Exam Success Blog

Ace Your Exam with the Right Test Prep

Here's where you can find helpful information on preparing for entrance exams for schools and jobs.

Test Just Got Harder in 2021 & Beyond - How Selective Schools & Scholarship Tests Are Likely to Change

If your child is sitting a scholarship or selective school exam in 2021 - be prepared for a much different exam. A harder exam.

Anecdotal inside information we received in 2020 regarding questions and results suggest that:

  • The test in 2021 is likely to be harder. The pass rate for one particular exam subject in a 2020 selective school test was 65. If 65 gets you selection, the test would have been considered very hard that they would accept a score of 65 as a cut off for acceptance;… click to read on…
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2020 Course Update - Available to Pre-Order Now!

Our courses are getting a 2020 update!

Our 2020 courses will have 18 checkpoints (6 checkpoints more than existing courses) and at least 170 practice questions per course.

See courses available and suggested courses for your exam for pre-ordering.

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[Parent's Guide] How to Do Home-Schooling During Coronavirus Without Going Crazy + 10 Free Online Learning Resources

The mere thought of spending 24/7 together can feel overwhelming. But with a bit of planning that we’ll provide for you (and 10+ online and free learning resources for kids) below, it’s doable (difficult, but doable). Let’s see how.

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Join Exam Success’ Online Creative Writing Program and Give Your Child the Opportunity to Have Their Writing Published!

Full 2021 Class Listings Now Available. Secure Your Child’s Spot – Only 5 per Class! In this program, your child will work on developing 1 short creative piece over 5 tutor-led sessions to improve it dramatically and in the process, learn creative thinking skills and improve their writing.

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Improve English And Learn Must-Have Life Skills With Exam Success' Online Debate Training Course

Full 2021 Class Listings Now Available. Secure Your Child’s Spot – Only 5 per Class! To help your child get ahead in school and beyond, Exam Success has developed an Online Debating Training Course where participants will improve their English, work on their creativity and critical thinking as well as significantly boost their communication skills. And we’re going to have fun, too!

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Exam Success Sponsorship Stories - 8-year-old competes in Junior Kata competition for Queensland Cup

Exam Success sponsored one of our students to attend the Queensland Cup – a karate competition in 2020. Here’s her story.

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15-Point Essay Checklist for Persuasive Writing: Find Out Where Your Essay is Losing Marks and Fix it with Expert Masterclass Videos

“My child doesn’t know what to write about!” “What is persuasive writing anyway?” “Where do we even start when preparing to write a persuasive writing piece?!?”

Finally, a simple and easy to use checklist that parents can use (even if you’re not good at writing) to help your child improve their persuasive or argumentative writing for competitive exams like scholarships, selective school entrance exams, ICAS and NAPLAN.

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15-Point Essay Checklist for Narrative Writing: Where Your Essay May Be Losing Marks and How to Fix it with Expert Masterclass Videos

“My child struggles to come up with a story and can’t finish a story in the time limit!” “How can my child “show” and not “tell”? “How on earth do we fix up their writing and where do we even start?”

Finally, a simple and easy to use checklist that parents can use (even if you’re not good at writing) to help your child improve their creative writing (narratives) for competitive exams like scholarships, selective school entrance exams, ICAS and NAPLAN.

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This Secret Trick Will Help You Write Better Instantly (Even If You Don’t Have The Talent)

Learn how to ACE your writing test and write better essays by “showing, not telling” with 1000 ready-to-use example sentences created by experts.

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Exam Success in the News! [Oct 11, 2019]

Exam Success was in the news (Sydney Morning Herald) on October 11, 2019. The article discussed the tutoring industry and how many teachers, principles and politicians say to parents “you don’t need tutoring” but these are the same people who use tutors for their own children!

Exam Success were also delighted to have the opportunity to assist Nathan, who won SBS TV Child Genuis competition last year in his writing through our writing clubs. Nathan ended up securing a scholarship to a private school.

See the full article here: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/principals-teachers-kids-are-tutored-despite-public-denials-industry-claims-20191009-p52yzb.html

If you’re unable to view the article on the above link, you can find images of the article below.

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What is the date of the Perth Modern School Test 2019

The dates of the Perth Modern School for the 2019 ASET test (Academic Selection Entrance Test) can be found through the Department of Education Gifted and Talent Website here: https://www.education.wa.edu.au/gifted/application-process

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Writing Test in Selective schools & Scholarships – Good Vocabulary & Spelling is NOT ENOUGH [Case Study]

I want to tell you the story about Anna [name has been changed to protect privacy].

