This weekend, Sept. 26 and 27, is the Department of Education's gigantic citywide high school fair from 10 am to 3 pm at Brooklyn Technical High School. Prepare for a hectic, information-packed day.

You can attend information sessions about high school admissions, and applying to specialized high schools, led by staff from the education department's enrollment office. This will be helpful especially if this is your family's first time applying (and it will give you a place to sit down and take a breather.) Enrollment specialists will cover most of the same information that was presented in the summer workshops. You can find links to those here.

Most schools will have a table staffed by students, teachers, parent cordinators, guidance counselors and sometimes the principal. Each borough has a dedicated space between the 2nd and 7th floors. The nine specialized high schools are set up in the first floor gymnasium. That's always very crowded so be prepared!

Before you go, make sure to make a list of your "must see" schools. Read the reviews on Insideschools and watch the slideshows and videos. Look at our "Insidestats" section. It'll give you a thumbnail description on a school's safety and vibe, how well it prepares kids for college, the graduation rate and much more. Read the comments on each school profile page to see what parents and students think about the school. Lots of questions are answered there by current students.

To help you prepare, here are some questions to ask school representatives:


  • How much homework is typical? Is homework assigned over school vacations?
  • Does the school offer four years of math and four years of science? (Important for college prep)
  • Are Advanced Placement classes offered? What subjects? What are the requirement to take an AP class?
  • Besides passing required Regents exams, are there are requirements for graduation? Some schools require you to present a portfolio of your work, or perform community service.
  • If the school has a graduating class, which colleges did graduates attend? What percentage of grads went to college? (Check out our Insidestats for that info too.)
  • How does the school help students who are struggling? Tutoring hours?
  • How does it challenge the strongest students? Honors classes? College courses?

Lifestyle :

  • How does the administration handle discipline?
  • Are there metal detectors? (We list that too on our school profiles.)
  • Is there a uniform?
  • What are the after-school clubs and sports teams? This can change from year to year and the directory might not be up-to-date.
  • Are students allowed outside the building for lunch?


  • What are my chances for admission if I don't meet the specific requirements? Say, if I live in Brooklyn and the school gives priority to Manhattan students? 
  • For screened schools, now that schools can no longer admit students based on state test scores alone, what do they consider?
  • What are my chances for acceptance as a 10th-grader?
  • What specific programs and supports are available if I have an IEP?

A few more pointers for fair day:

  • Rather than carry around the hefty, heavy directory, consider ripping out the pages of schools that most interest you beforehand, or printing them out from the DOE's website.
  • Bring a notebook and pen to write down your impressions.
  • Collect flyers giving the dates and times of school info sessions and tours. The specialized high school tour dates are listed on the DOE's website.
  • If there's a sign-in sheet for a school that interests you, sign in. That's supposed to give you a leg-up in admissions for some "limited unscreened" schools. But what really counts as showing your interest in a school is attending a school tour or information session.
  • Dress for summer. It gets hot and steamy inside the huge building and there is no place to stash a jacket.
  • Cell phones may not work so make any arrangements to meet family or friends beforehand.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and bring water. You'll be climbing up and down stairs. There will be food and drink for sale, but still, it is nice to have your own supply.
  • Don't drive! Brooklyn Tech is close to virtually all subway lines and many bus routes. Traffic in the surrounding residential streets can be horrendous, so do yourself a favor and take public transportation.

Insideschools will be at the fair. Stop by our first floor table to say hi, ask us any questions and sign up for our regular email alerts.

Watch our video: Making the most of the high school fair below. We have lots of other videos as well, so check out our YouTube channel.

If you don't make the big fair this weekend, there will be fairs in every borough on Oct. 18 and 19.

Been there, done that? Please add your tips in comments.