Most high-performing, selective high schools require candidates to complete the ISEE, SSAT, HSPT, or a Selective Enrollment Exam. To understand the difference between these assessments consult “The Real Deal with High School Placement Exams.”


Basic Overview:

The Scholastic Testing Service High School Placement Test, or HSPT, is given to eighth-graders seeking admission to specific Catholic high schools. Schools use exam results to make admissions decisions, to place applicants, and to determine scholarship awards.

The standard HSPT lasts 2 hours 20 minutes and contains 298 multiple-choice questions divided into five sections—Verbal, Quantitative, Reading, Mathematic, and Language Skills. The Scholastic Testing Service also provides a choice of one optional test in Mechanical Aptitude, Science, or Catholic Religion, but many schools do not administer these tests, and these test results are not included in the percentile ranking.

5 Sections:


  • 16 minutes
  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • Synonyms, antonyms, analogies, logic, verbal classifications

Click here to learn about specific strategies for the HSPT Verbal section.


  • 30 minutes
  • 52 multiple-choice questions
  • Series, geometric and non-geometric comparisons, and number manipulations

Reading Comprehension:

  • 25 minutes
  • 62 multiple-choice questions
  • Main idea, details, and vocabulary


  • 45 minutes
  • 64 multiple-choice questions
  • Arithmetic, algebra, and geometry

Language Skills:

  • 25 minutes
  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • Capitalization, punctuation, spelling, usage, and composition


Each question answered correctly on the HSPT is worth one point. There is no penalty or deduction for incorrect answers.

Your raw score, or the total number of points you earn, is tallied and then converted to a scaled score ranging from 200 to 800.

The Scholastic Testing Service will also determine your percentile rank according to your scaled score. Percentile rank shows where you stand in relationship to other students and allows the schools to compare candidates more easily. There is no passing or failing score on the HSPT, although each school determines what a desirable score is for its candidates.


The HSPT is administered at the school to which you want to apply on one specific Saturday in mid-January. Contact the school (in Chicago Loyola Academy or St. Ignatius College Prep) to find out where and when the test is offered. Schools will provide registration forms, a handbook of instructions, and an admission ticket to the exam. A registration fee is usually required although the actually fees vary by school.

Practice Tests:

Download and complete the practice tests below for an idea of what your student will score. These are not completely accurate, but are a good starting place. Consider hiring a tutor to help your student improve his/her score on the official assessment.

Redwood Prep HSPT Mini Diagnostic Practice Test

Bishop McNamara HSPT Mini Diagnostic Practice Test

HSPT Verbal 21 Questions

HSPT Verbal 15 Questions

HSPT Quantative 41 Questions

HSPT Reading 30 Questions

HSPT Math (Basic & Advanced Algebra) 25 questions

HSPT Guide with Practice Questions

2014 Peterson’s Master the Catholic High School Entrance Exams Guide & Practice Questions Ch 1-19, plus 2 full Practice Tests (#5 & 6)

2015 Peterson’s Master the Catholic High School Entrance Exams Test #5

epdf HSPT Guide and 2 Practice Tests