How to Prepare for Your New Jersey HSPA Exam (High School Proficiency Assessment)

by on September 22nd, 2013
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The state of New Jersey requires students to take the HSPA exam (High School Proficiency Assessment). Students and their parents should learn how to find the exam contents and how to prepare for this New Jersey high school proficiency exam.

The HSPA is a requirement for high school graduation in New Jersey. For those who fall below the minimum score when taking the High School Proficiency Assessment the first time in March of the 11th grade, it is possible to take it again in October and March of the student’s senior year.

The New Jersey HSPA exams – one in Math and one in Language Arts Literacy – are definitely not that easy to pass for many students. For example, according to the Executive Summary at the New Jersey Department of Education website, about 73% of all students scored as Proficient or higher on the HSPA math. Conversely, the scores on Language Arts Literacy were a little higher, with about 84% of test takers coming in with a score of Proficient or higher. Thus, for the lower tier of students in the state of New Jersey, it is definitely a challenge to reach the Proficient level on the New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment.

Because this is a graduation requirement, it would be wise for parents to have their children keep their high school textbooks, at least until they have passed the HSPA exam. These are naturally going to be the best places to learn the substantive material that may be tested on this statewide high school graduation test. Of course, some remedial classes may be available for those who fail the first time in 11th grade. But it is best to try to pass the first time, get this test out of the way, and start to focus on the SAT and other college-related activities instead of worrying about graduating from high school.

In addition to textbooks in math and English, it is best to use the HSPA test specifications. You may find these on the New Jersey Department of Education website, as well. For convenience, you will see a link to each subject’s test specifications in the Resources below.

The test specifications are like a table of contents of the proficiency exams. Use them together with the textbooks to find the substantive material that will help the student excel on the HSPA exams. If a student masters all the topics in the test specifications, he should be reasonably ready to take and pass both portions of the New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessments.

Finally, on the “Additional Information” page, you can find student handbooks for each subject (including writing) and an HSPA student preparation booklet. Use these to help supplement your study of the textbooks related to these subjects.


New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment Spring 2009 Executive Summary

New Jersey HSPA Language Arts Literacy Test Specifications

New Jersey HSPA Math Test Specifications

New Jersey Department of Education: Additional Information

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