High School Placement Test

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The creator of the High School Placement Test (HSPT), Scholastic Testing Service, Inc., was founded in 1953 to develop tests to assess student performance in the curricula of specific school districts. Soon after, in 1955, Scholastic Testing Service developed and published the HSPT. The HSPT was designed as a standardized test battery to assess the performance of students from any scholastic background. Private high schools found the HSPT to be a useful addition to their application and admissions processes, leading the HSPT to become a commonly-administered high school admissions examination in private schools across the United States.[1] The examination is especially popular among Catholic institutions.

Recently, an electronic version of the HSPT called the HSPT E-Score has become available.[2]

Function of the Test

HSPT Study Guide

The HSPT is administered locally by individual private high schools and dioceses as part of their student admissions processes. The test is designed to be taken by eighth grade students.[3] Scholastic Testing Service does not report the number of students who take the examination annually or the number of schools which utilize it, but they report that the examination is used nationwide.[1] Because every school's admissions process and pool of applicants is different, both the level of performance expected on the HSPS and the importance attached to the results of the examination vary from institution to institution.

Test Administration

HSPT Flashcards

The HSPT is only administered by individual private high schools and dioceses. There is no centralized registration or administration of the examination, so testing dates and locations can only be determined by contacting schools directly.[4][5] In some areas, an organization of high schools may allow students to take a single examination and have its results sent to all of the local schools a student is interested in applying to.[6]

Several versions of the HSPT exist. Older versions of the examination are offered as the Open HSPT.[7] The Open HSPT measures students' verbal and quantitative skills, reading, mathematics, and language. Schools which offer the Open HSPT own the testing materials and administer and score the examination locally. To accommodate students with poor vision, a large print version of the Open HSPT is available.[3]

Newer versions of the examination are offered as the Closed HSPT.[8] The Closed HSPT measures students' verbal and quantitative skills, reading, mathematics, and language, and individual high schools may choose to add optional tests for science, mechanical aptitude, or Catholic religion. Schools which offer the Closed HSPT lease the testing materials from Scholastic Testing Service and return the completed tests to STS for grading.[3] To expedite this process, an electronic version of the Closed HSPT, branded "E-Score," enables students to take the examination online and receive same-day scoring results.[2] To accommodate students with disabilities, the Closed HSPT is available in large print, Braille, and audio CD versions.[3] A practice version of the Closed HSPT, the Pre-HSPT, may be offered to seventh grade students.[9]

All versions of the HSPT, including the Closed HSPT, Open HSPT, Pre-HSPT, and HSPT E-Score, have a recommended testing time of two hours and thirty minutes. The optional tests of the Closed HSPT increase this testing time. The science test adds 25 minutes, the mechanical aptitude test adds 15 minutes, and the Catholic religion test adds 20 minutes. In addition to or in place of one of the optional tests, schools may add a custom, locally-developed test section of up to 40 multiple choice questions on a subject of the school's choice.[3]

Scholastic Testing Service recommends that students only be allowed to take the HSPT one time, but individual schools and dioceses are allowed to grant exceptions if they wish to.[10]

Because the HSPT is not centrally administered, accommodations for students with disabilities are at the discretion of the school administering the examination. For example, a school may choose to allow a student extra time to complete the examination.[11]

Test Format

Sections of the HSPT Test[12]
HSPT Test Subject Areas # of Questions Time Limit
Verbal 60 16
Quantitative 52 30
Reading 62 25
Mathematics 64 45
Language 60 25
Total 141 298

Test Environment

There are time limits set on all of the subtests, so it is important to manage how much time is spent on any one question. Calculators, even on the math subtest, are not permitted. Candidates are expected to figure the math problems on scratch paper, or work them on on their subtest booklets. The testing period will last about two and a half hours.[13]

Test Structure

The High School Placement Test is broken down into three categories. From subtests, three different skills are measured: Total Cognitive, Total Basic, and Composite skills. Total Cognitive Skills include subtest that deal with Verbal and Quantitative knowledge; Total Basic Skills has a reading, mathematics, and language subtests; and, lastly, Composite Skills are measured from Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Mathematics, and Language subtests. There are 298 questions total.[14]

