What is the HSPT?

What is the HSPT?

The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is an admissions test given to eighth-graders who are seeking entrance into specific Catholic high schools. Schools use the HSPT exam results to make admissions decisions, determine curriculum placement, and offer scholarship awards.

Registration for the placement test for high school must be done directly with the school a student is applying to. The exams take place at the high schools themselves, not at a designated testing site, like the SAT, ACT, or SSAT, or ISEE. Students should confirm specific registration procedures with their preferred school(s). 

The test consists of 5 sections: Verbal Skills, Quantitative Skills, Reading, Mathematics, and Language. On test day, students are provided with a test booklet, answer sheet, scrap paper, and often pencils. The use of a calculator is prohibited when taking the HSPT, so the use of the scrap paper provided is HIGHLY recommended.

Test Format & Structure

SectionTimingNumber of QuestionsContent
Verbal Skills18 minutes60 multiple-choice questionsSynonyms and antonyms, analogies, logic-based questions, and verbal classifications.
Quantitative Skills30 minutes52 multiple-choice questionsSequences, geometric and non-geometric comparisons, and number manipulations.
Reading25 minutes62 multiple-choice questions (40 reading comprehension, 22 vocabulary)Reading aptitude for humanities and short nonfiction and narrative passages, as well as vocabulary.
Mathematics45 minutes64 multiple-choice questionsMath skills and knowledge of arithmetic, basic algebra, and geometry.
Language25 minutes60 multiple-choice questionsCapitalization, grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure.


Each section of the HSPT is reported as a scaled score from 200 to 800. The Scholastic Testing Service (STS) compiles correct answers to obtain a raw score, which it then converts into a scaled score, adjusting for small variations in difficulty among different test administrations. The HSPT scoring does not penalize for guessing, so students should make their best guess on every question. A score of 500 is considered “average.” Many schools use the National Percentile score for scholarship purposes, in which 90% or higher can qualify students for lucrative scholarships. Schools will use individual section scores to determine placement in Honors, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. Therefore, students should focus on individual section performance if they desire a more advanced academic track beginning in Freshman year of high school.