About HSPT Test

High schools are flooded with applications from students who wish to join them for earning their high school diploma. If the school is a reputed one, then the competition among students for admissions is all the tougher. Students applying for admissions come from varying backgrounds who have been attending schools with different academic standards. Their level of academic skills achieved so far would be different even if they are applying for admissions to the same grade and are of approximately the same age. This implies that the high schools are faced with a dilemma: How to choose the most suitable candidates from the lot who have applied for admissions?

Choosing the Most Suitable Candidates for Admissions

High schools, especially Catholic high schools, take the assistance of High School Placement Test (HSPT) scores to determine which of the candidates would be suitable for grant of admissions to the ninth grade. This is a standardized placement test which has been formulated by the Scholastic Testing Service (STS) and it is administered to eighth-grade students. The performance of test-takers in this test determines their suitability for admissions to the ninth grade. HSPT is known to be a reliable assessment of the skills that are necessary for pursuing high school studies.

Therefore, your performance in this test can be considered as a prediction of how well you will be able to cope up with the high school coursework. This makes it evident that high schools will give preference to students who have scored high while considering grant of admissions. However, these scores are treated differently by different high schools. Some schools may assign a weight to these scores while others may set minimum scores that are required to be considered for admissions. In most cases, HSPT will be conducted by the schools themselves in their campuses and your scores will be one from amongst various other admission criteria. Hence, you need to get in touch with the high school of your choice to determine their admission policies with respect to the test for choosing suitable candidates for admissions.

Skills Assessed by HSPT

1.    Cognitive Skills:

  • Verbal Skills: Your skills in responding to tasks involving reasoning and usage of correct words will be put to test here. You will need to demonstrate your proficiency in Reading and Language in order to exhibit a high level of verbal skills.
  • Quantitative Skills: This section will test your skills in solving problems based on numbers and quantities by using your reasoning skills. The test content used for testing your quantitative skills will be from mathematics, sciences and numbers.

2.    Basic Skills:

  • Reading: Your skills in understanding ideas and interpreting meanings of words will be assessed. You will have to exhibit the abilities to identify the central idea and draw logical conclusions based on the central idea in order to achieve high reading skills score.
  • Mathematics: HSPT evaluates your skills in utilizing the basic concepts of Mathematics for solving problems by using your reasoning skills.
  • Language: You will be assessed for your knowledge of grammar, spelling, usage, capitalization and punctuation and your skills in utilizing this knowledge for writing.

Method of Assessment of Skills

The HSPT is divided into test sections in such a way that it succeeds in assessing the skills of the test-taker in the most appropriate manner. It consists of 5 test sections, one each for each of the skills being assessed.

  1. Verbal Skills: 60 questions based on analogies, synonyms, antonyms, logic and verbal classifications
  2. Quantitative Skills: 52 questions based on number series, geometric and non-geometric comparisons, geometric numbers and arithmetical numbers
  3. Reading: 62 questions from reading comprehension and vocabulary
  4. Mathematics: 64 questions based on mathematical concepts, math problem solving and geometry problem solving
  5. Language: 60 questions drawn from grammar, punctuation, capitalization, usage, spelling and sentence structure.

All the questions asked are multiple-choice questions. Your raw scores for each of the test sections are based on the number of questions that you have answered correctly. There is no penalty if you have not been able to provide a correct answer to the questions asked. The raw scores are converted to scaled scores that range from 200 to 800.

HSPT Score Report as a Tool for an Analysis of your Abilities

Your score report displays your national percentiles for each of the skills being assessed.  Your national percentiles help the school admission committees in assessing your performance in HSPT with respect to the other test-takers. For instance, if you have a national percentile of 55 for the Reading Skills score, then it means that your performance in the Reading Skills test section was better than 55 percent of the test-takers in a national sample. This gives the school admission committees a fairly good idea of how your levels of skills stand when seen in comparison with those of other students who would be competing with you for admissions.

Apart from your scores in the test sections, the score report will also display the following national percentiles:

  1. Total Cognitive Skills: This is the total of your scores in the Verbal Skills and Quantitative Skills test sections.
  2. Total Basic Skills (TBS): This is the total of your scores in the Reading, Mathematics and Language test sections.
  3. Battery Composite (CMP): This is the total of your scores in all the test sections.
  4. Optional Test (OP): This score will be displayed only if you have taken the optional test in Science, Mechanical Aptitude, or Religion. You may be required to take this optional test by some of the high schools.


Your score report will also display the following:

  • Cognitive Skills Quotient (CSQ): CSQ is somewhat similar to an IQ score and it gives an estimate of your learning potential. The average CSQ stands at 100 and it is also dependent upon your age at the time when you take the test.
  • Grade Equivalents (GE): GE scores for each of the basic skill areas: reading, mathematics and language will be displayed. They are dependent on the grade and month which corresponds to your skill level.


Hence, it can be seen that the score report gives out a detailed analysis of your skill levels which can be used to predict how well you are likely to perform in your high school studies. This information is very useful for the school admission committees who would like to admit only deserving candidates.

Taking the HSPT

The first step towards taking the HSPT would be to register for it. Before you initiate the registration process, it would be a good idea to visit the official website of STS, www.ststesting.com and understand the policies related to taking the test. Registration is done by individual high schools. There are certain schools that may not require you to register at all. You just need to be present on the test day for taking the test. You will have to contact the high school you wish to join to find out their policies with respect to the registration process.

The next and the most important step for taking the test is to prepare for it. Do not make the mistake of taking the preparation lightly. Low scores may play havoc with your dreams of getting admission to a reputed high school. Review the test content diligently and spend time in solving problems specific to the test format. Take the help of study guides. Remember that familiarity with the types of questions that are expected will make you confident in tackling the questions asked on the test day.

Your chances of getting admission to a high school of good repute are largely dependent on these test scores. Hence, make sure that you leave no stone unturned in your quest to attain the best possible score!