The New Selective High School Placement Test: Everything you need to know

by admin | 03rd March 2020 |

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

The Selective High School Placement Test for 2020 is coming up soon and like any other parent in New South Wales, you’re probably excited and nervous as you wonder what lies ahead for your child, especially because of the announcement of the changes.

Selective high schools seek to provide a stimulating environment for dynamic and ambitious students who are excelling academically. These schools provide admission to students with a special entrance examination and based on merit – the Selective High School Placement Test.

The Selective High School Placement Test measures your Year 6 child’s English (reading comprehension), mathematics (problem-solving skills), general ability (abstract and verbal reasoning), and writing.

The test day for entry into Year 7 in 2021 is Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Last week an “Authority to sit the Selective High School Placement Test” letter was sent to applicants by email. It includes the test centre location and extra information about the test. If you haven’t received it by now, please contact the High Performing Students Team on 1300 880 367.

Interesting Fact: About 15,000 Year 6 students across New South Wales optionally take the Selective High School Placement Test for one of only 3600 places offered for first-year entry into selective high schools.

Less than one-quarter of students who sit the test are accepted.

It’s for this reason that parents all over the state put so much time, energy and love into helping their children get into a selective high school, enrolling them into tutoring programs that will give the best possible chance of acceptance.

This is also the reason why it can be incredibly disappointing if your child is in the three-quarters who are not accepted.

Sharing his thoughts regarding the minor amendments recently made, Education Minister Rob Stokes said, “Academic prowess does not discriminate by gender, ethnicity or postcode. There are students with academic aptitude in every NSW school and I want them to have the opportunity to participate in a selective education option if they choose.” (Source: NSW Government)

We have covered all of the necessary details in this article to make it easy for you to know the facts and details about the test and the changes made.


It’s important to note that changes to the Selective High School Placement Test are not major, but the government has made changes to ensure the weighting of the two components (English and maths) are equal.

This is the most significant change, but some questions have also been made more difficult.

While the NSW government has made changes to the test to make it “fairer for everyone” – according to the Education Minister Rob Stokes, the format remains the same.

The amendments made by the Department of Education include:

– Students will be tested with an improved version of the psychometric design of questions to precisely and accurately identify the exceptional academic abilities of students.

– As test scores can only give an idea of a student’s abilities, the department has made some changes to the difficulty targets to better understand what a student is capable of.

– There are more avenues to apply for disability provisions.

– Better balance of exam questions across subjects, for instance, the weighting of the two components English and maths will be equal.

– New measures to encourage more students from low SES, rural and remote areas, and Indigenous backgrounds, to take the Selective High School Placement Test.

– We need to emphasise that the format of the test is not changing.

These changes were implemented with personal consultations with schools across the region to keep everyone informed, updated and aware of this new selective school-entry process rolling out this year.


“Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer.”

Early preparation is the key. In light of the changes, students who route learn or are robotically coached will have less chance of passing the test. On the other hand, students with higher order problem-solving skills and a strong foundation in both maths and English, will gain an advantage in the new test. These skills are not acquired overnight, they take time.

At Global Education Academy, we offer students a Selective School Preparation Program to help them prepare so they feel confident and comfortable on the day of the test.

We work on their problem-solving skills as well as their confidence while keeping them engaged and connected.

We go through the process, format and the types of questions that will be asked, empowering them with exam techniques and strategies to reduce their cognitive load and eventually reduce their stress on the test day to guarantee optimal performance.


The skills tested are not acquired overnight. To empower and equip your child with the set of skills needed to pass the test, the earlier they start, the better.


The mark breakdown:

Test component Scaled school assessment score Scaled test mark Total
(2/3 reading comprehension and 1/3 writing)
50 50 100
Mathematics 50 50 100
General Ability No school score 100 100
Total 100 200 300

The Selective High School Placement Test consists of a 20-minute writing test and three 40-minute multiple-choice tests in:

  • English: Two-thirds reading and one-third writing (45 questions)
    100 Marks: 50 from the school score and 50 from the test
  • Mathematics (40 questions)
    100 Marks: 50 from the school score and 50 from the test
  • General Ability (60 questions)
    100 Marks: 100 from the test

The writing component is usually narrative, however, it can be any genre and students must be prepared for all types of writing.

Children from Catholic and independent schools, or children new to Australia who have been at their school for only a short time will not have a school score. So, their score will be 100 per cent based on the placement test results.


Becoming academically strong across all of the aspects of the test will help your child get their best score and make sure they feel at ease on the day of the test so they perform to their full potential.

If you are looking to give your child the best chance to be accepted to a selective high school, we encourage you to enrol them in our specialised Selective School Preparation Program.

Here’s what makes our program successful:

  • We use our 5C™ method – proven for success.
  • We use our UPSL™ Strategy – to teach problem-solving.
  • We are a leading research-based learning centre (Cognitive Load Theory).
  • Our program was developed by Dr Majeda Awawdeh, the founder, who previously managed ICAS exams at UNSW.
  • Our team of teachers are highly qualified and trained, with many years’ experience.
  • We involve parents & empower them, so we work as a team.
  • We provide clarity on students potential and performance – we provide guidance into choosing the right schools to maximise chances of successful applications.
  • We specialise in small groups.
  • Mock tests and constructive immediate invaluable feedback.
  • We do not do repetitive tutoring, we teach.
  • We lift students’ self-esteem, so they become more confident.
  • Students interact in a friendly, competitive environment.
  • Thousands of success stories.

There is more information about our Selective School Preparation Program and  how to enrol your child here on our website

If you believe your child has the potential, book a Benchmark Test with us today.

Helpful resources about the Selective High School Placement Test:

Test information: Download the 2020 test centre information guide for parents and students here.

Test day and student requirements: Information on the test day and what is required of students can be found here.

Understanding how tests are assessed and marked: Read how the tests are scored and marked here.

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