Catholic High School Entrance Exams for Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Providing Perspective on Catholic High School Entrance Exams

Part II: Vanquishing the Verbal Questions

Part III: Mastering Math and Conquering Quantitative Questions

Part IV: Practice Makes Perfect

Part V: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Providing Perspective on Catholic High School Entrance Exams

Chapter 1: Getting to Know You: Meet the HSPT, TACHS, and COOP

Understanding How Schools Use Your Score

The entrance exam as an admissions requirement

The entrance exam as a placement tool

The entrance exam as a source of scholarships

Covering Most of the Country: The HSPT

Figuring out the format of the HSPT

Scoring the HSPT

For New Yorkers Only: The TACHS

Deciphering the format of the TACHS

Scoring the TACHS

Strictly for the Garden State: The COOP

Walking through the COOP’s format

Scoring the COOP

Chapter 2: Executing a Plan for Success

Looking at What You Need to Do before the Exam

Registering for your entrance exam and picking a testing site

Deciding what to bring to the exam (and what to leave at home)

Requesting accommodations

Maximizing Your Score on Test Day

Answer every question

Manage your answer sheet

Take advantage of extra time

Eliminate incorrect answer choices

Manage your time wisely

Calm your nerves

Part II: Vanquishing the Verbal Questions

Chapter 3: Unlocking the Mysteries of Vocabulary, Synonyms, and Antonyms

Improving Your Vocabulary

Noticing parts of speech

Breaking up unfamiliar words

Scoring Points with Synonyms

Working out the meaning of words in context for the TACHS and HSPT

Handling other types of synonym questions on the HSPT

Outwitting the Ever-Tricky Antonym

Chapter 4: Analyzing Analogy Questions

Comparing COOP and HSPT Analogy Questions

Working Your Way through Analogies

Recognizing the Types of Relationships Featured in Analogy Questions

Functional relationships

Degree relationships

Part-of-a-whole relationships

Developmental relationships

Characteristic relationships

Uncharacteristic relationships

Chapter 5: Two out of Three “Rs”: Reading and Writing Questions

Distinguishing among the Different Reading and Writing Question Formats

How Not to Get Stumped by Reading Comprehension Questions

Comprehending what you read regardless of the subject matter

Moving quickly by knowing what to focus on

Answering questions by first pinning down the question type

Eliminating answer choices

Dealing with exception questions

Tackling Written Composition Questions

Clarifying sentences

Organizing paragraphs

Chapter 6: Acing Spelling and Mechanics Questions

Spelling 101: I before E except after C and All That Other Stuff

Following the rules

Honing in on some commonly confused homophones

Approaching spelling questions on the TACHS and HSPT

Recalling Writing Mechanics

Punctuation rules for every persuasion

Capitalization issues, large and small

Strategies for spotting errors in punctuation and capitalization

Chapter 7: Getting a Grip on Grammar and Usage

Building a Solid Foundation: Grammar Basics

Reviewing the parts of speech

Piecing together the parts of a sentence

Spotting Mistakes: Commonly Tested Errors

Picking up on pronoun errors

Getting subjects and verbs to agree

Calling out sentence fragments

Dealing with verb tense issues

Identifying problems with parallelism

Eliminating redundancy and wordiness

Sticking to standard expressions

Recognizing misplaced modifiers

Chapter 8: Solving the Puzzle of Verbal Reasoning Questions

Introducing the Types of Verbal Reasoning Questions

Deciding what’s necessary

Filling in the blank

Selecting the word that isn’t like the others

Determining truth for logic questions

Grasping the Basics of Informal Logic

Drawing conclusions

Recognizing faulty logic

Puzzling Out Logic Questions

Coping with the COOP’s logic questions

Handling the HSPT’s logic questions

Chapter 9: Giving Your Verbal Skills a Workout with Practice Questions

Sampling a Mix of Vocabulary Questions

Testing Yourself on COOP- and HSPT-Style Analogies

Trying Your Hand at Reading and Writing Questions

Looking at All the Different Language Questions

Facing Verbal Reasoning Questions on the COOP and HSPT

Part III: Mastering Math and Conquering Quantitative Questions

Chapter 10: Acing Arithmetic Problems

Delving into the Details of Numbers

Keeping it real: Types of numbers

Visualizing the lineup: The number line

Working in absolutes: Absolute value

Factoring it all in: Prime numbers

Minor Surgery: Reviewing Basic Mathematical Operations

Adding up the properties of addition

Cutting down the properties of subtraction

Increasing greatly through properties of multiplication

Splitting hairs with properties of division

