Scholastic Testing Service’s HSPT is an admissions test for entry into Catholic high schools. The HSPT contains five multiple-choice sections: Verbal, Quantitative Skills, Reading, Mathematics, and Language Skills. Depending on the school, the HSPT might also feature an optional section covering Science, Mechanical Aptitude or Catholic Religion. The optional test is not included in the composite score from the HSPT and not every school chooses to use the optional test. Schools that require the optional test might use the score to determine a student’s placement in particular courses such as honors and advanced classes.
What to Expect on the HSPT
The Verbal Skills section tests a student’s ability to answer verbal analogy, synonym, logic, verbal classification, and antonym questions. Verbal analogies address whether a student understands a relationship between two words (ex. Tree is to limb as human is to arm—whole to part). The Synonym and Antonym questions test the student’s knowledge of vocabulary, including the definitions of the answer choices. In verbal classifications, students are asked to identify which of one or four answer choices does not belong with the others. In logic questions, students are given three statements and students must determine if the third statement is true, false, or uncertain based on the truth of the first two statements.
The Quantitative Skills section tests a student’s ability to answer number series, geometric comparison, non-geometric comparison, and number manipulation questions. Number series questions test a student’s ability to determine the relationship between numbers, letters, and/or symbols in a sequence. Geometric and Non-Geometric Comparison questions ask students to compare three figures/shapes (geometric) or numerical/mathematical expressions (non-geometric) and determine the relationship between them. In number manipulation questions, students must use multiple mathematical steps to solve each problem (ex. What number is 3 more than 1/3 of 200).
The Reading section contains passages that test a student’s comprehension of ideas, themes, tone, and the author’s intent. The student must be able to quickly grasp the main idea of the passage, understand the supporting details within the passage, and must demonstrate knowledge of vocabulary within the context of the passage. The passages will cover a wide variety of subjects, including science, history, literature, and societal topics.
The Mathematics section tests a student’s ability to answer questions concerning arithmetic, algebra, and geometry appropriate to eighth grade students. In arithmetic, students must demonstrate familiarity with the number line, order of operations, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, fractions, decimals, percentages and other aspects of basic math. Students will solve questions involving algebraic equations and concepts such as absolute value. In geometry, students will need to show their understanding of area of plane figures, perimeter of plan figures, volume of solid figures, angles, and coordinate geometry (graphing). Students will also be solving word problems that feature rate, time, distance, and work problems (two or more workers performing at different rates).
The Language Skills section tests a student’s knowledge of grammar and writing mechanics. Students will answer questions involving spelling, punctuation and capitalization, principles of grammar, and language composition and expression. Topic development questions will either give the student a topic sentence and the student must choose a second and third sentence that best develops that topic or the student will be given a title and the student must choose a topic sentence or relative sentence that belongs under that title. Sentence appropriateness questions ask a student to identify whether a sentence belongs with the others or what the best placement for a sentence would be.
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Article last updated on March 5, 2014.
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