The test

The Selective High School Placement Test is designed to measure ability through tests in reading, mathematics, general ability and writing. The test is held only in NSW and only on the test date each year. The test day in 2019 for entry in 2020 is Thursday 14 March 2019.

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

Future changes to the test will be advised here when information is available.

See translated information about the Selective High School Placement Test.

Test dates


Date of Selective High School Placement Test
(for Year 6 students seeking entry to Year 7 the following year)

2019 Thursday 14 March 2019
2020 Thursday 12 March 2020

On 28 February 2019, an 'Authority to sit the Selective High School Placement Test' letter is sent to applicants by email along with the test centre location and extra information about the test. Every effort is made to send this information but it is your responsibility to ensure that you receive this test advice. If you select 'mail only' for correspondence when you apply, the test authority will be sent by post on 28 February 2019.

The test information consists of:

  • a test authority letter which must be taken to the allocated test centre
  • a Test information bulletin that explains the test and lists what your child should and should not bring. The bulletin also gives instructions for how to show the answers to the test questions.
  • information about a special test provision if relevant
  • a notice about special parking restrictions if they apply to your test centre.

Download the printable version of the 2019 Test centre information for parents and students here when it is available two weeks before the test.

Test information

The Selective High School Placement Test consists of a 20 minute writing test and three 40 minute multiple-choice tests in:

  • reading (45 questions)
  • mathematics (40 questions)
  • general ability (60 questions).

No marks are taken off for incorrect answers in the multiple-choice tests.

Students are given a stimulus for the writing test – an image, statement, heading or question. Two pages are provided for the writing test. Assessment for the writing test is based on:

  • whether the writing is about the stimulus topic. No marks will be awarded if the writing is not based on the topic
  • quality of thinking about a topic
  • organisation of ideas
  • use of language.

The writing must be the student's own work and must not be very similar to the work of other students.

The writing test is marked by trained markers. Multiple-choice tests are marked by computer. Answer booklets are identified by barcodes so students cannot be identified by the markers.

Students suspected of cheating risk disqualification from the test.

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 tests 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 practice tests by coaching colleges.

Sample tests

The following sample tests may assist in preparation for the Selective High Schools Placement Test. Students will use black pen (supplied) to complete the test. The questions and page numbers for the sample tests will not match the updated answer sheets.

(Please note these resources do not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements.)

Answer sheet

Students answer the multiple-choice questions on an answer sheet by colouring in the answer box for the alternative A, B, C or D that best answers the question. There are separate answer booklets for each of session 1 and session 2. Black pens are provided for the test. Go to a sample answer sheet (PDF 1.19MB) for an example to practise with.

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.

For marking, answer booklets are identified by barcoded numbers only, not by the students' names.

Special test provisions

Applicants may request special test provisions because of a diagnosed disability, medical condition, injury or behavioural condition at the time of submitting a selective high school application. Evidence, such as a medical certificate, is required. In the case of potentially life-threatening medical conditions, parents must arrange special test provisions beforehand.

If a student is injured or diagnosed after 21 February 2019, parents should email the High Performing Students Unit for advice about late special test provisions.

Find out more about special test provisions.

Test centres

Parents are sent the test centre location by email on 28 February 2019. The allocated test centres cannot normally be changed after the test authority letter has been sent.

Candidates from the same primary school are usually sent to the same test centre. The list of primary schools and allocated test centres for 2019 will be available here on 28 February 2019.

A map of test centres for the test on 14 March 2019 will be available here on 28 February 2019. Students must attend the test centre they have been allocated.

If you have not received notice of your child's test centre by 8 March 2019, email the Unit or contact the principal of your child's NSW government primary school.

Test day

Parents must make appropriate transport arrangements to ensure students arrive at the test centre in time for the start of the test. Parents must not remain at the test centre unless specifically authorised by the high performing students unit as part of special test provisions. If parents are required to wait at the test centre as a special test provision they must register as a visitor at the school office and show the special test provision letter and identification. The office staff will show parents where to wait.

Parents must abide by parking restrictions at and near the test centre. The test centre schools must not be inconvenienced by parents remaining on the premises while unauthorised to do so.

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 who wear glasses should remember to bring them. Students who require asthma inhalers should bring them to the test.

Watches, phones or other devices that compute, photograph or make a noise will not be allowed at or near the student's desk in the test centre.

Illness or misadventure

Parents can make a request for consideration of illness/misadventure if the child’s performance or attendance at the test was affected by:

  • Illness or injury
  • a diagnosed medical condition
  • an accident or incident.

Parents can also request consideration of illness/misadventure if there were adverse circumstances affecting the child’s performance in his or her school assessments.

The Illness/misadventure form must include evidence such as a medical certificate covering the test day so a visit to the doctor on or before the test day may be necessary. The form must be submitted by 28 March 2019. Find out more about illness/misadventure and about what happens after the test.

Marking of the test

See the selection process section for information about scoring.

Placement outcome

The outcome of the placement process will be sent to parents overnight on 5 July 2019.

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