Xavier’s Annual High School Placement Test

Scantron Testing is a common method used in classes across Xavier's campus. Scantron Testing allows faster score reporting, which is especially vital for the HSPT exam in January. Photo by Camy Rael '20.

Scantron Testing is a common method used in classes across Xavier's campus. Scantron Testing allows faster score reporting, which is especially vital for the HSPT exam in January. Photo by Camy Rael '20.

Camy Rael, Campus News Editor

On Saturday, January 11th, 2020, eighth-grade girls from around the valley arrived at Xavier College Preparatory to take the required High School Placement Test. This exam evaluates students in five different categories that include Mathematics and Language skills. An individual’s performance on this test helps high schools determine their admission decision for the next school year. While many high schools do not require incoming freshmen to take an entrance exam, most private high schools require applicants to have a current score when they apply. 

Once a student has been accepted into Xavier, the Office of Admissions utilizes the results to direct people towards appropriate freshman courses based on their academic skills. In many cases, the test also allows students a chance to take additional tests such as a Spanish placement exam in an effort to test out of the courses they are already proficient in.  

For many Xavier students, the High School Placement Test is their first introduction to the world of standardized testing that they will continue to encounter throughout their four years of high school. Taking the placement test requires dedication and effort on the part of students who apply to Xavier, as they often devote time to preparing for the exam before January. 

When asked about the benefits of taking the exam as an eighth-grader, Riley Wood ‘23, stated that “The test was helpful because it made standardized testing in high school a little bit less intimidating. While the PSAT requires different tactics when taking the test, it was helpful to have been able to practice good time management skills for the exam. ” In this way, the placement test can be seen as a good time to practice for more advanced tests that are taken later in high school. 

While most students acknowledge the value of taking an entrance exam before attending Xavier, there are many people who disagree with certain aspects of standardized testing. Xavier senior, Emily Gardner ‘20, explained, “A student’s performance on this type of test is not always an accurate measure of their ability to excel in high school. There are many factors that could have affected someone the day of the test, and their score could be lower because of it.” 

The shortcomings of these tests are important to acknowledge because a student’s performance could be a result of circumstances out of their control. Accessibility to High School Placement test preparation classes and differing curriculums in different middle schools are also potential factors that affect those who take the test. Despite the many differing opinions people have on the subject, the High School Placement Test has proven to be both challenging and rewarding to those who take it.