Blog Post

10 Tips on How to Prepare for the NSW Selective High School Placement Test

Selective high schools cater for highly achieving academically gifted students who may otherwise be without classmates at their own academic and social level. These schools help gifted and talented students to learn by grouping them with other gifted and talented students, teaching them in specialised ways and providing educational materials at the appropriate level.

Applications for selective high school placement are considered mainly on the basis of the Selective High School Placement Test results and school assessment scores. The Selective High School Placement Test will be held on Thursday 9 March 2017. If you would like to have your child considered for Year 7 selective high school entry in 2018, you need to do so soon. You will need to apply on the internet using a valid email address (not the student's email address). Preparation is important and here are some tips to help for preparing the exam:

1) Know what the test contains. Four papers – Reading Test, General Ability Test (includes in one entrance exam numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and abstract reasoning), Maths Test and Written Expression Test.

2) Know how long you need to spend per question. Divide the time in seconds by the number of questions. Then you know how many seconds to spend per question.

3) Practice is everything - You should take a practice test – or at least one section, weekly for the 6 months before the exam, increasing as it gets closer. That might sound like an outrageous demand on an 11 year old, but you need to remember we see students who start seeing a tutor more than a year ahead of time – so in many situations it is actually behind the ball. If you are only a few weeks out from the exam and you have yet to do much about it, then cram as much practice in as possible – do a different section each afternoon. We don’t usually recommend cramming, but in the selective school exam, crammed preparation is better than nothing at all.

4) Strategy - As you progress through the practice questions, you’ll see that they have certain types of repeating questions. Categorise them into types and create strategies to solve them more quickly. Strategies are like short cuts to deal with things. Put these strategies down in paper and use them.

5) Become a problem solver - A large part of selective exam strategy is knowing the best answer when you don’t necessarily know the correct answer. This is fundamentally problem solving – a skill that will carry through long in to adulthood. In both the exam and life, you won’t always have an obvious choice – so you need to use your skills of deduction to choose the next best option. Start by crossing off the answers you know it isn’t. Of what is left, which one makes the most sense? Think about the root or similar words. Try substituting the number in the question. Are there similar patterns you have seen before?

6) Start a reading program to help with discussion or argumentative writing using the editorial section of the newspaper or go through The Sydney Morning Herald Comment’s Section or The Age’s comment section Record and find definitions for words that you don’t know. Do it weekly.

7) Now create a reading program to help with your creative writing. If you have the time, read Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie and apparently the 12 new Harry Potter books that may be coming out for Christmas this year. If you’re not really into reading but like movies, perhaps read some books that got turned into movies like Twilight and The Hunger Games.

8) Polish up on mathematical concepts. The ACER style exams really go hard on this. They really test your understanding of linkages between mathematical concepts as opposed to completing complex calculations. Plus, you’ll need to know how to translate worded questions into their correct formula and then solve.

9) Know your multiplication times tables and how multiplication times tables are calculated and how they relate to other operations e.g. 4 x 3 means 4 + 4 + 4.  4 x 3 = 12, and 12 / 3 = 4 and 12 / 4 = 3. It’s all connected beautifully. It’s not about memorizing the whole timetables up to 12, but rather memorizing some of it and then being able to work it out without a times table sheet in front of you.

10) Need for speed. The entrance exam for the reading test will have different passages, some of them long. Remember, you’re not trying to learn what the passage is saying; you simply want to answer the question. So I usually, read the question first, locate the correct area in the passage, where necessary, read 1-2 sentences/1 paragraph before and after and then decide on my answer. There are certain specific questions that will require you to read the whole passage.