Selective High Schools: Frequently Asked Questions

by admin | 28th May 2021 |

Selective High School Placement is a hot topic of conversation with many parents of students at Global Education Academy. We know that a key goal for many of our students is to receive placement at a Selective High School and stretch their learning capacity.  

To make it easier for you to find answers to your questions around the benefits of Selective High Schools, the application process, test and how best to prepare, we have compiled the most common questions asked by parents. This frequently asked questions blog should help you navigate your child through the Selective High School application and test process. 


? What are the benefits of a Selective High School?  

Selective High Schools seek to provide a stimulating environment for dynamic and ambitious students who are excelling academically. This learning environment is suitable for students who are advanced in their learning, competitive, self-motivated, and dedicated to high performance. A Selective High School gives such students the opportunity to learn advanced content more suited to their academic level. 

These schools provide admission to students based on merit, with a special entrance examination. This exam is known as the Selective High School Placement Test. 


? What is being tested in the Selective Placement Test?  

The Placement Test consists of the following components: 

  • English (reading and writing) 
  • Mathematical Reasoning 
  • Thinking Skills 


? What is Thinking Skills?   

As you may be aware, the Selective School Placement Test has shifted its focus from assessing general ability (GA) to assessing students’ ability to think critically and creatively. 

Thinking skills is the broad term used for the mental activities you use to process information, connect concepts, and make decisions. The Cambridge thinking skills framework consists of two key elements:  

  • Problem-solving – the skill to identify, define and solve a problem given a set of information. 
  • Critical thinking – involves students learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems. 

Though thinking skills is a new component of the Selective School Placement Test, it is consistent with Global Education Academy’s approach to teaching. Empowering students with tools to think creatively and critically has always been at the core of our practice. 


? What are the main key dates I need to be aware of?  

Typically, students are in Year 5 during the application process and sit the test in Year 6.  

The placement test typically occurs in March for entry the following year. However, this is subject to change in the future. For reference, below are the key dates for Year 7 selective high school placements in 2022: 



13 October 2020 

Applications open for entry  

16 November 2020 

Applications close for entry  

4 December 2020 

Principals provide school assessment scores 

25 February 2021 

Test centre information and Test authority letters available to parents 

11 March 2021 

Selective High School Placement Test 

25 April 2021 

Last day to change school choices 

2 July 2021 

Placement outcomes expected to be released 

16 July 2021 

Appeals due 14 days after outcomes are released 

October 2021 

Appeals outcomes released 

The key dates for placements in future years are expected to be similar, however are subject to change.  


? Can I request special consideration?  

Yes, the Department of Education allows you to make a request for special consideration for illness/misadventure about events:  

  • Affecting performance on the test 
  • Causing the student to miss the test  
  • Affecting performance on assessments at school 


? How do I find a suitable Selective High School?  

To select a suitable Selective High School, support conversations with your child with research on Selective High Schools in your area so that you and your child understand what these schools offer. Then, consider which school may be the best fit for your child by looking at the type of school, location, HSC ranking and entry scores. 

For a list of selective schools and their websites, please click here and refer to page 16.   


? Can I change my school choices after applying?  

You can apply for selective school placement online through the NSW Education website and select up to 3 selective schools in order of preference.  

You can change your school choices by logging into your online application before the final cut-off date (for 2022 placement, this date was 25 April 2021). You cannot change choices after this date unless there are serious extenuating circumstances, for which you need documentary evidence. 

For more information about the Selective High School application process, read Everything you need to know about the Selective Placement Test process


? How are the results calculated?  

The entry mark for selective schools is made up of several factors and has changed from previous years. A breakdown of these factors is provided in the below table: 


Weighted scaled test score 



Mathematical Reasoning 


Thinking Skills 




Moderated School Assessment Score* 


Total calculated placement score 


*Some independent schools do not have to provide this score. 

For each test component, the raw test score is scaled on a state-wide basis to reduce the variability in test question difficulty. 


? What score does my child need to gain to be accepted in a Selective High School?  

Please refer to our recent blog 2021 Selective High School Minimum Entry Scores, which details the minimum entry score and rank for all Selective High Schools in NSW for 2021. 


? My child didn’t make it into opportunity class, should I get them to try for selective high school?  

Applications for opportunity class placement is highly competitive. Over 12,000 applications are received each year for 76 primary schools with opportunity classes across NSW. The OC program is a great stepping stone for the Selective High School application process and helps increases a student’s chances of success. 

If your child doesn’t make it into OC, this should not disqualify them from entry into a Selective High School, if that is their goal. To help them achieve this goal, you may want to consider additional support through tutoring to start preparing early. 


? What can I do if my child doesn’t make it into a Selective High School?  

This is a possibility. In fact, less than one-quarter of students who sit the test are accepted!  

An appeals process is available from the date parents are notified of placement outcomes. An appeal can only be made on the following grounds: 

  • Something specific happened that prevented your child from attaining higher test score or school assessment score. It must be a situation that wouldn’t have been considered by the school’s selection committee; or 
  • Your child is yet to be a permanent resident of Australia but will be granted residency before the end of the 2021 school year. This must be accompanied with proof. 

Alternatively, you can try again the following year. Selective school placements are also made available to students from Years 8 to 12. 

