Get ready for the Selective High School Placement Test

Learn all about the test, what happens on test day, and try the practice tests.

Are you a parent or carer?

Please visit the Selective high schools and opportunity classes – information for parents and carers to learn about the placement process to apply.

Student resource hub

Check out the Student resource hub.

It has:

  • interactive quizzes
  • practice test items
  • and lots more to help you prepare.

What is in the test?

The Selective High School Placement Test has 4 parts.

Section Questions Minutes Type Weighting


30 40 Multiple choice 25%

Mathematical reasoning

35 40 Multiple choice 25%

Thinking skills

40 40 Multiple choice 35%


1 30 Open response 15%

For each test you will get a question paper with the test questions and a separate answer sheet for you to shade the circles to show your answers, and to write your response to the Writing question.

VIDEO: Selective High School Placement Test – a guide for students

More about the 4 test parts

This part checks how well you understand different types of texts.

The texts are drawn from non-fiction, fiction, poetry and can include sections of novels or non-fiction books, poems, magazine articles and reports.

This part checks how well you use maths to answer a variety of questions. You cannot use rulers or calculators in the test.

This part checks how well you can you solve a variety of problems.

The Writing test consists of a topic which you must write about according to the instructions.

This test allows you to show the creativity of your ideas and your ability to write well. The markers will also look at grammar, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary.

If you do not write about the topic in your writing – even if you write well – you will receive lower marks.

VIDEO: Hear students answering some common questions about the test

[Transcript of video animation: ‘Get the whole picture about selective high schools: The test’ (2 minutes 15 seconds)]


[Caringbah student 2]
There's no point sitting the test if you're not coached. I don't think that's the case at all. I think most people that were sitting the test probably weren't coached.

[Baulkham Hills student 1]
I have plenty of friends that were not coached and that are doing very well within the school.

[Baulkham Hills student 3]
Definitely. I know a lot of people that aren’t coached. They have the ability and the study skills to be able to do very well just because of their personality and their mindset.

[Caringbah student 3]
I still recommend just looking at some papers and just familiarizing yourself with it. That's really it. You don't have to be coached.

[Caringbah student 1]
You have to practise heaps for the test.

[Baulkham Hills student 1]
I have a testament against that because I did not study for OC or selective in any shape or form.

[Caringbah student 2]
The test is there to see how you can adapt and problem solve and think. So I definitely think getting used to the structure of the test helps. However, you don't have to spend your entire life before the test studying to try and get in

[Caringbah student 3]
I think you just need to know what the structure is and just realise, understand how much time you have.

[Caringbah student 2]
The test isn't testing high school concepts. The test is testing your ability and thinking and problem solving.

[Fort Street student 1]
If you missed out on OC, you won't get in, false.

[Fort Street student 2]

[Baulkham Hills student 3]
Well, that's not right. I definitely didn't get into OC.

[Baulkham Hills student 2]
I didn't either.

[Fort Street student 1]
I bombed my OC test. But I still got into selective school. So the OC how you did in the OC test has no effect whatsoever on how you'd like, how you go in the selective test.

[Caringbah student 2]
You don't need to be Einstein to get in, right?

[Fort Street student 3]
Anyone who's thinking about going to the selective schools test, just give it a go. It doesn't matter if you get in. It doesn't matter if you don't get in, give it a go. If you get into selective school, that's amazing. Come join our cool, quirky cohorts. Yeah, You'll find people that you belong with.

[End of transcript]

Preparing for the test

Practice tests

You will feel more confident and prepared if you practise answering the sample tests below.

These are not the actual questions you will get on the day, but examples of the types of questions you might get.

You can view the questions, the answer sheets, the answers and an explanation of the answers for the multiple-choice tests.

Practice Writing tests and answer sheets are also included. You won't have to write more than 2 pages in your response.

VIDEO: Watch students talking about preparing for the test

Transcript of video: ‘Preparing for the Selective High School Placement Test’ (2 minutes 58 seconds)

[upbeat music]

[on-screen text:]
What did you do to prepare the Selective High School Placement Test?

[music fades]

My mum printed out quite a few practice tests.

I found lots of practice tests online, and just listened a lot at school.

I did some practice tests that we found online and I did some studying around what subjects would be in the test.

[on-screen text:]
What advice would you give to students who are about to sit the test?

Take deep breaths, regardless of how you're feeling, it just calms your heart rate down.

