The test

A new selective high school placement test was developed for 2021. Students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the sample test ahead of the next Selective High School Placement Test on 10 March 2022.

Test date

The test is held only in NSW and only on the test date each year.

The next Selective High School Placement Test will be held on Thursday 10 March 2022.

If the test date or location is changed due to NSW Health requirements we will notify parents of new arrangements individually.

Test authority

On the evening of 25 February 2021, an 'Authority to sit the Selective High School Placement Test' letter was sent along with the test centre location and extra information about the test. If you selected 'mail only' for correspondence when you applied, the test authority was sent by post on 25 February 2021.

The test information consists of:

  • a Test authority letter which must be taken to the allocated test centre on test day
  • a Test information sheet for parents and students that explains the test and lists what your child should and should not bring. It also gives instructions for how to show the answers to the test questions.
  • information about adjustments to the test for disability, if relevant
  • a notice about special parking restrictions if they apply to your test centre.

Test information

The Selective High School Placement Test changes in 2021 for placement in 2022. The new test has a greater emphasis on thinking skills, mathematical reasoning and problem solving. It also adjusts and balances the weighting given to mathematics, reading and thinking skills test components.

These changes are in response to the findings of the 2018 Review of Selective Education Access report, commissioned by the NSW Department of Education.

In 2022 the placement test will remain in a paper-based format.

The 2021 SHS placement test has been designed to allow students to demonstrate their abilities across a range of areas, including reading, mathematical reasoning, thinking skills and writing.

Test structure

The test consists of four sections and is structured as follows:

Section Minutes Questions Type

Reading

40 30 Multiple choice

Mathematical reasoning

40 35 Multiple choice

Thinking skills

40 40 Multiple choice

Writing

30 1 Open response

Reading Test

The reading test consists of 30 questions. Students have 40 minutes to complete the test. The questions are based on a diverse range of texts and assess a range of reading skills.

The reading test questions are based on different genres such as non-fiction, fiction, poetry, magazine articles and reports.

Mathematical Reasoning Test

The mathematical reasoning test consists of 35 questions. Students have 40 minutes to complete the test. The questions are all multiple choice and students will be asked to select the correct answer from 5 options.

The mathematical reasoning test assesses the student’s ability to apply mathematical understanding and knowledge to problems, with questions drawn from a range of mathematical content areas.

Calculators are not used in the mathematical reasoning test.

Thinking skills Test

The thinking skills test consists of 40 questions. Students have 40 minutes to complete the test. The questions are all multiple choice and students will be asked to select the correct answer from 4 options.

The thinking skills test assesses the student’s ability in critical thinking and problem solving. There are a range of different question types in the test.

No previous knowledge is required for this test.

Writing Test

The writing test consists of one set writing task. Students have 30 minutes to complete the test. The test assesses the student’s creativity of ideas and ability to write effectively for a purpose and audience. The test will also assess grammar, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary.

Students use pencils to show their answers. Multiple choice tests are marked by computer.

Preparing for the test

Students will be more comfortable with the test process if they are familiar with the format of the test, the types of questions and what the answer sheet looks like. Sample test questions and answer sheets are provided to help students become familiar with the test and to practise answering quickly. However, the Department of Education does not recommend any specific coaching for the test.

Results of sample tests do not show how a student will score in their Selective High School Placement Test. The selection committee will not consider scores on sample tests or any other practice tests.

Sample tests

The sample test papers indicate what types of questions to expect from the selective high school placement test but are not the questions that will be asked on test day. You can view the questions, the answer sheets, the answers and an explanation of the answers for the three multiple choice tests.

(The sample test papers are intended for printing and do not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements. Students are provided with modified test materials as reasonable adjustments for disability if required.)

