Test information

Students undergo multiple-choice testing in reading, mathematics and general ability. They also complete a 20 minute writing task. The results from these tests are combined with school assessment scores in English and mathematics to form the student's profile score. Student profile scores are generally the most important determiners of academic merit used in the placement process.

The next Selective High School Placement Test will be conducted on the morning of Thursday 12 March 2015.

It will be administered statewide in designated test centres, usually established in government high schools. All applicants in NSW are required to sit for the test unless there are extenuating circumstances. Candidates must be allocated to a test centre to sit the test.

The test is conducted only on this day and only in designated test centres in NSW.

The Selective High School Placement Test is an ability test which is able to differentiate accurately between students of very high ability. It is rare for any candidate to score full marks in any of its components.

Students who miss the test through illness or other unavoidable mishap may be considered through the illness/misadventure procedure. Students unable to take the test because they are interstate or overseas at the time should contact the Unit to determine whether they should apply to be considered under the illness/misadventure procedure or the interstate/overseas procedure.

The test is developed by an external test development company under contract to the Department of Education and Communities. It is a secure test and, apart from the sample test papers which have been published online, tests are not made available for scrutiny before or after the test session. The test does not usually contain any questions used in previous years.

School assessment scores

The school assessment scores in English and mathematics are moderated (scaled) according to the performance of the candidates from the student's primary school in the reading, writing and mathematics sections of the Selective High School Placement Test.

Moderating the school assessment scores makes them comparable statewide and gives school assessment scores and test scores in English and mathematics equal value.

Test centres

You are advised of your child's designated test centre by mail and/or email (if you have provided an email address).

All candidates from the same primary school are usually sent to the same test centre. Variations to allocated test centres cannot be considered at this late stage.

You must make appropriate transport arrangements for your child.

If you were not advised about the test centre your child is to attend, please contact the principal of your child's government primary school or the Unit on (02) 1300 880 367.

You can see the full listing of the test centres allocated to each primary school.

The test centre advice included a Test Information Bulletin. The bulletin details the Selective High School Placement Test procedures, shows how students should indicate their answers and lists the equipment required for the test. Use this information and the sample test papers found on the Unit's website to ensure your child becomes familiar with the test format and knows how to record his or her answers.

Note: Assigning your child to a test centre does not signify that the application has been accepted.

Note: Parents must not remain on the school premises during the test unless special permission has been granted as part of special test provisions (See details below).

Test components

The Selective High School Placement Test is designed to measure ability rather than mastery of the school curriculum.

Students undergo multiple-choice tests in reading (45 questions), mathematics (40 questions) and general ability (60 questions). Each multiple-choice test is 40 minutes in duration with answers recorded in black pen on computer marked answer sheets.

There is also a writing task which is 20 minutes in duration and is marked by trained markers using pre-determined criteria. Two pages are provided for the writing task. The writing stimulus may be an image, a statement, a heading or a question to which students have to respond in writing. The writing will be judged on the quality of the thinking about the topic, the organisation of ideas and the control of language demonstrated in developing the piece of writing.

Students must produce writing that is their own original work. Generally, NO marks will be awarded for writing that does not specifically address the stimulus. Marks will also NOT be awarded where the writing of students is discovered to have elements in common with writing of other students or published works. Selection committees have the discretion to deduct some or all of the writing marks if they believe students have produced work memorised beforehand and adapted to respond to the stimulus.

Students must be careful not to look at the work of others during the test. Students found to be cheating risk disqualification from the test.

The test is developed by an external test development company under contract to the Department of Education and Communities. Test answer sheets will be identified to markers by numbers and not by name to ensure anonymity in the marking process.

Special test provisions

Applicants may request special test provisions because of a disability, a medical condition or a behaviour disorder. Requests for special test provisions should be made by the student's parent or school principal in the application.

Applications for special test provisions are assessed individually. The fact that a student has previously been granted special test provision for a certain condition does not necessarily mean that another student will be granted the same provision. In the past, students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Asperger's Syndrome have been seated at the front of the test centre; large print papers have been arranged for students with vision impairments; and FM transmitters have been arranged for students with hearing impairments. The Unit evaluates the feasibility of the request and contacts the applicant and the student's current (government) primary school principal explaining whether or not the special test provisions can be granted. Special test provisions may be checked with the school and will not normally be provided if a student does not require them in class.

Some requests such as extra time to complete the test cannot be granted.

The applicant, the student's current government primary school principal and the presiding officer (the person who administers the test) will be advised in writing whether or not the special test provisions have been granted.

Where special test provisions cannot be granted, applicants may lodge an illness/misadventure claim. The selection committee has the discretion to consider the student on alternative evidence of academic merit such as moderated school assessment scores.

It is important that any special test provision must maintain the academic rigour of the exam and must not confer any unfair advantage to the student.

Sample tests

Several past papers have been published on the Unit's website for use by students as sample tests. The links in the table below will take you to them. These sample tests have been provided to assist applicants become more familiar with the tests.

Some of the items from the original tests have been omitted for copyright reasons.

Selection committees and appeals panels will not make placement decisions based on the performance of students in the sample tests.

Sample test papers

Reading 1 Mathematics 1 General ability 1
Reading 2 Mathematics 2 General ability 2
Reading 3 Mathematics 3 General ability 3
Not available Mathematics 4 General ability 4

Sample writing test

Writing task instructions  Sample writing prompt 1 Sample writing prompt 2

Sample and past tests
Sample answer sheet

In the multiple-choice sections of the test (Reading, Mathematics and General ability) the students must show their answers using black pen on answer pages that will be marked by computer.

The answer pages are specific to each year's test. The 'bubbles' to be coloured in are grouped according to the pages from the question booklet. This is intended to assist students to answer in the correct place.

Students are encouraged to view the answer pages so that they are familiar with the way they are required to show their answers in the test.

View sample answer pages for session 1 and session 2 of the test (PDF)