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.