Section Links to samples

Reading

Reading sample questions (PDF 476KB)

Reading sample answer sheet (PDF 663.5KB)

Reading sample answers (PDF 52KB)

Explanation of answers - Reading (PDF 521KB)


Mathematical reasoning

Mathematical reasoning sample questions (PDF 1.15MB)

Mathematical reasoning sample answer sheet (PDF 651KB)

Mathematical reasoning sample answers (PDF 85KB)

Explanation of answers - Mathematical reasoning (PDF 997KB)

Thinking skills

Thinking skills sample questions (PDF 3.54MB)

Thinking skills sample answer sheet (PDF 641KB)

Thinking skills sample answers (PDF 83KB)

Explanation of answers - Thinking skills (PDF 641KB)


Writing

Writing sample question (PDF 239.5KB)

Writing sample answer sheet (627.6KB)


Answer sheets

Students answer the multiple-choice questions on a separate answer sheet by shading in the circle for the alternative that best answers the question. Students use the pencil provided to fill in their answers. To change an answer they must rub out thoroughly and show the new answer clearly.

The presiding officer (in charge of the test centre) shows how to record answers on the answer sheets at the start of the test. Students must raise their hands if they have any questions or problems during the test.

Students must show their answers on the answer sheet and not the question booklet unless authorised in advance as a reasonable adjustment for disability. If students need to work anything out they may write in the question booklet but they must show answers on the answer sheet. If your child does not follow instructions and marks the answers on the question booklet instead of the answer sheet, the marks may not be counted.

Reasonable adjustments for disability

At the time of submitting a selective high school application, applicants may request reasonable adjustments for disability for the test because of a diagnosed disability, medical condition, injury or behavioural condition. In the case of potentially life-threatening medical conditions, parents must arrange adjustments for disability beforehand.

If a student is injured or diagnosed after 11 January 2021, parents should contact the High Performing Students Team for advice about late requests for adjustments.

Find out more about reasonable adjustments.

Test centres

Parents will be notified of their child's test centre location on the evening of 25 February 2021. The test centres cannot usually be changed after allocation.

Candidates from the same primary school are usually sent to the same test centre, with some individual exceptions. See a full listing of test centres for the test on 11 March 2021.

See a map of test centres for the test on 11 March 2021.

Students must attend the test centre they have been allocated to.

If you have not received notice of your child's test centre by 4 March, contact the Team or contact the principal of your child's NSW government primary school.

Test day

Students should wear school uniform, including a jumper if it is a cool day and a hat for the break.

Parents must drop students off at the entrance to the test centre school by 9.00am. Do not arrive before 8:30am as there is no supervision available. As parents will not be allowed to enter school grounds, notices will indicate which school entrance to use. Students will be met at the entrance and directed to the area where they will be assembled in primary school groups before entering the test room.

Students who arrive late may be allowed to take the test but will be required to finish at the same time as other students.

Students found to be cheating risk disqualification from the test. FInd out more about malpractice.

There is a 20 minute break approximately half way through the tests and short breaks between tests. In the longer break students will leave the test room and should go to the toilet. They should not run or play vigorous games. Students should eat food they have brought with them. The test centre's canteen facilities will not be available to candidates. Students should not share food or bring food containing nuts or nut products.

The finishing time will be approximately 1:30pm. The finish time will vary according to the size and location of the test centre. If the test is delayed, please wait quietly at the school entrance and take care to avoid disruption to the school. Students are not to be left waiting after the test. If the test finishes early, students will be supervised.

If you arrange for your child to be collected by someone else, please send a note with the child advising of the arrangement and taking responsibility for your child's safety.

Parking

Parents must observe any parking restrictions near the test centre. Parents must not enter the school or park on school school grounds unless authorised by the High Performing Students Team prior to the test. If parents are required to wait at the test centre as a reasonable adjustment for disability they will receive specific instructions and a letter of authority.

What should students bring to the test

Students must bring a printed copy of their Test authority letter with their application number. They should bring any items approved as adjustments for disability , including anaphylaxis kits containing an EpiPen, the Action plan for anaphylaxis and the medication. Students who wear glasses and those who require asthma inhalers and spacers, tissues, diabetes equipment, or FM transmitters should bring them to the test.

Other items to bring will be notified to parents on 25 February along with test information.

Students should bring a substantial snack to eat during the break between the two sessions of the test. This is important if the test is running late. Students can bring a clear bottle of water to keep under the desk during the test.

Students should not bring pens, pencils, rulers, note paper, or books. Smart watches, phones or other devices that compute, photograph, communicate or make a noise will not be allowed at or near the student's desk in the test centre.