Test Content

  • The Verbal Skills section will focus on Synonyms, Antonyms, Analogies, Logic, and Verbal Classifications. It will be about 20% of the test.
Sample Verbal Skills Questions:
  1. Intricate most nearly means
    A. Woven
    B. Simple
    C. Unified
    D. Complex
  2. Alleviate means the opposite of
    A. Hover
    B. Intend
    C. Worsen
    D. Large
  • The Reading section will focus on Vocabulary and comprehension when it comes to reading passages. It will make up 21% of the test.
Sample Reading Questions:
The following questions are based on this passage:
On a bad day, have you ever been irritable? Have you ever used a harsh tone or even been verbally disrespectful to your parents or teachers? Everyone has a short temper from time to time, but current statistics indicate that between 16% and 20% of a school’s population suffer from a psychological condition known as Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or ODD.
  1. As used in this passage, the word oppositional most nearly means:
    A. Uncooperative
    B. Violent
    C. Passive aggressive
    D. Altruistic
  2. Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph one?
    A. Most children who speak harshly to their parents have ODD.
    B. Most people exhibit symptoms of ODD occasionally.
    C. Between 16% and 20% of the school population has been abused.
    D. A short temper is a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • The Language section will focus on grammar, such as punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. This will be about 20% of the test.
Sample Language Questions:
  1. Identify the sentence that contains an error in usage, punctuation or grammar. If there are no errors, choose answer choice “d.”
    A. The largest volcano in our solar system is found on Mars.
    B. The deepest canyon, too.
    C. The volcano, called the Olympus Mons, is 342 miles in width and 17 miles tall; the canyon, called the Valles Marinaris, is 2,500 miles long.
    D. No mistake.
  2. Choose the sentence that is correct and most clearly written.
    A. The novelist David Markson is known for his experimental works, such as “This Is Not a Novel."
    B. Experimental works such as “This Is Not a Novel” have been wrote by David Markson.
    C. Novelist David Markson is knew for his experimental works, such as “This Is Not a Novel."
    D. David Markson is a novelist who is known for experimentation his works include “This Is Not a Novel."
  • Sample Quantitative Skills Questions:
  1. Examine the fractions i, ii, and iii, and find the best answer. i. 3/5 ii. 40/50 iii. 8/50
    A. (i)>(ii)>(iii)
    B. (i)=(ii)=(iii)
    C. (i)<(ii) and (ii)>(iii)
    D. (i)<(ii)<(iii)
  2. What number is 3 more than 20% of 70?
    A. 14
    B. 17
    C. 18
    D. 21
  • The Mathematics section will focus on Problem solving, Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry. The questions make up 21% of the test.
Sample Mathematics Questions:
  1. A class contains an equal number of boys and girls. The average height of the boys is 62 inches. The average height of the all the students is 60 inches. What is the average height of the girls in the class?
    A. 57 inches
    B. 58 inches
    C. 59 inches
    D. 60 inches
  2. If a = -6 and b = 7, then 4a(3b + 5) + 2b = ?
    A. 638
    B. -485
    C. 850
    D. -610

More free HSPT practice test questions.


Raw scores on each section of the HSPT are based on the number of correct answers, so there is no penalty for guessing. It is advantageous to answer every question.[15]

Because the HSPT is only administered by individual schools and dioceses, there is no nationally standardized score report form sent to test takers. The institution administering the examination chooses what sort of report, if any, to send to the test taker.[6][16]

Schools administering the Open HSPT grade the examination locally. If a school administers the Closed HSPT, Scholastic Testing Service grades the examination and provides the school with a score report detailing each students' standardized scores and their national and local percentile scores on every section of the examination.[3]

Similar to the SAT, the standard scores on each section of the HSPT range from 200 to 800, with 500 being the average score.[15] Schools also receive each student's skill area Grade Equivalents (GE) and Cognitive Skills Quotient (CSQ). The GE scores measure students' levels of achievement in reading, mathematics, and language to determine how that student compares with average students in other grades in those skill areas. For example, a GE score of 10.5 in mathematics indicates that a student scored as well on the mathematics examination as a typical mid-year 10th grade student would have. The CSQ measures students' aptitude for future learning on a scale from 55 to 145 with a mean score of 100.[3][17]

Because schools vary widely in their admissions selectivity and their pools of applicants, there is no standard for what constitutes a passing score on the HSPT.

Answers to Sample Questions

Verbal Skills 1:D; 2:C; Reading 1:A; 2:B; Language 1:B; 2:A; Quantitative Skills 1:C; 2:B; Mathematics 1:B; 2:D;

Related Tests


  1. ^ a b Get to know STS March 2 2014
  2. ^ a b HSPT E-Score March 2 2014
  3. ^ a b c d e f g HSPT 2013 Brochure March 2 2014
  4. ^ How do I sign up to take the HSPT? March 2 2014
  5. ^ How do I find out the testing date of schools in my area? March 2 2014
  6. ^ a b How are my scores distributed? March 2 2014
  7. ^ Open High School Placement Test March 2 2014
  8. ^ Closed High School Placement Test March 2 2014
  9. ^ Pre-HSPT March 2 2014
  10. ^ Can I take the HSPT more than once? March 2 2014
  11. ^ How do I go about getting special accommodations for my child to take the HSPT? March 2 2014
  12. ^ HSPT Prep 25 June 2014
  13. ^ HSPT 25 June 2014
  14. ^ HSPT 25 June 2014
  15. ^ a b Performance Scores March 2 2014
  16. ^ Why does my score report look different than my neighbor's? March 2 2014
  17. ^ Student Score Reports March 2 2014