What is the HSPT?

The HSPT Test (High School Placement Test), developed by STS, is an entrance exam for students in the 8th grade seeking admission to high school (usually Catholic high school). In addition to school admissions, the HSPT also assists in curriculum placement as well as scholarship selection. The test is published in two forms: the Closed Form and the Open Form. The main difference between the Closed HSPT and Open HSPT is that the Closed form is scored locally while the Open Form is scored by Scholastic Testing Service (STS).

Both the Closed HSPT and the Open HSPT determine normative measures in basic and cognitive skill areas, such as verbal, quantitative, reading, mathematics, and language.

HSPT Scores

The HSPT Test is composed of multiple-choice questions. For each correct answer, the student receives a point. There is, however, no penalty for incorrect or omitted answers. The raw scores are then converted into scaled scores ranging from 200 –800. Score ranges are verbally known as partially proficient, proficient, and advanced proficient.

The HSPT is offered twice a year and may only be taken once. A student may have to appeal to his or her desired school in order to retest.

The following scoring features may also appear on the HSPT reports:

  • National percentile – This scale ranks a student's raw scores by comparing them to the national norm sample of other students in the same grade level. For example, if a student's raw score on the English section lands in the 70th percentile, then his or her raw score was higher than 70% of the national norm sample raw scores.
  • Local percentile – This scale is similar to the national percentile except that the raw scores are compared to those of local students (such as students from the same school or district) rather than national ones.
  • Standard scores (SS) – This scale compares a student's scores to a normalized standard score scale, which does not vary from year to year, thus allowing administrators to compare percentile scores of several years and avoid fluctuations in yearly student samples.
  • Grade equivalents – This scale compares a student's scores with the average scores of students in other grade levels.
  • Cognitive skills quotients (CSQ) - This score serves as a prediction of a student's academic potential. The scale measures a student's cognitive skills in relation to his or her age and test scores. Much like an IQ test, the cognitive skills quotients offers a scale to help interpret its scores:
Score Intelligence Classification
130 and Above academic potential representing the upper 3% of the school population
110 and above academic potential representing the upper 25% of the school population
100-109 academic potential representing the 50% to 75% of the school population
90-99 academic potential representing the 25% to 49% of the school population
89 and below academic potential representing the lower 25% of the school population
70 and below academic potential representing the lower 3% of the school population

The HSPT test takes about two and half hours to complete and is comprised of 298 questions, all multiple choice. The questions are divided into five sections.

The Five Sections of the HSPT 

1. Verbal – (60 questions/16 minutes)

  • Synonyms & antonyms
  • Verbal classifications
  • Logic
  • Analogies

2 .Quantitative – (52 questions/30 minutes)

  • Number manipulations
  • Geometric & non-geometric comparisons
  • Series

3. Reading – (62 questions/25 minutes)

  • Ability to comprehend fundamental meanings and details of passages

4. Mathematics – (64 questions/45 minutes)

  • Arithmetic
  • Elementary algebra
  • Mathematical concepts & problem-solving
  • Basic geometry

5. Language – (60 questions/25 minutes)

  • Spelling
  • Composition
  • Usage
  • Capitalization & punctuation

Preparing for the HSPT

There are probably significant differences between the HSPT and tests that your child is used to taking at school. Topics are often presented as "puzzles" rather than more straightforward tests of understanding, and the sheer length of the test (almost 2.5 hours) can be overwhelming without practice. Your child can gain confidence and improve his or her score by studying for the HSPT using practice tests that include similar questions. This will help you and your child identify strengths and weaknesses, learn and review material, and develop strategies for time management. Since there is no penalty for incorrect responses or test items left blank, it is to your child's advantage to answer all questions to the best of his or her ability, making "educated guesses" when necessary.

High School Admissions with TestPrep-Online

COMING SOON: Help your child succeed on the HSPT Test! Make sure to set aside time to prepare with TestPrep-Online. Soon we will offer an HSPT practice pack to help your child pass the HSPT Test with ease. TestPrep-Online's HSPT prep pack will include realistic practice tests and comprehensive study guides, thus enabling your child to become familiar with both test structure and content.

In the mean time, we encourage you to check out our preparation materials for two similar private high school entrance exams: the ISEE Upper Level and SSAT Upper Level. Check out our ISEE Upper Level Free Practice Test to start exploring TestPrep-Online's resources for private high school admissions and general academic enrichment.

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