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After a review of the Selective School Placement Test, the NSW government has issued an action plan that will see the introduction of a new test in 2020.

The current selective test was designed to accommodate 12 selective schools within NSW back in 1991, however since then, the number of fully and partially selective high schools has increased to more than 40. The diversity of students within NSW has also changed, and so based on the findings of the review, the test will now aim to address these new issues and create a fairer selective process.

The findings of the review indicated that although selective schools continued to achieve academic excellence through the provision of quality education to their gifted students, there were some areas of concern.

As outlined in the Review of Selective Education Access: Findings and Action Plan, it was found that:

  • “The existing selection process is no longer fit for purpose and needs updating for the coming decades” – (Finding 2)
  • “Students from disadvantaged groups face unintended barriers to entry in the selective education system” – (Finding 3)
  • “Shortcomings in the assessment process mean it is not capturing all students’ true ability and so may not identify all the students it is intended to” – (Finding 4), and
  • “A number of gaps in the selection system constrain its effectiveness” – (Finding 5)

Therefore through three major approaches to the test itself, its accessibility and the awareness surrounding the exam, from 2020 the process of selection should act to increase the equity and effectiveness of the education provided to gifted students across NSW.

So what are these changes exactly?


The first major change to the test addresses the equity of access, specifically for under-represented groups such as rural and remote, gifted students with a disability and students from a low socio-economic background. Increased encouragement to apply, as well as modifications to the relevance of exam content to these minority groups will ensure all students, regardless of geographic location and financial situation, are on a level playing field.


The NSW government has also set out to address the gaps that have formed within the selection process as the system has grown throughout the years. Increased time and resources will be put into grouping state-wide data on education and identifying trends in order to amend issues such as the variance in applicants’ gender (currently more boys apply than girls).


Finally, the adjustments that will impact the test itself concern its level of difficulty, accuracy of measurement and its predictability.

The new test will:

  • Ensure mathematic and English assessments are appropriately weighted (it was previously suggested to have favoured mathematical-minded students over English-minded students)
  • Decrease the predictability of the exam
  • Be designed to specifically challenge and test the ability of gifted students, and
  • Reduce imprecision in measurement

Essentially, the test has been modified to be more inclusive and accurate. This doesn’t necessarily mean the new test is harder, however it does ensure that those identified as gifted, and are therefore offered a place in a NSW selective high school, are truly within the top percentage of talented students.

This test will first be put into action on Thursday 12 March 2020 for students applying for a place in a selective high school in 2021.



Global Education Academy has helped hundreds of students achieve a placement in a selective high school as well as obtaining scholarships to private schools. The course exposes students to the structure and types of questions commonly used in the Selective High School Placement Test and empowers them with systematic tools and practice to cultivate higher order thinking skill. The course equipts students with exam techniques and tools to reduce and manage cognitive load theory experience during exams. This ensures a true reflection of their ability and potential.

The course also includes 8 Mock Tests that are structured similar to the actual test. Students’ performance in these tests gives a significant indication of their future performance. It also guides us and parents to what schools to nominate in the application and in what order to prioritise them. Having the “right” order is a key point for a successful application. Some students miss out merely because they did not prioritise the schools strategically to maximise their chances.

The program:

  • Length: 40 weeks
  • Locations: Kogarah and Turramurra Campus
  • Completion: March 2020 (the week before the Selective exam in 2020)
  • Sessions: 4 hours per week – Mathematics, English, Writing, General Ability, exam techniques, time management, problem-solving strategies and most importantly, reducing cognitive load
  • Mock test
  • Trial tests (optional during school holidays)
  • 2 hours per week homework assistance (optional- free of charge)
  • Full guidance for parents throughout the application process

If you are interested in selective high school and/or scholarship for your child, or would like further information, please enquire today on 1300 001 432.

Find out more about GEA’s Selective Preparation Course