High School Admissions

Students who plan to apply to independent or private high schools begin preparing for the required high school admissions tests at the end of their seventh grade year by polishing foundational skills and taking the STS’ High School Placement Test (HSPT) as a baseline.
Starting in the fall of their eighth grade year, students take a High School Preparatory  class twice a week to prepare them for these high school admissions process and entrance tests. In the Winter Trimester, eighth grade students take the High School Placement Test (HSPT) and/or the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT).
Students also begin high shadow visit days where they go for a full day to visit their top high school choices to get a feel for the school environment and academic setting. Here is the High School Interest Chart to help students keep track of the most important information as they begin their search for their right fit school.
Suggested Agenda for Eighth Grade Year:
  1. Learn about high school options and determine what type of school would be a "best fit" for your child.
  2. Review High School Open House dates and other High School Admissions Fairs
  3. Review Application Process and Deadlines.
  4. Register for SSAT Test.
  5. Register for HSPT Workshop.
  6. Register for HSPT Test.
  7. Register for Student Visit Days at all interested high schools.
  8. Narrow down High School Log to top schools of choice and include a back-up choice.
  9. Apply to High School choices.

High School Placement Testing Options

Seventh graders have one practice test opportunity. Eighth graders have three different test options for high school admissions.
Seventh Grade
  • Practice High School Placement Test (PHSPT)
Eighth Grade
  • High School Placement Test (HSPT)
  • Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT)
  • Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE)
Click on the links below to learn more about each test:

Practice High School Placement Test (PHSPT)

The PHSPT is an opportunity for seventh graders to take a full test as a practice for the real one during their eighth grade year. The PHSPT is offered at Holy Names High School and Bishop O'Dowd during the Spring. Pre-registration is required.

The HSPT is taken by students who are interested in attending a Catholic school. It is created by the Scholastic Testing Service and is used mainly for students entering 9-12 high schools. The test lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes with breaks. It has five multiple-choice sections. The test covers Verbal Skills, Language Skills, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Concepts, and Quantitative Skills.
The test results are reported on a range from 200-800 point scale. The score report includes national and local percentile ranks. All of the report information is sent directly to the schools that are selected on the answer sheet.
Click here for more information about the HSPT and to register: High School Placement Test (HSPT).
The SSAT is for students interested in enrolling in an independent school. It is created by the Secondary School Admission Test Board. The test can be taken by 3-11 graders. The test lasts 3 hours and 5 minutes. It has four multiple choice sections - Verbal, Reading, and two Quantitative - and an unscored writing sample.
The score report scores are based on how the entire group tests for that particular test not necessarily how well any one student does with the test. The score is scaled for each section and is then rolled into a cumulative score for the entire test. The Scaled Score Percentile Rank is the most useful in seeing how a student compares to their peers who took the same test. The SSAT testing group is very competitive, so it is not unusual that scores may seem lower than other exams due to the high performance of the applicant pool.
Read through the SSAT At-A-Glance Packet for more information regarding the test format, registration, score reporting, and interpreting results.
Click here for more information and to register for the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT).

SSAT Test Registration Calendar

The ISEE has three levels with the Upper Level for candidantes going into 9-12 grade. The ISEE is created by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). It consists of three parts: (a) carefully constructed and standardized verbal and quantitative reasoning tests that measure a student's capability for learning; (b) reading comprehension and mathematics achievement tests that provide specific information about a student's strengths and weakness in those areas; and (c) an essay section.
The ISEE cannot be taken for practice; it may be only taken for the purpose of providing scores to participating schools as part of the admissions process. An applicant can only take the ISEE once per admission season or six month window.
Click here to find sample questions, more information, and registration at the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE).