The Ultimate Guide to Selective High Schools (NSW)

selective high schools guide

While Selective High Schools have been around for a while, there have been a number of notable developments in recent years. Scholarly, the premier supplier of exam preparation courses and mock exams, has produced this complete reference to Selective High Schools and the application procedure, with all of the necessary, up-to-date information on one page.

What does it mean to attend a Selective High School?

Students who are academically gifted and have great potential but may not have enough classmates of their own academic ability attend elite high schools because they cater to their requirements. These children are helped in their academic endeavors in selective high schools by being placed in classrooms with other students who have talents equivalent to their own, as well as through the utilization of specialist teaching methods and resources. Parents do not need to live within the school’s attendance zone in order to apply to a selective high school.

There were 4,196 available seats for kids wishing to start year 7 in 2021 at one of New South Wales’ 51 elite schools. There are essentially two types of selective high schools that accept pupils for seventh-grade placement: completely selective and somewhat selective. They may be found across New South Wales.

There are presently 21 100% selective high schools, which means that admittance to every class is based solely on academic merit. There are four agricultural high schools in the state, each of which is very selective and emphasizes agriculture as a field of study. In the state of New South Wales, there are 25 high schools that are just relatively selective, which means that only one or two classes are competitive, while the rest are available to students from the local community. Students participating in the selected courses are taught separately in all three subjects: English, mathematics, and science. In most circumstances, they will attend lessons in other subjects alongside non-selective students.

Should I really consider attending a Selective school?

selective high school lockers


Selective schools are designed to provide children with high potential and giftedness, i.e. those with very high to very high academic excellence, with superior learning opportunities (in the top 9 percent of their cohort).

High potential and gifted learners may exhibit curiosity, fast-paced ease of learning, intense concentration in new learning or areas of interest, a sophisticated sense of humor, creative and critical thinking skills, high expectations, and another intellectual, creative, and socio-emotional characteristics.

Year 7 Selective High School Entry Eligibility

Students who want to start Year 7 in 2023 must have finished Year 5 in 2021. Parents should explain why their child is older than the usual age range or is in a school year other than Year 5 when applying. Selection committees may seek additional information while examining applicants.

Students who are already in Year 7 at the time of the test will be considered only if extraordinary circumstances exist for placement in Year 7 the following year. For the repetition, a full explanation, supporting papers, and the principal’s consent are required. Selection panels will accept or reject such applications.

Screening committees will look for evidence of consultation with the school administrator if parents want to be considered for acceleration. The student must obtain a score that places them in the top half of the students admitted to their selected selective high school. Only one out of every 200 children in the state would be capable of accelerating in all areas.

A student’s family must live in NSW at the start of the school year.

A student must be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia, or a New Zealand citizen in order to enroll in a selective high school.

Year 8-12 Selective High School Entry Eligibility

The number of available seats in Years 8 to 12 is determined by the number of graduates from the school. Each school is different; some may have no openings in specific years of study, while others may construct reserve lists in case of future vacancies. Contact individual selected high schools for further information about availability.

  • Students cannot switch easily between selected high schools. An application must be submitted if a student seeks to transfer from one elite high school to another.
  • Applicants fill out the application form, which is available each year in late June, and submit it to up to three prestigious high schools. Each school must get a unique application.
  • Individual elite high schools are in charge of their own placement and reserve lists.
  • When considering placement, a student’s existing pattern of study will be examined. Available study patterns in elite high schools may differ from the present options.
  • Any requests to repeat a school year should be reviewed with the principal before being submitted.
  • An applicant on a reserve list is only on the list for the year for which they applied.
  • If parents are rejected in one year, they may reapply in consecutive years when applications are available.

Selective High School Benefits and Drawbacks

Selective schools offer a competitive academic atmosphere and are committed to assisting their students in achieving high academic outcomes. The proof is in the pudding since these schools often provide the top Year 12 scores. However, competition may be a double-edged sword.

What some students consider healthy competition may be a high-pressure, highly unpleasant setting for others. You and your kid should do research on the schools you want to attend, inquire about other people’s experiences, and evaluate your own circumstances.

You may also contact us via our official Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube pages to learn more about applying to Selective High Schools, Scholarships, and other educational issues.

What is the actual number of Selective High Schools?
selective high schools bus with full of students

There are now 17 completely selective high schools, 25 selective high schools (partially selective), 4 agricultural high schools, and a virtual selective class provision enabling selective placement in Year 7 for entrance in 2021.

There are 4,226 open positions.

There were 15,355 candidates.

27.5 percent acceptance rate

How do I decide which Selective High Schools to apply to?

Applicants may pick up to three selected high schools, which must be listed in order of preference.

When students qualify for admission to two or three colleges, they will only be offered admission to the highest-ranked school on the list. As a result, it is critical to prioritize the selected school.

A student may be offered option 2 or 3 while simultaneously being on a reserve list for choice 1. If a student qualified for all options, he or she would be unable to refuse the top choice offer and instead choose a lesser choice.

Except under exceptional circumstances with well-documented proof, you cannot revise your selected school selections after the placement decision has been revealed. Any request to modify options would have to be granted by the High Performing Students Team at the time.

Consider your own personal circumstances when selecting and ranking colleges.

  • Only include the school or schools that you want your kid to attend.
  • Consider the student’s journey time and accessible transportation. Except for boarder agricultural high schools and Aurora College, the selection committee does not consider distances, travel times, or transportation arrangements from the student’s residence to the chosen high school.
  • When applying for a boarder placement at an agricultural high school, additional information, a medical report, and payment of boarding costs are necessary.
  • When applying for the specialty Conservatorium High School, you have the option of selecting three choice high schools.
  • Tuition is free (unless boarding), however schools may request a voluntary donation to finance services such as the library, textbooks, and other curriculum-related materials. Schools may also request donations to offset the cost of purchasing materials for certain topics as well as fees related with sports or trips.

