Frequently asked questions

Applying

You must think about your choices very carefully when you apply. You can ask for a change of choice without explanation if you submit a request form by Friday 10 August 2018, when selection committee lists are created. After this date there have to be extenuating circumstances which occurred after Friday 10 August 2018, there has to be documentary evidence of the extenuating circumstances and any change must be approved.

You should list only those schools you are prepared to accept. You may list one or two choices. Consider your choices carefully.

Yes. If your child qualifies for both of your choices, you will be offered a place only at the first choice school. However, if your child qualifies for only one of the two choices, you will be offered that place regardless of whether it was your first or second choice.

The selection procedures are the same for all students. The only difference is that the Unit advises government school principals about the students from their school who have applied. Parents of students from non-government schools must ask their principals to complete the principal’s page for provision of school assessment scores (emailed to parents with their application confirmation) and then must ensure it is returned to the Unit by Friday 8 June 2018. In circumstances where this is not possible you should submit a letter of explanation to the Unit.

The selection committee will NOT generally grant an exemption to applicants who do not have school assessment scores if other students from the same school have them. The selection committee may decide not to accept the application in this case.

Over the entire candidature, about half of the placement scores are increased by the moderated school assessment scores while the other half are decreased. Where students are not provided with school assessment scores, it is not possible to guess whether or not having school assessment scores would have increased their placement scores. Students without school assessment scores who are considered exempt will be considered on their test scores only.

No, selection committees do not consider travelling times and transport arrangements when offering places.

When you apply you will be asked to provide the names of both parents and you should give the contact details of the parent/carer who the child lives with most of the time. You will have to provide copies of court orders if they exist.

If the parent who does not live with the child is entitled to educational information about the student that parent may contact the Unit and request duplicate system-generated correspondence.

Parents/carers living separately MUST NOT make separate applications for the same student.

Offer response forms are sent only to the parent making the application. It is the responsibility of parents living separately to reach consensus about matters such as school choices and accepting offers.

The test

Encourage your child to use the sample tests on the Unit’s website to practise answering the questions on the sample answer sheet. Students will also be given practice questions before the test begins. See sample tests.

Encourage your child to use the sample tests on the Unit’s website to practise answering the questions on the sample answer sheet. Students will also be given practice questions before the test begins. See sample tests.

The results of practice items do not mean that your child will score the same in the test. Selection committees and appeals panels will not make any decision based on your child’s score on practice test items.

The Department of Education does not endorse coaching for the Opportunity Class Placement Test.

It is generally better for the student to attempt the test than to miss it. You should download the Illness/misadventure form from the Unit’s website. You will need to take the student to the doctor and obtain a medical certificate which covers the day of the test and ask the doctor to complete the Independent evidence of illness form. You should complete the Illness/misadventure form, whether or not the student attempted the test, attach the medical certificate which covers the day of the test and the Independent evidence of illness form, and return the completed form to the Unit by Wednesday 15 August 2018. The selection committee will then consider the student’s illness/misadventure request as part of the selection process. You will not be able to appeal on the grounds of illness after the placement outcome is known.

The Opportunity Class Placement Test measures ability, while school assessment scores show each student’s achievement on the school curriculum. The test helps to identify students for entry into opportunity classes on the basis of academic merit. It is not meant to be a diagnostic test to identify the student’s strengths and weaknesses in English and mathematics. The student’s primary school is most appropriate to advise you on your child’s performance in these areas.

Results

A student who does not have school assessment scores or who is the only candidate from his/her school will be considered on test scores which will be expressed as a mark out of 300 as the calculated placement score.

Not necessarily. The entry requirements for opportunity classes and selective high school placement can vary quite significantly. Students' ability and performance of students can improve over the time since they applied for opportunity class placement. Not all students from opportunity classes are successful for selective high school entry. There are more than twice as many Year 7 places in selective high schools as there are Year 5 places in opportunity classes.

There is no predetermined score that a student has to achieve to receive an offer of opportunity class placement. The minimum entry score for each school with an opportunity class depends on the scores achieved by the candidates applying for that school and can vary from school to school, and from year to year. The greater the demand for the school, the higher the entry score is likely to be.

See the entry scores held by the last students accepting offers to opportunity classes last year. These scores change from year to year.

Opportunity classes are only one of the initiatives provided by the Department of Education to meet the needs of gifted and talented students. As there is one place for approximately every six people applying, not all students can be placed. Be supportive and explain to your child that he or she can be very successful at a comprehensive primary school.

Most parents/carers will receive their child’s placement score at the bottom of their placement outcome email or letter in October.

A further letter or attachment is provided with the breakdown of the raw school assessment scores and test marks. In a few cases the score cannot be published. If parents do not receive their child’s score they can write to the Unit for an explanation.

The selection committee may adjust a child’s score based on criteria such as a student’s Aboriginality, length of time doing all school work in English, illness/misadventure request, appeal and a number of other factors. This is why a student may appear higher on a reserve list than another student with a higher calculated placement score. Adjusted placement scores are not released as they can vary between the selection committees considering the application. No other score information is available, including adjusted scores or school rankings.

Reserve list

No. Three terms are used in the placement outcome information: ‘offer’, ‘reserve list’ and ‘unsuccessful’. Selection committees decide the students who will receive offers and those who will be placed on reserve lists. Students who receive offers and those on reserve lists have higher scores than those who are unsuccessful. Students placed on a reserve list will be given a number indicating their position on the reserve list. Progress on the reserve list varies from year to year. When offers begin to be made from the reserve list, the progress of each school’s reserve list is available on the Unit’s website from early November 2018.

You can accept an offer to your second choice school while remaining on the reserve list for your first choice school until 5pm on Tuesday 29 January 2019. After that time, no further offers will be made to students who have already accepted placement in an opportunity class.

If the student is on a reserve list for an opportunity class, the number on the placement outcome information shows the student’s position on the list. The progress of the reserve list depends on whether students accept or decline an offer and whether other students receive further offers to schools of higher choice. If a student’s position is reached on the reserve list, the Unit will contact parents with an offer. From early November 2018 until 29 January 2019 you can track the progress of the reserve lists on the website. The page is updated regularly.

The selection committee offers places or reserve list positions only to those students they think are capable of doing well in an opportunity class. There are many things which can affect student performance, including your child’s willingness to learn, his/her response to teachers and interaction with other students. While some students who receive late offers might have problems, the majority should have no difficulties.

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