This is a question we get a lot. Or a variation of this question: What score does my child need on the HSPT® to gain acceptance to a Catholic high school?
These are hard questions to answer because they are very subjective. One consideration is the high school being applied to. For very competitive high schools, a higher HSPT® score will be needed because there are limited spots available and a high HSPT® score is a way for a student to stand out from other applicants. If the high school is not very competitive, and everyone who applies gets in, then the HSPT® score won’t carry much weight at all (besides possibly being used for scholarships).
Religion is another consideration. Catholic high schools try to keep a majority of spots for Catholic students. This means that there are fewer spots for non-Catholic students, which in turn, makes these spots more competitive. With more competition, a higher HSPT® score is generally needed.
I like to compare the HSPT® for high school admissions to the SAT® for college admissions. What is a good SAT® score? What SAT® score is needed to get into college? This will vary a great deal depending on the college being applied to. Can you get into Stanford with a low SAT® score? It’s possible, I suppose, but not very likely. It’s also true that no SAT® score can guarantee acceptance, even a perfect score, and this applies to the HSPT® as well. With that being said, if a student achieves a perfect SAT® score, that student will most likely be accepted into his or her first-choice college. Again, the same applies to the HSPT®. Additionally, the lower an SAT® score the lower the chance of getting into a very competitive college. The lower an HSPT® score the lower the chance of getting into a very competitive high school.
To give a concrete answer, though, I consider any HSPT® score in the 95th percentile or above to be a great score. This means that the student is in the top 5% of test-takers nationwide. This is a score that will give the greatest chance of acceptance to any high school being applied to. Although this sounds like a hard test score to attain, it is actually very achievable if a student is willing to study and work hard in preparing for the HSPT®. It may come as a surprise, but a student can miss 50 problems out of 298 total on the HSPT® and still score in the top 5% of all test-takers.
We routinely have students score in the 99th percentile on the HSPT® after taking a class with us, which is the highest possible score a student can achieve on the HSPT®. We’ve also seen Catholic students accepted with HSPT® scores as low as the 70th percentile (occasionally even lower), so there is definitely a range of acceptable scores for admission. The one thing that is certain, however, is that the higher the HSPT® score a student achieves the better chance he or she has at acceptance (and scholarships!).