Be confident and manage your time wisely.

Read the question like really carefully. Read it at least twice or three times to get all the keywords out of the questions. And then I think about how I would solve this and that really kept me focused; just keep on doing the strategy.

Usually it's taking about a minute a question. I think I found was the sweet spot, and nutting out the easier questions first, then moving on to the harder ones. And if you come in with confidence you’re gonna smash it.

[on-screen text:]
How were you feeling before the test?

The night before I was pretty confident but then I got to the test and I was like oh a bit nervous, but I just pushed through it, and it was fine.

Slightly nervous cause I knew that I wanted to get in, but I wasn't all too worried.

I was a bit nervous, a bit scared, but I knew I was just going to try my hardest and hope I made it in.

I was quite anxious, but I was so excited because it was a new chapter of like my life and how I would succeed

So I had a lot of butterflies in my stomach and my hands were sweaty and everything, but I did end up doing pretty well.

I was feeling really good, I was like I can do it, I got this. Just believe in yourself

[on-screen text:]
Is there anything you wish you’d known before the test?

Probably wish [I’d known] how much I really wanted to get into the selective schools.

Double check your working-out and just stay calm I guess.

Keep on doing it because even if there is a hard question, it is a selective test after all so the questions are supposed to be hard, so just give it a go.

[on-screen text:]
If there’s one thing you think everyone should know about the test, what would it be?

For me, the day went by really quick, we did it all in one day and all four tests it was really simple

You go in with confidence and you come out with confidence.

The time seems very scary because it's counting down constantly, but it's really not that scary

Practice tests are basically the key to passing the selective exam.

Just try your best.

[NSW Government logo]

[music fades out]

[End of transcript]

I have a disability or a medical condition. Can I get help when sitting the test?

Yes. When your parents apply they tell us what adjustments you might need so you can sit the test.

For example, students with low-vision might have the test papers printed with bigger letters.

Let your parents know that there is more information for them at Reasonable adjustments (see step 4 of 'Using the application website').

Test Day

Watch the videos below to learn more about how other students got ready to do their best on the test.

VIDEO: Selective High School Placement Test – What to expect before, during and after

Transcript of video: ‘Selective High School Placement Test – What to expect before, during and after’ (4 minutes 5 seconds)

[upbeat music]

[music fades]

[Student speaker]

You may be wondering what happens on the day of the Selective High School Placement Test. I've done the test before and I'm here to help you learn what to expect on test day.

It's a good idea to get a good night's sleep before the test and have a filling breakfast on the morning of the test so you can be at your best.

The most important thing to do is to check your test authority letter. Your parents or carers will get this about two weeks before the test. It will tell you where your test will be and what time you need to arrive. Print this out and bring it with you to the test.

You'll also need to bring everything else on the checklist like your 2B pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, clear water bottle and snack. Wear your school uniform to the test and don't forget to bring your hat to wear during the break and a jumper if it's cold.

Follow the signs to the test entrance where one of the invigilators (the adults supervising the test) will meet you and take you to the test centre. There'll be lots of other kids doing the test at the same place and time as you. Some might be from your school and others might be from different schools, so you might not know everyone there.

It's a good idea to go to the toilet before the test starts. You'll be there from 9 am. until around 1:30 pm.

You'll have to do four tests, one after the other: Reading, Mathematical Reasoning, Thinking Skills and Writing. There'll be a short break between the tests and a bigger break halfway through so you can have a filling snack and go to the toilet.

You don't need to study anything specific for the tests. You just need to use your thinking skills and problem solving skills to find the best answer to each question.

The test room might look something like this and is quiet space, so you can't talk to any other kids once you're inside [Shushing]. When you sit down, there'll be a sheet with your name and other details on your table, so check that everything is correct and sign your name. Don't open the question paper until the invigilator tells you to. Keep your eyes on your own work. You need to work at a steady pace because there'll be lots of questions to do. There'll be a clock at the front of the room so you can keep track of time.

You might find the tests tricky – that's okay, they’re supposed to be. Just try your best and take deep breaths to stay calm whenever you need to.

You can't use a calculator, but you can write down any working out on your question paper or on the back of your personal identification details sheet. Don't worry, this won't be marked so you can scribble as much as you need.

Complete every question, even if you're not sure of the answer. You don't lose marks for wrong answers or guesses. So, if you're struggling with a question, answer with your best guess and come back to it later if you have time.