Performing basic operations with odds and evens and positives and negatives

Climbing Up the Complexity Ladder: More Advanced Arithmetic

Breaking a whole into parts: Fractions, decimals, and percentages

Drawing comparisons: Ratios and proportions

Sizing things up: Rounding and estimating

Covering your bases: Exponents and roots

Meeting in the middle: Average, median, and mode

Following the Order of Operations

Chapter 11: Venturing into the Unknown with Variables

Variables 101: Flashing Back to the Basics

Coming to Terms with Basic Algebraic Equations

Adding and subtracting by keeping like with like

Multiplying and dividing terms with variables

Mastering multiple operations with variable expressions

Isolating variables to figure out what they are

Substituting to solve equations

Knowing More Than Enough about Inequalities

Chapter 12: Getting the Right Angle on Geometry Problems

Walking the Straight and Narrow (And Sometimes Wide) of Lines and Angles

Defining lines and angles

Fishing for the facts about lines and angles

Getting into Basic Shapes

Adding a line to an angle to create triangles

Squaring up with quadrilaterals

Handling polygons with more than four sides

Piecing together circles

Welcome to the 3-D World of Solid Figures

Working with rectangular solids and cubes

Summing up cylinders

Traveling from Point to Point on the Coordinate Plane

Chapter 13: Making Sense out of Math Word Problems

Translating English into Math

Punching the Clock: Work Problems

Going the Distance: Rate Problems

The Ins and Outs of Graphs and Charts

Reporting values with tables

Depicting range and comparing data with bar graphs

Looking at things over time with line graphs

Piecing together the whole with pie charts

Visualizing relationships with Venn diagrams

Approaching chart and graph questions

Chapter 14: Sifting through Sequence Problems

Discovering the Design in the Picture Sequence

Defining picture sequences

Strategizing your approach to picture sequence questions

Noticing the Pattern in Number Sequences

Solving the HSPT number sequence questions

Cracking the COOP number sequence questions

Looking Closely at Letter Sequences on the COOP

Picturing letters as figures

Counting letters like numbers

Chapter 15: Comprehending Comparisons and Other Quantitative Relationships

Weighing the Values for Comparison Questions

Sizing up HSPT comparisons

Balancing COOP symbol relationships

Deciphering Numerical Relationships on the COOP

Evaluating Shapes, Symbols, and Sets

Making the connection among similar shapes, TACHS-style

Unveiling the approach to TACHS fold-and-punch questions

Finding shades of meaning in shaded figures on the COOP

Memorizing a little set terminology

Chapter 16: Everything but the Kitchen Sink: A Hodgepodge of Math Practice Questions

Mastering a Little Math

Sampling Some COOP Sequence Problems

Quickening Your Quantitative Reasoning and Comparisons Skills

Part IV: Practice Makes Perfect

Chapter 17: HSPT Practice Test 1

Answer Sheet for HSPT Practice Test 1

Chapter 18: Answers to HSPT Practice Test 1

Section 1: Verbal Skills

Section 2: Quantitative Skills

Section 3: Reading

Section 4: Mathematics

Section 5: Language

Answer Key for HSPT Practice Test 1

Chapter 19: HSPT Practice Test 2

Answer Sheet for HSPT Practice Test 2

Section 5: Language

Chapter 20: Answers to HSPT Practice Test 2

Section 1: Verbal Skills

Section 2: Quantitative Skills

Section 3: Reading

Section 4: Mathematics

Section 5: Language

Answer Key for HSPT Practice Test 2

Chapter 21: TACHS Practice Test 1

Answer Sheet for TACHS Practice Test 1

Chapter 22: Answers to TACHS Practice Test 1

Reading Section

Language Section

Math Section

Ability Section

Answer Key for TACHS Practice Test 1

Chapter 23: TACHS Practice Test 2

Answer Sheet for TACHS Practice Test 2

Chapter 24: Answers to TACHS Practice Test 2

Reading Section

Language Section

Math Section

Ability Section

Answer Key for TACHS Practice Test 2

Chapter 25: COOP Practice Test 1

Answer Sheet for COOP Practice Test 1

Chapter 26: Answers to COOP Practice Test 1

Test 1: Sequences

Test 2: Analogies

Test 3: Quantitative Reasoning

Test 4: Verbal Reasoning—Words

Test 5: Verbal Reasoning—Context

Test 6: Reading and Language Arts

Test 7: Mathematics

Answer Key for COOP Practice Test 1

Chapter 27: COOP Practice Test 2

Answer Sheet for COOP Practice Test 2

Chapter 28: Answers to COOP Practice Test 2

Test 1: Sequences

Test 2: Analogies

Test 3: Quantitative Reasoning

Test 4: Verbal Reasoning—Words

Test 5: Verbal Reasoning—Context

Test 6: Reading and Language Arts

Test 7: Mathematics

Answer Key for COOP Practice Test 2

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 29: Ten Test-Taking Traps to Avoid

