Test information

The next Selective High School Placement Test will be conducted on the morning of Thursday 12 March 2015. It will be held in test centres in NSW, usually in government high schools.

All applicants in NSW are required to sit the test unless they have a satisfactory explanation. 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.

Students sit three multiple-choice tests in reading, mathematics and general ability. They also complete a writing test. 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 used to assess academic merit in the placement process.

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

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 public before or after the test session. The test does not usually contain any questions used in previous years.

Missing the test

Students who miss the test through illness or other unavoidable event 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.

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 told which test centre your child has been allocated to by 27 February 2015. This advice is sent by mail and/or email (if you have provided an email address).

You receive a Test authority letter, which tells you where to go for the test, and information about the test. Your child must take the Test authority letter to the test centre on the day.

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.

Candidates from the same primary school are usually sent to the same test centre, with some individual exceptions. You can see the full listing of the test centres allocated to each primary school. Variations to allocated test centres cannot be considered at this late stage.

You must make appropriate transport arrangements for your child.

The test centre advice includes a Test Information Bulletin. The bulletin details the Selective High School Placement Test procedures, shows how students should indicate their answers and lists what to take to the test. Use this information and the sample test papers at the links below to help your child become familiar with the test format and how to record his or her answers.

Note: Parents must not remain on the school premises during the test unless specifically authorised by the Unit such as for a special test provision (See details below). Parents must abide by parking restrictions at or near the test centre.

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

Test components

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

Students sit three multiple-choice tests in reading (45 questions), mathematics (40 questions) and general ability (60 questions). Forty minutes are allowed for each test.  Students show their answers by shading in bubbles on the answer sheets using black pen.  The answers are marked by computer. 

The fourth test is a writing test which is 20 minutes long. The writing must be completed on a maximum of two pages. A stimulus such as an image, a statement, a heading or a question is provided. Students respond to it in writing.

To gain high marks for their writing students should write only about the topic, include interesting and imaginative ideas and communicate their ideas clearly. The writing markers pay more attention to what is written than to how it is written. The writing markers need to be able to read the handwriting. The writing markers will give no marks if the writing is not about the whole topic or if they believe the writing is using someone else's ideas and words.

The writing test is marked by trained markers. The answer sheets are identified by numbers and not by names to ensure students cannot be identified by the markers.

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.

Special test provisions

Applicants may request special test provisions because of a disability, medical condition or 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 Unit may contact the school or the applicant to discuss appropriate arrangements. Special test provisions will not normally be provided if a student does not require them in class. Applicants should send the Unit supporting documents such as medical certificates.

Examples of special test provisions include front seating for students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, large print papers for students with vision impairments, and FM transmitters for students with hearing impairments.

The fact that a student has previously been granted a special test provision for a certain condition does not necessarily mean that another student will be granted the same provision.

Some requests such as a scribe, a computer or 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 of the special test provisions that 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 give any unfair advantage to the student.

Sample test questions

Several past papers have been published at the links below for use by students. The links in the table below will take you to them. You can use these sample papers to help your child become familiar with the type of test questions. You cannot use sample test items to predict success in the actual test. 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 sheets

In the multiple-choice sections of the test (Reading, Mathematics and General ability) the students must show their answers by shading in answer bubbles using black pen. The answers are marked by computer.

The answer pages are specific to each year's test and not the sample questions so the page numbers will not match. In the actual test the 'bubbles' to be shaded in are grouped according to the pages in the question booklet. This is to help students to answer in the correct place.

Encourage your child to look at the answer pages to see how to show answers in the test and to practise shading in the bubbles quickly but clearly.

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