(High School Placement Test)

Looking to attend an outstanding Catholic high school? Then the HSPT test might be in your future! Read on to find out more about this lengthy, fast-paced test.

About The Test

The HSPT, or High School Placement Test, is an admissions test given to 8th grade students who are applying to specific Catholic high schools. Schools make admissions decisions and may determine scholarships based on the results of this test.

The HSPT runs for about two and a half hours, and consists of nearly 300 multiple choice questions. Students are only allowed to take the HSPT once, so getting it right the first time is critical!

On this test, moving quickly and confidently is key.

Format & Testing Dates

The HSPT has 5 sections consisting of 298 multiple-choice questions. Unlike many other standardized high-school admissions tests, there is no student-created essay portion on this test. Including breaks, students are given a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the exam.

The registration and test administration for the HSPT is handled by individual schools. Students take the test once at an institution to which they are applying, and the scores are available for application to any Catholic high school that accepts this test for admission. Traditionally, you can expect for the test to be administered sometime in December or January for admission to 9th grade the following year.


Knowing how the HSPT is scored can help you develop your plan. After all, the goal here is to achieve a score as high as needed to make your student’s high school application as attractive as possible.

Test Sections

The HSPT is split into five separate sections.

Section # of Questions Content Time
Verbal Skills 60






16 minutes
Quantitative Skills 52

Geometric and Non-Geometric Comparisons

Nubmer Series

Number manipulation

30 minutes
Reading Comprehension 62


Meaning in Context


Detail Recall

Author’s Intent

25 minutes
Mathematics 64





Problem Solving

45 minutes
Language 60



Grammar Usage


Sentence Structure

25 minutes
TOTAL 289   2 hours, 30 minutes

Test Content

The Verbal Reasoning section consists of two sections: vocabulary and sentence completion. In the former, students are given an abstract, grade-appropriate word and asked to select an answer choice that is most nearly the same in meaning, while in the latter, students are asked to choose the word(s) or phrase that best completes the missing word or pair of words from a sentence.

Directions: Choose the word that is most nearly the same in meaning as the word in capital letters. 


(A) bitter

(B) blinding

(C) evocative

(D) supplemental

Directions: Choose the word or pair of words that best completes the sentence.

The ——- way in which John complimented Jane was a signal to her that John had ulterior motives; she felt that his overtures were nothing more than a ——-.

(A) disingenuous . . . compliment

(B) glib . . . ruse

(C) insincere . . . truth

(D) sincere . . . fabrication

The Quantitative Reasoning section assesses a student’s ability to reason mathematically and usually requires little or no calculations. The Lower Level consists of only word problems, while the Middle and Upper Levels also include quantitative comparisons.

Directions: Choose the best of the four possible answers. 

The original retail price for a phone case was marked down 30% on Black Friday. The next day, it was marked back up 20% from the Black Friday sale price. What was the percent decrease from the original price?

(A) 6%

(B) 10%

(C) 15%

(D) 16%

Directions: Choose the best of the four possible answers.

All questions in this part have the following answer choices:

(A) The amount in column A is greater.

(B) The amount in column B is greater.

(C) The two amounts are equal.

(D) The relationship cannot be determined from the information provided.

A state map has a scale of 3 cm = 500 km.

Column AColumn B
The actual distance between two towns that are 1 meter apart on the map1500 km


In the Reading Comprehension section of the exam, students are asked to read a passage and answer a set of questions specific to that passage. This section of the test is the most predictable as we know exactly how many passages and questions per passage to expect, as well as the expected genres and question types. This is also the section that will be most familiar to students from their everyday schoolwork.

Directions: Answer the questions following each passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.

Which best expresses the main idea of the passage? 

(A) America should adopt an isolationist policy.

(B) The dream of a perfect America is unreasonable.

(C) America has achieved the status of a Great Society.

(D) America has accomplished much, but still has much to accomplish.

Directions: Answer the questions following each passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.

The author implies that, despite reconstruction efforts, things will never be the same because 

(A) the specter of disaster will always loom.

(B) the townspeople abandoned the community after the disaster.

(C) many of the objects destroyed were irreplaceable and priceless.

(D) the quality of the new boardwalk will be inferior to that of the original one. 

Finally, the Mathematics Achievement section consists of questions normed to national mathematics standards that ask students to identify the problem and find a solution to that problem. These questions usually require one or more steps in calculating the answer.

Directions: Choose the best of the four possible answers. 

Lori has taken four tests so far in her math class. Her scores on these tests are 94, 100, 88, and 80. The score on her final exam will be counted twice in her mean. What is the lowest score she can get on her final exam and have a mean score of no less than 92?

(A) 200

(B) 190

(C) 100

(D) 95

Want to see more examples?

Private Tutoring

Unlike many other standardized admissions tests, the HSPT can only be taken one time! This means that preparation and getting it right the first time is essential. Make sure your student is ready for this challenge! Having a trusted educator guide your student through his or her individual process is invaluable. Our knowledgeable tutors will help with the unique challenges presented by the HSPT. This is a long test, with almost 300 questions, which is a much bigger task than many students this age have been met with before. It is also a very fast-paced test, so it is critical that students learn the skills to keep moving and get to the end of every section. In addition, the HSPT has the notorious Language section, requiring students to recognize an error in usage, punctuation, capitalization, and/or spelling.

Unlike some test preparation companies and tutors who say to start with a “cold-read” diagnostic test, we think a little differently. We find that taking a test without any initial instruction can be disheartening and negatively impact confidence. Instead, we recommend that students have a few meetings with a tutor before taking the “diagnostic.” This allows us to more meaningfully decide a course of action tailored to a student’s specific skills, knowledge, and ability.

We have experienced tutors, teachers, mentors, and consultants who can help you evaluate your student’s needs, execute a plan, reevaluate to make best use of limited time available. Let us help your student navigate their path forward and emerge victorious!

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