Everything You Need To Know About The HSPT (High School Placement Test)
Embarking on the journey to high school can be filled with both excitement and uncertainty. One of the pivotal steps in this journey is understanding and preparing for the High School Placement Test (HSPT).
You might find yourself pondering: What exactly is the HSPT? How do I go about registering for it? What's the best way to study, and what constitutes a passing grade?
Rest assured, you're not alone in seeking these answers. In this guide, we'll delve deep into these questions and equip you with the knowledge you need to approach the HSPT with confidence.
What is the HSPT?
The HSPT (High School Placement Test) is a standardized test for 8th graders that is used by high schools to select applicants, assist in course placement, and sometimes to provide merit-based scholarships.
The HSPT contains five parts and 298 questions. Students receive 2.5 hours to complete the test with breaks between each section: Reading, Verbal, Quantitative, Language Skills and Mathematics.
Each high school has its own guidelines for evaluating applicants for admission, including performance on the HSPT.
Many students are anxious about taking the test, so the first thing to do is reassure your child that they are not alone if they’re nervous. Exam proctors will do everything they can to make students feel at ease. Plus, the experience is great practice for the standardized tests used for college admissions.
While there are things you can do in the weeks and months leading up to the HSPT, know that a well-rounded education from elementary to middle school is the best preparation for this exam.
How do I register for the High School Placement Test?
Registering for the HSPT is simple. Many schools administer the test so check with the current school you’re attending and/or the one you are interested in attending. Different schools have different registration procedures. We recommend registering in advance.
At Immaculate, and many other schools, the cost of the test is part of the application fee. If you are interested in applying to Immaculate prior to taking the HSPT, click here.
Immaculate’s HSPT Testing Dates (Class of 2028) for Fall 2023 are:
Saturday, October 28 - 8:00am - 11:30am
Saturday, November 11 - 8:00am - 11:30am
What is a passing grade for the HSPT exam?
The HSPT exam does not have a “passing score” and each school has different metrics for evaluating your score. The exam’s scores are reported as percentiles which provide a comparison of the score to either other students’ scores in the nation (national percentile) or a group of students in a specific area (local percentile). For example, if a student scores an NP (national percentile) of 70%, that means that he or she scored better than 70% of all testers in the nation.
How do I study for the High School Placement Test?
Adding some consistent and focused preparation can help build confidence and ease nerves, ensuring that students perform at their best on testing day! Here are some tips to help students prepare for the HSPT and improve their performance:
1) Don’t procrastinate:
If you are serious about putting effort into performing at your best for the HSPT, cramming the week before the test rarely pays off. Come up with a plan/schedule and stick with it.
2) Understand the test format:
Familiarize yourself with the structure and content of the HSPT. The HSPT is a 2 hour 30 minute exam including breaks, consisting of multiple choice questions in five sections:
Verbal Skills (16 minutes)
- Quantitative Skills (30 minutes)
- Reading Comprehension (25 minutes)
- Mathematics (45 minutes)
- Language Skills (25 minutes)
Your score on each section is based on the number of questions you answered correctly and points are not subtracted for incorrect answers. So, there’s no penalty for guessing!
3) Assess your current skills with HSPT study materials and resources:
Take a practice test such as the Pre-HSPT, which Immaculate offers each spring for 7th graders, or do practice questions from each section of the HSPT.
You can purchase a book of practice exams at your local bookstore or online, or look online for free practice test questions. These materials will provide you with content review, sample questions, and strategies to tackle different sections of the test. This should help greatly in determining your strengths and weaknesses.
Use the results to determine which areas you need to focus on the most in your ongoing preparation.
4) Register for test prep sessions
If you prefer personalized instruction, many schools offer test prep courses and workshops that are open to rising or current 8th graders and are taught by a school’s teachers or tutors.
Immaculate High School offers a math and a verbal HSPT Prep Session as part of the Summer Enrichment offerings, as well as a Saturday morning HSPT Prep Session each September.
5) Develop an HSPT study plan
Review the relevant topics and concepts for each of the five sections of the HSPT. Use your study materials to understand the key principles, formulas, vocabulary, and grammar rules that will be tested. Perhaps the most important thing is to give yourself enough time to thoroughly prepare before the test date.
