High School Placement Test (HSPT) – How to Prepare?

The HSPT test is one of the most stressful assignments for 8th graders. Private and Catholic schools use the High School Placement test in their application acceptance process. Since the HSPT can play a crucial role in the academic future of 8th graders, it’s important for them to know everything they can about the HSPT test and its questions. 

This article, as a guide, will answer all your questions  — what the HSPT is, what the HSPT test measures, what kind of questions are there on the HSPT, and how scores are generated. 

Take the HSPT Practice Test to improve your score.

Furthermore, we will provide some sample questions for each of the five sections of the HSPT test to give you a better idea of the test format. We will also direct you to the best online library for practice tests. 

Read on and learn everything you need to know about the HSPT test. 

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What Is the HSPT Test?


The abbreviation HSPT stands for the High School Placement test. The HSPT is a standardized assessment that measures skills, knowledge, and achievement abilities for 8th-grade students looking to enroll in private or Catholic high schools. 

Individual schools have different application costs for the HSPT test, but the price typically ranges from $20 to $25. The High School Placement Test registration is done directly in the school where the student wants to enroll.

The testing process also happens in the school, so every registration procedure, testing time, and further specification info can be obtained in correspondence with the school itself. 

The HSPT is one of the most used high school entry exams, and the scores from the HSPT can significantly impact a student’s academic future. High schools rank and place students based on the HSPT test and its scores, determine admission approvals or refusal, assist with curriculum placement, and offer scholarship opportunities. 

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How Is the HSPT Scored?

The scores from the HSPT test come in the form of raw scores, i.e., the number of correctly answered questions. These raw scores are then converted into standardized scores, ranks, and percentiles to determine current abilities and future potential. 

Students can take the HSPT test only at one Catholic or private school to be considered for admission. If the student decides to retake the test more than once, the lower score will be considered a final score. 

The implications of the HSPT score and the inability to better scores with test retakes makes this admission exam a crucial part of the student’s academic future. This awareness causes stress for students, so test preparation becomes the most certain way of getting accepted into the desired private high school.

Since the testing material of the HSPT is challenging too, only thorough and organized practice can bring the best results. Practicing will also give confidence to students that they can get a good score and thus, get accepted into the desired private high school. 

TestPrep-Online is the most experienced and extensive online library for practice materials for all kinds of tests. They offer different types of practice bundles that can help students practice all of the sections of the HSPT and learn while getting used to the questions’ structure. 

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What Is the HSPT Test Used For?

Private and Catholic high schools use the HSPT test for: 

  • Ranking applicants’ abilities
  • Admission approving process
  • Curriculum and class placement
  • Acceleration programs
  • Scholarships

How Many Sections Are on the HSPT Test?

The HSPT test has five different sections that are mandatory and three that are optional. 

The required sections of the HSPT test are:

  • Verbal
  • Quantitative
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Language

The optional sections are:

    • Mechanical Aptitude
    • Science
    • Catholic Religion

Schools might administer one, all, or none of the optional sections. Each student needs to get familiarized with the HSPT test sections that the particular high school measures. 

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What Does the HSPT Test Measure?

The HSPT test measures two main aspects — basic skills and cognitive skills. 

  • The Basic Skills of the HSPT test are measured with the help of the sections Reading, Mathematics, and Language. These sections will get into more details about the ability of the student to remember, use and explain their learned knowledge through middle school.
  • The Cognitive Skills are measured through the Verbal and Quantitative sections. Even though these two aspects are basically English language and Math, the point of these sections is to test the ability of the student to think logically and critically.

Cognitive abilities are more closely connected to the way the student thinks, and Basic Skills are connected to what the student thinks of. 

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How Long Does the HSPT Test Take?

The HSPT test takes around two and a half hours to be completed, with a 30 minutes break in the middle. So, students should expect to take about 3 hours for the testing process to be over. 

HSPT Options for Taking the Test

The HSPT test has three options that students can take:

  • Open HSPT is the standard form, where schools purchase the testing materials and the scoring matrix with national normative. 
  • A Pre-HSPT option is given to 7th-graders with special Pre-HSPT materials and standard scorings. The results will give a Performace profile for the student and score reports. The Pre-HSPT test prepares 7th-graders before the actual HSPT in 8th grade. 
  • Large Print, Audio HSPT or Braille HSPT are all special test materials adapted for special-needs students, which are available if needed. 

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What Kind of Questions Are on the HSPT?

The questions on the HSPT test are in the form of multiple-choice answers, where each question has 3 or 4 answers provided, out of which only one is true. A successfully answered question brings one point to the raw score, and incorrect answers are not counted. For incorrect answers, there is no penalty in the form of a subtracted point. 

