The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is an educational admissions test developed and maintained by Scholastic Testing Service. The HSPT is primarily used by Catholic high schools to select students for admission into grade nine. The HSPT consists of five component tests – Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Mathematics, and Language; with three optional components which are not included in the composite score – Science, Religion, and Mechanical Aptitude. The HSPT is used as an indicator of academic capability. The test helps admissions officers determine your ability to keep up with the school’s curriculum.
This article discusses the Verbal component of the HSPT exam.
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Scholastic Testing Service administers the HSPT, and independent and Catholic high schools often include the testing fee in school’s application fee. Your admissions counselor will work with you to complete the application, including registering for the HSPT. Generally, admission tests are delivered in January for admittance into the fall school year.
Admission information, including test dates, location, and required scores, are provided by the admissions office at the school(s) you are applying. If you have any questions, ask your counselor. It is important that you understand the application process.
HSPT Verbal test section design
The HSPT is a paper-based admission’s test. You are tested simultaneously with other potential students. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, and you are allowed 16 minutes to complete the Verbal Skills section.
There are five parts that make up the Verbal Skills section of the HSPT:
- Verbal Analogies – ten questions
A verbal analogy is the relationship between two pairs of words. Analogies require you to use your reasoning skill to identify the common theme between pairs. For example, “puppy is to dog as kitten is to cat.”
- Synonyms – 15 questions
A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase. Questions in this area ask you to identify the word or phrase that may not be familiar to you through knowledge of the definition of another word. For example, mirthful is a synonym for happy.
- Logic – 10 questions
Questions using logic ask you to determine if a statement is true, false, or uncertain based on two prior, truthful statements. For example, “All games are fun. All videos are games. Not all videos are fun.” If the first two statements are true, is the last statement true, false, or uncertain? The answer is false, according to the two prior truthful statements.
- Verbal Classifications – 16 questions
A verbal classification is the grouping of different words by their similarities. A group of four words is presented, and you identify which word of the group does not belong. For example, refrigerator, milk, stove, and toaster. The correct response is milk, as the other words can be classified as appliances.
- Antonyms – nine questions
An antonym is a word with the opposite meaning of another word. Antonym questions ask you to identify the opposite of a given word. For example – happy is an antonym of sad.
After you have completed the Verbal section, you are provided a short break before moving on the next section of the HSPT
On the day of your exam, take nothing with you except two Number 2 pencils. You are provided a test booklet and answer sheet. Use the booklet to take notes and mark only your answers on the sheet provided.
Before beginning your exam, the test proctor discusses the agenda of the HSPT, including scheduled and unscheduled breaks, what to do if you have any questions, and what to do with your test booklet and answer sheet. Be mindful to follow the directions of the test proctor. If there is any question of test dishonesty, you will be excused from the exam and your attempt forfeited.
Work quickly through your exam – you only have 16 minutes for the Verbal section – and mark answers on your test booklet that you want to review. If time allows, go back to the questions you marked to be sure of your answers. You are not penalized for incorrect responses, so it is beneficial to you to answer every question, guessing when you have to.
Your overall score is based on the number of correct responses, with no penalty for wrong answers. The points you receive on the Verbal section are combined with your points from the other sections and converted to a scaled score. The scaled score ranges from 200 to 800, with 600 generally considered “above average.”
The testing service reports your score to the schools you indicated on your test form. Each school sets guidelines for the desired and minimum score. When you talk with your school admission counselors, make sure you know what score to shoot for. Your school’s admission staff uses the HSPT as a predictor of success in their educational program. Therefore, most schools allow you to take the HSPT only once. If a school allows you to retake the test, often the lower score received is the one that is used to determine your admission status.
Put your best foot forward
As stated previously, the HSPT is a diagnostic admissions test. Your results are used to judge whether or not you have the knowledge base needed to continue with your education at your chosen school. The exam needs to reflect your knowledge and understanding so your counselor can guide you through admissions, including selecting an appropriate course schedule. At the same time, the test is used to narrow down student applications, which increases the likelihood that an acceptable entrance score will vary from year to year.
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