High School Placement Test 2015

Is your child applying to a parochial school next year? You need to know about the HSPT. The High School Placement Test, or HSPT, is a high school entrance exam taken by students in eighth grade, seeking admission to ninth grade in a parochial high school. The HSPT contains 298 questions divided into five sections:Verbal Skills, Quantitative Skills, Reading, Mathematics, and Language. You have the choice of taking one optional section in Catholic Religion, Mechanical Aptitude, or Science. These optional sections may be required, depending on the schools being applied to. That’s a lot of content to cover.

Many students who are taking the HSPT have taken the ISEE or SSAT tests previously, or may be taking these tests in addition to the HSPT for admission into other schools to which they are applying. The HSPT contains a great deal of content beyond what students see in the ISEE and SSAT. One of the main differences is a language section, which covers grammar, spelling, and punctuation, which are not on the ISEE or SSAT tests. The content in this section is more similar to the SAT Writing section and ACT English section. For this reason, it is important that students review grammar, spelling, and punctuation extensively, beyond the vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension strategies that are required for strong scores on the ISEE and SSAT.

Extremely strict time limits and unique question types make the HSPT a challenging exam for many students. The most important strategies to practice are time management, because there are so many questions per minute (for example, in the Verbal section, there are 60 questions in 16 minutes). The math sections may cover content that students are unfamiliar with, especially in the higher-level geometry. Calculators are not permitted for the Mathematics subtest, so students must be quick and proficient in computation skills as well.

Here’s how the scoring works. For each HSPT multiple-choice question that you answer correctly, you receive one point. You are not penalized for incorrect answers or for omitted answers (this means you should never leave a question blank!). The total number of questions answered correctly is your raw score. Raw scores are then converted into scaled scores, using a formula designed to compensate for any differences in difficulty from test to test. The HSPT scaled scores range from 200 to 800.

Once scores are converted to scaled scores, they can be compared with the scores of students of the same grade level across the country. Scaled score performance is then rated as low, below average, average, above average, and high, measured by percentiles ranging from 1 to 99. Scores between the 50th and 94th percentiles are considered to be “average,” and scores at or above the 95th percentile are considered to be “high.” HSPT Score Reports are released to the schools, educational consultants, and education organizations that you select on your registration form.

According to STS Testing (ststesting.wordpress.com): “At this time of year, many 8th graders and their families are making final decisions about which high school they will attend for the following school year. If your prospective high school uses the HSPT® as a part of their admissions process, then making sure your HSPT® scores get where they need to be is a big concern.
While many assume that the HSPT® score distribution system is similar to college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, it is actually quite different. There is no national coding system for the HSPT®. Many high schools test independently, so the results for the students that test there are sent only to that location. In some geographic regions, a cooperative of high schools test collectively, often under the direction of a Catholic diocesan education department. In these cases, students may be presented with the option of sending their scores to several different high schools by coding them on their answer sheet on test day.
Whether your high school tests individually or cooperatively, the distribution of test results to students and their families is always determined by the school or diocese.”

The High School Placement Test 2015 is administered twice each year, in the spring and the fall. STS, the test-maker, recommends that the HSPT should only be taken once by each student, because STS records if a student takes the test twice, and the lower of the two scores is accepted. In fact, parochial schools advise that students do not take the test in both 7th and 8th grade, but rather just once in 8th grade, in November or December. It’s best to begin test preparation in the summer or the fall, to learn the content and test-taking strategies necessary to achieve a high test score the first and only time you take the HSPT.

Parochial schools expect students to score in about the 70th percentile or above for a good chance of admission. In addition to the HSPT scores, parochial schools look at 7th and 8th grade transcripts and student recommendations, and report that they weigh the test equally with these other two elements as they decide who to admit. Many parochial schools also accept the SSAT, but students can receive a merit scholarship or even half-priced tuition if their HSPT scores meet the requirements of the specific school’s scholarship program. That’s why it’s worth it to prepare and take the HSPT test if the school accepts it.

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