The test

A new selective high school placement test has been developed for 2021. Students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the sample test ahead of the Selective High School Placement Test on 11 March 2021.

Test date

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

The Selective High School Placement Test will be held on Thursday 11 March 2021.

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

Test authority

On 25 February 2021, you will be notified to log in to your application to access an 'Authority to sit the Selective High School Placement Test' letter will 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 will be 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 will change in 2021 for placement in 2022. The new test will have a greater emphasis on thinking skills, mathematical reasoning and problem solving. It will also adjust and balance the weighting given to Mathematics, English 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 2021 the placement test will remain in a paper-based format before changing to a computer-based format in 2022.

Download the printable version of the 2021 'Test information for parents and students' here (when it is available).

Test structure

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

Section Minutes Questions Type


40 30 Multiple choice

Mathematical reasoning

40 35 Multiple choice

Thinking skills

40 40 Multiple choice


30 1 Open response

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.

(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 sample questions (PDF 476KB)

Reading sample answer sheet (PDF 663.5KB)

Reading sample answers (PDF 52KB)

Mathematical reasoning

Mathematical reasoning sample questions (PDF 1.15MB)

Mathematical reasoning sample answer sheet (PDF 651KB)

Mathematical reasoning sample answers (PDF 85KB)

Thinking skills

Thinking skills sample questions (PDF 3.54MB)

Thinking skills sample answer sheet (PDF 641KB)

Thinking skills sample answers (PDF 83KB)


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 colouring in the answer bubble for the alternative that best answers the question.

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 paper unless authorised in advancs as a reasonable adjustment for disability. If students need to work anything out they may write in the question paper but they must show answers on the answer sheet. If your child does not follow instructions and marks the answers on the question paper 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 disability adjustments.

Test centres

Parents will be notified to login to their application to access their child's test centre location on 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. View the list of primary schools and allocated test centres for the 2021 test here when it is available.

See a map of test centres for the test on 11 March 2021 here when it is available.

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. Before the test the students will be assembled in primary school groups outside the test centre.

Parents must drop students off at the test centre by 9.00am. Do not arrive before 8:30am as there is no supervision available.

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

Stuidents found to be cheating risk disqualification from the test.

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. Students should not bring food containing nuts or nut products.

The finishing time will be notified when it is confirmed. The finish time will vary according to the size and location of the test centre. If the test is delayed, please wait quietly 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.


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. 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.

Information for students

  • There is nothing you should study especially for the tests. 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) 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.
  • Do NOT open the question paper 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 for the selection committees to check later. 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 paper. Any notes that you make in the question paper will not be marked.
  • 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 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.

Events affecting performance on the test

If your child sits the test but is sick or injured or an event affects performance on the test, you must get a medical certificate or other evidence for the test day.

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 will 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.

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 test in 2021 will be a new format. Updated marking and scoring details will be published when they are available.

See the selection process page for information about scoring.

Placement outcome

It is expected that parents will be norified of the release of the outcome of the placement process after 6pm on 2 July 2021.

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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