High School Placement Test

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HSPT FAQ

What is the HSPT?

The HSPT is a standardized, timed test required of every 8th grader applying to attend a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. It contains five sections that measure verbal ability, quantitative ability, reading comprehension, mathematics, and components of written language. The questions are designed to test students at their curriculum level.

How is this test used in the high school admissions process?

This assessment tool is used by high schools for admissions, scholarship selection, and course placement. Each high school has its own guidelines for evaluating applicants for admission, including performance on the HSPT. Students should contact the admissions department at their schools of choice with questions regarding the admissions process.

How do the HSPT and Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) differ?

 

Every 8th grader who applies to a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore must take the HSPT, while the ISEE is used for admission into independent, non-Catholic schools. Both are admissions assessment tools that test similar abilities and skills, but the HSPT compares each student’s correct score to a national norm (a large group of students of similar age across the U.S.), while the ISEE compares responses to a smaller population of students.

Are accommodations available for students with a service plan, IEP, or a recent evaluation?

Yes, every testing site offers extended time to students with a documented need. Other accommodations vary according to the testing site. When registering for the HSPT, there will be a yes or no question asking whether a student needs accommodations. If indicated yes, upload documentation into the registration portal.  All documentation should date no earlier than the 5th grade year, and must be submitted by November 16, 2018.


My child is a native Spanish speaker.  Can he or she take the test in Spanish?

This year, the HSPT will be offered in Spanish to our native Spanish speakers on December 1 at The Catholic High School of Baltimore, Mercy High School, and Mount Saint Joseph.  On December 8, the test will be offered in Spanish at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School and St. Mary’s High School.  There is an opportunity to indicate if your child needs to test in Spanish on the HSPT registration page

When and where is the HSPT administered?  

December 1 December 8
Archbishop Spalding High School Archbishop Curley High School
Calvert Hall College High School Institute of Notre Dame
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Loyola Blakefield
Mercy High School Maryvale Preparatory School
Mount Saint Joseph High School Mount de Sales Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Saint John’s Catholic Prep St. Frances Academy
The Catholic High School of Baltimore St. Maria Goretti High School
The John Carroll School St. Mary’s High School
   

8th grade applicants may test at any site.  Exception:  8th grade students who currently attend Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Resurrection – St. Paul School, St. John the Evangelist School Severna Park, and St. Mary’s School Annapolis will test in their elementary school on November 28.  Those applying to Bishop Walsh School should contact the school directly to schedule a testing date.

What time does the HSPT start? When is it over?

Check in begins at 8:30am, and the test lasts from approximately 9:00am to 12:00pm.

What is the registration process for the HSPT?

You may register for the HSPT via the online registration portal. When registering online, you will receive a confirmation number that should be brought with you the day of the test. If you cannot register online, please call the testing site directly to register. Students may walk in on testing day without registering in advance.  However, students may not walk in and request accommodations the day of the test. 

What is the payment process?

The cost of the HSPT is $40. This fee can be paid online by credit card or on testing day by cash only. The $40 fee covers scoring the test and sending score reports to parents and high schools chosen by the student. Score reports may be sent to as many as three high schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and one school in the Archdiocese of Washington (indicated as fourth choice only). 

How do I change the ranking of my high school choices?

Online registration for the HSPT opens on September 11, 2018. Many students spend the next few months attending open houses and shadow days at various high schools.  This may cause students to change their first, second, and third choice schools.  Families may use their email address and confirmation number to re-enter the online registration portal and edit information up until the Thursday before the testing date.  

What is needed on testing day?

For those who registered and paid online, bring your confirmation code and two number 2 pencils. For all others, bring $40 in cash, and all necessary personal information to register. Remember, walk-ins may not request testing accommodations the day of the test.

Are breaks offered during the testing period?

Brief breaks are offered between the five sections of the test. Students qualifying for accommodations may receive more frequent breaks. Please keep this in mind when planning pick-up, as the test will last longer than three hours.

Are calculators permitted?

Students may not use a calculator, unless they have submitted qualifying documentation for accommodations, and been approved for calculator use by the testing site in advance.  

What happens if I arrive late to the test?

Those arriving after the test has begun will be asked to leave and register for another test date.

What happens if there is inclement weather on the day of the test?

In the event of inclement weather, each testing site administering the HSPT follows the county their school typically adheres to for closings and delays. If weather forces a cancellation, registered students will be instructed to test on the pre-determined snow date.  If weather forces cancellation of the December 1 test date, those sites will hold the test on December 8 (in addition to all of the sites originally scheduled to test on December 8).  If weather forces cancellation of the December 8 test date, those sites will hold the test on December 15.

May I take the test more than once?

No. The HSPT may be taken only once, and only by 8th grade students. It cannot be repeated under any circumstances.

Will there be a make-up test?

Each year, the Archdiocese of Baltimore determines whether a make-up test date is needed due to inclement weather or excessive absences. Any potential make-up date is not an opportunity to retake the HSPT; doing so would invalidate your scores. Those who miss their December test date should contact the testing site for more information.

Can 7th graders take the HSPT?

No. The HSPT is designed to test the knowledge and achievements of 8th grade students, and scores are compared to that age group. If a 7th grader takes the HSPT, the score achieved is used as the final score, and the student will not be permitted to take the test again the following year.

When are score reports sent?

When registering, parents choose whether to receive an electronic or printed copy of scores. Expect to receive these within a month of the test date. The schools chosen by students receive scores directly from Scholastic Testing Services (STS).  Students must limit their selection to three schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and one school in the Archdiocese of Washington (designated as the fourth choice only).  STS will not send reports to additional schools.  If you have not received scores, please check your junk/spam email or contact STS at 1-855-532-0787.

How do I read the scores?

The score report includes five sections – verbal, quantitative, reading comprehension, mathematics, and language. Each score is used to calculate a composite score. The sub scores provide information on a student’s strength in these areas. It is important to review the full range of scores, and not just the composite score. The HSPT compares each student’s correct score to the national norm (a large group of students of similar age across the U.S.). The score represents not the percentage correct, but where that score falls compared to the large group of students. For example, a score of 75% indicates that your correct answers are where 75% of the norm group scored; it does not mean that 75% of the questions were answered correctly. The score is a comparison of test performance, not a measure of actual performance. Any questions regarding interpretation of scores should be directed to the admissions office of your high school of choice.

Should I complete questions if I am not exactly sure of the correct answer?

Students should answer all questions, as they are not penalized for wrong answers. The proctor explains all details prior to the start of the test.

Are prep courses a good way to prepare for the HSPT?  

STS administers the HSPT, and offers the following guidance for students who want to adequately prepare:

Testing can be an anxious, yet exciting experience for students and their parents. STS offers the following tips to best prepare for a successful testing experience:

  • Listen to and read the directions for each subtest carefully.
  • Pace yourself – time limits are set for each sub-test. Test administrators announce when time is halfway through so students can check their pace. Avoid spending too much time on one item.
  • Read each question carefully.
  • Work out the problem – Calculators are not permitted for the Mathematics subtest. Use scratch paper or the test booklet to do any figuring.
  • Answer every question – If you are unsure of an answer, take your best guess. Your score is determined by the number of items answered correctly; there is no penalty for answering incorrectly.
  • Check your work – If there is time left, go back and review your answers. Make sure each item has only one response. Throughout the test, check that the answer you are marking on your answer sheet corresponds to the item number in the test booklet.
  • While many test prep guides, books, and courses are available for purchase, STS is not affiliated with any of these products and does not endorse them. STS believes that parents and teachers are best advised to avoid expensive preparation materials, trusting that a well-rounded education is the best form of test preparation.