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nsw selective schools the ultimate beginner's guide

NSW Selective Schools: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Are you a parent curious about the NSW Selective Schools system? 

Thousands of families in New South Wales navigate this tough and renowned system every year in an attempt to get their child accepted to one of these prestigious schools. With more than 17,000 applicants competing for around 4,200 slots, the selection procedure may appear overwhelming. 

Don’t worry, though; we’re here to answer any questions you may have regarding NSW Selective Schools.

The NSW Selective Schools system is well known for its outstanding academic programmes and for providing gifted and talented students with extraordinary opportunities.

These schools, which were founded to serve students with exceptional academic aptitude, offer a dynamic and nurturing learning environment for young minds. They provide a curriculum that pushes students’ limits and motivates them to achieve in extracurricular activities as well as academics.

In this blog, we’ll clarify the NSW Selective Schools system. We’ll go over the background and goals of these schools, how to apply and get selected, and helpful advice on how to get your child ready for the entrance examinations. 

What are NSW Selective High Schools?

What are NSW Selective High Schools

NSW Selective High Schools are government-funded schools intended to cater to high-achieving students. They offer an advanced curriculum, specific programmes, and chances for academic greatness in an enriched learning atmosphere designed for bright kids. These educational institutions strive to develop students’ gifts and inspire them to achieve academic and personal success.

How Many Selective Schools are there in New South Wales?

New South Wales has 46 selective high schools, which include fully selective, partially selective, and agricultural schools. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Fully Selective High Schools: 17
  • Partially Selective High Schools: 25
  • Agricultural High Schools (Selective): 4

How to Choose the Right NSW Selective Schools to Apply For

Choosing the best selective school for your child can be difficult because there are so many things to take into account. The following considerations can help ease this decision: 

how to choose the right nsw selective schools to apply for
  1. Location: Your decision can be greatly influenced by how close the school is to your home. Your child’s daily trip can be shortened to lessen stress and free up more time for extracurricular activities and studies. It also makes parent-teacher conferences and school events easier to attend.
  1. School Specialisation: While some prestigious schools may excel in the humanities or arts, others may place a heavy emphasis on STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Determine your child’s strengths and interests in order to choose a school that fits with their academic preferences and long-term goals. 

    For example, if your child is very interested in technology, it could be best to send them to a school with a strong STEM programme.
  1. School Culture and Values: Your child’s educational experience can be significantly impacted by the culture and values that each school has to offer. Visit a school’s website, go to one of its open days, and speak with parents and current students to get a sense of the atmosphere there. 

    These interactions can reveal details about the culture, methods of discipline, and overall atmosphere of the school. Think about whether your child’s personality and the school’s principles match well.
  1. Academic Performance: Look into the academic standing of the schools you are thinking about attending. Examine their overall standing, performance in outside exams, and extracurricular accomplishments. Academically successful schools could provide more demanding and advanced curricula, which is good for your child’s intellectual development. Furthermore, take into account the variety of extracurricular activities.

By carefully considering these factors, you will be able to make a more informed decision about which NSW Selective Schools to apply to, ensuring that your child’s academic and personal development is best served.

How to Apply for NSW Selective Schools?

After narrowing down your list of preferred schools, it’s time to start the application process. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  1. Verify your eligibility: NSW residents who have children in Year 6 (usually 11 or 12 years old) are eligible to apply.
  2. Registration: In most cases, the application period begins in March. For changes, keep checking the NSW Department of Education website.
  3. Selective Schools Test (SST): This standardised test assesses your child’s reasoning and problem-solving skills. It’s important for obtaining a spot.
  4. School preferences: Sort the schools on your shortlist according to your preferences.
  5. Online Application: Parents must use the NSW Department of Education website to complete the application online.
  6. Application Fee: Pay the application fee, if applicable.
  7. Supporting Documents: These could include your child’s NAPLAN (National Assessment Programme – Literacy and Numeracy) results as well as their school reports.

