Choosing a selective school

VIDEO: Choosing a selective high school or an opportunity class

Transcript of video animation: “Choosing a selective high school or an opportunity class” (4 minutes 7 seconds)

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[Female narrator]

Choosing the best schooling option for your child is a big decision. And each NSW public school is unique, so please take the time to learn which is the best fit for your child.

Here are some important factors to take into account when considering an opportunity class or selective high school.

All NSW public schools offer a range of subjects which follow the NSW curriculum. Both opportunity classes and selective high schools follow the same curriculum as comprehensive schools, but the manner of delivery may be different. Some selective high schools may offer elective subjects that others do not. Some may also offer particular subjects using accelerated learning techniques. Additionally, some selective high schools are agricultural schools that require all students to take agriculture as a subject up until Year 10. Partially selective high schools are more likely to offer vocational education subjects.

Extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities are an important part of school life. Selective schools typically offer a wide range of sporting, musical and creative activities. Therefore, it’s important to find out what’s available in each school beyond the standard curriculum.

The location of schools
There are many benefits to choosing a school that is located close to your home. A lengthy travel time can affect your child’s ability to take part in before and after school classes and extracurricular activities. Research tells us that excessive travel can impact on academic performance and student wellbeing.

There are a number of ways you can learn more about the schools you are considering. Ask around. Your family, friends and members of the local community can often be a valuable source of information.

Look online
Consulting a school’s website and social media accounts can help you learn more about the staff and students at a school, as well as the subjects and the extracurricular activities a school offers.

Talk with your child
Talk to your child about their schooling options. Together, consider your child’s interests and abilities, their academic and social-emotional needs, as well as any specialised support they may require. You should only choose schools for placement that your child wants to attend.

Visit the schools
This is the best way to learn about a school. It provides you with an opportunity to meet staff and see the schools’ facilities and students. If your child has a disability or medical conditions that require specific supports you can discuss this with staff at the school and learn about the ways the school can support you and your child. Most schools hold one or more open days or offer school tours. You should check the school’s website to find out when these are held.

And remember, the order of your school choices is important. Places in opportunity classes and selective high schools are primarily determined by a student’s performance in the placement test, but there are other factors that affect placement outcomes. You can learn about these in the next video.

School choice can be changed up until a week after the test, so you do have time to visit schools in the lead up to, and following, the placement test.

For more information, please visit our website.

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Both fully selective and partially selective high schools offer Year 7 placement. Aurora College provides online selective classes for rural or remote students. There are also 4 selective agricultural high schools. Selective high schools are located throughout NSW.

View the map of selective high schools.

View a list of selective high schools.

School choices

Applicants can choose up to 3 selective high schools and must list these in order of preference.

Where students qualify for entry to 2 or 3 schools they will get an offer only to the highest listed school for which they qualify. Therefore it is important to list the preferred school at the top.


An applicant lists three schools in the following order:

  1. James Ruse Agricultural High School
  2. North Sydney Girls High School
  3. Blacktown Girls High School.
Scenario A

If the student qualified for both Blacktown Girls High School and North Sydney Girls High School they would receive an offer for North Sydney Girls High School – the higher listed choice.

Scenario B

If the student qualified only for Blacktown Girls High School they would be offered a place at that school regardless of whether it was listed first, second or third.

Scenario C

If the student qualified for all three schools they would receive an offer only for their first choice, James Ruse Agricultural High School.

A student can qualify for an offer to choice 2 or 3 and also be on a reserve list for choice 1. If a student qualified for all choices they would not be able to decline the highest choice offer and choose a lower choice instead.

Schools cannot select students based on whether their school was chosen first or not. The exception is for boarder agricultural high schools where schools may interview students from isolated areas whose first choice is a boarder place at their school. The interview can determine whether the student is given an early offer.

Changing choices

To change your selective high school choices, log in to your application and go to the Action column to edit the application, then go to 'School selection' in the left menu. Make the change and resubmit before 11:59 pm AEST on 16 June 2024. See How to change your selective high school choices (PDF 307KB).

You cannot change selective school choices after the placement outcome is released, except in limited extenuating circumstances with well documented evidence. Any request to change choices at that time would need to be approved by the Selective Education Unit.

Required entry scores

The level of academic merit required for entry varies from school to school and from year to year. It depends on the number and the academic merit of students who have chosen the school each year. Schools that are in high demand require higher levels of academic merit. Students are placed in order of academic merit to fill the available vacancies.

Things to consider

Prior to choosing and listing your schools you should consider your own individual circumstances.

  • List only the school or schools you would like your child to attend.
  • Consider available transport and the travel time for the student. The selection committee does not consider distances, travel times or transport arrangements from the student's home to the selective high school. You should not choose a school that your child cannot easily travel to each day (unless your child is boarding).
  • Applicants for Aurora College must enrol in Year 7 at a rural or remote government high school to participate in selective English, mathematics and science classes. The intended rural local high school (host school) must be named on the selective high school application.
  • Additional information including a medical report and payment of boarding fees are required if applying for a boarder placement at an agricultural high school.
  • If applying for the specialist Conservatorium High School using their application form, you can also choose up to 3 selective high schools. If you do not want your child considered for a selective high school, select any school in the application and then send a message that you are interested in the Conservatorium High School only.
  • Tuition at selective high schools is free (unless boarding) but schools may ask for a contribution to cover services such as library, textbooks and other curriculum-related resources. Schools may also ask for contributions to cover the purchase of materials in certain subjects and costs associated with sport or excursions.


  • DoE

Business Unit:

  • NSW public school
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