Updated: 31 July 2024

A common question is how difficult the NSW Selective School Test actually is. When discussing the difficulty of the Selective Test, it needs to be remembered that there are significant variations in the standards required to gain entrance to each of the different selective schools. The standard required to gain entrance to one of the top ranked selective schools is much higher than the standard required to gain entrance to a partially selective school. Accordingly, how “hard” the test is depends on what your goals are. With this in mind, it should be noted that the below comments are general in nature only.

The NSW Selective School Test is taken when students are half way through year 6. Since students will not have completed year 6 at the time of the test, the material tested in the Selective Test only covers a portion of year 6 work. However, in terms of difficulty, the material in the Selective Test is clearly more challenging than standard year 6 work.

To begin with, students that are aiming to score highly on the Selective Test need to be reading at a year 7 or 8 level. Reading is important for every component of the test. It is obviously central to performing well in the Reading and Writing Tests, but it is also a prerequisite to performing well in the Maths and Thinking Skills Tests. For example, if students cannot understand all of the words used in a maths or thinking Skills question, then they will struggle to correctly answer that question.

For the Maths Test, students should focus on year 5 and 6 maths concepts. Given that the Maths Test has been made easier in recent years, students should focus on being able to answer fundamental questions quickly and accurately. They key skill students need to develop for maths is problem solving; being able to apply their understanding of maths concepts to solve problems from a range of areas (sometimes combining two or more areas).

While students don’t specifically need to understand year 7 or 8 maths concepts, having such knowledge can be helpful for certain questions. A good example is equations. Students are not technically required to understand equations for the Selective Test, but if they have a good understanding of equations, then they may be able to use this knowledge to solve certain questions in the Maths Test more efficiently than they otherwise could.

The Thinking Skills Test has a large number of questions and contains material that students won’t have learnt at school. As a result, many students will find this test difficult. To do well in the Thinking Skills Test, students need to work on their understanding of arguments, logical reasoning and the different question types asked in the test. But this should only occur once students have developed their reading and maths skills per above.

The standard required to score highly on the Selective Test is high, but it is achievable for most students with a tailored and consistent learning program. The key is starting early and working specifically on student weaknesses.

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