Frequently asked questions


The selection procedures are the same for all students. The only difference is that parents of NSW non-government schools must ask their principals to complete the principal's page for provision of school assessment scores (sent with their application confirmation) and then must ensure it is returned to the Team by 4 December 2020.
If your non-government school does not provide school assessment scores, ask them to indicate this on the form and sign it and return it to the Team. If the principal will not sign the form or you do not present it to the school, you should complete the Request for formal exemption form on the Application process page.

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

If a non-government primary school does not provide school assessment scores or the school assessment scores cannot be moderated the calculated placement score is obtained by using test scores alone, instead of averaging test and school marks.

Some partially selective high schools do this. It allows the school to better organise the timetable and offer more electives than would be possible if the selective students were kept as a separate group.

No. Selection committees do not consider travelling times and transport arrangements when offering places unless you are applying for entry as a boarder. Boarder school selection committees can advantage students by isolation factors.

You must think about your choices very carefully when you apply. You can ask for a change of choice without explanation if it is before 25 April 2021, when selection committee lists are created. After this date there have to be extenuating circumstances which are serious and well documented. Any change must be approved.

A change of school choices cannot be made on the basis of the child having enough marks to qualify for a different school or for a school in a different year.

Encourage your child to use the sample tests to practise answering the questions on the sample answer sheets. Students will also be given practice questions before the test begins. 

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 placement decisions based on a student's performance in the sample tests or other types of test or report, with the exception of IQ reports in exceptional circumstances and in the Report of academic merit.

The NSW Department of Education does not endorse coaching for the Selective High School Placement Test.


The Selective High School Placement Test measures ability while the school scores show the ranking of each student's achievement on the school curriculum in relation to other applicants from the school. The test helps to identify students for entry into selective high schools 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 or mathematics performance. The student's primary school is most appropriate to advise you on your child's performance in these areas.

As the test is designed to discriminate between high achieving students, your child is being compared with other high achieving students across NSW. Therefore the results might not match other tests and school reports which compare your child with a different cohort or against curriculum benchmarks.

There is no fixed score that a student has to achieve to be successful for placement at a particular selective high school as students are placed in rank order to fill the available vacancies.

The score held by the last student placed at the school is the 'minimum entry score' that is published on the department's website in the following April each year. This score 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. For example, in a school with 150 places, the score achieved for the 150th ranked student who accepts a place at that school becomes the entry score.

Please note that the scores on the website show the score held by the last student accepting a place for entry in 2020. The entry score for 2021 will not be known until after the placement process is finalised and the reserve list closed. Though your child's score may be higher than that shown for a previous year this does not necessarily mean that he or she will be offered a place for entry in a later year. These scores cannot be used to predict an entry score in any other year.

Most parents/carers will receive their child's placement score at the bottom of their placement outcome advice in early July.

An attachment to the outcome advice shows the breakdown of raw school assessment and test scores. In a few cases the scores cannot be published. If parents do not receive the child's score they can send a message to the Team for an explanation.

The selection committees may adjust a child's score based on considerations such as a student's Aboriginality, time doing all school work in the English language, illness/misadventure requests, appeals and other factors. This is why a student may appear higher on a reserve list than another with a higher calculated placement score.

Adjusted placement scores are not released as they can vary across selection committees considering the application.

No other score information is available, including adjusted scores or school rankings.

Where students have been considered on other evidence of academic merit, such as an individual IQ test, or the selection committee has adjusted the score based on supplementary information, the original calculated placement score is not applicable. If selection committees adjusted scores for special considerations the scores are not released.

As there is one place for approximately three 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 high school. Students at comprehensive high schools can achieve results which are as good as, or even better than, results gained by selective high school students. Not all gifted and talented students apply for selective high schools. Comprehensive high schools implement gifted and talented programs as a feature of the NSW Department of Education's High potential and gifted education policy.

Students who do not have school assessment scores are considered on the basis of their test scores only. This has not changed.

The relative weighting of the school assessment scores has changed. In previous years the school assessment scores had a higher weighting so the effect of not having school assessment scores on the calculated placement score has lessened.

The test provides a score out of 100 and school assessment scores add a score out of 20. Where students have a test score and have no school assessment scores, their score out of 100 is recalculated to be a score out of 120. This has the effect of assuming that the student’s school assessment score, had it been provided, would have shown the student to be performing at school as they did in the test.

Reserve list

No. The terms are used in outcome letters are: 'offer', 'reserve list', 'unsuccessful' and 'Not applicable'. Selection committees decide the students who will receive offers and those who will be placed on reserve lists. Students who have been offered places for a particular school will have higher scores than those who are on the reserve list or are unsuccessful for that school. Students placed on reserve lists 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 this website from August to December each year.

'Not applicable' means the child has qualified for a higher choice school so is not given an outcome classification for the lower choices.

If your child is on a reserve list for a selective high school the number on the placement outcome letter shows his or her position on the list. How quickly the Team offers places to those on a reserve list depends on whether other students accept or decline an offer, and whether other students receive subsequent offers to a school of higher choice. If your child's position is reached on the reserve list, the Team will contact you with an offer. From early August you can track where the reserve lists are up to on the Team's website.

You can accept an offer to one school while remaining on the reserve list for one or more of your higher choices until 3pm on the last day of school. For entry in 2021, the last day of school is 16 December 2020. For entry in 2022, the last day of school is 15 December 2021. After that time no further offers will be made to students who have already accepted placement in a selective high school and have not later declined the offer.

The selection committee offers places or reserve list positions only to those students they think are capable of doing well at a selective high school. There are many things which can affect student performance, including your child's willingness to learn, his or 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.

Not necessarily. The placement processes for opportunity class and selective high schools are completely separate. Your child will be compared with a different group. Students can improve over the time since they applied for opportunity class placement. Many gifted and talented students applying for selective schools did not apply for opportunity class placement.  Not all students from opportunity classes are successful for selective high school entry. There are over twice as many Year 7 places in selective high schools as there are Year 5 places in opportunity classes.

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