High School Selection

Congratulations! You will graduate in the near future. You are at an educational crossroad, and must decide what school to attend for the next four years. Undoubtedly, you have visited high schools, and have several choices in mind. Now you must narrow Catholic school choices to three. This decision is exciting as well as challenging. However, you are not alone. Your parents and the school’s faculty and administration are here to assist you. This is a brief overview of the high school selection process, so that you can make the choice that is best for you. At the beginning of eighth grade, the eighth grade homeroom teacher will hold an information meeting to discuss this process in more specific detail. Good Luck!!

Admission Process

Each high school has its own admission process and criteria, but there are many similarities among schools. Please refer to the literature provided by the specific school. Take time to visit the schools personally, their web sites if available, and speak to guidance counselors and current students at the school, if needed.

Catholic High Schools require student applicants to take the TACHS Test, which is administered to eighth grade students each fall. At the eighth grade information meeting, you will receive a packet, which will contain the TACHS Handbook. Visit the TACHS Information Site for more information.

Exam preparation should begin upon completion of the seventh grade. There are several ways to do this. Students may attend review courses that will familiarize students with exam content, and advise on test taking strategies. Review courses are offered in the summer, and on weekends in the early fall of the eighth grade. Kaplan Test Prep (718-575-2400) offers review courses, as does Christ the King Regional High School. There are numerous review books by publishers such as Arco and Barrons, available at bookstores or for ordering on-line.

TACHS application requires the selection of three high schools. It is imperative that codes be listed accurately, as they direct the testing organization where to send scores. Admission acceptance depends on TACHS scores, scores on previous standardized tests, the student’s school record from sixth grade on, and letters of recommendation.

Specialized High Schools

The New York City Board of Education operates six specialized, highly competitive and academically challenging high schools:

  • Bronx High School of Science
  • Brooklyn Latin School
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • High School for Math, Engineering and Science at City College
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • LaGuardia High School
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
  • Stuyvesant High School (Manhattan)

Admission consideration requires completion of the Specialized Science High Schools Admissions Test (SSHSAT), commonly referred to as the Sci-Hi test, which is administered in the fall of each year. Students are ranked according to score, and places are awarded, based on the student’s first choice. If a student fails to meet the cut-off score for their first choice but their score is above the cutoff score for their second choice, they may be awarded admission. The cutoff score changes each year depending on the number of available slots, and the scores of the students taking the exam.

At the eighth grade meeting, parents will learn how to read the public high school directory.

How To Select a High School

Selecting a high school is a serious and challenging task. To be successful, please remember the following:

  • Not every school is for every student. Choice of school and position (first, second, third) on the TACHS application require careful consideration. Choices based solely on a school’s reputation, or a desire to attend the same school as one’s friends are apt to yield disappointing results.
  • Consider location, distance, and travel time, and how that will impact the student’s academic and social life, positively or negatively.
  • Look for a close match between the student’s abilities, strengths, and interests and the rigors of the school’s curriculum. Be realistic. It is better for a child to succeed in a school that matches his/her abilities than to struggle in an environment that is too academically demanding. Consider the student’s ability to deal with pressure.
  • Consider the size of the school and classes, whether it is co-educational or single gender, and if these are important factors to your child.
  • Examine the curriculum offerings and the focus of the school; does it match the student’s interests and needs; are honors courses and advance placement courses offered? Are there clubs or sports that are of special interest to the student?
  • Is the chance of admission to a particular school so remote that listing it as a choice is a "wasted" opportunity? Perhaps the student should select a school where the probability of admission is higher.
  • At open house visits, ask questions of the faculty, administration, or current students. Try to "read" the overall atmosphere; are you comfortable there?
  • A seriously thought-out and researched decision is often the best way to prepare for this challenging task. Do your homework!

Diocesan High School Information

Log onto the diocese site; all Catholic schools in that diocese are listed, and where available, links to the individual school’s website are identified.

Specialized High Schools

Other Sites