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Preparing for the HSPT

What is the HSPT?

What are High School Placement Tests?

High School Placement Tests (HSPT) are exams that are used to assess the academic abilities of incoming high school students. These tests are often administered by private and Catholic high schools and are used to determine a student’s placement in different academic programs or levels.

Types of High School Placement Tests

Other than the HSPT created by the Scholastic Testing Service Inc., there are several types of High School Placement Tests, such as the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT). Each test has its own format and content areas, but they all aim to assess a student’s academic aptitude and potential. For this page, we’ll focus on the HSPT created by the STS.

Why Are High School Placement Tests Important?

High School Placement Tests are important because they play a significant role in determining a student’s academic trajectory in high school. Strong HSPT scores can open up more opportunities for students to enroll in advanced courses, while weak scores may result in placement in lower-level courses. Many private and Catholic high schools require students to take the HSPT as part of their admissions process.

Common Content Areas of High School Placement Tests

High School Placement Tests typically cover core subject areas such as math, reading, language, and science. The specific content areas and question formats may vary depending on the test.

Understanding the HSPT Test Format

How Long is the HSPT?

The HSPT is about 2 hours and 30 minutes long and consists of 298 multiple-choice questions.

There are 5 sections, each with its own separate timing and scoring:

Verbal Skills

Quantitative Skills

Reading Comprehension



When To Take the HSPT?

Typically taken by 8th-grade students applying to private high schools for the following academic year.

Usually administered during the fall and winter months, with testing dates varying by school and location.

Check with prospective high schools for specific testing dates and deadlines – some schools may offer multiple testing dates, while others may only offer one or two.

It is recommended that students register for the HSPT as early as possible to ensure availability and to have enough time to prepare for the exam.

Understanding the HSPT Format: Sections

Verbal Skills

60 questions in 16 minutes

This subtest evaluates the ability to comprehend and reason using words. Skills assessed:

  • Identifying synonyms and antonyms
  • Comparisons between words
  • Categorizing language
  • Logical reasoning.

Quantitative Skills

52 questions in 30 minutes

This subtest measures the ability to comprehend and reason with numbers. Tasks include:

  • Number series
  • Numerical manipulations
  • Comparisons (geometric and non-geometric)

Calculators are prohibited on this section.

Reading Comprehension

62 questions in 25 minutes

This subtest assesses comprehension skills such as:

  • Recall of details/facts
  • Author’s main idea or purpose
  • Inference
  • Analyzing literary elements and techniques
  • Vocabulary in context


64 questions in 45 minutes

This subtest examines components of a high school curriculum, including:

  • Problem-solving
  • Numeration
  • Unit conversions
  • Geometry concepts
  • Algebra
  • Statistics

Calculators are prohibited on this section.

Language Skills

60 questions in 25 minutes

This subtest assesses a student’s grasp of standard English conventions. Skills evaluated:

  • Punctuation/capitalization
  • Grammar/usage
  • Spelling
  • Sentence completion
  • Idea composition

HSPT Scores

Extra Info on HSPT Scoring

Each subtest is scored separately. The raw score (number of correct answers) is converted to a scaled score between 200 – 800.

The report will also contain composite scores: Total Cognitive Skills (made up of Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning subtests) + Total Basic Skills (from Reading, Language, and Mathematics subtests) + Battery Composite (overall score) for an overview of a student’s potential and ability.

For more detailed information and score report examples, see the Interpretive Manual from STS.

Common Challenges on the HSPT

Common struggles for students that HSPT tutoring can help with

Time Constraints: The HSPT is a timed test, and students must complete each subtest within a set time limit. This can be challenging for students who struggle with time management or those who need more time to process information.

Difficulty level: The HSPT assesses a wide range of academic skills, and some questions may be more challenging than others, making it difficult for students to answer correctly.

Test anxiety: The pressure of taking a high-stakes test like the HSPT can cause stress and anxiety, which may impact a student’s performance.

Lack of familiarity with the test format: Students who are not familiar with the format and structure of the HSPT may find it challenging to navigate the test and answer the questions efficiently.

HSPT Tips and STrategies

Start preparing early: The HSPT is a comprehensive test, covering a wide range of subjects. It is important to begin studying and preparing well in advance of the test date with timed practice tests. This will let you familiarize yourself with the test format, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop a study plan that addresses specific needs.

Read directions carefully: It’s essential to read the instructions and questions carefully to ensure that you understand what is being asked of you. Misunderstandings can lead to incorrect answers.

Guessing: There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so if you’re unsure of a question, take your best guess.

Process of Elimination: If you’re unsure of an answer, use the process of elimination to narrow down your options. Eliminating even one or two incorrect answers can significantly increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.

Don’t get stuck on difficult questions: It is important to keep moving through the test, even if you come across a difficult question. If you spend too much time on one question, you risk running out of time and not answering all of the questions. If you get stuck on a difficult question, make your best guess and move on.

Find HSPT Tutoring Near Me

One On One HSPT Help

Our HSPT tutors provide one-on-one instruction, which allows them to focus their attention on the specific needs of each student. This personalized approach helps students stay engaged and motivated throughout the tutoring process.

Practice Tests + Targeted Feedback

Our tutors use practice tests to help students get comfortable with the format and structure of the HSPT. They then provide targeted feedback on practice tests and assignments, helping students understand where they went wrong and how they can improve. This feedback is specific and actionable, giving students the tools needed to make progress and achieve their goals.

Motivation and Support

Our HSPT tutors provide motivation and support throughout the tutoring process. They understand that preparing for the HSPT can be stressful, and they work to create a supportive and encouraging environment that helps students stay focused and motivated.

In-Home and Online Tutoring

MathTowne has online tutoring as well as in-home for whatever suits your needs. We guarantee our in-home tutors are professional, safe, and knowledgeable for your peace of mind.

If you choose to do remote lessons, we have some of the best online HPST tutors available. Our online tutors are highly experienced in conducting fun and effective lessons and utilize various technologies to ensure student engagement.

I’m so glad I found Math Towne tutoring. My son has been struggling with English. After enrolling him here, I’ve noticed a huge change in his confidence level and improvement at his school. I have to thank his tutor Truccey for doing such an amazing job teaching my son and having so much patience with him. I highly recommend Math Towne to any parent!

– Ngoc

students research frequently asked questions about the HSPT

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good score for the HSPT?

Are calculators allowed on the HSPT?

Are there breaks during the test?

Can I retake the HSPT?

Yes, it is possible to retake the HSPT (High School Placement Test) if you are not satisfied with your initial score. However, the policies regarding retaking the HSPT can vary depending on the school or organization administering the test.

Some schools allow students to retake the HSPT once or twice within a certain time frame, while others have more strict policies. Check with your school or organization to find out their specific policies regarding retaking the HSPT.

Keep in mind that there may be additional fees associated with retaking the HSPT. The cost of the test can vary depending on the school or organization administering it, and there may be an additional fee for each time you retake the test.

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