How Many Questions Are on the HSPT Test?

The HSPT test contains around 300 questions, 298, to be exact. 

The time frame for compilation of the HSPT test is 150 minutes, so the student needs to spend less than half a minute answering one question. 

Since some parts of the test are naturally harder, almost half of the test time is usually spent on math and quantitive sections, while the other half is spent on the rest – Verbal, Reading, and Language. 

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Sections of the HSPT Test

The HSPT test contains five sections, each assessing: 

  1. Verbal
  2. Quantitative
  3. Reading
  4. Mathematics
  5. Language skills

As we previously mentioned, Verbal and Quantitative components measure the student’s Cognitive skills, while Reading, Math, and Language components measure Basic skills. 

Furthermore, questions related to basic abilities will be straightforward since they need to test knowledge. The questions that measure Cognitive skills will be more complex and require some type of logical thinking to be answered. 

The scores for both Basic and Cognitive skills will come in the Score report as two different scores: Cognitive Skills Quotient and Basic Skills Score. 

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1. Verbal

The Verbal component of the HSPT test contains 60 questions, and has a time limit of 16 minutes to be completed. 

This test part examines the student’s ability to reason when using words, sentences, and grammatical structures. 

These are the skills tested in the HSPT Verbal test:

  • Logical thinking
  • Verbal Classifications
  • Knowledge of synonyms and antonyms
  • Analogies

Verbal HSPT test Sample Questions

What is the synonym of the word:


  1. Peculiar
  2. Elderly
  3. Hungry


Include the following sentence in its logical place in the paragraph below

Her close friends knew that she planned to cheat on the Literature exam from the start.

(1)It was a well-known fact that Betty never tried hard. (2) She wanted to slide by and gain her grades by cheating. (3) Once the test started, the rest of the class noticed her intention too. (4) Nobody said a word, but they all expected her to get caught and expelled.

  1. After sentence number (1)
  2. After sentence number (2)
  3. After sentence number (3)
  4. After sentence number (4)

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2. Quantitative

The Quantitative component has 52 questions and has a time frame of 30 minutes for completion. 

This section tests the ability to solve operations with numbers and quantities while using logical thinking for math problems. 

These are some of the skills that the HSPT Quantitative test will measure:

  • Manipulating numbers and operations
  • Doing geometric and non-geometric comparisons
  • Ability to understand a series’ progression and give the next sequence

On the HSPT test, calculators are not permitted, so each student needs to do calculations manually. 

Quantitative HSPT test Sample Questions

Look at the series of numbers and determine which number should be next:

84, 96, 108, 120…

  1. 132
  2. 126
  3. 124
  4. 128


What is the square of 6, divided by 2?

  1. 8
  2. 15
  3. 7
  4. 18

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3. Reading

The reading section of the HSPT test will have 62 questions, and the student is expected to finish them in 25 minutes. 

The point of the Reading HSPT test is to check students’ ability to understand the basic meaning and the supporting details behind a given passage. 

The topics that the student should show their knowledge in include:

  • Vocabulary knowledge and usage 
  • Finding, understanding, and paraphrasing the main idea
  • Remembering, understanding, and paraphrasing details 

Reading HSPT test Sample Questions

Choose the word or words that best fill the blank.

Working in huge halls, it takes around 10 minutes for the factory workers to reach the cafeteria. ___________, the time to and from the cafeteria is not counted in their break, so they still get half an hour for relaxing.

  1. Unfortunately
  2. More over
  3. Luckily
  4. As we mentioned


Read the paragraph below and then answer the question:

The African Grass owl spends most of the day resting amid long grass and weeds, hence the name. African Grass Owls trample grass to produce tunnels or platforms with domes as their habitat. Female African Grass owls construct their nests at the end of these extensive, occasionally interconnected tunnels for safety. When paired, African Grass Owls live and care for their young together.

What is the main idea portrayed in this paragraph?

  1. To explain how African Grass owls spend their lives.
  2. To describe where African Grass owls roost and make their nests.
  3. To raise awareness for the African Grass owl extinction process. 
  4. To tell how African Grass owls got their name. 

What is the supporting idea portrayed in this paragraph?

  1. To explain how African Grass owls spend their lives.
  2. To describe where African Grass owls roost and make their nests.
  3. To raise awareness for the African Grass owl extinction process. 
  4. To tell how African Grass owls got their name. 

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4. Mathematics

The Math section of the HSPT test has 64 questions that need to be answered in 45 minutes. 

This section of the test will test knowledge of math formulas, measurement conversions, and the order of operations.