Don’t Try to Cram the Night Before

Don’t Lose Your Focus

Don’t Stew Over Questions on Prior Sections

Don’t Pay Attention to Other Test-Takers

Don’t Waste Your Time on Hard Questions

Don’t Read Questions Too Quickly

Don’t Lose Track of the Answers on Your Sheet

Don’t Blow Off Extra Time

Don’t Bring Electronic Devices with You

Don’t Cheat, Duh

Chapter 30: Attention, Parents! Ten Ways You Can Help Your Child Succeed on the Exam

Give Him Awesome Test Prep Materials

Encourage Her to Study

Supply Him with a Good Study Environment

Take Practice Tests with Her

Model Good Grammar for Him

Quiz Her on Spelling Words

Help Him Memorize Math Formulas

Flash Her Vocabulary Notecards

Get Him to the Test Site on Time

Help Her Keep a Proper Perspective

Catholic High School Entrance Exams For Dummies®

About the Authors

Lisa Zimmer Hatch, MA, and Scott A. Hatch, JD, have prepared teens and adults for college and careers since 1987. They were owners of The Center for Legal Studies for more than 20 years, during which time they created and administrated standardized test preparation and legal career courses offered online and in live-lecture format through more than 300 universities nationwide. Currently, Lisa is an Independent College Counselor and president of College Primers, where she applies her expertise to guiding high school and college students through the admissions process. She dedicates herself to helping clients gain admission to the colleges or programs that fit best with their goals and personalities. Scott is President of Hatch Education, a company that provides career training courses and continuing legal education for attorneys.

Lisa graduated with honors in English from the University of Puget Sound and received a master’s degree in humanities with a literature emphasis from California State University. She is currently completing the UCLA College Counseling Certificate Program. She is a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the Rocky Mountain Association of College Admissions Counselors (RMACAC).

Scott received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and his Juris Doctorate from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Scott is listed in Who’s Who in California and Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities and was named one of the Outstanding Young Men of America by the United States Jaycees. He was a contributing editor to The Judicial Profiler and the Colorado Law Annotated series and has served as editor of several award-winning publications.

Scott and Lisa have coauthored numerous career training and standardized test preparation books, including Paralegal Procedures and Practices, 2nd Edition (Cengage/Delmar Publishing); Paralegal Career For Dummies; GMAT For Dummies, 5th Edition; SAT II U.S. History For Dummies; SAT II Biology For Dummies; and SAT II Math For Dummies (all from Wiley Publishing).


We dedicate Catholic High School Entrance Exams For Dummies to Alison, Andrew, Zachary, Zoe, Dan, and Paige. Our family demonstrated patience, understanding, and assistance while we wrote this book, and we’re very blessed to have them in our lives.

Authors’ Acknowledgments

This book wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of Zachary Hatch, Zoe Hatch, Bryan Gomez, and Morgan Burrows, who provided practice test material and helpful input, as well as Barbara Zimmer, who provided lots of moral support. We also acknowledge the input of the thousands of students who’ve completed our test preparation courses over the last 30 years. The classroom and online contributions offered by these eager learners have provided us with lots of information about what areas require the greatest amount of preparation.

Our project organization and attempts at wit were greatly facilitated by the editing professionals at Wiley Publishing. Our thanks go out to Alissa Schwipps and Mike Baker for their patience and guidance throughout the process and to Jen Tebbe, Cindy Kaplan, Masahiko J. Taniguchi, and Alexsis Venter for their attention to detail and helpful suggestions during the editing process.

Finally, we wish to thank our literary agent, Margo Maley Hutchinson, at Waterside Productions in Cardiff for her support and assistance and for introducing us to the innovative For Dummies series.

We thrive on feedback from our students and encourage our readers to provide comments and critiques at

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

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Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

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If you’re reading this book, you’re probably planning to attend a Catholic high school. Congratulations on your dedication to an excellent education! But before you can don your uniform and complain about your class schedule, you have to take one of three possible entrance exams. The test you take — whether that’s the HSPT, the TACHS, or the COOP — will tell your chosen high school a little bit about how prepared you are for the next step in your education. High school administrators evaluate your score and use it to determine what classes to put you in and even whether to give you a little scholarship money. We don’t want to put undue pressure on you, but you do have to get ready for the challenge. How do you prepare for a test you’ve never seen? Sure, you can read through your notes from English and math classes (if only you’d taken any). Or you can watch a lot of Jeopardy! But we have a better way. . . .

