Five ways to prepare for the NSW Selective High School Placement Test

What is the NSW Selective High School Placement Test?

The NSW Selective High School Placement Test is taken by Year 6 students to be admitted into selective or agricultural high schools in Year 7. These schools are selective due to their high-potential and academically talented students. They provide these students with an educationally enriched environment. 

The tests were introduced to provide an opportunity for pupils with scholastic aptitude. Over 15 000 applications are made for just over 4000 selective places and entry is quite competitive.


Changes to the NSW Selective High School Placement Test that you need to know:

The upcoming 2024 Selective School placement test date has been moved to 4 May 2023 with applications opening in October 2022. It is important for students to prepare early for their tests and ideally start general and exam practice in Year 5. The tests are currently paper-based, although the NSW Government has expressed interest in developing a computer-based testing system in the future.

Selective High School Placements - Did you know?






Besides changing the testing date from March to May, other changes have been made that will enable children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have an equal chance of securing a position within these academically enriched schools. 

The NSW Government has introduced the Equity Placement Model which dedicates 20% of admissions to the following disadvantaged and under-represented groups:

  • Students from low socio-educational advantage backgrounds
  • First Nations students
  • Students from rural/remote locations
  • Students with disability.

The tests were updated in 2020 with a greater emphasis on literacy, critical-thinking skills, mathematical reasoning and problem solving. The General Ability Test has been replaced by a Thinking Skills Test. The new Selective High School Placement Test adjusts and balances the weighting given to the reading, thinking skills, mathematical reasoning and writing components. These changes were in response to the findings of the 2018 Review of Selective Education Access report, commissioned by the NSW Department of Education.

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Start preparing for the NSW Selective High School Placement Test:

  1. Know the content
    The first place to start would be for parents to know what content will be tested. The best place to find all the information you will need is on the NSW Government website but in this section we will break down what you need to know. The test consists of the following topics: Reading, Mathematical Reasoning, Thinking Skills and Writing. These test papers have between 30 and 40 multiple-choice questions, excluding writing which is an open response.

  2. Revise
    It’s important to start general revision and study early for gradual learning, confidence and memory retention. Use this time for your child to learn and practise the areas you know the test will focus on, as detailed above.

  3. Identify strengths and weaknesses
    An ideal tool for revision and identifying strengths and weaknesses is Excel Test Zone. Our Year 6 Selective Schools and Scholarship–style Test Pack provides up-to-date questions from each component of the NSW Selective High School Placement Test. The tests include detailed explanations and worked solutions so students can mark their own work and learn as they go. Excel Test Zone provides an overview of results from each topic and provides an average mark which can help identify areas of improvement.

  4. Revise again
    After identifying the areas that need improvement, it’s necessary to return to that topic and revise it again.  Excel Test Zone allows for students to retake the tests as many times as they need to and they are advised to repeat the tests until they get all the questions correct.
  5. Practice 
    Complete all relevant example questions after the content has been revised again to ensure the child fully comprehends the areas of improvement. With the ongoing repetition of the questions they got wrong, students should learn how to answer the questions successfully. 

What is included in the Online Practice Test Packs from

Excel Test Zone?

Our comprehensive tests are written by the experts at Excel, with over 30 years experience helping students improve their confidence and test results.

Excel Test Zone’s Year 6 Selective Schools and Scholarship–style Full Test Pack offers 365 days access to:

  • 1312 questions in total
  • 15 Mathematical Reasoning Tests
  • 10 Reading Tests
  • 12 Thinking Skills Tests
  • 7 Writing Tests
  • Detailed explanations and worked solutions for all questions.

Parents can view their child’s progress and results of each test via their Parent Dashboard. This allows parents to be able to identify areas of strength as well as subjects that need to be focused on for improvement.

ETZ parent dashboard








By clicking the ‘View Reports’ button, a more in-depth report is provided where parents can view the details of each question and work through any incorrect answers with the written explanations with their child to encourage learning and topic comprehension.


ETZ student dashboard








Students can complete each test and have their results available on their Student Dashboard. They can view the details of their tests and read in-depth written explanations and worked solutions for all questions. This encourages a deeper level of understanding that explains the incorrect answer and allows the student to learn how the correct answer is supposed to be worked out.

Students can retake each test as many times as they like, which is important for revision as well as building confidence and developing time-management skills.

Shop the Selective Schools and Scholarship Test Pack


The perfect partner to Excel Test Zone is the Excel Selective Schools and Scholarship Tests range from Pascal Press!

Pascal Press publishes Excel Selective Schools Test titles which have been specifically designed to help students with their revision, knowledge and practice in the lead up to the NSW Selective High School Placement Test.

Excel Test Books

Our titles include topic-specific books that break down key areas for deeper understanding with example questions and exams specific to that topic.

Our Excel Revise in a Month Years 5–6 Selective Schools and Scholarship Tests contains content from each topic that consists of easily digestible topic breakdowns as well as a structured 4-week study routine. It provides a variety of exercises, real test practice and sample Selective Schools Test papers. It also includes fully explained answers to all questions.

Our Excel Selective Schools and Scholarship Tests book has helpful information and tips on Selective Schools and Scholarship tests. It includes sixteen sample tests: four sample tests each for Reading, Mathematical Reasoning, Thinking Skills and Writing. Over 400 questions and detailed answers with explanations are included in this test edition.

Our Excel Selective Schools and Scholarship Tests range is the perfect accompaniment to Excel Test Zone and is designed to be used together with the website. The Excel Test Zone Year 6 Online Test Pack and the Excel Selective Schools Tests books feature different example questions and practice exams, ensuring your child has a large variety of questions and tests to practise.

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