The topics included in the Mathematics HSPT test are:

  • Arithmetics 
  • Math concepts and problem-solving 
  • Geometry
  • Elementary Algebra

Mathematics HSPT test Sample Questions

Examine the statements below and select the best answer:

(a) The area of a square with a side length of 2

(b) The area of a square with a side length of 3

(c) The area of a circle with a radius of 2

  1. c<b<a
  2. a=b<c
  3. c>b>a
  4. a=c<b


What number divided by 2 is 150 percent of 60?

  1. 85
  2. 45
  3. 180
  4. 90

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5. Language

The language section of the HSPT test will also have 60 questions to be answered and will take a maximum of 25 minutes. 

The point behind the Language section of the HSPT test is to test the student’s ability to understand, use and write words and sentences correctly. 

The Language HSPT test will assess:

  • Spelling and grammar knowledge
  • Composition abilities
  • Usage of words and terms
  • Capitalization and punctuation 

Language HSPT test Sample Questions

Identify the sentence that contains an error in the usage of words, punctuation, or grammar. 

If there are no errors in the sentences, choose the “No mistake” option.

  1. She thought Conan O’Brian was the only good TV host.
  2. You use this form after something broken has been repaired.
  3. If things were different, they would be happy together.
  4. No mistake. 


One word from the answers provided doesn’t belong in the group. Find and select it.

  1. Content
  2. Joyful
  3. Obnoxious
  4. Delighted

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HSPT Scores Explained

The HSPT test offers two ways to get test results: 

  • A Performance Profile 
  • A Student Score Report

The students do not have direct access to the test results, and schools need to buy the results for the company that administers the HSPT test. 

The school officials will use the score report on the HSPT test during their application approval process and when segregating students in classes. Furthermore, the same HSPT test results can be used for acceleration programs or high school scholarships. 

Raw Score

The score report starts with the Raw Score, i.e., the number of correctly answered questions from the total of given questions. So, the maximum Raw Score you can get on the HSPT test is 298 if all questions have a correct answer. 

There is no penalty for incorrectly answered questions, so it’s a good idea to guess the answer instead of not answering it at all. 

Standard Score and National Percentile Rank

The Raw scores will be converted into Standard Scores and National Percentile Ranks. 

The Standard score (SS) can have a numerical value between 200 and 800. The Standard score is done by converting Raw Scores into a standardized scale for further statistical interpretation. 

The National Percentile rank shows what percentage of students had scores lower than the one of the particular student. 

An average percentile rank is 50, so a student with a percentile of 99 means he scored higher than 99% of nationwide students that took the test. If they have a percentile rank of 20, they outscored only 20% of other students. 

24th to 75th percentiles are average, 1st to 23rd percentiles are low, and the 76th to 99th percentiles are regarded as high. A decent HSPT result would, therefore, typically be greater than 75.

Composite Score

The composite scores are divided into three sections – the Total Cognitive Skills, the Total Basic Skills, and the Battery Composite score. 

The Verbal and Quantitive subtests sum of raw scores makes the Total Cognitive skills Raw Scores. Then, the Raw scores are converted into Standard Scores and National Percentiles. 

Reading, Math, and Language subtests make up the Total Basic skills raw score, which is then converted into a Total Basic Skills Standard Score. 

The final Battery Composite score unites all five subtests and gives the final Standard Score. The Composite score is the total performance on the HSPT battery test. 

Normative Scores

Normative scores are three different types of scores that are not always used as part of the report. It mainly depends on the particular school whether any of these normative scores will be calculated.

These are the Normative Scores:

  • Local Percentile Rank (LP) is similar to the national percentile rank but compares individual scores with the performance of other local students of the same grade. 
  • Grade Equivalents (GE) evaluates the students’ basic language, math, and reading abilities against those of students in equivalent grade levels.
  • Cognitive Skills Quotient (CSQ) will predict the students’ future performance based on the scores obtained. The CSQ has a similar grading as traditional IQ tests, with 100 being an average. Scores above 130 are above the average, while scores below 70 are below average. 

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How to Pass the HSPT Test?

The best way to ensure that the student will get into the desired high school is to practice the HSPT test before actually taking it. 

Students can get used to the questions’ format by practicing the test. In a test like the HSPT test, where time is limited, it’s important to understand the assignment immediately and not lose time for re-reading the testing material. Getting used to the question’s structure can help the student familiarize themselves with the format and know exactly what they need to do. 

Plus, practicing potential questions is a great way to improve students’ knowledge further and become aware of their weak spots.

One of the best assets that a practice test can have is a score report after practicing and the ability to track progress. That way, students can understand their strong and weak points and, naturally, work harder on the problematic testing material.

Furthermore, being aware of their progress with each practice can boost their self-confidence and make them comfortable while taking the HSPT test. 

