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Applying to NYC High Schools: About this Guide

This LibGuide aims to provide information about the New York City public high school application system.



Quick Links

  • 2019 NYC High School Directory- Online version of the NYC High School Directory which provides application, admissions, deadline, and program information on NYC high schools. 
  • NYC MySchools- Online portal families can use to begin their high school application process. It allows families to create a personalized list of schools and receive guidance on what services and programs are offered. 
  • Department of Education: Family Welcome Center- If you are looking for in-person help on the NYC high school application process, you can visit the Family Welcome Center website and find locations and hours in your borough.
  • Department of Education: NYC High School Admissions Guide- Government resource with key materials and links for all steps of the high school application process.  

Department of Education

Any questions regarding the High School application process that cannot be answered by a guidance counselor or this guide can be answered by the NYC Department of Education. The DOE can be contacted over the phone, online, or in-person at one of their Family Welcome Centers. 


Phone Number: 718-935-2399


Terms To Know For This Guide

Here are a few breif definitions of key terms students and their families should know when applying to high school. For more detailed descriptions, please refer to the other pages of this guide: 


SHSAT-  The SHSAT is the Specialized High School Admissions Test, administered to 8th grade and 9th grade students who want to attend one of the Specialized High Schools in New York City. 


Specialized High School- There are eight Specialized High Schools in New York City, eight of which use the SHSAT for admissions and one which uses a combination of an audition and academic history for admissions. 


District- In the context of a school district it is a location where all of the public schools are under the same local district board


Zone- A school zone is a location that contains one or two schools, and all of the students in that location default to attending this school. This does not mean that you have to attend your zoned high school.  


PSAL- This term stands for Public Schools Athletic League. A school having PSAL sports means that they are in competition with other schools in the city, while non-PSAL schools do not prioritize competitive sports. 

About This Guide

There are 1,126,501 students attending school in New York City. Each year, a large portion of these students must apply to high school. Information regarding the high school application process tends to be scattered, densely worded, hard to understand, or just hard to find. It is important for both students and their families to know what resources are available in order to make the transition from middle school to high school more smooth. This LibGuide will provide comprehensive material on the high school application process, auditions, and specialized admissions tests for the NYC public school system. 


Author's Disclaimer: The high school application system in New York City is constantly changing. While our guide provides up to date information for the 2019 application year, parts of this guide may become obsolete as the Department of Education continues to implement application and admission changes. It is important to check with the Department of Education for the most current and up to date information. There were also some access problems, as parts of MySchools were gated by applicant information that we could not provide, and these areas were therefore inaccessible. This guide was produced by two students, only one of which was a product of the NYC public school system. As such, we do not claim to be experts on this subject. 

Checklist- A Summary

Meet with your guidance counselor or visit a Family Welcome Center to see what schools are a good fit for you-  If you are feeling overwhelmed with your choices, visiting a school guidance counselor or Family Welcome Center can help point you in the right direction. 


Create Your MySchools Account- Creating an account will allow you to narrow down and rank your schools through the MySchools online directory. Using other sites like InsideSchools and the Department of Education School Search may also be helpful. For more on the use of MySchools directory, check out the video about MySchools as a school search tool on the 'Understanding The Application System' page of this guide.


Attend High School Fairs and open houses- This is the place to ask school representatives questions you were not able to find answers to online. Check our 'Deciding on Schools' section of this guide to find tips on having a productive time in a High School fair. 


Make a list of schools and programs that you are applying to- Make sure that you have correct codes for all of the programs you are applying to in order to place them on your application. 


Request audition tickets/SHSAT vouchers if applying for specialized schools- If you are planning on taking the SHSAT or auditioning for LaGuardia High School, you can request a ticket from MySchools or your guidance counselor. Make sure to do this with plenty of time in advance to prepare. For more about these Specialized High Schools, check out the 'Specialized High School' tab on this guide. 


Check non-specialized high schools for any extra admissions steps- Some schools require extra information, auditions, or tests for admission. Check both the school's website and MySchools for more information.


Finish applications- Put all of your program codes in order, double-check that you have submitted all required paperwork, and wait for your results!  

2019 Deadline Information

These are the 2019 deadline dates for the high school admissions process. If you are applying to schools with their own application requirements, please make sure to check their website for key dates and details. ‚ÄčIf students have arrived in NYC after the November SHSAT exam date, the SHSAT can be taken until the end of summer 2020:

October 11th:

Deadline to Register for SHSAT and LaGuardia High School Auditions (Note: Audition dates for LaGuardia are subject to vary).

October 26th:

SHSAT exam date for all current 8th graders.


October 27th:

SHSAT exam date for all current 8th graders and first-time ninth graders.

November 2nd & November 17th:

SHSAT exam date for ELL students and students with disabilities.

December 6th: 

MySchool application deadline.


Coping With Stress

When applying to high school it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. It is important that students and their families learn about how stress can affect the body so that it can be properly dealt with.