6) Seek additional help if needed:
If you're struggling with certain topics or sections, consider seeking the help of a teacher at your school or a parent.
7) Practice regularly
It’s key to simulate your actual test environment when you practice taking the HSPT. So, do your best to re-create a testing environment at home or at your local library and time yourself on each section.
8) Review your answers
To get the most out of your practice, you need to understand what you’re getting wrong – and why. Learning from your mistakes is key and will help boost your confidence and your score. Be sure to track your progress to note improvements and areas that still need work.
9) Improve your HSPT test-taking strategies:
Familiarize yourself with different test-taking strategies. Here are some to consider:
Time management is key on the HSPT. Taking numerous full length practice tests will help greatly in learning how to pace yourself in answering the nearly 300 questions on the exam. Each of the five subtests must be completed within a certain timeframe which the proctor will inform you of at the start of each section. The test administrators should announce when time is halfway through so you can determine if you are working at a pace that will enable you to finish. Try not to spend too much time on any one item. If there is a question that seems especially difficult and might require too much of your time, make your best educated guess and move on. If there is time left at the end, go back and check your work. These techniques can help you maximize your score within the time constraints.
If you decide to skip a question with the intent to come back to it later, be sure to continuously check that the answer you are marking on your answer sheet corresponds to the item number in the test booklet.
Per Scholastic Testing Service (the company that administers the exam), it is best to answer every question – if you are unsure of an answer, take your best guess. Your score is determined by the number of items you answer correctly; there is no penalty for answering incorrectly. Keep in mind that in attempting to take your “best guess,” be sure to strategically eliminate clear wrong answers.
As calculators are not permitted, the test administrator will give you scrap paper which you can use to work out math problems. You may also write in your test booklet.
10) Tips for the mathematics/quantitative section
Write in your test booklet to perform calculations or eliminate wrong answers.
Don’t rush through easy questions and make careless mistakes - since they are worth as much as hard questions.
- Try solving the problem before looking at the answer choices. This way you won’t get tripped up on trick answers.
11) Tips for the reading comprehension section
Become comfortable with the major types of reading comprehension questions (main idea, attitude of author, specific details, etc.).
Try to focus on the author’s main point while you read the passage.
- Eliminate answers that have nothing to do with the passage.
12) Tips for the essay section
Choose the subject you are most comfortable with for the opinion essay.
Make an outline to organize your thoughts (you have 30 minutes to plan and write your essay.
Remember to make sure each paragraph has a topic sentence.
- Read over the question and your essay before finishing.
Are Testing Accommodations Available for the HSPT?
Extended time is offered to students with a documented need. Documentation must be submitted to the Immaculate High School Admissions Office a minimum of one week prior to the exam date.
Test Day Prep:
Be sure to get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy breakfast prior to the exam. Develop strategies to cope with test anxiety, such as deep breathing exercises. Try your best to be calm. If you are reading this, you probably put in the time to prepare, so you should be feeling confident! Immaculate’s proctors will help put you at ease and answer any questions you may have before and in-between test sections.
What to bring with you:
Every school will likely send students instructions on what to bring and what to leave at home, however here are some guidelines:
Bring two #2 pencils
Leave calculators and Apple iWatches at home unless the student has a diagnosed learning disability that requires calculator use as indicated in their service plan, then that can be coordinated with testing sites prior to arrival.
Based on the individual school’s instructions, you may be permitted to bring water and a snack.
School policies on identification vary so check with the school hosting your test. We recommend bringing some form of identification with you just in case!
Can you retake the HSPT test?
The Scholastic Testing Service, which publishes the test, highly recommends only taking the HSPT once (although in extenuating circumstances, schools may allow a student to retake the exam).
Our last tip for students?
Stay calm and confident: Take deep breaths and believe in yourself. You’ve prepared well, and you’re going to do well!
As you've journeyed with us through the intricacies of the HSPT, it's evident that preparation and understanding are key.
Now that you're equipped with the knowledge and insights about the test, the next step awaits.
Take the leap and register for the HSPT today. Your future awaits, and it starts with the HSPT!!