The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is a standardized test administered to eighth-grade students to determine acceptance or placement in the ninth-grade classes of parochial schools. The test was formulated by the Scholastic Testing Service (STS) and is sometimes referred to by that name, or by the term "STS-HSPT."
The HSPT consists of 298 questions and ranges from approximately an hour and forty minutes to two and a half hours in duration. The amount of time required for the test is dependent upon whether a school chooses to use additional sections of the exam or the base version alone. All of the questions are in a multiple-choice format. Test scoring measures only correct answers, so guessing is advantageous when the student is not certain of an answer.
Since the HSPT is used for admission by a great many Catholic schools, the test is offered in customized form to those schools desiring additional admission criteria, such as mechanical aptitudes, scientific knowledge, or religious knowledge. The conventional test is consistent with state-mandated testing in the areas of language skill, vocabulary, and reading. In the mathematics sections, the test content is also consistent with state requirements in arithmetic, basic geometry and algebra.
As with most middle-school standardized testing programs, students are profiled in accordance with percentile rank as they compare to a large database of student test takers. Raw scores are converted into standard scores depending upon the emphasis given to the various sections of the test. The maximum score is 800. When the score is provided to the child and parents, the score report will indicate localized and national ranking. The performance level of each student will be shown as a grade equivalent. An additional Cognitive Skill Quotient is provided as an indication of future academic potential.
The exam begins with Verbal Skills testing. Quantitative Skills assessment is next, followed by Reading, Mathematics, and Language Skills. There is a difference between the Verbal Skills sections and the Language Skills. Verbal Skills is focused upon synonyms, antonyms, analogies and logic. Language Skills, the last section of the standard version of the HSPT, is devoted to those elements associated with writing: punctuation, capitalization, usage, and spelling.
There is also a difference between the Quantitative Skills section and the Mathematics section. The Quantitative Skills section has 52 questions dealing with number series, geometric comparisons, and number manipulation, whereas the conventional Mathematics category requires problem solving.
The sections will not necessarily appear in the above order.