A Parent’s Guide to HSPT

At Scholastic Testing Service, we realize that testing is an issue of great concern to most parents. From September to March every year, we receive inquiries from parents of students who are about to, or have already taken the High School Placement Test (HSPT®). Generally, the issues of greatest concern are test preparation and scoring. The following links provide additional information on those topics.

Questions relating to:
HSPT® Prep
HSPT® Score Distribution

You can also ask a question in the form of a comment here, and we will get back to you.

72 thoughts on “A Parent’s Guide to HSPT

  1. Jennifer says:

    My son is an A student and took the HSPT test prep class. He just took the HSPT and didn’t finish most of the sections. He seemed to have trouble with the time constraints on each section. He did terrible on the test. Scoring below average! What can we do?

    • ststesting says:

      The HSPT is a 2 hour and 23 minute test with 5 subtests that need to be completed within this time. On test day, the administrator should be letting the child know the half way point between each test and what item number they should be at in order to work at a pace to finish the test. Maybe during the practice test they didn’t let the child know to work a little quicker after the half way point? Please also note, the child is not penalized for any incorrect answers nor for any answers left blank. This will not effect his/her score.

    • ststesting says:

      Kim-The objective is yours when trying to locate a school that will allow accommodations. Start by looking for the high school that your student is interested in attending, and contact them directly about what type of accommodations they will allow with their admissions testing.

    • ststesting says:

      The number of questions that you answered correctly is added up for each subtest. Points are not subtracted for incorrect answers. (There is no penalty for guessing.)
      Your raw scores (the number of correct answers) are then converted to standard scores and national percentile rankings for each subtest. Your national percentile tells what percentage of students had scores below yours in a national sample. National percentiles range from 1 (low) to 99 (high). A percentile rank of 50 is exactly average.
      Your composite scores (Total Cognitive Skills, Total Basic Skills, and Battery Composite scores) are computed in the same way. Your raw scores are added together from the subtests that make up each composite score and are then converted to standard scores and national percentiles. (See below for the parts that make up each composite score.) Composite scores are not the average of its part scores.
      Total Cognitive Skills = Verbal & Quantitative subtests
      Total Basic Skills = Reading, Mathematics, & Language subtests
      Composite = Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Mathematics, & Language subtests Samples of HSPT reports can be found here.

  2. Tom says:

    Greetings – do the HSPT test sections start off with easier questions and progress through to more difficult questions? Thank you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If My son got in the 33 national percentile for mathematics and did above average on everything else does that mean that 33 could prohibit acceptance from high schools

    • ststesting says:

      Hello parent. The school where your son has applied to makes decisions for admissions. You will need to check with them directly to find out the status of his application.
      Good luck,

  4. Lisa Pyle says:

    My son took the host 7th grade practice test at a school in Philadelphia. He said there were 300 questions given in subsections. He said the time allowed for each section was never told to the students. He said only 5 minute warnings were given. He never finished the sections and left answers blank. How will this affect his score? Also he said he couldn’t answer some questions. Is the test designed with unanswerable questions ?
    Thank you.

    • ststesting says:

      Did you mean the “host” or “HSPT”? Our 7th grade test is called the Pre-HSPT. It has 298 items and test proctors are given guidelines for announcing the subtest times. Your concerns about how the test was administered should be addressed to the school where your student tested. STS does not conduct/proctor the classroom testing.
      Finally, all of the questions have correct answers. It’s possible that your son was unfamiliar with some of the test content. If you have questions about his test results, you can look at our parent’s page for detailed explanations on HSPT test reports.

  5. Michelle says:

    My daughter took the HSPT at the Catholic HS where she was applying. She was placed on a wait list so did not attend the admissions event where she would have received a copy of her HSPT results. We have contacted the school and asked for a copy of her test results but they will not respond to our requests. Is there any other way to get a copy? She did a lot of prep for this test and would like to know how she did.