Keep supporting your child’s learning and communicate that exceptional results can still be achieved outside of a Selective High School. 


? How can I prepare my child for the Selective Placement Test?  

In the weeks leading up to the test, we recommend encouraging your child to do practice questions by using sample tests (note that past tests are not released). This will familiarise them with the structure and nature of the questions that will be asked in the real placement test. 

Before that, it would be beneficial to assess your child’s current skills and abilities to identify the areas they will need to focus on developing in the coming months. You can start preparing with us today by booking a Benchmark Assessment

For more tips on how to prepare your child for the placement test, read 8 Tips on Preparing your Child for the Selective High School Placement Test


? How does tutoring prepare children for the Selective Placement Test?  

If you are looking for more support to prepare your child for the Placement Test, you are unlikely to find the level of support you need from your child’s current school. To set your child up for exam success, seeking help from tutors is recommended.  

Tutors help students form a strategy for long-term study and for approaching the different types of questions. The best thing you can do for your child is to find someone who can teach them how to learn, how to become problem-solvers and enable them to think outside the box. 

At Global Education Academy, we specialise in helping students meet their learning goals, including receiving placement into a Selective High School.  

? How do I know if my child needs support with their education?   

Tutoring and coaching provides additional support to student education, demonstrating dedication to personal development and commitment to improving a child’s learning abilities.  

Parents have different reasons for seeking tutoring: some parents seek tutoring to advance their children’s performance; others seek assistance when they notice a sudden decline in the school marks; the student lacks confidence or expresses anxiety before a test or during homework. We need to emphasize that a gradual decline or a loss of interest in school work needs attention.  

Extension tutoring is designed for in-depth knowledge and understanding in order to provide an academic advantage to students in accelerated programs. There is also tutoring for maintenance purposes, which is designed to facilitate, enhance and solidify the concepts viewed at school. 


? Does every child need tutoring to receive a Selective placement? 

No, some students successfully receive placement in a Selective High School without any tutoring support. However, this requires substantial commitment, dedication, and discipline from the student to conduct self-directed study. 

It’s important to note that this is the exception. Most students who receive placement have participated in some form of tutoring in the lead up to the Placement Test. 


? What do I need to consider when selecting the right tutor for my child? 

The factors you’ll need to consider when making this decision are: 

  • Choose between a group session and private tutoring – both options have merits, however we believe that group tutorials are the best for children in primary school as they benefit from collaborative group work. 
  • The tutor’s experience and credentials – make sure that this professional is not only proficient in teaching the subject, but also in working with kids of this particular age. 
  • Personal connection with the tutor – let your child ‘test’ a tutorial to make sure they enjoy it. 
  • Cost – money shouldn’t be the deciding factor as the quality of education is the most important. However, if your budget is limited, you can look for financing options such as scholarships. 


? How many students are there in GEA’s tutoring classes? 

To enable our students to benefit the most, our groups have a maximum of 10 students. Sometimes we split groups that have fewer students if we notice that the students are performing at different levels. 


? How much homework do you give students? 

Homework is set based on the student’s learning goals for enrolling at Global Education Academy. For example, for Selective School test preparation, we set relevant homework for 1 hour daily. We believe this is the right amount to support continued learning, without overloading students.  

Global Education Academy also takes the stress off parents by also offering two hours of Homework Help free of charge every week. 

? Do you teach exam techniques at GEA? 

Yes, as part of our Selective Preparation Program, we teach students how to master exam and time management techniques and tools to reduce cognitive load. We teach test-specific skills to help shorten your child’s response time and give them the advantage of having extra time to think about their answers. 


? When is the right time to start preparing for the Placement Test?  

As soon as possible. As the Selective High School placement process is rigorous in nature, you want to ensure you are positioning your child to put their best foot forward. 

Some students start preparing from as early as Year 2! However, each child is unique and requires varying levels of preparation to be ready to sit the test. 


? How many study hours per week do you suggest for Selective placement? 

We recommend that students who wish to get into a Selective High School study for a minimum of an hour a day. As the year moves forward, we suggest students gradually increase their study time, but not to more than 4 hours at a time.  

Be sure that your child is taking brain breaks and not overloading their memory.  

Closer to the test, your child should focus on areas they find more difficult. No study the day before or the day of the test! This is time to rest the brain and fuel the body.  


? What is a ‘Diagnostic Assessment’, how is it different from your ‘Benchmark Assessment’?  

A Diagnostic Assessment helps uncover the areas of proficiency and measure any misconceptions. It also highlights the reasons behind any deficits, reveals the untapped potential of a student and measures where they are at in their learning. To book a Diagnostic Assessment for your child, click here.  

A Benchmark Assessment is targeted at aspiring OC and Selective students and gives us insight into your child’s ability to cope with advanced courses. It will enable us to identify strengths & weaknesses in their learning and gauge the misalignment between their true ability and their performance at school. To book a Benchmark Assessment for your child, click here.  


If you are interested in Selective High School education for your child, or would like further information, please call us today on 1300 001 432. 

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Want to know if your child has what it takes? Book a Selective Benchmark Assessment with us and find out. Suitable for students currently in Years 4 and 5. Book Now
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