklyn, got a $30,000 college scholarship for a year-long research project with scientists at the Museum of Natural History.
The South Shore building features state-of the science and engineering labs. As part of a digital initiative, all freshmen, sophomores and juniors next school year receive an iPad to use in school and take home as their textbook, notebook and nexus to peers and teachers. Using Google Classroom and other programs, teachers can ask questions at any moment during the lesson and get responses from all students, not just a few.
Every student must take at least three years of Russian, the world language offered since the Cold War ended in the late ’80s. (The school’s mascot is Cheburashka, a Russian Mickey Mouse.) Most students go on to AP Russian. But students can also take online courses in five other tongues.
Every student takes at least two to three AP courses and as many as 11 by graduation, plus other college accredited courses. Many graduate with 16 to 60 college credits. “S.I. Tech is proudly blurring the lines between high school, college and career,” said Principal Marc Erlenwein.
3. Bronx High School of Science
75 W. 205th St., The Bronx
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment:3,037 Graduation rate: 99.6% College ready: 99.7% College enrollment: 96.4% Taking SAT: 744 Average total SAT score: 2029 Taking AP tests: 1,704 AP pass rate: 90.1%
World-famous for eight Nobel Laureates and six Pulitzer Prize winners among alumni, this Kingsbridge school prepares students gifted in science and math to enter top colleges and universities. Grads are expected to become leaders in all academic fields, including business, medicine, law and technology.
Bronx Science aims to give students “the ability to think and reason on a high level, and break new ground with original research.” Eight students were semifinalists in the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search last year. Programs range from genetics, quantum mechanics and electronics to Holocaust studies, digital photography and animal behavior observed at the Bronx Zoo. The school boasts its own planetarium for astronomy classes.
Many advanced classes include post-Advanced Placement Genetics, Analytical Chemistry, Multivariable Calculus and a computer-science course focused on writing apps for cellphones.
This year’s students will enjoy newly completed renovations in state-of-the-art labs.
Robotics and engineering courses are often hands-on, encouraging students to develop products and solutions to real-world problems. A recent project focused on designing a collapsible wall to shield soldiers in combat.
“Bronx Science has all the advantages of a big school with a small-school atmosphere, including personalized guidance and college planning for all students,” said Principal Jean Donohue. At the helm since 2013, she is an alumna, the mom of a graduate, and a former teacher with a background in cancer research.
Bronx Science offers all AP classes except German and seven languages including Greek, Hebrew and Japanese.
Students take part in 70 clubs and more than 40 sports teams.
4. High School Of American Studies At Lehman College
2925 Goulden Ave, The Bronx
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment: 387 Graduation rate:99% College ready: 100% College enrollment: 98.9% Taking SAT: 93 Average total SAT score: 1970 Taking AP tests: 287 AP pass rate: 86.2%
Only US history buffs need apply. Future lawyers, journalists, teachers, and politicians take three years of US history, exploring issues in depth, and also focus on current events. The school aims to “make all subjects come alive” by using primary source documents, films, biographies, literature and creative teaching techniques.
Teens travel to upstate Hyde Park, FDR’s hometown, to research the New Deal. Last year, historian and author Tony Hiss, the son of Alger Hiss — accused in the most controversial espionage case in the Cold War — spoke to juniors.
The school’s “post-AP” courses include US history from the 1970s to the present, European History Between the Wars, New York City History, and International Relations. A variety of other subjects abounds in classes such as Architectural History and Drafting, Diagnosing Disease and Environmental Ethics.
The building is small, but students share the Lehman College gym, theater and dining hall and take electives on campus. The atmosphere is warm and supportive, a”school where nobody is anonymous,” as Principal Alessandro Weiss puts it.
With a nod to Thomas Paine, the student newspaper is Common Sense. Students also publish the “HSAS Uncommon Sense,” with rants and essays on topics such as religion, race and sex-ed. Students enjoy a range of clubs, and nearly half the student body takes part in athletics.
5. Brooklyn Technical High School
29 Fort Greene Pl., Brooklyn
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment: 5,458 Graduation rate: 94.8% College ready: 97.5% College enrollment: 90.5% Taking SAT: 1,290 Average total SAT score: 1896 Taking AP tests: 2,829 AP pass rate: 79.1%
The city’s biggest and boldest specialized school produces “problem solvers, aspiring engineers, and applied scientists.” Last year’s grads include the mayor’s son, Dante de Blasio, who’s off to Yale.
The block-long Fort Greene building houses a two-story woodworking shop, 3-D animation and robotics labs, a 3,100-seat multi-tiered auditorium and a basement Olympic-sized pool.
