What's on the Test- HSPT

September 10, 2019 0 Comments

High School Placement Test

The High School Placement, or HSPT, is a detailed comprehensive assessment for eight graders looking towards curriculum placement into a high school program. The test is approximately three-hundred multiple choice questions dispersed across five specific subject areas. While the test only examines student knowledge and understanding in the general areas of English Language and mathematical skills, these areas are broken down further into a specific range of aspects to properly determine a student’s capabilities.

The following chart provides an overview of the test in the order that a student will complete the exam.


Number of Questions

Time Allotted (in Minutes)

Verbal Skills



Quantitative Skills






Mathematical Skills







298 Multiple Choice

2.5 hours

The test takes approximately two and a half hours to complete with break times built into the exam following the quantitative skills and mathematical skills sections. Calculators are not permitted for the exam, even throughout these sections.

The test aligns with national standards of education, but the HSPT is tailored to assess subject material in a specific way. While a detailed scored report will be provided to students and their selected high school programs, the scoring method provides an overview of how the HSPT is designed. Students will earn points only for correct answers. Incorrect answers are not weighted against students, so there is no penalty for guessing! The first two sections of the exam, verbal and quantitative, are used to score a student’s cognitive skills while the remaining sections of reading, math, and language are used to compile a basic skills assessment score. All of these sections are scored and contribute towards the overall composite score.  

Verbal + Quantitative = Cognitive Skills Score

Reading + Math + Language = Basic Skills Score

All sections = Composite Score

Looking at the overall assessment of English Language for students, students can expect to be tested in a variety of forms. All questions will be formatted as multiple choice questions, but each section will have different question types. Within the verbal section, students can expect to see questions regarding synonyms and antonyms, verbal classifications, logic and analogies. These questions are designed to test reasoning and logic through categorization and word association. While the synonym and antonym questions will test vocabulary knowledge, word classification and association will largely help students reason through the questions.

Vocabulary questions can be expected within the subsequent reading section. The reading section’s primary focus is to assess a student’s reading comprehension skills through passage-based question forms. Students will likely see questions that focus on determining the main ideas, details, theme, tone, and author perspectives. However, vocabulary within context contributes towards understanding, and approximately one-third of the section will also include vocabulary within the context of the reading or at least, within the use of a sentence. The language section will focus on the mechanics of English language by assessing a student’s abilities within basic capitalization, punctuation, and spelling, grammar, sentence appropriateness and topic development. While the reading section is passage based, the language section will be the foundational skills towards a student’s abilities to write strong arguments, despite the test not having a required writing or prompt section.

Similar to the English portions of the test, the mathematical sections will cover skills outlined by national guidelines of education. And similarly, the two different sections are designed to assess specific skills within these areas in a variety of ways. The quantitative section is similar to the verbal skills section as it tests a student’s reasoning and logic capabilities. The quantitative section will provide students with a variety of questions, but surrounding relationships between numbers and formulas. While the questions may require following specific steps for solving, this portion of the test will require comparisons between numbers and expressions. The mathematical skills section will focus on specific concepts of problem solving revolving around algebra, arithmetic, geometry, as well as word problems.

For more information regarding the layout of the HSPT, visit the official HSPT website.