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How do I get into HSMSE at City College, and why this school? 

By Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center | Updated on January 17, 2020

The High School for Math, Science, and Engineering (HSMSE) is yet another one of the prestigious schools that make up the specialized high schools. To gain admittance to HSMSE, students must take the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).

For eighth graders, the cutoff score on the SHSAT to get into HSMSE is 519, just five points above that of Queens High School for the Sciences (QHSS). For ninth graders, the cutoff range is above between 549 and 554. Again, those cutoffs are approximate, as there are no Department of Education published cutoff scores. Each year, HSMSE offers 100 seats to the 30,000 eighth grade students taking the SHSAT, meaning that about 0.33% of students are admitted. For ninth graders taking the exam, that percentage drops to 0.07%, as only two seats are available for 3,000 test takers. This makes HSMSE one of the most difficult schools to get into, with odds much, much less than 1% each time.

We wrote this guide to help test takers prepare themselves to get into HSMSE in spite of these small odds. How can you get into the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering? And why choose this school, anyways? Keep reading to find out why.


Something that we at Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center emphasize is that as students, we are part of a constant journey, growing along the way academically, socially, and emotionally. This is why we see high school as another chance for students to grow into the successful person they want to be. Even students who did not have great academic records can flourish in high school, especially at a school like HSMSE, where there are endless opportunities for growth. All you need to do to get into HSMSE is ace the SHSAT. Luckily, you have us to show you the ropes.

A school like HSMSE is all about promoting intellectual growth within its students. But before you get there, you must exhibit the necessary work ethic and strategies needed to achieve a high enough SHSAT score. It’s not something that is automatic. It takes time and practice to achieve this, but you must stay motivated. Your growth, as measured by the SHSAT, will not only show you what a strong work ethic can do for you, but will also help you decide what kind of student you want to be in high school and beyond. Without a strong will to work, you will be unable to achieve the kind of growth needed to attend a school as elite, competitive, and rigorous as HSMSE.

You can use your admission to HSMSE as a way to think about your future. HSMSE allows you to explore your intellectual and academic interests and decide what is for you. It creates a myriad of opportunities for growth, and that is what makes it so competitive and highly ranked.


Attending HSMSE will serve as a way for students to build pathways to a successful future. Not only does HSMSE have connections to City College, which we will discuss more below, it also provides the unique opportunity for major concentrations. HSMSE allows students to pick between one of three comprehensive concentrations for its students starting in the eleventh grade. They are as follows: higher mathematics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Biomedical Research Program, and Advanced Engineering. Students apply to these majors during their sophomore year and carry them on through graduation.

1. Mathematics Concentration

Students at HSMSE who have a keen interest in mathematics and its applications can apply for this major. The school provides the unique opportunity to take mathematics courses that are not offered to high school students at other high schools. More importantly, students can take two-credit classes at CCNY (the City College of New York), and learn more about abstract concepts in mathematics as well as the principles of engineering.

Students are able to take a number of advanced courses, like Advanced Topics in Mathematics, Maple programming, Linear Algebra and Calculus III with Differential Equations. They are also able to compete with the HSMSE Varsity Math Team and attend and compete in national math research fairs and competitions

2. Mount Sinai School of Medicine Biomedical Research Program

Students at HSMSE who are interested in medicine and biomedical engineering are able to take advantage of this unique major which is connected to the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. No other specialized high school has this kind of connection. The major was designed with scientists and doctors at Mt. Sinai and is comprised of laboratory experience and an internship in either the cardiology, oncology, obstetrics, or autopsy suite of the hospital. Coursework includes the teaching of skills used in the field of DNA and other hybridoma technology. Students gain experience in research and take courses like Bioethics, Anatomy and Physiology, Introduction to Biomedical Research, and Microbiology. The major allows students to explore biotechnology and medicine and even write a science research paper to enter into the Regeneron Science Talent Search

3. Advanced Engineering

The Advanced Engineering major is known nationally to create more engineers in the United States. Students who major in Advanced Engineering have the chance to enter a paid research internship at the Grove School of Engineering at CCNY, one of the top rated engineering schools, and can continue if they are interested.

If you want to get a jump start on your future, go to HSMSE and explore the depths of your major. Even if you don’t like it, at least you’ll learn what it is that you do like. To get the chance to attend HSMSE, be sure to read on and learn about what you can do to increase your chances.


Students at HSMSE have a special relationship with many colleges, especially the City College of New York and Mt. Sinai. HSMSE is undoubtedly one of the best schools for preparing students for college and their future careers, especially with their unique major and internship programs. HSMSE makes sure through its unique curriculum that students are on the right path to college. Students can take College Now courses at CCNY or take AP Courses at HSMSE, such as AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science A, AP Environmental Science, AP English Literature & Composition, AP German Language & Culture, or AP World History. HSMSE students start thinking about the future from Day 1.

Crucial Concepts 

To get into HSMSE, there are many crucial concepts on the SHSAT that you must be aware of. Considering how science and math based this school is, you must have a good understanding of math to get in. We have some tips below to help you learn the most crucial concepts.

1. Conversions

Questions about conversions are very common on the SHSAT. While the question may seem simple, the point of the test takers including questions like this is to trick you. Answering questions like these are not necessarily a test of your math ability but more of a test of your reading comprehension. When you are under the pressure of the exam constraints, the exam writers are trying to trick you. But fear not! Be sure to read carefully. Comment below if you know the answer!

2. Percentages

Percentages are of course another very foundational topic, but they are very important on the exam. Again, word problems like these are aimed to confuse or trick you. These questions ask the most basic topics in order to gauge your progress in mathematics. Answering questions like these shows that you will be able to apply the basics to very difficult problems. Comment below if you know the answer!

Study Resources 

Students who are hoping to become scholars at schools like the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering must be dedicated and hardworking when studying for the SHSAT. They must take advantage of study resources that are online and those that are in person in order to make the best use of their time. HSMSE is not an easy school to get into or an easy school to stay at. That’s why we have study resources laid out for you below. While studying at home, you should use preparatory books. You should also take SHSAT classes and hire private tutors if you are able to. You should also advantage of free resources like the DREAM Program and the Discovery Program. You can learn more about these in our SHSAT guide.

Watch our President and SHSAT expert Mr. Tariq review SHSAT an important SHSAT concept below:


You can see the results! Our testimonials show it all. We have helped thousands of students get into their dream schools, of course, including HSMSE, over the past ten years. We take sleeping tigers and turn them into beasts! But don’t take our word for it. Our testimonials are the proof.
We are the masters of shortcuts and we aim to make our students just like us! Join us to start your SHSAT journey today, and gain admittance to HSMSE.
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