It is widely believed that students who attend Catholic schools have a better chance of graduating from college, tend to score better on the SAT compared to non-catholic school students, and generally get better reading and math grades too. In addition to better academic performance, catholic students also have lower tuition fees compared to other versions of private schools.
Now, if you are looking for guidance in terms of preparation to get in, we have got you covered. Here are some tips to help you prep for the school of your choice-
The HSPT and How To Prepare
Nearly every catholic high school will require the student to take the High School Placement Test. According to Landon Schertz, this test is designed to examine the student’s overall knowledge of the subject matter and determine if they are fit for placement into a catholic school. Other private schools also use this test to screen applicants.
The overall test is most comparable to taking the SAT or ACT and includes questions in several domains such as verbal skills, reading, math, language skills, quantitative reasoning, and quantitative analysis. In total, there are roughly 300 questions which are answered within a time frame of two and a half hours.
The best way to practice for this exam is by taking an online practise or “mock” test. For example, the student will need to be comfortable with the fast-paced nature of the verbal skills section, which requires him/her to answer 60 questions in 16 minutes; that’s just 16 seconds for each.
Many renowned tutors like Landon Schertz recommend students also to make sure to review other subject matters like geometry, grammar rules, and reasoning skills. The good news is that the test, while fast-paced, also has straight forward and generally easy questions with only one to two moving parts. Therefore, the HSPT measures the students currently held knowledge about what they’ve learned up until that point. Not just this, but Catholic schools take up another step in making sure the student is also ready to begin a “higher level” of thinking beyond 8th grade.
The Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools determines if students are ready to learn high school material. Similar to the HSPT, the TACHS covers reading, writing, math, and general reasoning skills. Overall, the TACHS requires critical thinking and higher levels of reasoning as compared to the HSPT. Therefore, this test pushes the student a bit more but provides more time to answer the questions.
The best way to practice for the TACHS is by studying practice questions from previous years’ tests. TACHS also offers free study questions online to give students an idea of what to learn and expect on the test. There are also some prep courses offered unofficially through Landon Schertz, which can help students perform their best.
Every Catholic school will require the student to be interviewed by a panel or committee of faculty. The purpose of this is to gain a better understanding of the student and make sure they will be a good fit for the school. The review board will, therefore, ask questions about the student, including what they do in their free time, service to others, about their academic performance, and so on. In many cases, non-religious students with high academic performance also get accepted to Catholic schools.
It is advisable to ask other students about their experience of the interview and ask your peers or other adults to help you with practising. You may also be surprised about the high expectations of the interviewers and the questions they may ask. One interview question that throws most students off the course is, “Which current events interest you and why?” To answer questions like these, it is a good idea to follow the news and pay attention to what’s happening around the world.
Another common question is what the student likes to read outside of school. Again, this requires you actually to read out of class, so you may need to pick up some extra books and be prepared to answer questions about them.
Your interviewers will also dive into your relationships and activities outside of school. For instance, many students are asked to describe their families, what they do in their free time, and why they are interested in attending the catholic school; This is why tutors like Landon Schertz recommend trying to rehearse these questions with adults beforehand. It is also imperative, to be honest with your answers as the review board would rather see honesty than a grinning lie.