You should also evaluate the previous admission scores for the colleges you are considering. The needed admission score for each institution changes from year to year. It is determined by the number and academic standing of students who have selected the school each year. Minimum entrance scores are helpful as a basic reference of the competitiveness of admittance to specific Selective institutions, but they may not always imply the score necessary for entry in subsequent years.

What are the entrance requirements for Selective High Schools?
  • Minimum entrance scores differ across schools and between years.
  • A selective high school’s minimum admission score is the lowest-scoring student who accepts a spot there. All selective high school vacancies are typically filled until the conclusion of the first term of the enrollment year.
  • The minimal entrance score is decided by the schools’ geographical location as well as the academic quality of the students requesting for admission. If parents refuse offers after the school year has ended, it may be required to go much lower down a reserve list than in prior years.
  • The minimal admission score does not reflect the relative performance of selected high schools.
  • Minimum admission scores should not be used as the only basis for selecting elite high schools by parents. They should also evaluate the curriculum given at each school, as well as travel hours and transportation.
  • The minimal entrance scores for Hurlstone Agricultural High School – Boarder, Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, and Yanco Agricultural High School are not publicized since isolation considerations, as well as school and test scores, are taken into account.
  • Selective scores were formerly assigned out of 300, but are now assigned out of /120.

What exactly is the Selective School Admissions Process?

Currently, admission to Selective High Schools is based on academic performance, as determined by a placement score generated by combining scaled Selective High School Placement Test results to moderated school assessment scores.

The exam scores are scaled on a state-wide basis, regardless of where the pupils attend school. Each scaled test component is modified to be equally weighted.

The needed admission score for each school fluctuates from year to year since the score is determined by the quantity and academic quality of students who choose the school each year.

The computed placement score is represented as a score out of 120 (formerly 300) and is determined as follows from the test and school assessment scores:

Components of testing:

  1. Reading /25 
  2. Mathematical reasoning /25 
  3. Critical thinking /35 
  4. Writing /15 
  5. Moderated School Assessment Score /20

Total Placement Score: /120

What is the format of the Selective High School Placement Test?

For 2021, a new Selective High School Placement Test has been designed. Students are urged to practice the sample exam ahead of the upcoming Selective High School Placement Test on March 10, 2022. The new exam has a stronger focus on critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and problem solving. It also modifies and balances the weighting assigned to the components of the mathematics, reading, and thinking abilities tests.

These revisions are in accordance to the conclusions of the NSW Department of Education-commissioned 2018 Review of Selective Education Access study.

The placement exam will continue to be administered on paper in 2022. Students mark their replies using pencils. Computers grade multiple-choice exams.

  1. Reading (40 min, 30 questions)
  2. Mathematical Reasoning (40 min, 35 questions)
  3. Thinking Capabilities (40 min, 40 questions)
  4. Writing (30 min, 1 open-response question)
Reading Test

The reading exam has 30 questions. Students have 40 minutes to finish the exam. The questions are based on a variety of literature and test a variety of reading abilities.

The reading exam questions include a wide range of genres, including nonfiction, fiction, poetry, magazine articles, and reports.

Mathematical Reasoning Test

There are 35 questions in the mathematical reasoning exam. Students have 40 minutes to finish the exam. The questions are entirely multiple choice, and students must choose the right answer from a list of five possibilities.

The mathematical reasoning exam evaluates a student’s ability to apply mathematical understanding and knowledge to issues using questions from a variety of mathematical curriculum areas.

The mathematical reasoning exam does not make use of calculators.

Thinking Capabilities Test

There are 40 questions on the thinking skills exam. Students have 40 minutes to finish the exam. The questions are entirely multiple choice, and students must choose the proper answer from four possibilities.

The thinking skills exam measures a student’s capacity to think critically and solve problems. The exam has a variety of various question kinds.

This exam does not need any prior knowledge.

Writing Test

The writing exam consists of a single written exercise. Students have 30 minutes to finish the exam. The exam evaluates the student’s idea generation and ability to write effectively for a specific purpose and audience. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary will also be evaluated.

While the exam will remain paper-based for the time being, future ideas to make the Opportunity Class Placement Test a computer-based test like NAPLAN, ICAS, and the Selective High School Placement Test have been floated (from 2023).

What is the application procedure for Selective High Schools?

Applications for admittance into a selective high school in Year 7 in 2023 begin on October 6, 2021, and end on November 9, 2021.

The Selective High School Placement Test will be administered on paper in 2022 before switching to a computer-based version in 2023.

How can I get my kid ready for the Selective test?

It is never too early to consider enhancing your child’s academic path, and it is never too late to make a difference by augmenting their education with external coaching. However, working regularly over a longer period of time is often more beneficial than (merely) preparing hard in the run-up to exams. Weekly tuition may be appropriate if you believe your kid would benefit from frequent, individualized instruction outside of school

In terms of the Selective exam, early Year 5 is a good time to start preparing, providing your kid a year to build their knowledge and abilities. Recent adjustments (such as the addition of the Thinking Skills part and the increasing weighting of the test component compared to school assessment results) make preparation for the Selective exam more vital than ever. A limited amount of practice examinations are accessible on the official website, but Scholarly’s different programs are the best method to prepare. We provide carefully designed courses in English, Mathematics, Thinking Skills, and Writing (the four components of the OC test). FREE mock examinations and study sessions are offered on a regular basis as part of the Programs, as well as personalized homework assistance and extra exam preparation courses.

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