If you are an 8th grader soon to take the HSPT test, or you are a parent of an 8th grader, we recommend visiting TestPrep-Online and using their extensive practice materials for the HSPT test. 

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What Does Testprep-Online Offer?

TestPrep-Online announced that their exclusive HSPT practice materials are in the making and will soon be available on their website. 

In the meantime, they offer practice test bundles for two similar assessment tests as the HSPT – the ISSE and the SSAT tests.

The ISSE Upper-Level practice pack with practice materials contains 320 questions in the following assessment areas:

This practice bundle contains all the sections that are needed for the HSPT test, too, so it becomes a great way to practice the same subjects and in the same grade proficiency. The pack will also provide thorough explanations, helpful study guides, and score reports to help you and your student track progress. 

The SSAT Upper-Level practice pack contains two full-length SSAT tests in multiple-choice questions format. These are the areas covered in the SSAT Upper-level practice tests:

  • Essay
  • Quantitative
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Verbal Reasoning

With the questions having the same format as the HSPT test, students can use the SSAT upper-level pack to practice the HSPT. This pack also offers thorough explanations and guides while tracking the students’ progress as they invest time into practicing. 

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Tips for Passing the HSPT Test

  • Organize and schedule your practice. Divide the material and spend some time practicing each day. 
  • Arrive at the school where the HSPT test will be administered a little early and have the time to find the test room. 
  • Don’t panic; if you do, take some time for deep breathing and calming. If you are stressed, you have a greater chance of answering the questions incorrectly. 
  • Before the test starts, ensure that you are well rested and have eaten and drank enough water. Also, ensure you’ve gone to the toilet and won’t be distracted by physiological needs.
  • During the exam, listen and read carefully to all given directions.
  • Use scratch paper for all math questions. Calculators are not permitted, so you need to do all calculations manually. 
  • Answer every question. Even if you’re unsure of the answer, give it your best shot. There are no penalties for guessing, and there is a chance of you getting the correct answer when you guess. 
  • Track your time and pace yourself. Don’t spend a lot of time on one question, but also don’t rush yourself when you know you have enough time. Proctors should announce the time left for each section; if they don’t, you can always ask for the remaining time. 
  • If you finish earlier, review your answers and double-check them.
  • Use the help of TestPrep-Online to practice before the test. Feeling confident is the most secure way to give it your best on the testing day. And by practicing the TestPrep-Online materials, you can soon feel sure that you are on the right track and will ace the HSPT test.

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FAQ for the HSPT

  • What does the HSPT stand for?

The High School Placement Test is known as the HSPT. This test is used for high school curriculum placement, scholarship selection, and admissions.

  • How many times can you retake the HSPT?

You can effectively take the test only once. You can surely retake it, but your lowest result will be considered the final score. 

  • Can you use a calculator on the HSPT?

You are not allowed to use a calculator on the HSPT test. But, you can use scratch paper for all the math questions. You can use it for calculations and drawing. 

  • What is the entrance exam for high school?

The entrance exam for high school is the High School Placement Test or the HSPT. Private or Catholic high schools use the HSPT for their application process. 

  • What is on the HSPT test?

The HSPT test has fine sections: Verbal skills, Quantitative skills, Reading, Mathematics, and Language skills. 

  • What is the time limit for the HSPT test?

There are a total of 298 questions and a time frame of 150 minutes for completion. 

  • Is the HSPT test all multiple choice?

Yes, the HSPT test contains only multiple choice questions. Each question will have 3 or 4 provided answers, and only one of them is correct. 

  • What is a passing score for the HSPT?

The score range for the HSPT test is between 200 and 800 points, with 200 being the lowers possible and 800 being the highest score on the test. 

Each school that administers the HSPT test has a different score set of what is considered a passing score. 

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The HSPT test is a high school assessment given to 8th graders when they apply to private or Catholic high schools in the United States. The test structure is in the form of multiple choice answers, but the student should allocate as little as 30 seconds per question to finish timely. 

The test itself measures abilities through five sub-tests, and the scores are calculated based on the number of correctly answered questions. 

Since the HSPT test can significantly impact the student’s academic future, it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Practicing the HSPT test and the questions’ format is the best way to ensure your place in a private high school. 

TestPrep-Online currently makes their exclusive HSPT practice tests. Until they are publicly available, TestPrep-Online proposes one of their ISSE Upper-Level and SSAT Upper-level practice packs. These packs contain the same question format, level, structure, and content as the HSPT test, so they are great substitute practice materials. 

​​Written by Victoria Todorovska

Victoria (or Viki) is a Freelance Writer, Psychologist, and Gestalt Therapy Consultant. With years of experience in higher education as well as counselling others, she is well-placed to offer expert advice on guiding others up the career ladder. 

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