The High School Placement Test (HSPT)

Cardinal Newman gives an examination to applicants for the 9th grade that covers five academic areas: verbal ability, quantitative ability, reading comprehension, mathematics, and language skills. An essay is also required to provide a timed writing sample. The test is one part of setting the student’s schedule and is not the sole determiner of acceptance. Transfer students are not required to take the High School Placement Test.

The High School Placement Test is taken by students entering into private high schools all over the country. However, this is a select national sample and it does not survey all 8th graders across the country. The score is determined by what percentile the student falls into compared to peers taking the same test. There are two percentiles in which students are placed; their score among those students who took the test at Cardinal Newman (local), and among those students who took the test nationally. The national percentile range is generally higher for this test than other standardized tests students have taken in the past, because the sample of students who take the test is limited to those entering private schools. Parents are sometimes surprised by their student’s score on this test, because many times it is somewhat lower than previous testing. The factors listed above must be taken into account, the limited test sample of students and percentile scoring.

Tips for Success on the High School Placement Test (HSPT)

This is not an entrance exam. The results of the test will be reviewed by an admissions committee, along with the application and material in the applicant's file. A copy of the exam results will be given to the family at the interview. Students should not experience added stress about this test.

To best prepare for the test, we suggest a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast. Juice and snacks will be provided during the test break, and if they would like to bring a snack, they may.

Time management is important on this exam. A successful strategy is to work through all the questions, leaving the difficult ones blank, and then returning to the blanks after the first pass through the section. The proctors will announce time remaining periodically to help the student.

“Should I guess?” For the most part, random guessing is not a good strategy on standardized tests. If the student can eliminate 2 or 3 choices and make an educated guess, this would most likely work to the student’s advantage. If time is running out and a number of questions are still blank, we suggest that they do not fill in blanks randomly.

We hope that these tips will help you out.


Contact Information
Patrick Piehl
Admissions Director
707.546.6470 ext. 120

Wendy Holland
Associate Admissions Director
707.546.6470 ext. 119
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