HSPTTopics: Our Philosophy | About the HSPT | Should I Prep?
Cardinal Education administers a diagnostic practice test to every student before beginning tutoring. This allows us to assess strengths and weaknesses, get a baseline score, and develop an individualized tutoring plan for each student. Tutoring sessions typically last 1-1.5 hours and are held 1-2 times a week; we adapt the schedule to fit your student’s particular needs, goals, and timeline. All of our sessions are 1-on-1 tutoring, which we have found to be the most successful way to motivate and raise students’ scores. All Cardinal Education test prep tutors are highly trained specialists, who not only know the best way to do each problem, but can also explain the nuances of the test in a way that your child will understand. Students complete significant amounts of homework outside of the tutoring session and come in for multiple proctored practice tests, so they attain mastery of our nuanced strategies through rigorous practice and are prepared for the difficulty of the test. The HSPT covers concepts that many students have forgotten or have never seen before, which is why such an extensive amount of preparation is required. Contact us today to schedule a diagnostic test and get started.
About the HSPT
The HSPT is the entrance exam for 8th graders applying to Catholic high schools. We suggest beginning test prep during the summer or early fall before the HSPT. The HSPT’s content is similar to that of the ISEE and SSAT, but its structure is very different. The HSPT has much stricter time constraints and no essay, although an essay may be required by the school that is administering the test. There is no penalty for wrong answers. Since math comprises nearly half the test, and students are able to make huge strides in the math sections with a few months of prep, Cardinal Education has developed its own comprehensive math workbook designed to address the specific problem types on the HSPT.
The five sections of the HSPT are Verbal, Quantitative Skills, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics, and Language, which are explained in detail below:
Verbal: The Verbal section of the HSPT contains six different question types, scattered randomly throughout the section. The question types are synonyms, antonyms, analogies, logic questions, and “which one doesn’t belong” questions. Students are under an incredible time constraint in this section, as they must complete 60 questions in only 16 minutes. We teach students efficient and accurate approaches to each question type, and our proctored practice tests prepare students to manage the stress of trying to answer so many unfamiliar questions in such a short period of time.
Quantitative Skills and Mathematics: The Quantitative section consists almost entirely of three question types: Sequences, Setting Up Equations, and HSPT Comparisons. Over the course of tutoring, our students learn to master these question types using our comprehensive math workbook that we designed specifically to help students conquer the HSPT. The Mathematics section contains a broad mix of math questions that encompass all concepts up to and including basic algebra and geometry.
Reading Comprehension: The Reading section of the HSPT contains several reading passages, followed by questions. The Reading section also asks students 22 vocabulary questions. We teach students to read critically, eliminate answers, and utilize word associations to help them succeed on both the passages and the vocabulary questions. For students who struggle with reading, Cardinal Education’s Direct Reading and Writing Program provides a more structured and intensive curriculum that develops a student’s reading and writing skills over several months prior to or in conjunction with test prep.
Language: The Language section of the HSPT largely tests students’ ability to spot grammatical errors. Most questions in this section contain 3 sentences. Students are asked to pick which sentence, if any, contains a grammatical error. There are also two similar subsections, one in which students must search for spelling errors, and another in which students must answer questions about ideal paragraph and sentence construction. Many students find the grammar section to be the most difficult section on the HSPT but often see significant improvement after test prep. We take a two-pronged approach to the grammar section, putting students through a comprehensive grammar review while also giving special emphasis to the grammar errors that appear most often on the HSPT.
|Verbal||60 questions, 16 minutes|
|Quantitative||52 questions, 30 minutes|
|Reading||62 questions, 25 minutes|
|Mathematics||64 questions, 45 minutes|
|Language||60 questions, 25 minutes|
|Total||2 hours 21 minutes|
Does your child need to prep for the HSPT?
The makers of standardized tests will always insist that their tests are impossible to prepare for, while the schools that accept test scores will, if asked, discourage students from preparing for the test. Our results prove that with the right preparation regimen, students can master the skills needed to succeed on standardized tests. Of all the standardized tests at all levels, the HSPT is the test for which preparation adds the most value. Most students go into their first practice test and are thrown into a shock when, immediately after opening their test booklet, they are asked to answer 60 questions of all different types in only 16 minutes. The other sections of the HSPT also contain very unusual problem types, confusing directions, and a seemingly illogical structure, all of which make the HSPT highly conducive to strategy and preparation.
Additionally, the curve on which the HSPT is scored is extremely sharp for students in the Bay Area. An overall score in the 97th percentile (out of 100) among students nationwide will only be in the 74th percentile of local students. In other words, a student could be in the top 3% of HSPT scorers in the entire country yet will barely be in the top 30% of HSPT scorers in this area. A student in the top 20% of nationwide HSPT scorers could be in the bottom 40% of local scorers. Obviously, students will be competing against local students for admission to schools in the area. A high score is critical if a student wants to be a competitive applicant at any Catholic school from San Francisco to San Jose.
To find out more about how our students have fared in the past, check out our results. Contact us today to arrange a diagnostic practice test and find out what your student’s current score is.