Frequently Asked Questions
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- Must I list four schools?
You should list only those schools you are prepared to accept. You can list from one to four choices. Please consider carefully the choices made and do not list a school you are not prepared to send your child to.
Before applying for a school, you should consider available transport and the time your child will take to travel to that school. Selection committees do not consider travelling times and transport arrangements when offering places.
- Does the order in which I list my choices matter?
Yes. If your child qualifies for more than one of your choices, you will be offered a place only at the school of highest choice for which your child qualifies.
- What provision is made for students from non-government schools?
The selection procedures are exactly the same for all students. Principals of non-government primary schools have been asked to accept your application, add relevant school assessment scores and comments and send it to the High Performing Students Unit. In circumstances where this is not possible, you should complete the Application for exemption form (PDF 31kB).
Students whose non-government schools do not provide school assessment scores or scores which can be moderated will be considered on the basis of their test scores and any other relevant information.
The selection committee will NOT generally grant an exemption to applicants who do not have school assessment scores if other students from the same school have them.
- What can I do to prepare my child for the Selective High School Placement Test?
Children should be encouraged to familiarise themselves with the kinds of questions they will be asked. Students can practise answering the questions in the past test papers available on the Unit's website. Students will also be given practice questions before the test begins.
Sample test papers
Selection committees and appeals panels will not make placement decisions based on a student's performance in the sample tests.
The Department of Education and Communties does not endorse coaching for the Selective High School Placement Test.
- What happens if my child gets sick on the day of the test?
If your child was too ill to sit the Selective High School Placement Test or sat the test while suffering an illness you should download an Illness/misadventure form (PDF 24kB) from the website or contact the Unit for a form to be posted to you. The form includes an Independent evidence of illness page which needs to be completed by your medical practicioner. You should complete the form whether or not the student attempted the test, attach a medical certificate which covers the day of the test and return the completed form to the Unit by Thursday 27 March 2014. The selection committee will then consider the student's illness/misadventure claim as part of the selection process.
It is generally better to attempt the test and make an illness/misadventure claim, if necessary, than to miss the test.
You will not be able to appeal on the grounds of illness/misadventure after the outcome is known.
- If my outcome advice indicates that my child is unsuccessful, can his or her name be placed on a reserve list?
No. Three key expressions are used in outcome letters: 'offer', 'reserve list' and 'unsuccessful'. Selection committees decide the students who will receive offers and those who will be placed on reserve lists. Students who have been offered places for a particular school will have higher scores than those who are on the reserve list or are unsuccessful for that school. Students placed on reserve lists will be given a number indicating their position on the reserve list. Progress on the reserve list varies from year to year. When offers begin to be made from the reserve list, the progress of each school's reserve list is available on this web site.
Check progress on the reserve list (only after 1 August 2014)
- What does the Selective High School Placement Test tell me about my child's performance?
The Selective High School Placement Test is designed to help identify students for entry into selective high schools on the basis of academic merit. It is not meant to be a diagnostic test to identify the student's strengths and weaknesses in English or mathematics performance. The student's primary school is most appropriate to advise you on your child's performance in these areas.
- If my child was unsuccessful for opportunity class placement, does it mean he or she will be unsuccessful for selective high school entry?
Not necessarily. The entry requirements for opportunity class and selective high school placement can vary quite significantly. Moreover, there is scope for improvement in the ability and performance of students over the time since they applied for opportunity class placement. Conversely, not all students from opportunity classes are successful for selective high school entry. Remember there are over twice as many Year 7 places in selective high schools as there are Year 5 places in opportunity classes.
- If I receive an offer to one of my lower choices as well as being on the reserve list for one of my higher choices, do I have to give up the offer to stay on the reserve list?
You can accept an offer to one school while remaining on the reserve list for one or more of your higher choices until 3pm on the last day of the school year befoe the year of entry. After that time no further offers will be made to students who have alrerady accepted placement in a selective high school and have not subsequently declined the offer.
- If my child is one of the last to be made an offer, does that mean he or she will struggle at a selective high school?
The selection committee offers places or reserve list positions only to those students considered capable of doing well at a selective high school. There are many things which can affect student performance, including your child's willingness to learn, his or her response to teachers and interaction with other students. While some students who receive late offers might have problems, the majority should have no difficulties.
- What should I do if my child does not get into a selective high school?
As there is one place for approximately three people applying, not all students can be placed. Be supportive and explain to your child that he or she can be very successful at a comprehensive high school. Students from comprehensive high schools can achieve results which are as good as, or even better than, results gained by selective high school students.
The NSW government also provides excellent comprehensive high schools. Comprehensive high schools implement gifted and talented programs as a feature of the Department of Education and Communities' gifted and talented policy.
- What score does a student have to gain to be successful for selective high school placement?
There is no pre-determined score that a student has to achieve to be successful for selective high school placement. The minimum entry score for each selective high school depends on the score achieved by the candidates applying for that school and can vary from school to school and from year to year.The greater the demand for the school the higher the entry score is likely to be. For example, in a school with 150 places, the entry score achieved for the 150th ranked student offered a place at that school becomes the entry score.
As a guide, the entry scores required for the last year are available at: Entry scores
Please note that these scores are those required to be placed in a selective high school last year. The entry score for the this year will not be known until after the placement process is finalised. Though your child's score may be higher than that shown for last year this does not necessarily mean that they will be offered a place this year.
- How is the profile score derived if my child is the only one applying from his/her school?
Students who do not have school assessment scores or those who are the only candidates from the school will be considered on test marks only.
- How can I find out my child's score?
Most applicants will receive their child's profile score at the bottom of their outcome advice in July. You can receive further details of your child's scores in the selective high school placement process after you have received your outcome advice. Use the online request for scores or later, if it is unavailable, please email the Unit quoting the student number, given name, family name, applicant's name and relationship to the child. The only further details available are school assessment scores and test scores. No other score details can be provided.
- Why are profile scores and further details sometimes unavailable?
Where students have been considered on other evidence of academic merit, such as an individual IQ test, or the selection committee has adjusted the score based on supplementary information, the calculated profile score is not applicable. The Unit does not have the resources to provide individual advice about adjusted scores.
- How does the reserve list work?
If the student is on a reserve list for a selective high school the number on the outcome advice shows the student's position on the list. The progress of the reserve list depends on whether students accept or decline an offer, and whether other students receive subsequent offers, to a school of higher choice. If a student's position is reached on the reserve list, parents will be contacted by the Unit with an offer. From the 1 August you can track the progress of the reserve lists as reserve offers are made. See progress on the reserve list.
- Can I change my choice of schools after submitting the application?
You are advised to consider very carefully your choices when submitting the application. Before Thursday 1 May 2014, when selection committee lists are created, you can submit a change of choice without explanation. After this date changes are subject to approval and must be accompanied by documentary evidence of the reason for the late change.
- Why do some partially selective high schools combine selective and comprehensive students in the senior years?
Some partially selective high schools do this. It allows the school to better organise the timetable and offer more electives than would be possible if the selective students were kept as a separate group. This organisation advantages selective students as the school can offer a wider range of electives.