Like many students who sit a selective or scholarship school test, she

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6 Steps on How to Teach Your Child to Write an A+ Story and Learn English at the Same Time (Includes 10 Creative Writing Prompts)

Writing creative stories is one of the easiest and simplest ways for your child to learn English (and start building their essay writing skills).

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5 Boxes to Tick to Make Sure Your Child Aces NAPLAN Persuasive Writing (With Examples for Year 7)

Practice makes a better writer and with it, your child will ace the Year 7 NAPLAN Persuasive Writing section!

Strong persuasive writing skills will pave the road to success beyond

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2 Past Sample Persuasive Writing Prompts for Selective School Entrance Test – Part 1 of 2

The writing test or written expression in a selective entry test is arguably one of the hardest parts of a multi-part test that generally examines reasoning (verbal, numerical), reading and maths.

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IELTS Writing Task 1 Preparation – Checklist to Write Clear Sentences (with Samples)

The IELTS General Writing task 1 is generally designed to test letter writing skills. A clear and effective writing style will help you earn a score of 6, shows competency, and opens opportunities for studying abroad.

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1 Crucial Strategy Your Child Needs to Know for Each of the 7 Tests in Scholarships and Selective School Exams

I do a lot of tutoring for selective school and scholarship tests and our online course packages that cover abstract reasoning, verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, reading

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5 Common Q&A on Written Expression for Selective Schools and Scholarship Tests

In this blog post, I answer 5 common questions that students and parents ask about preparing for the written expression or writing task of the selective schools test and/or scholarship tests.

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General Ability Test - Beware 'fake' figures, check direction and figures aren't always unique

General ability tests are notoriously difficult (especially those by ACER—one of the main scholarship and selective school exam writers).

In this post, I’ll run you through two questions and the things your

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One Word Makes a Huge Difference In Written Expression (NAPLAN, Selective Tests & Scholarship Tests)

I correct and give feedback to a lot of written expression pieces. Many of the creative writing and argumentative writing pieces are done by students vying for a coveted spot in a selective school or sitting an exam to obtain a hard-to-get scholarship offer.

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Scholarship Test Areas Your Child Must Ace with Practice Questions & Solutions

*Sitting a scholarship test, as many would agree is the most dreaded part of a scholarship application. The exam is hugely competitive with strict time limits in place—as little as 25 minutes is given to write a full essay. Moreover, to be successful in a scholarship test, your

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What is the date of the Perth Modern School Test 2017

The dates of the Perth Modern School test can be found through the Department of Education Gifted and Talent Website here: http://det.wa.edu.au/curriculumsupport/giftedandtalented/detcms/school-support-programs/gifted-and-talented/application-information/key-dates.en?cat-id=2058768#toc2

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How to Ace Written Expression in Scholarship Tests in 2020 & 2021

Private school scholarship testing season generally starts from February to April and in scholarship tests, written expression tests how well your child can write:

  • based on a specific genre - usually persuasive/argumentative writing or creative/narratives),
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Scholarship & Selective School Written Expression Examples (Plus 5 Steps to Get Your Writing to this Standard)

In Writing & Reading Club (a weekly writing and reading improvement program), we score essays and provide feedback.

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Poetry in Reading Comprehension – How to Find the Meaning and Mood

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a student. It went like this:

*I’m just saying that I need to improve in English - Poetry. It’s hard to understand the words and what it means. I generally need to improve

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How to Answer 4 Commons Types of Reading Comprehension Questions (With Reading Strategies)

If you think that studying for a reading comprehension test is similar to studying for a maths test – you’re wrong!

Reading skills are very different from mathematics skills so "How do you

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Why your child should NOT use “talking marks” or “speech” in scholarship and selective school written expression tests

Does your child write using a lot of speech?  Speech is when you put something into “speech marks” and it shows that someone is saying something. I see this kind of writing when children start preparations for their selective school or scholarship test.  In fact, sometimes I

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When & How Should My Child Start Preparing for Selective Tests or Scholarship Exams?