Oh, and keep checking that the number of the question on the test paper you're working on matches the question number on the answer sheet where you're shading in the circles. Don't worry if you make a mistake, just erase your answer completely and shade your new answer in.

If you have any questions, put your hand up and wait for the invigilator to help you. If something goes wrong during the test, tell the invigilator and tell your parents or carers after the test.

Stop working as soon as the invigilator tells you to.

Once the test is over, give yourself a pat on the back and move on. You can't change any answers now, so it's not helpful to compare your answers to other kids.

So now you know what to expect on the day of the test, there's nothing to worry about.

Visit the awesome student resource hub for other resources to help you prepare for the test.

[music becomes louder and then fades out]

[End of transcript]

VIDEO: Watch students talking about their experience sitting the test

Transcript of video: ‘Sitting the Selective High School Placement Test’ (3 minutes 35 seconds)

[upbeat music]

[on-screen text:]
What was going through your mind when you opened the test?

[music fades]

When I opened the test, I was just like, alright, let's get this started. I put on my game face on.

That’s a lot of questions.

Scared, hoping the questions would be easy. They were a bit hard, but I managed to get through all of them.

If I do get in, I'm going to make lots of new friends and have new opportunities

I've done a lot of practice questions, this is the same, it’s just like a normal test you’re doing at home so don’t be too stressed out.

[on-screen text:]
Filling out the answer sheet?

Don’t always just think that just because the first option looks pretty correct, you can just fill out that one, really think carefully about it because some options may be 80% correct. Some options may be 60% correct. But there's always one option that's going to be 100% correct. So you really need to think about all the options, not just circle the one you think’s right.

Go with what your gut feel is. If you know that it's that answer, put it down. Otherwise, just take your best guess.

Process the questions before you answer them and read the questions quite carefully.

Just do all the questions you can do. But then if there's a question you're like, really stuck on just guess since there's a 25% chance that you're going to get it correct.

So if you’re not entirely sure, just put any one down, and who knows it could be the right one.

Put a little asterisk next to it to come back to it or guess the answer. It's better to guess the answer and have a quarter chance of getting it right than have zero chance at all of getting it right.

It's better to guess than to leave it blank. ‘Cause if you guess you might get some correct.

[on-screen text:]
If you finish the test with time to spare, what should you do?

Check over your answers again. If you have 5 minutes, just start from the start. If you have questions that you’re unsure about go to those first and then just keep checking through.

Revise over all your questions, especially the hard ones.

Look over the whole entire test and check every question and try to look at the questions that were harder for you.

Read over your questions, make sure that you’ve read each one carefully and look at all the answers and try and do the math in your head or on a sheet of paper if you have one.

[on-screen text:]
If you’re running out of time in the test and you haven’t finished, what should you do?

If it's possible, leave some questions that you really don't know ‘til after so that the ones that you do know, you can do them quickly.

Guess all the questions, guarantee that was a life saver for me.

Put down any answer that you think could be correct, get through as many questions as you can since the marks aren’t deducted.

[on-screen text:]
Are you glad you took the test?

Yes, very much so.


Yes, I am very glad that I took the selective school test.

I am very glad and grateful that I took the test because it has opened up so many new opportunities.

It was something that I wasn't sure about and now I'm happy that I did it because it's such a wonderful experience.

If I didn't try it, I wouldn't have known I liked it and I’ve loved it here.

[NSW Government logo]

[music and screen fades out]

[End of transcript]

Test day checklist

All students need:

  • two 2B pencils
  • eraser
  • pencil sharpener
  • a printed copy of the Test Authority letter
  • a clear bottle of water
  • wear school uniform.

If required, bring:

  • a substantial snack to eat during the break
  • any items approved as adjustments for disability, e.g. FM transmitters
  • EpiPen, asthma inhalers, diabetes or other medication
  • glasses
  • tissues
  • a wristwatch (cannot make a noise, calculate, compute, etc.).

Do NOT bring:

  • pens
  • rulers
  • note paper
  • books
  • smart watches, phones or other devices that compute, photograph, communicate or make a noise
  • pencil cases.

Download the Test day checklist for printing.

What happens next?

After you finish your test, the papers are collected for marking.

We will message your parents with the results in late October to tell them if you have a place in a selective high school.

And remember, whether you're in a selective high school or not, all public high schools in NSW will help you do your very best and reach your full potential.


  • Teaching and learning


  • High school
  • Primary school

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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