Each year, thousands of 8th graders across the country going into Catholic high schools take the High School Placement Test (HSPT): an exam made to show a student’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This test determines whether or not a student is placed in honors classes at many high schools, and is required to be taken by all students wishing to enter. For many students, this is the first time they’ve ever taken a test that would put so much pressure on them.
The HSPT test is a multiple choice test with 17 sections: verbal analogies, logic, synonyms, antonyms, number series, geometric comparison, non-geometric comparison, number manipulation, comprehension, vocabulary, concepts, problem-solving, punctuation and capitalization, usage, spelling, and composition. It takes a little over 2 hours to complete and contains 298 questions. A student’s final score on the test is determined by the amount he/she got right, so getting answers wrong doesn’t affect the score. However, not answering questions at all does make the score lower, so a test-taker would want to answer every question on the test, even the ones he/she doesn’t know.
Since the test is very long and important, it causes students to become stressed trying to mentally prepare themselves. Mrs. Lodin, a teacher at St. Francis, said, “We practice in class… we try to get students as prepared as possible. It’s a necessary evil.” To be ready for the test, a student must take practice exams and study a great deal. Many Catholic schools have special test-prep classes to prepare students for the exam, and textbooks are produced to give students test-taking strategies to use. These tools, along with practice HSPT tests, which mirror the regular test, help students evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. All of these sources were made to help students get the best score they can on the test.
“At first I was nervous about the test,” says St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School eighth-grader, Maya D. “But I just finished a prep course and I feel much better. I take the test this weekend and I know I won’t be cramming the night before, instead, I am going to focus on getting a good night’s sleep.”
The HSPT is an important and influential test for many students entering high school. It is long and difficult due to its extensive amount of questions. However, when students prepare for it, they feel more confident which generally results in a good score and better classes in high school.