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Are you an eighth-grade student looking to attend a Catholic high school? The High School Placement Test (HSPT) is part of the admissions process for many Catholic high schools nationwide that use HSPT score results to make admissions decisions, scholarship award selections, and curriculum placement determinations.

The exam takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to answer 298 multiple-choice questions. You don’t lose points for incorrect answers, so try to answer every questioneven if you need to guess.

The HSPT exam tests your skills in five distinct sections:

1. Verbal Skills

The verbal skills section, which is 16 minutes long, is designed to measure your ability to perform reasoning tasks that involve the use of words. This is a core performance ability that spans a wide array of content areas, including language, reading, and various areas within social studies. Some of the topics included in this section include analogy, logic, verbal classifications, synonyms, and antonyms. 

Let’s look at a sample verbal skills question:

Youth is to young as age is to:
a) people.

b) parents.

c) grandmother.

d) old.

Scroll down for the answer.

2. Quantitative Skills

The quantitative component, which is 30 minutes long, measures your ability to answer reasoning problems involving numbers and quantities. The cognitive skills you’ve acquired, both in the classroom and in your everyday life, are tested during this section of the exam. Some of the topics included in this section include sequence, reasoning, geometric comparison, and non-geometric comparison.

The following is an example of a quantitative skills question:

Look at this series: 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11,….What number should come next?
a) 22

b) 12

c) 15

d) 21

Scroll down for the answer.

3. Reading

The reading section, which is 25 minutes long, tests your overall reading comprehension, recognition of key details and ideas, ability to identify central thoughts and premises, how well you make logical inferences, and your understanding of vocabulary in context. Some of the topics included in this section include comprehension, vocabulary in context, literal comparison, inferential comparison, main idea, drawing conclusions, reasoning, implied characterization, critical composition, author purpose, compare/contrast, predictions, fact vs. fiction, and vocabulary.

Here’s a sample reading comprehension question:

Choose the word that means the same or about the same as the underlined word: to be elated
a) happy

b) akin

c) moved

d) upset

Scroll down for the answer.

4. Mathematics

The Mathematics section, which is 45 minutes long, is designed to measure your ability to perform arithmetic operations, apply key math concepts, and utilize sound mathematical reasoning to solve problems. Some of the topics included in this section include  numbers and numeration, measurements, geometry, algebra, statistics, and probability.

Let’s look at a sample measurements question:

The square root of 198 is between:
a) 19 and 20

b) 98 and 100

c) 90 and 100

d) 14 and 15

Scroll down for the answer.

5. Language Skills

The language skills section, which is 25 minutes long, evaluates your knowledge of proper English language capitalization, punctuation, grammar, spelling, usage, and composition. Some of the topics of this section include punctuation, capitalization, correct/incorrect usage, noun/pronoun, verb/adverb/adjective, other parts of speech, spelling, and composition.

Here is a sample language skills question:

Look for errors in capitalization, punctuation, or usage. If you find no mistake, choose option (D).
a) Are you coming to my birthday party?

b) The first snow fell on Sunday October 27.

c) Jack’s father drove us to the movies.

d) No mistakes

Scroll down for the answer.

Getting into Catholic High School: How to Ace the Exams

There’s also an optional 40-question test in either science, mechanical aptitude, or religion, however, many schools do not use any of the optional tests.

If you’re preparing for the HSPT test, check out Peterson’s test prep to access our online prep course and two full-length practice tests to help you get ready for the exam.

Watch our video covering HSPT test prep strategies.


1. Verbal skills: The correct answer is (D). Noun-adjective relationship.

2. Quantitative skills: The correct answer is (A). The pattern in this series is +1, × 2, +1, × 2, and so on.

3. Reading: The correct answer is (A). To be elated is to be “jubilant,” “exhilarated,” or “happy.”

4. Mathematics: The correct answer is (D). 14²= 196; 15² = 225

5. Language skills: The correct answer is (B). There should be a comma after Sunday.