    • ststesting says:

      The schools or in some cases, a district or diocese will set the policies about how and when test results are distributed. Since they are the ones that order the testing from STS, we are not able to override their wishes and send results without their authorization.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My daughter’s scores on the HSPT were considerably lower than on all HSPT practice tests and in comparison to her scores in grades 1 – 8 (straight A student) and ITBS test scores. The low score in Reading prohibited her from enrolling in Honors courses her freshman year. I have been trying for a month to get a copy of the her Student Performance Profile Report so that I can see which subtests she scored low in and which skills she needs to improve. The high school told me they do not use that report to place students and that it costs money. While I understand that, I still feel as a parent I should be able to have a copy of this report. At this point, I am willing to pay for it, but am having difficulty in getting the school to provide it to me. Can you please help? Thank you!

    • ststesting says:

      Thank you for your question. Requests for accommodations should be made directly to the school where your child is going to test. Please remember to check prior to testing day.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Can a single section of the test be retaken? My child was above 90% in all but one section where they had a 38%. It turns out they decided to skip a question but failed to align the response with the next number of questions therefore the response were off by one. Really concerned parent!

    • ststesting says:

      Dear parent:
      Without more details about where your student tested and where they are sending the scores, I can’t offer an answer to your question.
      You can start with contacting the school where your child is applying to. They may be willing to offer a make-up testing.

  8. Shaughnessy says:

    I am a homeschool teacher administering the practice tests to my student. How do I score the practice tests so that it gives an accurate prediction of her performance on the actual test?

    • ststesting says:

      The percentile-rank scale ranges from 1 (low) to 99 (high). Percentiles compare your performance with other students within the same grade level. Your percentile rank indicates the percentage of students in the sample who had a lower score than you. A percentile rank of 50 is exactly average.

      The standard score scale ranges from 200-800 with a score of 500 being exactly average. The standard score scale is an unchanging frame of reference which allows comparisons to be made from year to year.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Do you have to be going to a certain grade to take the placement test ? If so what grade does the child have to be in and what grade does it stop?

    • ststesting says:

      Yes, there are grade specific requirements for HSPT®. It is administered to 8th grade students by High Schools. There is also a Pre-HSPT® test that is given to 7th grade students, but again, the testing is hosted by high schools.

  10. MK says:

    In looking at the national and local percentile, is it possible to know how many students in the pool of national and how many in local?

    • ststesting says:

      Over 100,000 students take the High School Placement Test (HSPT®) annually. The number of students that comprise the local population varies by diocese/archdiocese, a testing program’s specifications, etc. If you are interested in knowing how many students tested within a particular diocese, you may wish to contact them and see if this is something they would be willing to share with you.

      • Taffy Daussin says:

        Is the national percentile taken from the pool of students testing in one year or over multiple years? Can you provide any more specifics on the norm group?

      • ststesting says:

        Since STS publishes a new form of the High School Placement Test yearly, the national percentiles are adjusted annually on each form of the test. The HSPT Technical Report is available for HSPT customers.

  11. Victoria says:

    My son needs to take the test , but we live in Mexico, Where can I find a school that can administer the test

    • ststesting says:

      Hello. We don’t have testing centers. Instead, you can contact the school he is applying to and find out what their admissions policy is. Some schools will allow an individual testing, but they would have to make the request to us to do so for your child.

    • ststesting says:

      In some cases, results are emailed or mailed to families. This will vary from school to school. If you are unsure if you should be receiving the results at your home, contact the admissions department at the school where you either tested at or applied to. Requests for duplicate test results can be made to our scoring center by one of the schools.
      Thank you

  12. Irayma Smith says:

    Hello, could you please provide me with some history on how, when, and by whom the test was created? I am doing a research paper and I can not find any information about the test’s creation.

    Thank you,

    • ststesting says:

      Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. had its beginnings in 1952 with a fortuitous conversation between Mathematics Professor Oliver F. Anderhalter and Loyola University Press Sales Manager Herbert J. Greig. The two men met at a St. Louis University workshop hosted by Dr. Anderhalter. During the workshop, Dr. Anderhalter asked Mr. Greig how well students were learning from the textbook series used at the workshop. Mr. Greig replied that he had no idea because there was no test to assess the success of the series. Dr. Anderhalter proposed developing a test for the series, which Mr. Greig would market. The two men agreed on the concept and Scholastic Testing Service was born. Mr. Greig rented a small room from the University of Chicago to serve as our first office, and the company was incorporated in Illinois in 1953.
Dr. Anderhalter and Mr. Greig worked in concert to develop our very first tests. Mr. Greig brought textbooks, lesson plans, and teacher curriculum notes to Dr. Anderhalter and a group of graduate students, who used these materials to create a series of questions. These first tests were criterion referenced and developed around the curriculum of particular school districts. They were then marketed to superintendents to help assess teacher accountability for the textbook series.

