Taking the High School Placement Test is a fact of life for an eighth grade student wishing to get into a Catholic high school. All students must take this test for admission. Being informed about what the test is and tests for will help reduce test anxiety.


The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is given to eighth-grade students. It is a comprehensive placement test given to establish proper placement in the ninth grade. The test is taken in just one sitting. The High School Placement Test comes in two forms; they are known as the Open Form and the Closed Form.


The Closed Form of the High School Placement Test is a leased test, and scoring is provided as part of the cost. Other services provided with the Closed Form include student profiles. A special answer sheet allows schools to receive address labels and notification forms for each of the students taking the test. The Closed Form tests basic skills in the areas of language, reading and mathematics. Schools also have the option of testing in science, Catholic religion and mechanical aptitude. Open Forms of the test can also be purchased by the Catholic high schools. It is locally scored with a scoring kit and norm tables. It measures the basic skills in language, reading and mathematics. Optional tests in science, Catholic religion and mechanical aptitude are available for an additional cost.

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Some of the standard features of both tests include standard scores and comparisons to national and local percentiles. The standard scores are useful in year-to-year comparisons. There are a variety of questions on the test including, reading, multiple choice, essays and mathematics.

Expert Insight

There are some standard tips to help answer the reading comprehension questions. Being familiar with common reading comprehension questions is key to doing well on this section of the test. When familiar with with these types of questions you can save time looking for the answers by noting the important parts of the passages as you read. The six types of reading comprehension questions include main idea, specific details, inference, tone, meaning and author's technique. Often a reading comprehension test will ask you to choose the best title for the passage. All of the choices fit the passage but there will only be one choice that contains the main idea of the passage.

Never spend too much time on one question. Ensure that you have allowed yourself enough time to answer all of the questions. Pacing yourself is an important skill. One strategy for successful time management is to remove your watch and set it on the corner of your desk to remind you to keep track of your time.

The other sections of the test, including vocabulary, history and math, require a different strategy for doing well. When working on these sections you should always do the easiest questions first and then go back to answer the harder questions. You should place a mark in the test booklet to remind you of which questions you skipped. As with the reading section never spend too much time on one question.

Always use any scratch paper you are given. Write down your formulas and do you computation on the scratch paper to avoid simple arithmetic mistakes.

When answering essay questions it is important to answer all parts of the prompt. There is usually more than one part to each prompt and failing to answer even one seemingly insignificant part of the question could be the difference in passing or failing.


High school placement tests can vary in indentifying the predicted academic success of a student in a particular school. The different tests differ in the type of information they provide. It is important for a student to take the test where he wishes to attend school. When taking the test at another location the results may be delayed and prevent full consideration for admission in the school of his choice. The fee for the test is $25, paid on the day of the test. Preparation or cramming for the High School Placement Test is not beneficial and will not raise the score by a significant amount.

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