Selective Test Academy Blog

8 Sep 2018

Mathematics Technique 1 (trial and error)

A practical lesson on how to optimise your trial and error skills for the Selective Test

Mathematics Technique 1 (Trial and Error)

It is important to remember that the NSW Selective Test is multiple choice and it is often easier to use a trial and error (guess and check) approach to difficult and time consuming questions. When using trial and error in a question that has numeric answer options, do not go through each of the answer options from A to D but rather:

  • Select an answer option that is not the smallest or largest
  • Calculate whether this answer option is the correct option
  • If the answer option attempted was not the correct option, select a new answer option to trial depending on whether the prior option resulted in a solution that was too large or too small

This will ensure that you will never have to try all the different answer options and will save you considerable time in the long run.

For example, if a student wanted to solve the following question sourced from our Selective Test online platform using trial and error:

Rachel has received marks of 14, 18, 16 and 17 out of 20 in the first four of five spelling exams.

What mark would she need in her last exam to get an average of 85%?

A 13

B 16

C 17

D 20

They would select an answer option that is not the smallest (13) or largest (20). In this case lets select 17. Then they would check if 17 is the correct option. The average of 14, 18, 16,17 and 17 is (14+18+16+17+17) / 5 = 16.4. It is clear that the correct answer option has to be larger than the trialled option of 17. Therefore they would check if the answer option bigger than 17 is the answer. The only option bigger than 17 is 20 and quickly redoing the calculation confirms that it is is the correct answer.

By using this method, the student has only needed to try 2 different options and will never have to try all 4 options in order to find the correct answer.

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10 Aug 2018

Time management

How to make sure you never run out of time

Exam techniques

These test tips should be followed and practiced to ensure that students perform to their full ability on the day of the Selective Test.

Students should never run out of time without having read every single question in an exam, as all questions are worth the same amount of marks for a given subject. It is essential for students to measure their performance in timed Selective Practice Tests to get a feel for when they should skip a question. Generally, students should check the time every 5-10 questions and adjust their pace. Checking the time too frequently can place undue stress on the student and can quickly become a waste of time whilst checking infrequently can result in poor time management and unsolved questions.

We recommend students spend about a quarter of their time checking their answers. This usually includes:

Rereading the question and their working out immediately after solving the question Ensuring that the correct question and answer bubble has been marked on the answer sheet Returning to harder questions after a student completes their first full attempt of the exam.

However, we maintain that attempting every question in the Selective School Test is of utmost importance and therefore the time students spend on checking their answers should be adjusted depending on their pace in a given exam.

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7 Jul 2018

Preexam prep

A quick list of items both students and parents should do before the Selective Test

What to do one month before the test

In the month before the Selective Test, students should reattempt the questions they got wrong in their practice exams. If they make the same mistake again, they should review answers and make sure they understand how to solve similar questions. Students should identify their weaknesses in a particular topic or exam technique and focus a few hours on dedicated practice. Students may also choose to get familiar with the format of the answer sheet found here.

Parents should make sure they have received an email, which provides further information regarding the Selective Test, their child’s Test Centre and a Test Authority Letter, which must be taken to the Test Centre on the day of the exam. Parents should plan their child’s transport to the Centre well in advance and facilitate a stress free journey.

What to do the night before the test

On the night before the exam, students should make sure they get plenty of sleep whilst parents should make sure that students are well prepared with a clear plastic bottle of water, a snack or small lunch to eat during the break as well as their test authority letter. It is important for parents to remind their children to relax and alleviate anxiety as their are ample further opportunities in later years to join a Selective School.

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12 Jun 2018

Introduction to Selective High Schools

A brief introduction to the Selective High School system in NSW and how placement occurs.

What is a selective high school?

Selective high schools allow academically gifted students to grow and learn amongst like-minded peers. There are 21 fully selective high schools, 4 fully selective agricultural high schools and 25 partially selective high schools in NSW. A comprehensive list of schools can be found here:

Applications for selective high schools are completed between October and November in Year 5 with acceptance occurring in Year 6 for commencement in the following year.

How do I get accepted?

Selective schools are unzoned and acceptance is based entirely on academic merit. This means that students will be accepted into a selective school based entirely on their placement score regardless of where they live. Positions are competitive with 14,458 students sitting the Selective Test for 4,226 positions in 2017.

Placement score

The placement score combines school assessment scores and results from the Selective School Placement Test. School assessment scores are submitted by the student's school whilst the Selective School Placement Test is an exam conducted in March (14 March 2019). The placement score is calculated out of 300 with the following components:

School Marks

  • English (50 marks)
  • Mathematics (50 marks)

Selective Test

  • English Reading and Writing (50 marks)
  • Maths (50 marks)
  • General Ability (100 marks)

Therefore out of a total of 300 marks, 200 are from the Selective Placement Test. Practice is recommended to get familiar with the content and the format. It is worth noting that the General Ability component counts twice as much as the other components in the Selective Test and so further attention may be paid to General Ability preparation after the school assessment scores have been submitted.

Both the school assessment scores and Selective Placement Test are scaled, this minimises unfairness from inconsistent grading between different schools and relative difficulty of exams year on year.

The Selective High School Placement Test

The Selective Test consists of four parts:

Exam Question(s) Type Duration
Mathematics 40 Multiple Choice 40 minutes
General Ability 60 Multiple Choice 40 minutes
English - Reading 45 Multiple Choice 40 minutes
English Writing 1 Writing task 20 minutes

The marks for the exams are scaled to their respective assessment value so a student's mark out of 40 for the Mathematics component of the Selective Test will be scaled to a mark out of 50 and added to the Placement Score. Additionally, the English - Reading exam contributes 2 parts and English - Writing contributes 1 part to the Selective Test's English component of the Placement Score.

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