The test is designed for middle school students trying to get into high school, so the majority of test takes are eighth graders (some seventh graders do take the test). For the most part, a typical middle school curriculum will have exposed students to the content tested on the HSPT, though some basic understanding of algebra and geometry is necessary for the math sections.
Unlike most other standardized exams, the HSPT does not have national administration dates. Private schools administer the HSPT as part of the application process. According to the STS website, students should not take the test more than once. In fact, if a student takes the test more than once, the STS indicates that the lower of the two scores should be used for consideration. Registration and test schedules are handled on a school-by-school basis; parents will need to contact the schools to which their children are applying in order to find out specific dates and deadlines. The STS does not handle registration.
Verbal Skills The verbal skills section has analogies, synonyms, antonyms, vocabulary questions, and verbal logic. The purpose of this section is to test a student’s ability to understand the relationships between words and concepts.
Quantitative Skills The quantitative skills section has number manipulation, geometric and non-geometric comparison, and patterns and sequences. The topics covered in this section include arithmetic, basic algebra, and basic geometry.
Reading Comprehension The reading comprehension section has passages and questions that test the student’s understanding of central meaning, ability to obtain information from reading, and basic understanding of vocabulary.
Mathematics The math section has problems that test the student’s problem solving abilities and understanding of mathematical concepts. The topics covered in this section include arithmetic, basic algebra, and basic geometry.
Language The language section tests the student’s understanding of written English. The problems are largely related to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax.
Some schools also administer an optional science section, which covers general topics in astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics.
The HSPT vs. the ISEE the HSPT is comparable in both content and format to the ISEE Upper Level, another private school entrance exam. Content-wise, the biggest difference between the two tests is that there is no essay on the HSPT. The HSPT is primarily used by Catholic private schools; the ISEE is used by a wider range of private schools. In addition, the ISEE has three levels: lower, mid, and upper, which correspond to what grade the student is going into; the HSPT is for prospective high school students only.
Preparing for the HSPTAs with any standardized test, preparation is essential to success. There are a few HSPT study guides available on the internet and in stores; if, after reviewing concepts and practicing problems, you and your student decide that further assistance would be beneficial, then consider professional HSPT exam preparation. The HSPT can have a significant impact on a student’s future and should not be taken lightly. Thorough preparation is the key to making the HSPT experience as smooth and stress-free as possible.