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Selective High School Placement Test

We can help your child prepare for the Selective High School Placement Test to attain the best possible placement score.

Selective high schools form part of the Department of Education's commitment to provide opportunities for gifted and high potential students in NSW. They cater for academically gifted students with high potential who may otherwise be without sufficient classmates of their own academic standard.

Selective high schools help these students to learn by grouping them with students of similar ability, using specialised teaching methods and materials. Selective high schools are unzoned so parents can apply regardless of where they live.

There are two types of selective high schools offering Year 7 placement - fully selective and partially selective. In NSW there are 21 fully selective high schools, in which all classes are academically selective. In addition, there are 25 partially selective high schools, where one or two classes are selective while other classes are non-selective for local students. The students in the selective classes participate in separate English, mathematics and science classes, and generally join the non-selective students for classes in other subjects.

Students are offered placement in selective schools based on academic merit and the order of school choices. Academic merit is decided by combining the results of reading, writing, mathematics and general ability tests in the Selective High School Placement Test, and a ranking based on primary school assessments in English and mathematics. This combination is expressed as a calculated placement score out of 300.

The Selective High School Placement Test

The Selective High School Placement Test is designed to measure ability through tests in reading, mathematics, general ability and writing. The test is held only in NSW and only on the test date each year. For 2020 the test was held on Thursday 12 March.

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

  • Reading (45 questions)
  • Mathematics (40 questions)
  • General Ability (60 questions)

No marks are taken off for incorrect answers in the multiple-choice tests.

Students are given a stimulus for the writing test - an image, statement, heading or question. Two pages are provided for the writing test. Assessment for the writing test is based on:

  • Whether the writing is about the stimulus topic (no marks are awarded if the writing is not based on the topic)
  • Quality of thinking about a topic
  • Clear organisation of ideas
  • Interesting and imaginative ideas
  • Use of language

Selective High School Selection Process

For each student, the final Selective High School placement score is calculated by combining two components:

  • The school assessment score - moderated using the results of the Selective High School Placement Test
  • The scaled Selective High School Placement Test score
Moderated School Assessment Score

Individual school assessment scores are provided for English and mathematics. These scores are then adjusted through a process of moderation, to allow comparison of student scores from different schools. Because each school has different assessment methods and marks differently, moderation is needed to allow fair comparison of scores statewide.

The moderation process adjusts the school assessment scores based on each school's performance in the Selective High School Placement Test. Reading and writing tests are used to moderate the English school assessment score, and the mathematics test is used to moderate the mathematics school assessment score.

Scaled Selective High School Placement Test Score

Each component of the Selective High School Placement Test is marked out of a different total, as follows:

  • Reading - 45
  • Writing - 20
  • Mathematics - 40
  • General Ability - 60

Each of these test components are adjusted so that they are weighted equally against each other. Additionally the test results need to have equal weighting with the moderated school assessment scores.

Calculated Selective High School Placement Score

The calculated placement score is a mark out of 300, which is made up of:

  • Moderated school assessment scores for English and mathematics
  • Scaled test marks for English (2/3 of the scaled reading test marks + 1/3 of the scaled writing test marks)
  • Scaled test marks for mathematics
  • Scaled test marks for general ability

This is summarised in the table below:

Test componentScaled school assessment scoreScaled test markTotal
English (2/3 Reading, 1/3 Writing)5050100
Mathematics5050100
General Ability-100100
Total100200300

Students and parents are ultimately notified of the following scores results:

  • School assessment scores:
    • English score (out of 100)
    • Mathematics score (out of 100)
  • Selective High School Placement Test results:
    • Reading score (out of 45)
    • Writing score (out of 20)
    • Mathematics score (out of 40)
    • General Ability score (out of 60)

Selective High Schools - Years 8 to 12

Some vacancies starting in Years 8 to 12 may become available at certain selective schools. The application process for placement in selective high schools for Years 8 to 12, however, is different to that for Year 7 entry.

For Years 8 to 12, placement at a selective high school is determined by academic merit, and the following factors may be considered:

  • School reports.
  • Outstanding performance in areas which are considered to be relevant. For example, agricultural high schools may require evidence of a student's commitment to the study of science and agriculture.
  • The use of additional procedures, such as tests.
  • Any further information considered relevant.

Since each school generally follows their own individual assessment procedures, students should check with schools prior to submitting an application.

Visit the NSW Education Website

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