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How to Interpret STS High School Placement Test Results

by Lori Garrett-Hatfield, studioD

Scholastic Testing Services offers a high school placement test. Academic and parochial high schools use the test to determine entrance requirements, eligibility for programs and scholarships and class placement. Parents and test takers need to be able to interpret test results in order to understand how it measures the student's abilities.

The STS High School Placement Test

The High School Placement Test is usually given to students in eighth or ninth grade. The test consists of five sections: verbal skills, quantitative skills, reading, mathematics and language. Some schools require another section in religion, mechanical aptitude or science, depending on the focus of their curriculum. Students will need at least two and a half hours to finish the test. The HSPT is used to measure the basic skills, achievement and readiness of students entering high school. After students take the test, they will receive an individual score report with their cognitive skills scores, basic skills scores and composite scores.

Cognitive Skills Subtests

The HSPT includes two cognitive skills subtests. The verbal skills subtest measures a student's proficiency level in word usage in analogies, cause/effect, definitions, synonyms and antonyms. The quantitative skills subtest measures a student's ability to solve word problems in math and science. The results of the verbal and quantitative tests can be found on the student score report in the cognitive skills column. Results are presented as a percentile score, telling you what percentage of students nationally had lower scores than the student whose scores you are looking at. Also, both the verbal and quantitative test scores are combined to obtain a total cognitive score (TCS).

Basic Skills Subtests

Three subtests make up the basic skills subtests: reading, language and mathematics. The reading test measures a student's ability to understand main ideas and important details, along with themes, an author's purpose and inference. It also measures a student's ability to recognize and understand vocabulary when used in context. The language test measures the student's understanding of grammar, conventions and sentence usage. Students are asked to perform calculations and use reasoning skills on the mathematics test. These three scores are reported on the student score report as percentile rankings, as is a total basic skills score. If the student was required to take an optional test in religion, science or mechanical aptitude, the score would appear after the total basic skills score.

Other Scores On The Test

Some scores at the bottom of the Student Score Report are composites of several test scores. The Battery Composite is the composite of all five subtests and is reported as a percentile ranking. The Cognitive Skills Quotient number looks like an IQ number score and can be thought of in terms of how much aptitude the student has for learning, both now and in the future. The Grade Equivalents Scores let students and their parents know how they measure relative to their grade-level material.

About the Author

Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.

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