NSW Selective School Eligibility Criteria

In order for your child to be eligible for selective schools in NSW, they need to meet these requirements:

  1. Academic Performance: The Selective Outstanding School Placement Test and school reports should be used to demonstrate your outstanding academic success.
  2. Age and Residency: Students must normally be in Year 6 and either resident of New South Wales or eligible to be enrolled in NSW schools at the time of application.

How Does the NSW Selective School Selection Process Work?

The selection process involves several stages:

  1. Selective High School Placement Test: This test assesses students’ reading, mathematics, general ability, and writing skills.
  1. School Assessments: Academic reports and performance assessments are given by schools to students.
  1. Ranking and Offers: Test scores and school evaluations are used to determine a student’s ranking. Offers are given based on the student’s ranking and the number of spots available at the schools of their choice.

How to Prepare Your Child for the NSW Selective School Test?

Preparation is key to success in the NSW Selective School Test. Here are some crucial pointers to support your child’s success:

how to prepare your child for the nsw selective school test
  1. Practice Papers: Using previous papers and sample questions is one of the best strategies to get ready for the selective school test. Your child can become more accustomed to the test’s format, question types, and time limits by using these resources. 

    Regular practice with these materials can build confidence while enhancing their test-taking strategies. Their learning experience can also be improved by going over the answers and comprehending the reasoning behind the right answers.
  1. Study Schedule: Establishing a structured study schedule is essential for comprehensive preparation. Make a well-rounded schedule that includes all test subjects, such as writing, Math, Science, and English. Divide the reading material into digestible chunks and establish clear objectives for each study session. 

    Regular study sessions with a clear goal can guarantee that your child completes all required material without becoming overwhelmed. To reinforce previously learned material, provide review times regularly.
  1. Tutoring: Consider enlisting professional tutoring services to provide targeted support and guidance. Tutors who have helped students get ready for the NSW Selective School Test can provide tailored coaching, point out areas of weakness, and offer performance-enhancing techniques. They can also assist your child in learning efficient study habits and test-taking strategies. 
  1. Healthy Routine: To avoid burnout and maintain general well-being, it’s critical to strike a healthy balance between studying, resting, and leisure activities. Encourage your kids to play sports, take regular vacations from studying, and follow their interests in hobbies.

    For the best possible cognitive performance and stress management, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep are essential. Your child’s motivation and self-confidence can also be increased by providing a happy and encouraging environment at home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Let’s go over some frequently asked questions from parents about NSW Selective Schools.

1. What is the point of selective schools?

High-achieving students attending highly selective schools are expected to thrive in an environment that is both intellectually engaging and supportive of their personal growth.

2. Is it worth it to go to a selective school?

Yes, there are several advantages to attending a selective school, such as a more advanced curriculum, more possibilities for learning, and improved readiness for both further education and the workforce.

3. In New South Wales, how many high schools are entirely selective?

In NSW, there are 17 totally selective high schools.

4. What are the chances of being accepted into a school that is selective?

Every year, possibilities change according to the quantity of applications and open spots. Approximately one out of every four candidates is accepted.

5. What advantages come with attending a prestigious school?

Advantages include possibilities for extracurricular enrichment, competitive academic environments, and access to specialised programs.

6. What distinguishes a public school from a selective school?

Selective schools have a rigorous entry process and cater to high-achieving students, offering advanced curriculum and specialised programs. Public schools are accessible to all students in the designated catchment area and offer a comprehensive curriculum.


Navigating the NSW Selective Schools system can be difficult, but with the proper information and preparation, you can help your child succeed. These schools offer unique opportunities for exceptional learners to excel academically and personally. With knowledge of the qualifying requirements, the selection procedure, and preparation techniques, you can make informed judgements to assist your child’s educational path. 

Book a free assessment today to find out how we can help your child succeed in gaining entry to an NSW selective school.


  • 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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