The prep course helps students improve their high school placement test scores

Students interested in applying to Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore can increase their chances of being accepted with a new High School Placement Test (HSPT) Preparatory Course.

Introduced last year, the Archdiocesan course prepares candidates by deepening their academic knowledge and offering testing strategies.

The standardized HSPT, administered by Scholastic Testing Services, is required of all eighth graders applying to the Archdiocese’s 18 Catholic high schools. Test performance is one of the key factors secondary schools use to review applications. It is also used for scholarship selection and course placement.

The test has five sections that measure verbal ability, quantitative ability, reading comprehension, math, and written language components.

Dr. Eric Watts, director of studies for the Catholic Schools Department of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said the prep course was introduced to help make the application process fairer.

In the past, he said, college students in wealthier areas typically had access to test prep services that were often lacking in economically challenged communities.

“We wanted to provide equitable services to all of our high school applicants,” Watts said.

Offered online, each preparatory course section is limited to 20 students and is taught by a teacher specializing in reading and language and another specializing in mathematics. Last year, 735 students took the course.

Watts noted that last year, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was among the top performing dioceses in the nation for students in Catholic schools who took the HSPT.

“What’s most exciting is that the kids who were in the prep class last year scored 12 percentile points higher than the kids who weren’t in the class,” Watts said.

This year’s preparation course will run for nine weeks (one week longer than last year) starting September 19. It is open to any eighth grade student enrolled in a Catholic school, private or public, and also includes home-schooled families. The cost is $100.

Watts expects 2,000 students to participate in the prep program this year.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is the only diocese to offer an HSPT preparation course, Watts said. While the vast majority of participants are local, the course attracts students from other parts of the country.

“It’s a high-quality program that’s incredible value for families,” he said.

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Email George P. Matysek Jr. at [email protected]

  • Students who took the Archdiocesan Placement Test Preparation Course last year scored 12 percentile points higher than those who did not
  • 735 eighth graders completed the Archdiocesan HSPT Prep Course last year
  • 2,000 eighth graders expected to take Archdiocesan HSPT prep course this year

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