As far as high school entrance exams go, the HSPT is generally thought of as being an easier test than the ISEE or the SSAT. While this may be true, in my mind, it doesn’t take away from the excellence of what is tested on the HSPT.
The HSPT tests fundamental math and English concepts that students really need to have mastered before entering high school. We know that to advance to more complex topics, students must first be incredibly proficient with the basics. While the basics may be easy, they still must be mastered to excel at higher levels of education.
The Language, Reading and Math subtests of the HSPT are incredibly practical. Language consists mainly of English grammar which is the cornerstone of speaking well and writing well. Reading consists of comprehension and vocabulary. Both of which complement each other in the real world. The better one’s vocabulary, the better one comprehends what he or she reads. And the more one reads, the better one’s vocabulary becomes. I am a huge proponent of reading, specifically non-fiction, and I believe reading is the one of the best ways to learn and become educated. Math consists of the true fundamentals needed for success at higher math: fractions, decimals, percentages, negative numbers, exponents, square roots, simple geometry, simple algebra, simple statistics, and simple measurements. It is so practical that there are problems about sales tax on the test.
Then there are the Verbal and Quantitative subtests. Verbal consists mainly of knowledge of vocabulary, but it tests it in such a way that it feels like a puzzle. Analogies, for example, require students to make connections between words. Verbal Classification problems require students to think critically about which word does not belong in a set of words. Quantitative tests a student’s ability to spot patterns and logically manipulate numbers. The timing aspect for both subtests is very challenging for many students, but I believe this is a great thing. As with many things in life, time is of the essence.