Students work with their hands, using state-of-the-art tools. Architecture students use computer-generated designs to create 3-D models and build a two-story home.
Offers a wide array of AP courses, plus music, dance and drama electives. The music department will host its first annual Piano Concerto Competition this fall.
Kids eat lunch in shifts of 1,000 in a massive cafeteria. Despite the huge size, kids find niches in a vast array of activities, sports and 76 clubs, from Autism Awareness to Young Entrepreneurs, and 16 sports.
6. High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College
138 Covent Ave., Manhattan
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment: 456 Graduation rate: 97.7% College ready: 98.9% College enrollment: 94.6% Taking SAT: 82 Average total SAT score: 1903 Taking AP tests: 305 AP pass rate: 67.3%
An this “academically intense” school in Harlem, diverse students prepare for careers in pre-med and engineering, while getting a grounding in the humanities. Literacy is woven into the curriculum. For instance, 10th-graders read “Freakonomics” in math; seniors read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” in engineering. The building is cramped, but students use amenities at City College, where they earn 12 credits. Juniors and seniors do lab research or rounds at Mount Sinai Hospital in cardiology, oncology, obstetrics or the autopsy room. Offers German, “the language of engineers,” and Spanish. Several students study three weeks abroad at the Goethe Institut. A popular club, EatNYC, feeds off Gastronomy 101, a course on the history and manufacture of food. The school has lots of extracurriculars, and several boys and girls sports teams.
7. The Brooklyn Latin School
223 Graham Ave., Brooklyn
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment:592 Graduation rate: 96.4% College ready: 98.2% College enrollment: 96.5% Taking SAT: 112 Average total SAT score: 1756 Taking AP tests: None
Get a classical education in this rigorous but nurturing school, described as feeling like an “English boarding school,” on the top floor of PS 47 between Bushwick and Williamsburg. It is the smallest specialized school but has the the highest percentage of black and Latino students. They don’t take AP classes, but International Baccalaureate classes and exams, culminating in an prestigious IB diploma.
Students, called discipuli, get a strong background in math, science, English, history, art history and Latin — which is mandated for four years.
Socratic seminars. Emphasis on writing and public speaking. Full uniforms required. Community service a must. “Stoked Skateboarding” on the club menu.
8. Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
94-50 159th St., Queens
Admission: SHSAT exam Enrollment: 419 Graduation rate: 100% College ready: 100% College enrollment: 88.8% Taking SAT: 98 Average total SAT score: 1951 Taking AP tests: 237 AP pass rate: 78.8%
This rigorous school in Jamaica/Briarwood believes students can thrive in a nurturing, small learning community. It accepts only about 100 freshmen each year and keeps the average class size at 27.
All students take two periods of science each year. By junior year, they move on to AP courses and electives such as Biology of the Brain and Behavior, Accounting 101, and Introduction to Video, or college courses. Some join professors on scientific projects. Space is tight in a building shared with York’s nursing program, but kids use the campus cafeteria, library, gym and pool. Partnerships with Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the 92nd Street Y and the Brooklyn Academy of Music add opportunities. School sports are bowling, dance, handball, swimming and tennis.
A handful of clubs are built into 45 minutes on Fridays.
… And one more!
Hunter College High School is the odd school out — it requires an entrance exam, but not the SHSAT, and you take it in the sixth grade. This unique Upper East Side school for the “intellectually gifted” is funded by NYC taxpayers but run by the City University of New York.
Hunter College High School
71 E 94th St., Manhattan
Admission: Entrance test given in 6th grade only for students who scored above 90th percentile on 5th grade NY state exams. Enrollment: 7-12: 1,218 Graduation rate:98% College ready: 100% College enrollment: 99% Taking SAT: 187 Average total SAT score: 2185 Taking AP tests: 314 AP pass rate: 94.3%
A wealth of opportunities for brilliant kids. Of 2.064 who took the entrance exam last year, only 182 got in based on their scores, plus 50 from the elementary. The high school program begins in the eighth grade with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, rich in academics as well as the performing and fine arts. Writing is intrinsic to all classes.All students take honors math, and some “extended honors” at a faster pace. The school gives 17 APs and electives like International Relations, Gender and Sexuality in Literature, The Art of Memoir, Neurological Medicine, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Among internships, students work in the District Attorney’s Office, and hospitals — some study cancer with doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Musicians play at Lincoln Center.
Senior Kalia Firester won second place and $75,000 at the 2015 Intel Science Search with research on genetically engineered plants. In May, students interviewed Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and other VIPs in D.C. Students compete in the Fed Challenge, Quiz Bowl, Chess and Debate, plus a wide array of sports.