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nsw selective schools test guide 2024 what to expect and how to prepare

NSW Selective Schools Test Guide 2024: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Are you interested in learning how to support your child’s success on the NSW Selective Schools Test? 

Each year, thousands of students across New South Wales sit for this extremely competitive exam, with only a few of them earning a place in the prestigious selective schools. More than 15,000 students took the test in 2023, but there were only about 4,200 slots available. Understanding what to expect and how to prepare can significantly improve your child’s performance and confidence.

The NSW Selective Schools Test provides a thorough evaluation of a student’s skills in many areas, such as reading, writing, math, and general ability, rather than merely an academic test. The competition is tough and the stakes are high, but your child may succeed if they are prepared and have the right mindset.

This blog aims to provide a full description of the NSW Selective Schools Test, breaking it down into each component so you can understand what your child may face. 

What is the NSW Selective School Test?

The high-stakes NSW Selective Schools Test establishes a student’s eligibility for admission to any of New South Wales’ selective high schools. A demanding academic environment and a high emphasis on students’ potential are provided by these schools.

So, how selective are we talking? The test scores of top performers are usually the only ones admitted to selective schools; the cutoff scores change annually.

What is the NSW Selective School Test Format?

The NSW Selective Schools Test is a one-day, four-part exam that evaluates your child’s critical thinking, problem-solving, and academic abilities. Here’s a quick breakdown: 

  1. Reading: Using a variety of passages and questions, this portion assesses your child’s comprehension and analytical abilities. (45 minutes) 
  1. Writing: Students will be given a prompt to write on, and they will have to come up with an answer that is organised, brief, and clear. (45 minutes)
  1. Reasoning in Mathematics: Prepare to stretch your mental muscles! Calculators are not permitted in this portion, which evaluates problem-solving and mathematics application skills. (60 minutes) 
  1. Thinking Skills: Designed to test critical thinking and creative problem-solving, this portion throws a curveball with logic puzzles, brainteasers, and unconventional tasks. (45 minutes)

Each section is timed, requiring students to manage their time effectively to complete all questions.

How to Prepare for the NSW Selective Schools Test

For the NSW Selective Schools Test to be successful, preparation is essential. The following techniques can assist your child in preparing:

how to prepare for the nsw selective schools test
  1. Recognise the Test Format: To help your child feel less nervous and more confident, familiarise them with the format and kinds of questions that will be on the test.
  1. Practice Regularly: To increase comfort and confidence, use practice exams. Accuracy and speed increase with regular practice.
  1. Focus on Weak Areas: Identify and work on areas where your child needs improvement. Adapting study schedules to target areas of weakness can result in notable progress.
  1. Develop Time Management Skills: Practice completing sections within the allotted time. Assist your child in creating time management techniques so they can perform well on the test.
  1. Promote Reading and Critical Thinking: To succeed in the reading and general ability parts, you must possess these two essential abilities. Give your kids tasks that require them to solve problems and use logic.
  1. Make a Study Schedule: To avoid burnout and keep focus, create a regular study schedule that strikes a balance between preparation, relaxation, and leisure activities.
  1. Use Tutoring and Online Resources: For extra help, make use of tutoring services, educational applications, and online resources.
  1. Stay Positive and Supportive: Maintain a positive environment to keep your child motivated. Encourage them and give them credit for their efforts.

Common NSW Selective Test Challenges and How to Overcome Them

A lot of students have difficulties getting ready for the NSW Selective Schools Test. Here are some common issues and tips to overcome them:

Common NSW Selective Test Challenges

Tips to Overcome
Test AnxietyStress and lack of focus can impact performance.Reinforce abilities and past successes. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness. Maintain a healthy diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep.
Time PressureDifficulty in completing tasks within the allotted time.Practice under timed conditions to build speed and accuracy. Use a timer during practice exams. Prioritize easier questions first, then return to harder ones.
Complex QuestionsSpending too much time on a single problem.Break down questions into smaller parts. Look for keywords and clues. Practice problem-solving strategies and move on if stuck, returning later.

What to Expect on Test Day

Students should arrive early on exam day and bring everything that is needed, including pencils, erasers, and water bottles. The test environment is designed to be quiet and conducive to concentration. Encourage your child to follow directions with care, maintain composure, and use their time effectively.

Interpreting NSW Selective Test Results

The test results are usually made public a few weeks after the test. They consist of a placement score that takes into account the results of school assessments in addition to test performance. Understanding these results can help you and your child make informed decisions about their education.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Let’s go over some frequently asked questions from parents about How to Prepare and What to Expect for the NSW Selective Schools Test:

1. When are the key dates for the NSW Selective Schools Test in 2024?

Unfortunately, the NSW Selective Schools Test application season for 2024 has already ended. On the NSW Department of Education website, the important dates for the 2025 test are available in [August] (usually). 

2. What is a good NSW Selective Test score?

No magic number exists. The number of applications and available spots each year determine the cut-off scores. On the other hand, striving for the highest score will make your child more likely to get in. 

3. When should my child begin getting ready for the selected exam? 

Better yet, start early! Ideally, a year prior to the test, start acquainting your child with the format and having them practice the fundamentals.

4. How difficult is the NSW Selective Test? 

Admission is highly competitive. Approximately one in four applicants are successful each year.

5. What are your chances of being accepted into a school that is selective? 

Acceptance rates change based on the year and the school. However, your child can greatly improve their odds if they work hard and receive the correct assistance. 

6. How many students typically sit for the NSW Selective Schools Test? 

Each year, over 15,000 students take the test, vying for around 4,200 available places.


For students and parents alike, getting ready for the NSW Selective Schools Test can be a rewarding and challenging experience. Your child can approach the test with confidence and do their best with the right strategies and support.

If you require additional assistance or tutoring to help your child prepare for the NSW Selective Schools Test, please book a free assessment now! Our experienced tutors are here to help your child succeed.


  • Dr. Olga Abeysekera

    Olga has a PhD in Management from Monash University. Her research focused on how personal differences and social networking impact creativity in the tech industry. She has extensive teaching experience at universities and private tutoring centers, praised for her engaging methods and clear insights. Olga also writes for top academic journals and creates innovative programs that enhance skills and consulting methods. She believes in the power of education to inspire ongoing growth in both studies and careers.

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