      Although Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. produced customized tests for particular school districts, we did not have a standardized test battery. The first STS standardized test was the High School Placement Test (HSPT®), which was developed and published in 1955. At the time, private schools were very desirable and private school administrators needed a test to help them determine admissions, scholarships, and academic placement. The HSPT® fulfilled these needs.
Next, in the line of standardized test batteries came the Educational Development Series (EDSeries) used for evaluating eight subjects in junior high schools. During the early 1960s, the EDSeries was further developed and soon covered kindergarten through grade 12.

      ©2015 Scholastic Testing Service, Inc.

  13. JB says:

    My daughter took the HSPT on Dec 6th in Washington DC She does not currently attend a catholic school. When do the test results get released? Do they send them to your home or can you get them some other way? We have not received them.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Is it official HSPT policy for the proctors to give 5 minute warnings? Or is it at the discretion of the individual proctor?

    • ststesting says:

      The Manual of Directions state a half way time for each subtest taken. In the manual, there is nothing that says the child will have 5 minutes left in the testing session. I suggest following the Manual of Directions the way it is written. You don’t want students to rush to finish the test.

    • ststesting says:

      To best answer your question, you can contact the admissions department at the school where your child is going to test to find out what subtests are going to be administered. STS has optional subtests therefore the number of items will vary from school to school.

  15. John B says:

    I work for a middle school and have a student that has asked if a reference sheet is provided in the math portion of this assessment (i.e., geometry formulas, conversions, etc.) and cannot seem to find the answer anywhere. Any insight that I would be able to pass along would be very much appreciated!

  16. elk says:

    Is it possible for a student to score an 82 natl percentile on the 7th grade practice with a SS of 527 and then a 58 natl percentile on the 8th grad test with a SS of 520? Tests were administered 5 months apart. I find this to be very strange.

    • ststesting says:

      Pre-HSPT® uses 7th grade norms and different test content than the Closed HSPT® that your student has taken.
      Please refer to our HSPT/Parents page where this topic is covered:
      3. Performance Scores

      The various scores for the major test areas are displayed here. Following is a description of each score provided.

      Standard Score (SS)
      Raw scores (the number of correct answers) are converted to standard scores. Standard scores range from 200-800 with a score of 500 being exactly average. Standard scores are provided for all major test areas except the optional test. A raw score (RS) is provided instead for the optional test.

      Grade Equivalent (GE)
      While National Percentile ranks compare your performance with students at the same grade level, Grade Equivalents compare your performance with the average performance of students at other grade levels. GE’s are provided for Reading, Language, and Math.

      The Grade Equivalent represents the grade level and month of the average performance for students. For example, an 8th grade student with a GE of 8.9 has earned a score similar to the average students’ scores who were in their ninth month of eighth grade.

      In this example, the 8th grade student had a Reading GE of 10.2. This means the student scored as well on eighth grade reading material as an average high school sophomore would have scored on the eighth grade reading material.

      As a parent, if you see “10.2” you might think your child is ready for 10th grade. But, remember your child was not tested on 10th grade material; he was tested on 8th grade material. His above grade level score indicates that he did better than the average 8th grader in the sample group did. If this student was given a reading test designed for use at the 10th grade level, it is very unlikely that he would attain a GE of 10.2.

      Therefore, the best way to interpret the GE score is to look at whether the student’s performance is average (a GE in grade level), above average (a GE above grade level), or below average (a GE below grade level).

      Percentiles (PCT)
      Percentiles compare your performance with other students within the same grade level. Your percentile rank indicates the percentage of students in the sample that had a lower score than you. Percentiles range from 1 (low) to 99 (high). A percentile rank of 50 is exactly average.

      There are two types of percentile ranks: National (Nat’l Pct) and Local (Local Pct). A national percentile compares your performance to students in a national sample. A local percentile compares your performance to local students. A local group consists of all of the students who tested at your school (if your testing was an independent effort) or in your school system/district (if your testing was part of coordinated, multi-school program).

