NEW YORK — Marcus Ramos has spent nearly a year preparing for the high-stakes admissions test for eight elite city public high schools.

The problem is, he has no idea when he'll actually get to take it.

"I do feel somewhat anxious because I’m not sure. They could e-mail me or my mother tomorrow saying, 'Oh, the exam is next week,' and I’m like, 'Wait, wait, this just came out of nowhere,' and, or that it’s not going to happen at all, and I’m going to be like, 'Wait, how am I going to get into the schools?" Marcus said.

What You Need To Know

  • The Specialized High School Admissions Test, or SHSAT, was set to be given this weekend

  • It's been delayed due to the pandemic, but no new date has been set

  • Mayor de Blasio says he'll have details on a new timeline for the exam in the coming weeks

The test determines admission to high schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech. 

It was supposed to be given this weekend, but it was delayed by the de Blasio administration, with no new date set.

The exam is mandated by state law, but the mayor opposes it, saying it has led to a lack of Black and Hispanic students at the schools, which are overwhelmingly white and Asian. 

Last month, there were dueling rallies between groups that respectively fear and hope he'll use the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to change the schools' admissions criteria.

Marcus has been preparing for the test since December thanks to a program called DreamChasers, which offers free instruction to students from low-income homes. 

"I’m frustrated, but, I mean, I understand that it’s kind of complicated trying to do all this stuff, to make sure that it’s safe, proctored correctly, making sure that everything is OK online,” he said.

Applications to other competitive city high schools are usually due by December 4, but, like the exam, that's been pushed back with no new deadline offered. On Thursday, de Blasio had little information for students like Marcus.

"Obviously with something like administering a standardized test, we're in a whole different reality now because it's hard to do it in person, and it historically it has been done in person and very carefully regulated,” de Blasio said. "So we're sorting that out right now. Don't have a specific date, but we will speak to that, you know, in the next week or two."

In the meantime, Marcus will keep hitting the books.

"Might as well cram in some studying while I still can,” he said.


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