A wristwatch that does not make a noise, calculate, compute, communicate or photograph can be worn but the test centre clock is the official time-keeper.

Information for students

A short video shows an overview of the test format and content and shows what to expect on the test day.
  • There is nothing you should study especially for the test. It is most important to think clearly and to use your ability to deal with new problems and situations to choose an answer.
  • Pay attention when the presiding officer (the person in charge of the tests) or other supervisor talks to you and shows you where to record the answers for each test.
  • If you have any problems understanding the instructions put your hand up and the presiding officer or supervisor will help but they cannot help you read the question or choose your answer.
  • Do NOT open the question booklet until the presiding officer tells you to do so.
  • Read each test question carefully and think about what it asks you to do.
  • Use your time wisely. Work steadily. Choose the answer that you think is best. If you find a question too difficult, do not spend a long time on it. Mark the answer you think is best and come back to that question later if you have time.
  • If you change your mind about your answer, rub it out completely and mark the new answer clearly.
  • Stop work immediately when you are told to.
  • Marks are awarded for each correct answer. Incorrect, double or blank answers score zero. Marks are not taken off for wrong answers. It is better to have a guess rather than leave an answer blank. Not leaving any answers blank helps you make sure you are answering on the correct line.
  • Keep checking that the number of the question you are working on in the question paper is the same as the number you are marking on the answer sheet. If you find you are answering a question at the wrong place, put your hand up and tell a supervisor. The supervisor will record the details. Start the next question at the correct place and come back to fix the problem later if you have time, changing one question at a time. You should not rub out a whole group of answers at once as you could run out of time correcting them.
  • If you want to work anything out in the multiple-choice tests you can make notes on the question booklet or on the back of your personal details sheet. Any notes that you make in the question booklet or on the personal details sheet will not be marked.
  • In the writing test you must write only about the question you are given. The question will ask you to write for a particular purpose and audience. Markers will pay attention to creative ideas, the structure of the writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation as well as effectiveness for the purpose and audience.
  • There will be no time warnings during the test. You will need to check the test centre's clock to find out how much time you have left. The presiding officer will tell you which test centre clock is the official one. Put your hand up if you cannot see it clearly.
  • Put your hand up if you have any other problems or any questions at any time.
  • Be careful not to look at the work of others or talk to others during the test. Students suspected of cheating risk having the test marks not counted.
  • Follow the presiding officer's and supervisors' instructions both during the tests and in the breaks.

Illness or misadventure

Illness/misadventure refers to events that occurred to prevent students from performing their best or attending the test or affecting the student's performance at school during Year 5 or in the year before the test.

Events affecting performance on the test

If your child sits the test but is sick or injured and it affects performance on the test, you must get a medical certificate on the test day. If the events affecting performance on the test are not about medical issues, you will need to supply other relevant evidence.

To make a request for special consideration of illness/misadventure affecting test performance, you will need to submit the request within 5 working days of the test, by 18 March 2021

It may be better for the student to sit the test and make an illness/misadventure request afterwards. However, students must not attend the test if there is a risk to their health or the health of others, such as in cases of contact with contagious disease. Students with signs of respiratory illness may not be admitted.

If the student is unable to sit the test

If your child was prevented from sitting the test for a good reason you can make a request for special consideration of illness/misadventure based on missing the test.

You will need to have a medical certificate or other evidence to support the request that covers the test day. You will also need to fill in an Independent evidence of illness form that you will find when you make the request online.

To make a request for special consideration of illness/misadventure based on missing the test you will need to submit the request within 5 working days of the test, by 18 March 2021.

Find out more about illness/misadventure and how to submit a request.

Marking of the test

The introduction of the new test format in 2021 will mean the test is marked differently to previous years. The new placement test will be scored out of 100 (previously scored out of 200).

Raw tests scores will be scaled to reduce the variability in test question difficulty. This scaled score will be added to the moderated school assessment score to determine the placement score.

See the selection process page for information about scoring.

Placement outcome

It is expected that parents will be notified of the release of the outcome of the placement process in early July.

Review of selective education access

In December 2018, the NSW Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, announced the findings of the Review of Selective Education Access: Findings and Action Plan.

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