What to Know: A Look into the Hunter College High School Entrance Exam with Jonathan Arak

If you’re reading this, you’re likely already aware of the Hunter College High School admissions process, but there is always the possibility that certain aspects of the entrance exam may be causing some uncertainty.

The test typically is administered in mid-January, but given that the last year presented precarious circumstances, the 2021 test will now take place toward the end of June. Although it feels like time is running out, students still have the opportunity to sharpen their existing abilities.

What are the benefits of attending Hunter College High School?

Of course, everyone speaks about the memories they make in high school, and let’s not forget the friendships that can last a lifetime. While a typical high school experience lasts for four years—from 9th to 12th grade—Hunter College High School is a six-year experience, beginning in the seventh grade and continuing on through a student’s senior year. With this extended timeline, attendees of HCHS have the opportunity to build even stronger bonds and create a closeness within their class that may have otherwise been unachievable.

The main goal for most parents is to provide their child with the best education possible in order to create access to endless career opportunities post-graduation. As expected, Hunter College High School’s mission is very much aligned with that of parents. The faculty at HCHS is knowledgeable, supportive, and extremely encouraging when it comes to fostering a student’s creativity and curiosity.

In addition to the camaraderie that comes with being involved with such a close-knit group for an extensive amount of time, there are certainly many academic advantages to attending the most prestigious high school in the country. Don’t take our word for it; the Wall Street Journal has ranked Hunter College High School as the top public secondary school in the United States. In addition, it is a common trend that Hunter’s attendees are inclined to have some of the highest ACT and SAT scores of any high school student body in the country, including those of private institutions.

When should a student expect to take the entrance exam?

The admissions test is taken during the sixth grade school year, due to the fact that HCHS begins in the seventh grade. That said, in order to take the entrance exam it is required that the student received the appropriate scores on their 4th-grade standardized exams. The specifics of these requirements are as follows:

  • A qualifying score on the 4th grade NYS English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests.
  • This score must be in the 90th percentile which includes a minimum score of 626 on the English Language Arts exam and a minimum of 628 on the State Math exam. *Note: For the June 2021 exam, students and parents must check the NYC Exam History Inquiry sheet, under the column marked “SS/MIU” to ensure these scores are current.
  • For students who didn’t take the prerequisite NYS tests, a score in the 90th percentile from any of the following standardized 4th-grade exams.
  • ERB Comprehensive Testing Program 5, TerraNova, Stanford Achievement Test, or the Iowa Test of Basic Skill.

If your student does not obtain any test scores whatsoever, or their scores do not meet the previously stated criteria, they, unfortunately, will not be considered for admission to Hunter College High School.

Typically the HCHS entrance exam takes place the first week of January, but for the incoming Fall 2021 class, it will take place on Wednesday, June 23rd due to complications caused by the recent pandemic.  

When is the test registration deadline?

As this year’s entrance exam takes place on June 23rd, it is necessary for the institution to have the appropriate amount of time to verify all applicants prior to test day. All applications for incoming 7th graders hoping to attend the esteemed school will be due no later than 4:00 PM on Wednesday, June 16th. Keep in mind, the application process includes the submissions of names and test scores of applicable students by their respective primary schools.

How many times can you take the HCHS entrance exam?

This entrance exam is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, literally. As previously stated, all students who wish to sit for the entrance exam must obtain the appropriate scores on their 4th grade standardized tests. Hunter College High School only accepts students coming into the 7th grade, no sooner and no later. To ensure there is no confusion, your student cannot begin attendance in the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, so the margin for error in this situation is extremely small.

To add to the pressure, a student cannot take the test more than once. There is one opportunity to show the admissions committee that you have what it takes to excel at such a prestigious high school. Can’t make the test? Regardless of the reason, there is no make-up test date. Whether you are sick, have prior commitments, or simply do not make it to the testing site in time, no student will have the opportunity to redeem themselves.

How long should a student prepare for the exam?

Our tutors abide by the idea that the more time is taken to prepare for an exam, the better. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so taking the time to really understand the material and establish a proper test-taking strategy gives a student their best chance to achieve their target score.

However, if a student has waited a bit longer than advised, don’t lose hope! Even having one solid month of test preparation and specialized tutoring can ensure that they hone their test-taking skills and work on any areas about which they may have doubts. This can take place in the medium of personalized tutoring sessions or practice testing, but having a long-term tutor who works with the student on a regular basis will be most likely to provide the desired results.

What subjects does the entrance exam cover?

The HCHS entrance exam is a three-hour test consisting of 50 multiple-choice reading comprehension questions, 30 multiple-choice math problems, and an essay. Seeing as this exam doesn’t have set time brackets for each separate section, students are expected to regulate their allotted three hours according to how they see fit. As a loose guideline (ideally to be tailored to each individual student), our Noodle Pros expert Jonathan Arak suggests designating 70 minutes to reading comprehension, 40 minutes to the essay section, and another 70 minutes to the math section.

What scores are needed for acceptance to HCHS?

Understandably, the entrance exam for such a high-ranking school is intended to be difficult, which makes sense considering that the students who do end up attending are proven to be exceptional. It should speak volumes that to even be able to submit an application, you are required to score in the 90th percentile on specific 4th-gradestandardized tests.

Each graduating class size is about 200 to 250 students. Of 60,000-plus 5th grade students attending public school in New York, approximately 2,500 students are eligible to sit for the test. In terms of exam scores, any applicant who tests below 65 to 70 percent on the multiple choice exam sections is disqualified before their essay is given consideration. At this point, there will typically be about 500 students still up for consideration, whose essays are then reviewed.

When do students receive their test scores?

Due to the unprecedented pandemic of 2020, this year’s admissions are on a very different timeline compared to the usual course of operations. Typically it takes about six weeks to find out whether or not you are granted admission to Hunter College High School, so we can only assume that, although the test is being taken much later, the admissions results will become available after a similar amount of time has elapsed following the test.

There is a bit of suspense involved in this process, as there is when awaiting any important academic feedback. This particular anticipation is due to the fact that at no point throughout the application process does a student or parent receive the test scores achieved during the entrance exam. As previously stated, the test contains 80 multiple choice questions and at least 65% of these questions must be answered correctly to have your essay even considered. The only way of knowing that a student has advanced to this portion of the application process is by gaining admission. Essentially, both the parents and students are left in the balance until you receive confirmation as to whether or not your application was accepted or denied.

In conclusion

This process is a high-stakes situation to be in, especially for a student in the sixth grade, but this should not rob anyone of hope. We are in the final few weeks approaching test day, and there is still time for students and parents to ensure that they take the steps necessary to put forth their best effort. Now is a time to implement practice testing, work closely with your personal tutor, and make sure your timing for the various exam sections is on point.