What is the High School Placement Test?

May 6, 2015 by speakeasy | Test Prep, Tutoring

happy student


My student is in eighth grade and wants to apply to a private college preparatory high school. Which test is right for my student? What is the difference between the High School Placement Test (HSPT), the SSAT and the ISEE?

There are several differences in content between the HSPT, SSAT and the ISEE. The SSAT measures aptitude in synonyms, analogies, reading comprehension and writing skills (students must complete a 25-minute essay, which is not scored but is used as part of the admissions process). The math section measures aptitude in arithmetic, geometry, algebra, computations and various mathematical concepts. The HSPT measures a broader scope of skills than does the SSAT, particularly in the verbal component. In addition to synonyms, analogies and reading comprehension, the HSPT includes verbal logic, antonyms, grammar, punctuation, spelling and capitalization. The ISEE also has synonym recognition but it also has sentence completion. Like the SSAT, there is a 30 minute unscored written written essay. The HSPT math is similar to the SSAT math, and includes arithmetic, algebra, geometry and mathematical concepts. The SSAT can be taken multiple times per year, and scores can be combined from the separate tests. The ISEE can be only be taken once every six months, meaning only report one set of scores may be reported. The HSPT is administered independently. Student must take the test at each school to which they are applying. For each test, students will be given a numerical score and a percentile rank. But, schools really only look at the percentile rank. Top schools expect students to score in the top 90th percentile – better than 90 percent of test takers. Average schools want scores in the top 75th percentile, and some below-average schools will accept students in the top 50th percentile. One other difference is that the SSAT penalizes a ¼ of a point for marking a wrong answer, while neither the ISEE nor the HSPT penalize for guessing. Which test is right for your child? Well, your child’s school of choice will dictate which test to take. Catholic High Schools require the HSPT and it must be taken at each school to which your child is applying. The SSAT and the ISEE can be taken at a testing center and be sent to multiple schools of choice.

HSPT, SSAT, ISEE Comparison Chart


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Call Us Today!