Catholic High School Entrance Exams For Dummies puts at your fingertips everything you need to know to conquer the exam required by your future Catholic high school. We give you a complete review of the language, reading, math, quantitative relationship, and logic concepts the various entrance exams test. We also provide insight into how to avoid the pitfalls that standardized test-takers sometimes encounter.

About This Book

If you’re like most 13- and 14-year-olds, studying for your Catholic high school entrance exam is the absolute last thing you want to do. We get that. Really, we do. That’s why we’ve filled Catholic High School Entrance Exams For Dummies with clearly written advice presented in an easy-to-swallow, casual tone. The other great thing about this book is that you can get in and get out to find what you need quickly. You don’t have to read this book from cover to cover. If you have an extra hour before basketball practice or clarinet lessons, you can devour a chapter or even a particular section within a chapter. If you just want to brush up on your grammar skills or perfect your analogy-deciphering ability, you can gobble up the relevant chapter or section and forget about the rest. (If these eating metaphors are making you hungry, then by all means take a snack break.)

Note: Some of the sections in this book are applicable to only one or two tests. For instance, if you’re taking the TACHS exam, you won’t encounter any of the question types covered in the chapter on verbal reasoning. You may want to refer to the table of contents at the front of this book to see which sections apply to the particular test required by the high school you’re planning to attend.

The sample questions we sprinkle throughout each chapter in Parts II and III read like the actual test questions. Because the best way to gear up for any standardized test is to practice, practice, practice on lots of test questions, we give you well over 1,000 opportunities to answer questions and get familiar with the way your exam phrases questions and presents answer choices. Then there’s the pièce de résistance of the book: two full-length practice tests for each of the three Catholic high school entrance exams (complete with full-length answer chapters to explain the answers to each and every test question).

Ultimately, we want you to succeed on whichever exam you’re taking, so we’re dedicated to giving you time-tested techniques for improving your score. In the following pages, you discover how to quickly spot incorrect answer choices, make educated guesses based on what you know, and manage your time wisely for the best possible score. With Catholic High School Entrance Exams For Dummies, you have all you need to ace the HSPT, TACHS, or COOP so you can move on to more important matters — arranging to get the cute classmate sitting next to you in science class to be your lab partner without seeming too interested.

Conventions Used in This Book

To help you find your way through this book — as in all For Dummies books — we’ve used the following basic conventions:

Italics highlight new words and terms that we’re defining. They also point out individual words or short phrases that we want to draw your attention to.

Boldfaced text indicates the actions in numbered steps and keywords in bulleted lists.

Monofont alerts you to the presence of a Web address.

You’ll also notice that some of the chapters contain sidebars (a paragraph or two in a shaded box). Sidebars contain quirky bits of information that we think may interest you but that aren’t essential to your performance on any of the Catholic high school entrance exams. Skip over ’em if you’d prefer; you won’t hurt our feelings — too much.

Finally, some words may appear in this font. These are vocabulary words we’ve chosen to shine a spotlight on to help you prep for your exam.

Foolish Assumptions

Here’s the most important assumption we’re making about you: You’re most likely an eighth-grader planning on attending a Catholic high school, and you’ve been told you must take an entrance exam. (Yes indeed — we’ve been praised for our startling ability to recognize the obvious!) Generally, students who attend parochial schools make learning a top priority, so we’re also thinking that you’re a pretty motivated student. And it’s likely that your grade and middle school years have been spent in a parochial environment too, which means you’ve had an awesome education already. Good for you!

Most of the concepts you’ll encounter on the Catholic high school entrance exam you’re facing aren’t new to you, but the way they’re presented can be downright weird for some question types. So, even if you’re a math whiz with a college-level vocabulary, you should expose yourself to the question types ahead of time just so you know what to expect. What if you’re at the other end of the spectrum and are wishing you paid a little more attention in Miss O’Brien’s algebra class? No worries; we’re ready for you, too. Inside these pages are thorough math and English reviews just in case you’ve been napping in class.

How This Book Is Organized

Catholic High School Entrance Exams For Dummies is divided into five parts that are packed with important information to get you ready for exam day. We organized these parts so you can easily navigate through the book to find whatever topic you’re looking for. Following is a quick look at what each part covers.