Selective tests such as the Victorian Selective Schools Test, NSW High School Placement Test (HSPT), WA GATE and Brisbane State High School Placement Test and scholarship exams are super competitive so it’s a good idea to have a timeframe of when and how to start preparing your

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Students Used These 3 Ingredients To Get Better Writing Scores in IELTS, Selective Schools, Scholarship Exams and NAPLAN...

What are the 3 ingredients to better writing for your exams – NAPLAN, Selective Schools and Scholarships and IELTS?

No. It’s not grammar and spelling exercises. It’s **practice, modeling

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Selective School & Scholarship Written Expression Test: 3 Things You Must Avoid Doing!

The Vic Selective School Test is coming up soon on 18 June 2016! This is the main entrance exam to gain entry into the four selective high schools in Victoria being MacRobertson Girls’ High School (MacRob), Melbourne High School (Melb High / Mel High), Suzanne Cory and Nossal.

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2016 Dates of the Brisbane State High School Academic Merit exam for Year 5 & 6

2016 Dates of the Brisbane State High School Academic Merit Test for the following year levels are:

Grade 5:

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2 Verbal Reasoning Selective School/Scholarship Sample Questions with Detailed Solution - Christmas Themed

Here are two practice verbal reasoning questions that you can do while on school holidays (and in the lead up to Christmas).  Verbal reasoning questions are common in nearly all selective school tests or scholarship exams so it’s a good way to get a little practice for your upcoming

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Mathematics Reasoning Selective School/Scholarship Practice Question with Detailed Solution - Santa Style!

Here’s a mathematics practice question with a detailed solution you can do:

**If Santa had 1 billion presents to deliver within a 24 hour period on

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Numerical Reasoning Selective School/Scholarship Practice Question with Detailed Solution - Christmas Theme

Because Christmas is fast approaching, we’re going to do Christmas themed practice questions.  There’s four:

  • Numerical reasoning - 1 practice question
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Reading List Over 10 Weeks for Selective School or Scholarship Test Preparation for Year 7 Entry

Reading is a fantastic way to:

  • Build up vocabulary - which helps you for verbal reasoning (part of general ability), reading comprehension and written expression.
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Private Schools in Sydney and NSW Offering Scholarships & What's Tested

There are a number of private schools in Sydney and the NSW area that offer scholarship to students. Scholarship offer students monetary reward (through the reduction of school fees) but it also benefits the school too because by attracting bright students, the results of the

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Who prepares selective school and scholarship papers and what are their styles (ACER, Edutest, Academic Assessment Services) like?

There are 3 major selective school and scholarship test preparers in Australia being ACER, Edutest and Academic Assessment Services. Each of these test paper preparers/creators are detailed below along with what they test in their test papers.

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5 Time-Busting Tips for Your Child’s Selective School and Scholarship Exams

Selective school and scholarship exams have demanding time limits!

Around the 15 - 25 minute mark for a writing piece and around 30 - 40 minutes for a multiple choice test such as mathematics and reading

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The Hard Part in the Selective School Tests and Scholarship Exams is Problem Solving, It’s Not the Curriculum!

Parent: “What part of the school curriculum is important for this test?" and "Do you follow the school curriculum?

Me: “The curriculum isn’t particularly important in this test” and

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5 Tips on Writing a Persuasive/Argumentative Piece for a Selective School/Scholarship Test

In this post, we’ll go through our top 3 entries for the writing competition and go through what was done well and what needed improvement. I’ll collect them into 5 tips below for how to write a competitive writing piece for the selective and scholarship exams. I’ll

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Getting into Brisbane State High School after Not Passing the First Round

I wanted to share with you great news - one of our students who went through the online course after not getting accepted into Brisbane State High School in the first round of the Academic test (students sit this exam in Grade 5) got an offer in Grade 6.  Here is her mother’s happy

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This Girl Got into MacRob - A Selective School...So What's Her Secret?

I received this email from the family of a girl who went through our online courses to prepare for the MacRob.

![[Feedback from the family of a girl who got into

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How this Child Got a Spot at Perth Modern School

In the next four blog posts, I’m going to go into the qualities and work the following four children did in order to be offered a spot at their idea selective school.  This post will focus on Perth Modern School.

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What’s the difference between maths and mathematical thinking?

In some selective school and scholarship tests they may test mathematics and then also mathematical reasoning.