      In this example, James’ raw score on the Verbal subtest is equal to the 73rd national percentile, which means his raw score was higher than 73 percent of the students in the national sample. His local percentile was a 61, which means his raw score was higher than 61 percent of the students in his group or school system/district.

      Stanines (ST)
      Stanine scores break percentile rankings into a 9-point scale, on which 9 represents the highest performance, 5 the average, and 1 the lowest.

      There are two types of stanine scores: National (Nat’l St) and Local (Local St). A national stanine compares your performance to students in a national sample. A local stanine compares your performance to local students. A local group consists of all of the students who tested at your school (if your testing was an independent effort) or in your school system/district (if your testing was part of coordinated, multi-school program).

      Cognitive Skills Quotient
      The Cognitive Skills Quotient is a measure of a student’s learning potential. The CSQ functions as a predictive index of a student’s future academic performance. The following guide may be used to interpret your CSQ:

      above 130 represents academic potential found in approximately upper 3% of school population

      110 & above represents academic potential found in upper 25% of school population

      100–109 represents academic potential found in second quarter of school population (50th–75th percentiles)

      90–99 represents academic potential found in third quarter of school population (25th–49th percentiles)

      89 & below represents academic potential found in lower 25% of school population

      below 70 represents academic potential found in approximately lower 3% of school population

  17. Ingrid Bee says:

    I am interested in two high schools in Illinois which I would like to apply to but their testing dates are set for the same date. What are the testing options if we would like to apply to both schools but can only test at one school?

    • ststesting says:

      Thank you for your question regarding score distributions on the High School Placement test. Schools in Illinois generally do not share scores. Instead, you should contact the school where your child tests and ask them to forward the results to the school in which you wish to apply. Otherwise you will have to see if the other school offers a make up test date. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

  18. Anonymous says:

    There are 2 schools we are considering.1 in So. Ca. & 1 in No Ca.The HSPT is the Placement test @ both schools but 1 is in Nov,the other in Jan.Can you take the test twice or do you have 1 High School forward the test results to the other?

    • ststesting says:

      Thank you for your inquiry regarding the High School Placement Test.

      It is recommended that students do not take the HSPT® twice. Generally, yes, schools will take the first score the child received or the lowest score of the two tests. It is unlikely that with testing in two different regions in California that those schools would share results with one another. I would say call the schools and see what they would recommend.

      Please let us know if you have any further questions.

  19. Michael Seda says:

    Does STS recommend that schools who are administering the HSPT provide a break (let’s say 10-15 minutes) during the midpoint of the exam (so that kids can use the restroom, stretch their legs etc.).

    • ststesting says:

      The prescribed rest periods are noted throughout the administration manual for the HSPT®. These are short breaks, not exceeding 5 minutes. The entire testing session should be completed in about 2.5 hours. The school where your student is testing may have more information available about breaks and leaving the room during the testing session.

  20. kristina herndon says:

    My son needs special accomodations for type 1 diabetes How do ensure he will get them- he may need to check blood sugar and drink juice. He might need extra time if he is hypoglycemic.

  21. Martha says:

    I am a teacher who administers the test and have a question regarding accommodations. How do I know if a student is eligible when a parent marks ‘yes’ to accommodations? What documentation is needed.

    • ststesting says:

      There is no document from STS regarding accommodations. It is really up to the school to grant accommodations and whether or not the school needs documentation to grant accommodations.

  22. Cindy says:

    What happens after pressing Submit button when taking E Score? Can the student still correct the answers entered? My son will take the test in ten days and has no prior experience.

    • ststesting says:

      With E-Score, no prior experience is required. The students are guided through the test subjects one section at a time. The test administrator submits the scores for testing at the end of the entire session.

  23. SRB says:

    My daughter has accommodations (such as increased time for test taking, computer with spellcheck for essays, etc.) at her school and on the ISEE test. How can we get this for HSPT?

    • ststesting says:

      If special accommodations are permitted by the schools, they just need to let STS know what they were when submitting the student’s answer sheet for scoring. Please check with the school in advance of the testing date to see what is required (i.e. special documentation, what type of accommodation is needed.)

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