HSPT Test Breakdown

The tough competition encountered for getting admission to a reputed high school will be a cakewalk for you if you have scored high in the High School Placement Test (HSPT). Your scores are accepted by numerous Catholic high schools as one of the criteria for the admission process. The weight and importance of these scores may vary from school to school, but the fact remains that high HSPT scores will increase your likelihood of getting admission to a desired high school.

Studying for HSPT

Preparing for HSPT can be an intimidating task especially as the test-takers are young school children. They need to be motivated to study well so that they are able to get good scores. They will be motivated to study only if they are aware of what the test format is and they are familiar with the skills being assessed by HSPT. The inherent fear of taking a test amongst school children can play havoc with their chances of getting good scores as they will be apprehensive about how to study for HSPT. The main reason for this is ignorance of what to expect in the test. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to study the test format and understand the skills that will be tested and the manner in which these skills will be assessed.

Note: Some schools may require you to take the optional test, which is a test in Science, Mechanical Aptitude, or Religion. There will be 40 test items in this test. The skills being tested by this optional test and its test content will be in addition to the skills and the test content of the standard HSPT. Therefore, there is a need for you to find out from your desired high school their requirements for taking the HSPT and prepare yourself accordingly.

Skills Assessed by HSPT

HSPT is designed to assess your basic Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Math, and Language Skills. It is essential to have a high level of these skills to be able to do well in school. This is because these are the basic skills that are required for overall success in school as they are directly related to how well you will be able to comprehend what is being taught and utilize the knowledge gained for problem solving and improving your learning habits. These skills are grouped under two major heads for the purpose of assessment of the test-taker’s ability levels and skills.

1.         Cognitive Skills

  1. Verbal Skills: These skills are related to your abilities to respond to tasks that require reasoning and usage of words. Your verbal skills demonstrate your expertise in reading, language and other subject areas related to social studies.
  2. Quantitative Skills: These skills are essentially your abilities in solving reasoning problems that involve numbers and quantities. The content will be related to mathematics, sciences and numbers.

2.         Basic Skills

  1. Reading: Your reading skills are your abilities to comprehend important ideas, meanings of words and related details. You should be able to recognize the central idea and draw inferences that are logical and sound.
  2. Mathematics: Your skills in Mathematics are a reflection of your knowledge of the basic concepts of Mathematics and your abilities in applying this knowledge for solving mathematical problems by using your reasoning skills.
  3. Language: These skills will demonstrate your knowledge of grammar, spelling, usage, capitalization and punctuation. The difference between these skills and the verbal skills is that the language skills are related to aspects that are related to writing.

Test Sections

HSPT consists of 5 test sections. There is one test section for each of the skills being evaluated. All the questions asked are multiple-choice questions in which you have to choose the correct answer from the given answer options. Unlike most other standardized tests, there is no writing test section that involves writing an essay.

1.         Verbal Skills:
Test content: Analogies, synonyms, antonyms, logic and verbal classifications
Number of questions: 60
Time: 16 minutes

2.         Quantitative Skills:
Test content: Number Series, geometric and non-geometric comparison and working with geometric and arithmetical numbers.
Number of questions: 52
Time: 30 minutes

3.         Reading:
Test content: Reading comprehension and vocabulary
Number of questions: 62
Time: 25 minutes

4.         Mathematics:
Test content: Mathematical concepts, problem solving for both math and geometry problems
Number of questions: 64
Time: 45 minutes

5.         Language:
Test content: Grammar, punctuation, capitalization, usage, spelling and sentence structure.  
Number of questions: 60
Time: 25 minutes


Your test score is calculated on the basis of your raw scores. Your raw score for each test section is directly related to the number of questions that you have answered correctly. There is no penalty for incorrect answers and hence, you can guess the answer whenever you are in doubt as you have nothing to lose even if your answer is incorrect. These raw scores are then converted into standard scaled scores that range from 200 to 800. Your score report will consist of your skills scores in the form of national percentile ranks for each of the skills assessed. The national percentile ranks are an indication of your performance in comparison to other test-takers. For instance, if you have a Quantitative Skills score of 60, then it means that your performance in the Quantitative Skills test section was better than 60 percent of the test-takers in a national sample. National percentiles for the following will be displayed in the score report:

  1. Verbal Skills (VB)
  2. Quantitative Skills (QT)
  3. Total Cognitive Skills (TCS): This is a total of your scores in the test sections for cognitive skills that are the Verbal Skills and Quantitative Skills test sections.
  4. Reading (RD)
  5. Mathematics (MT)
  6. Language (LN)
  7. Total Basic Skills (TBS): This is a total of your scores in the test sections for basic skills, which are the Reading, Mathematics and Language test sections.
  8. Battery Composite (CMP): This score is a total of your scores in the Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Language and Mathematics test sections.
  9. Optional Test (OP): This score will be displayed in your score report if you have taken the optional test in Science, Mechanical Aptitude, or Religion.


These national percentiles will be displayed in the form of a graph, thereby making it easier for you to understand your performance in respect of the other test-takers and at the same time, making it easier for the school admission committees to gauge your performance in relation to the other test-takers in a national sample.

Apart from the national percentiles, your score report will also display

  • Cognitive Skills Quotient (CSQ): This indicates the learning potential of the test-taker. The CSQ mean is 100 and its operational range is 55-145.
  • Grade Equivalents (GE): You will get GE scores for each of the basic skill areas: reading, mathematics and language. These scores are used to compare your performance with those of other grades.

The Importance of Scoring High in HSPT
It is of utmost importance that you score as high as possible in the HSPT. There is tough competition for admissions to reputed high schools. Therefore, it is but natural that the high schools will look towards these scores to assess your suitability for admissions.  The high schools decide the minimum acceptable scores for admissions. The weight or importance allotted to these scores varies from school to school. Therefore, to be on the safe side, it is best to aim as high as possible so that you are able to get the best possible scores. Most high schools conduct the HSPT in their own locations. Check the official website of the high schools in which you want to get admission or get in touch with them directly to find out their policies with respect to scores.
Work out a well planned prep schedule and study hard. Sustained hard work at this point in your life will ensure success in the future since you will be able to join a reputed high school and will graduate from it!

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