Part I: Providing Perspective on Catholic High School Entrance Exams

This part tells you how to figure out which exam you’re supposed to take, how Catholic high schools use each of the exams, and what each exam looks like. It also helps you get super-organized for your test-taking adventure. It features information on registering for your exam, assembling everything you need to take with you to the testing site, and developing a tried-and-true strategy for moving successfully and efficiently through the test questions.

Part II: Vanquishing the Verbal Questions

Here’s where you discover what kinds of language and reading questions appear on the entrance exams. Get ready to encounter all sorts of ways to play with vocabulary words, find out how to approach analogies in words and pictures, train your brain to think logically, and create a plan for working through reading comprehension passages and their questions. This part also includes pithy reviews of proper grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, and sentence construction.

Part III: Mastering Math and Conquering Quantitative Questions

The third part of the book is more than just an exciting overview of every math class you’ve had since kindergarten. In addition to reviews of the traditional math concepts of arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and word problems, you discover how to tackle other inventive quantitative question types. The Catholic high school entrance exams present you with creative questions that ask you to complete number and picture sequences, evaluate shapes and figures, balance squares and triangles on scales, and figure out strange-seeming hole-punch problems.

Part IV: Practice Makes Perfect

As promised, after you feel comfortable with your increased vocabulary, memorized math formulas, and that hole-punch question type, you can put your skills to the test tackling the full-length exams contained in this part. For your testing enjoyment, we include two HSPTs, two TACHSs, and two COOPs. Each exam comes complete with a sample bubble answer sheet so you can practice filling in circles, as well as thorough explanations of all the answers.

Part V: The Part of Tens

No For Dummies book is complete without The Part of Tens, and this book is no different. Here, we include ten important test-taking strategies you should apply to master the exam you’re facing. We also include a chapter for you to share with your parents so they know their role in helping you do your best. (They didn’t think they could just buy you this book and ditch you, did they?)

Icons Used in This Book

One exciting feature of Catholic High School Entrance Exams For Dummies is the icons that highlight especially significant portions of the text. These little pictures in the margins alert you to areas where you should pay particularly close attention.

example_gre.eps This icon is pretty self-explanatory. When you see it, you know you’re going to get to practice the particular area of instruction covered in that section with a question like one you may see on the test. Our examples include detailed explanations of how to most efficiently answer exam questions and avoid common pitfalls.

headsup.eps Information tagged with this icon relates specifically to one (or all) of the entrance exams. It highlights facts you should know about each exam that’ll help you perform your best.

remember.eps This icon points out those general concepts, such as math formulas and grammar rules, that you should keep in mind as you tackle the test questions.

tip.eps Throughout the book, we give you insights into how you can enhance your performance on the entrance exam you’re facing. Text featuring the Tip icon presents you with juicy test-taking timesavers.

Where to Go from Here

Wondering where to get started? Well, if you’re a test-taking whiz or straight-A student who only needs to brush up on a few areas, you can go right to the chapters and sections that cover those areas. (Use the table of contents and index as your guides.) Then again, if you really want to ace the HSPT, TACHS, or COOP, we suggest you take a more thorough approach to preparing. Familiarize yourself with the general test-taking process in Chapter 2 and then work through the complete verbal and math reviews. You can skim through sections that you know a lot about by just reading the Tip, Remember, and Heads Up paragraphs and working through the Example questions.

If nothing else (and after you’ve done some preparatory work), we encourage you to take at least one of the practice exams in Part IV. Taking a practice test shows you which questions you seem to cruise through and which ones you need more work on. One way to use the practice tests is to take the first practice test for your exam and calculate your score. Then read through the verbal and math reviews in Parts II and III. After that, take the second practice test and compare your new score to the one you got on the first test so you can see just how much you improved with a little practice.

Wherever you begin, be confident that you’re making a giant contribution to bettering your future by working through this book. Now, get ready to pass that Catholic high school entrance exam with flying colors!

Part I

Providing Perspective on Catholic High School Entrance Exams


In this part . . .

Here’s where you really get to know your Catholic high school entrance exams. First, you discover just what your school of choice might do with your scores. Then you spend time becoming familiar with the formats of the HSPT, TACHS, and COOP, as well as how they’re scored. (Here’s a hint: You really only need to review the section for the test you’re taking. How’s that for speed reading?)

Next, we introduce you to the nitty-gritty details of taking a Catholic high school entrance exam, including registering and requesting testing accommodations if you need them. We also share helpful tips for achieving a stellar score, organizing your time, and relaxing if you get nervous. Do yourself a favor and spend the 20 or so minutes it takes to read through these two informative chapters. You won’t regret it!