This is the biggest reform we have seen to the structure and content of the Placement Test in over a decade.
So, what are the changes?
The test design has shifted its focus from assessing general ability (GA) to assessing students’ ability to think critically and analytically.
We believe this is a worthy change as critical thinking and problem solving are necessary skills to thrive in the world.
We need the ability to critically assess the flood of information we face daily to develop informed opinions. Our problem-solving abilities can easily be the deciding factor for whether we are handed that job offer.
To develop such skills in students pursuing education at the top academic high schools is a step in the right direction.
How has the test changed?
The previous Placement Test measured English (reading comprehension), mathematics (problem-solving skills) and general ability (abstract and verbal reasoning).
In the new test, reading comprehension will remain. However, the general ability section will be replaced with thinking skills and mathematics will be re-shaped as mathematical reasoning skills.
Though the adjustments to the weightings between each section are yet to be published, please note the general ability section previously carried the heaviest weighting. Chances are that the new thinking skills test, the Selective School Placement Test, will also carry a significant weighting. However, there is no confirmation of that yet. In the total marks will most probably change and the weight of the school assessment is likely to drop as it did with the Selective Placement Test.
For a clearer comparison between the old test and the new test, refer to the below table.
The test consisted of two sections and was structured as follows:
The test consists of three sections and is structured as follows:
The changes to the OC test are very similar to the changes in the Selective School Placement test. As the two tests are both now written by Cambridge, they look and feel almost identical and they assess almost the same areas, except for the writing component that is not assessed in the OC placement test.
Looking at the two sample tests published on the department website, the similarity between the two is astonishing, even though the two tests are sat by student in about 20 months difference; The OC Placement test is completed by students in Year 4 (end of July) while the Selective Placement Test is completed by students in Year 6 (around mid-March).
In addition to the change in the test structure, the most significant change is the shift from the GA component, which does not promote high level of analytical thinking to the thinking skills component which requires quite elevated critical thinking and problem–solving skills.
Our response to the changes
At Global Education Academy, we always teach how to think not what to think.
Empowering students with tools to think creatively, analytically and critically has been at the core of our practice. This is how our tutors are trained to deliver our courses. We always emphasised that to succeed in the OC placement test, old methods will not produce the desired result.
Therefore, in our tutoring courses we have adapted our program and our Mock Tests to reflect the changes to the test.
The General Ability component of the course is replaced with Thinking Skills. This new component covers:
Within English – critical thinking; inductive and deductive reasoning in the following categories:
- Identify the main conclusion – finding the main statement which is supported by the rest of the information
- Drawing a conclusion – identifying a conclusion that is not stated in the text, but can be drawn from
- Assessing the impact of additional evidence on a given argument– which information will either strengthen or weaken an
- Detecting reasoning errors – Find the flaw in an
Within Numeracy – mathematical reasoning, problem-solving, logical thinking, mathematical deductions in the following categories:
- Relevant Selection – Selecting the key information needed to solve a problem and disregard the redundant
- Finding procedures – Identify a method that will arrive to a
- Identifying similarity – Identify another situation or a problem in similar structure that can be solved using a similar
How to develop thinking skills
Yes, there’s more focus on thinking skills but it’s not a new concept. Global Education Academy’s approach to teaching is parallel to the recommendations for change. Empowering students with tools to think creatively and critically has been at the core of our practice.
We believe our students are not disadvantaged by the changes and develop our practice questions based on the Cambridge thinking skills framework to ensure they are well prepared.
Our strategies to teach and develop sharp thinking skills among our students include:
- Teach the fundamental mathematical framework that underlines most of the deductive reasoning type of
- Class discussions, activities and engaging with students through
- Allowing thinking time to apply
- Encouraging reflection on new concepts
- Encouraging making mistakes. This is how we learn!
When it comes to problem-solving, this is exactly what we teach in the mathematics classes from an early age. Using our UPSLTM strategy, problems are approached using four steps:
Most teachers and tutors neglect the importance of the Plan and the Learn steps. Planning is vital to track thinking and apply it while Learning is the step where learning from a question happens and where schemas (cognitive maps that constitute our knowledge) in the brain are formulated.
If you have questions about the changes to the OC Placement Test or changes to our Selective Preparation Course, please call us on 1300 001 432.
We would love to hear from you!
For at-home preparation, our key tips and strategies remain the same. Please note that the sample tests are now available on the department website.
For more specific approaches on how to prepare for the thinking skills test component, please contact us today.