How to Study for the HSPT?

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As your child starts the process for high school admission, they’ll need to write different tests. One such test may be the HSPT, depending on what school your child is applying to. The HSPT is administered to 8th and 9th-grade students applying to independent high schools. However, before registering and sitting for the test, it’s important that you and your child learn everything you should about the HSPT test, including the best way to study for HSPT.

We’ve got you covered – here’s an article that reviews everything you should know about the HSPT.

What is the HSPT?What is the HSPT?

The HSPT is an abbreviation for High School Placement Test, an admission test for eighth-graders seeking admission into specific Catholic high schools. Like most private non-parochial high schools, catholic high schools typically require eighth-grade applicants to take and pass a standardized test as part of their admissions requirements. The HSPT is one of the most common standardized tests used for this purpose.

Admission officers in such schools will combine results from the HSPT and several other information to decide whether a candidate is qualified for admission. Thus, it’s safe to say that the result is an adequate measurement of applicants’ academic ability and potential.

Format of the HSPT

The Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. (STS) is the body in charge of the test. The test is administered on a specific date in the school you’re applying to. It consists of 5 sections: Quantitative skills, verbal skills, reading, language, and mathematics. The exam body provides students with test booklets, answer sheets, scrap papers, and pencils on the test day. Scrap paper is highly recommended since calculators are prohibited in the test venue.

Topics Covered in the HSPT

The HSPT covers five test sections, with each section containing several topics that students must understand before sitting for the test. Here’s a breakdown of the sections and topics included.

Verbal skills

  • Verbal analogies
  • Synonyms
  • Logic
  • Verbal classifications
  • Antonyms

Quantitative Skills

  • Number series
  • Number manipulation
  • Geometric comparisons
  • Non-geometric comparisons


  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension


  • Concepts
  • Problem-solving

Language skills

  • Capitalization and punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Usage
  • Composition

Length of the HSPT Exam

Each section of the HSPT has its length, and exam experts allot different times to them. Here’s a breakdown of the length of each section and the time allotted. Remember, as we’ve explained in the HSPT format, it’s an objective exam with multiple-choice questions.


  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 25 minutes


  • 64 multiple-choice questions
  • 45 minutes


  • 62 multiple-choice questions
  • 25 minutes


  • 52 multiple-choice questions
  • 30 minutes


  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 16 minutes

How HSPT Scoring Works?

How HSPT Scoring Works?

One of the most important information to note after the HSPT meaning is the HSPT scoring system that ranks each section on a scaled score between 200 and 800. To arrive at the raw score, the exam body compiles the correct answers and converts them into a scaled score, adjusting for small variations in difficulty levels.

The HSPT exam body does not penalize students for guessing, so you can guess for questions you’re not sure of.

How to Prepare for the HSPT: 5 Tips

How to Prepare for the HSPT: 5 Tips

So, you’ve decided to take the HSPT exams, great! The test is not so easy, but it’s passable as long as you’re ready to invest enough time into preparation. Here are some preparatory tips you should know as you count down to the test date.

Find out the test date

Unlike most other standardized tests, there is no set date for the HSPT. Instead, schools and archdioceses pick their most comfortable date for the test. So, if you’ve applied for the test, it’s important to reach out to the school you applied to learn the particular date for the test. This will help you adequately schedule your preparations. Additionally, you can confirm whether there’ll be testing accommodations on time and apply for one if needed.

Create a preparatory schedule

Now that you’re sure about the test date, you’ll want to figure out a rough test prep schedule. Generally, it makes more sense to start early and spread your preparatory strategy to cover longer periods. This way, you can have enough time to cover the sections covered in the test and understand the topics well. A well-planned schedule will also help to ensure that your test preparation doesn’t interfere with your middle school work.

Take practice tests

Beyond planning a schedule, you also want to take an HSPT prep course and, by extension, practice tests. Find out whether your school offers a Pre-HSPT option. This option, planned and executed by the Scholastic Testing Service, allowed schools to rent testing and scoring materials. You can always use these materials to familiarize yourself with the test structure and what’s expected of you.

In cases where these materials are not available, you can download practice questions from the board’s official website. Beyond preparing you for actual exam scenarios, practice tests can help you determine which areas you’re not doing well in, so you can study to improve your raw score.

Work towards answering all questions

As discussed above, there’s no penalty for wrong answers, so don’t be scared to guess. If you’re not sure of the answer to a question, don’t hesitate to guess. Be sure to answer all questions. You never can tell; your best guess may be the correct answer to the question.

Rinse and repeat

These tips may not be an urgent fix for passing the test. Instead, they’re a gradual move towards mastering the test structure and developing tactics for passing it. Therefore, it makes sense to do them several times until you’re ready for the test.

3 Best Ways to Study for the HSPT

3 Best Ways to Study for the HSPT

Now that we’ve talked so much about studying for the test, you’re probably wondering how to go about studying for the HSPT test. Here are some of the best study tips to help you study more efficiently.

Learn about the HSPT Exam

The first step to studying correctly is studying the content of the exam. You don’t want to waste time studying irrelevant materials and textbooks. Therefore, it makes sense to read insightful articles and posts about the HSPT exams to understand what it’s about and how to go about it. Here are some things you’ll learn about the exam if you take the time to learn about it:

  • The HSPT typically has five sections
  • The test typically has 298 multiple-choice questions, with each question having 3-4 answer choices.
  • You have 3 hours to complete the HSPT.

Use HSPT study guides

Study guides are your best friends when preparing for the HSPT exams. They not only help you brush up on key concepts, but they also help you plan your study well. When choosing an HSPT study guide, it’s crucial that you choose one that differentiates key study areas from general study areas. Study guides can also help you dig deeper into the exam’s content.

Use HSPT Flashcards

We can’t overemphasize the importance of flashcards. They help you get down to the details and memorize information. Thus, you can remember chunks of information for a longer period when the need arises. Flashcards are especially important for studying antonyms and synonyms in the verbal section.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for HSPT?

That’s a wrap, everything you should know about the HSPT. So far, we’ve reviewed the scope of the HSPT and how to study for the HSPT test. Remember, starting your preparations earlier and sticking to your plans can help you avoid putting things off until the last minute. Also, write your academic objectives from the start and keep track of all your efforts to achieve them.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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