SHSAT Preparation


Smith Street Workshop (SSW) is an academic enrichment/tutoring and test prep center in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. We have been described as a “professional, yet personal- ized academic support organization” and an “amazing resource in the neighborhood.” Our highly trained staff provide a kind and nurturing environment for students through a highly individualized, hands-on approach.


At SSW, we pride ourselves on creating a cooperative and individualized culture for learning that communicates high expectations and celebrates academic achievement. Our teaching philosophy is based in the traditions of progressive education with a rm belief in respecting children as learners and in understanding that we do not all learn at the same rate or in the same way. We believe that the most important aspect of our teaching is to build con dence and to engender a sense of optimism and curiosity in our students when faced with a complex new concept.


At SSW, we have been providing SHSAT test prep since we opened in 2015. Since then, we have worked with over one thousand students and partnered with schools and organizations throughout the city to offer high-quality SHSAT test prep courses. Each year, our program continues to grow as our families in the neighborhood spread the word about their positive experiences and high school admissions results.


At Smith Street Workshop, our curriculum development team has a deep understanding of the SHSAT and its intricacies. They are constantly staying abreast of changes to the test design, and modifying and adapting our course curriculum to re ect the most up-to- date revisions of the exam. We develop our own proprietary instructional materials and curriculum, which we use in conjunction with test prep books and of cial NYCDOE prep material. Through extensive research and feedback from students, we have found that the content in test prep books does not always accurately reflect the difficulty level of the material released by the NYCDOE. Therefore, we create our own supplemental materials and practice tests that that are closely aligned with the official NYC DOE practice tests.

Our SHSAT test prep courses provide students with repeated opportunities to practice every question type on the test and learn strategies for breaking down the problems, identifying answer traps, and managing their time. Our instructors help students build con dence and nd the simplicity hidden in the complicated way the questions are worded on the SHSAT. With a lot of practice and skill-building, we help students learn how to approach this complicated exam and maximize their scores.


Each class includes a combination of direct instruction, guided practice, working in groups and pairs of two, individual practice, and individual instruction. During group and independent practice, the instructor circulates the room to provide each student with individual attention. This model has been tweaked over the past 8 semesters based on classroom experience and proves to generate the highest results. Results are based on the metric of individual improved scores from the beginning to the end of each semester.


At Smith Street Workshop, we have a highly selective recruiting process and rigorous application process for our course instructors. Our instructional staff consists of highly qualified educators, including credentialed teachers, graduates of Ivy League schools, and PhD candidates. To ensure we are attracting and retaining high quality staff, we are competitive and compensate our instructors generously.

We provide our SHSAT course instructors with frequent opportunities to meet with our instructional coach and curriculum development team. During these meetings, our instructors receive professional development, discuss best practices, work closely with the curriculum development team to refine curriculum based on the needs of the current group of students, and discuss instructional strategies to improve instruction based on observations/feedback from our instructional coach.


We stay in close communication with our students’ families, as we know preparing for high school admissions can be an overwhelming process. Following each practice test, we provide families with the opportunity to schedule a consultation with our Academic Director in order to develop an action plan tailored to their student’s strengths and weaknesses.


For all students enrolled in our test prep courses, we offer two proctored SHSAT diagnostic practice tests (one prior to starting the course, and one at the end of the course). Our mock exams are an essential part of our students’ prep process and a valuable diagnostic tool for our instructors. Each test helps students with goal-setting and planning their prep, and helps our instructors track student progress and inform their instruction.

In order to make sure we are providing our students with an accurate prediction of their SHSAT score, we use the official NYCDOE practice tests, as these are the most closely aligned with what students will actually see on exam day. Our curriculum team has also created a set of mock exams which very closely mimic the of cial DOE tests (for students who have already taken the DOE practice exams). It is very important to us that our practice tests are the appropriate level of dif culty and that we are always honest and transparent with our students regarding their scores and the amount of work that it will take to meet their goals.

Following each practice test, we prepare an incredibly detailed score report which includes:

  • The student’s raw score

  • Percentages for math and verbal sections

  • Percentages for each subsection (e.g., Geometry, Algebra, Statistics, Arithmetic

    in math or Main Idea, Detail, Inference in ELA)

  • An estimated scaled score

  • Information on how to interpret the scaled score

  • Guidance for students on setting goals for the specialized school of their choice

  • Percentage comparisons to other students who took the exam that day

  • An answer key and detailed answer explanations so that students may review

    the practice test at home

  • Recommendations for resources for students to use at home to develop skills in

    their areas of weakness.

    Our instructors use the practice test results/score reports to pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses, and tailor their instruction to meet the needs of all students. Prior to the rst class, our instructors closely examine every student’s score report and look for pat- terns and emerging trends among the group. They use this data to inform their instruction and plan mini-lessons to teach the concepts with which the majority of students require the most support. Unlike many test prep companies, our courses are dynamic and constantly changing to meet the needs of our current group of students. In our experience, by adapting to the students’ specific needs, we have witnessed greater improvements on test scores from the initial practice test to the end of course practice test.


Our students who took the SHSAT & other HS admissions tests in October 2018 have been admitted to the top high schools in the city, and we could not be more proud of them and their hard work over the course of last year. We feel honored to have helped them along their way. 75% of the students we worked with in 2018 were admitted to Specialized High Schools, and 14% were admitted to Stuyvesant.


“After trying an SHSAT test prep company that was a poor fit for our child, Smith Street Workshop was a breath of fresh air. The company we didn’t like simply crammed kids into rows and reviewed the test question by question for three hours straight without a break. Smith Street Workshop gave my daughter a diagnostic, then wrote up a personalized study plan for her and sent home information to us about her strengths and weaknesses. They then structured the prep classes to include cooperative learning, individualized tutoring and instruction, and breaks with snacks in a lovely room with warm lighting. They also offer an end-of-summer intensive, Saturday and evening classes, and practice tests given in testing conditions. They really helped my daughter get into the specialized high school of her choice and I am grateful for that. I can’t thank them or recommend them enough. You will be satis ed.”

To read more about our HS Admissions results and testimonials from past years, please visit: