H.S.P.A. Testing Has Returned

Insight on How to Get Passed the Dreaded Exam
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

H.S.P.A. Testing
Line up your number two pencils and start the clocks because the HSPA's are here.

Every year, the HSPA, or the High School Proficiency Exam, is administered to eleventh grade high school students by the state of New Jersey, which they are required to pass in order to receive that coveted diploma at graduation (think, the close cousin of the NJASK).

The three sections that are tested by the exam are reading, writing and mathematics, in the forms of multiple choice and short answer questions. In addition, students are required to show their knowledge in persuasive and expository writing, with written essays that will be scored by HSPA test examiners. The test is administered over a course of three days with timed sections for each subject and short breaks in between where students may sharpen pencils or go to the bathroom.

This year, sleepy juniors gathered in the C gym, which had conveniently been converted into a testing room, to take the exam. Lines of desks filled the gym to its capacity and each desk was personalized with its own information sticker of a unique student (desks were organized in alphabetical order by last name). Once everyone had taken their seats, the school counselors began to read directions and standard regulations expected of any state exam. Highlights of this speech include the prohibition of beverages, food, and cell phones, from the testing room, with no exceptions and strict consequences.

After booklets were filled out and timers were set, the testing finally began. Sections could generally be expected to range from 30-60 minute, with extra time typically spent remaining at a desk. After the day's testing was finished, students were either dismissed to their classes or to lunch.

Although standardized tests may seem like a pain, everyone has to endure them and they're generally a good way to display your abilities. Here are some helpful tips/tricks to make sure you do the best you can on that upcoming exam:

Get a good amount of sleep: You definitely won't be doing your best on a test if you're hallucinating from lack of sleep the night before. A good night's sleep goes a long way. If you're well rested, you'll generally be happier, more focused and ready to kill it on your exam.

Eat good food: You don't want to hear your stomach growling while you're taking a test (chances are, you don't want your testing neighbor to hear it either). They don't call breakfast the most important meal of the day for nothing. If you're not a breakfast person just try to eat something, it doesn't have to be last supper-size proportions. A granola bar or smoothie will surely get the job done.

Seriously, don't bring in your cell phone: It's not worth it. If you're caught, proctors will be forced to confiscate your test and you'll be done for the day. Just don't do it.

Relax: You're not going to do your best work if you're nervous/freaking out during this test. Chill out. This test is not a measure of your complete intelligence/ your worth as a person. Come in confident and you'll crush it.

Check your materials: Make sure all of your pencils are #2 (trust me, I'm speaking from experience, and yes, surprisingly they do make other types). Scantrons sometimes don't pick up writing from different types of pencils and you do not want to get a zero for that section. Also, come prepared, bring more than one pencil and if you're super on top of it, bring in a hand sharpener for your pencils.