In general, and from experience with these tests, mathematics is just

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11+ Sample Question 10 with Answer - Cloze Questions and Fill in the Blanks

Cloze questions are my favourite type of question because you can easily get quick marks for them and it reminds me of primary school activities when you used to find the missing letter.  Cloze questions are common in the 11+ CEM test so we’ll go through one here and show you the approach

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11+ Sample Long Maths Question 9 with Detailed Step-by-Step Solution

Here’s a practice question in long maths with detailed step-by-step solution.  Long maths is in the CEM 11+ exam, but mathematics questions like the one below appear in selective school exams and scholarship exams too.  Let’s go through it.

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11 Plus (11+) Sample Question 7 with Answer - Word Rearrangement in Verbal Reasoning

Here’s a sample practice question and solution for verbal reasoning.

Rearrange the words to make the longest sentence that you can. Write down the remaining word was not used in

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What's the Average Score My Child Should be Achieving in the Selective School Practice Test?

The selective school test, regardless of what state you would be applying for (Victorian Selective School Test, NSW High School Placement Test, Brisbane State High School) is extremely competitive with usually a rate of acceptance of lower than 30% of all total applicants.

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11 Plus (11+) Sample Short Maths Question with Sample Answer 7

Here’s a quick one to practice on.  Remember, just like the Question 6, we want to break things down into easily understandable components that are quickly calculated.  So things like 10 + 10 are easy to calculate in

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11 Plus (11+) Sample Question and Solution 6 - Short Maths & Doing it Quickly

Short maths in the 11 Plus is one of those areas where you can score quick and easy points.  Miscalculations and reading the question incorrectly are areas in which one can easily end up with the incorrect answer.  So with short maths, make sure you understand the questions and

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Non-Verbal/Abstract Reasoning Worked Solution 5 - Perfect for 11 Plus, ACER or TACHS

Here’s another non-verbal/abstract reasoning working to help you practice for your exams.  Have you done all the questions?  Here’s another [practice non-verbal reasoning question perfect for the 11 Plus exams if you are doing

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11+ (11 Plus) Sample Question 4 Plus Worded Solution – Non-Verbal/Abstract Reasoning

Let’s go through a sample practice question for a non-verbal reasoning question.  We’ll step through the logical reasoning to come to the answer.

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11+ (Plus) Sample Question 3 on Data and Reading Data with Detailed Solutions

Reading data within tables and graphs is a great skill to develop because it helps you with everyday life (think about bus/train timetables), and also, it appears on some exams such as the 11 Plus, NSW Selective School, VIC selective school, scholarship exams and more.

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11+ Sample Question 2 with Worded Solution - Verbal Reasoning with Similar Meanings

Let’s have a go at this question now….

Which word below is most similar in meaning to the word: GRAVEL

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11+ (11 Plus) Sample Question 1 Plus Worded Solution - Verbal Reasoning

This is our new series where we go through sample questions and solutions.  Going through these types of questions and understanding the logic behind how questions are ‘worked out’ helps you to hone your reasoning ability and doing so helps you cope better for your test.

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Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy

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Welcome to 12Descartes Pty Ltd Privacy Policy 1. 12Decartes Pty Ltd

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Terms & Conditions


In these terms and conditions, “we” “us” and “our” refers to 12Descartes Pty Ltd and the service we provide at www.examsuccess.org, the

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20 Scholarships for Selective School Preparation on Offer

Do you know of someone planning to sit the Victorian Selective School Entrance Exam this year? Do they have a health care card? If so, tell them to apply for one of our 20 scholarships on offer. The scholarship provides them with all the online courses they need to prepare for the

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How to Prepare for the Victorian Selective School Test by a Former MacRob Girl

Having helped students prepare for the selective school test with high success since 2010 (last year all students received an offer), below are my top tips organised by test area in terms of test preparation for this year’s Victorian Selective School Test.

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Are You Smart Enough to Pass the Selective School or Scholarship Test?

In Australia, majority of selective school tests and scholarship tests are held in February through to April.  With around 13,000 applicants and only 4,000 spots, the exam is fiercely competitive.

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Easy-to-Understand Guide: ACER Scholarship Exams and the Cooperative Scholarship Testing Program

Last night, a parent from Western Australia rung me distressed and confused about the multitude of information out there about the ACER scholarship so this guide is here to make it easy to understand the scholarship exam process using a question and answer format.

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How to Get a Private High School Scholarship

This year, there are over 292 schools across Australia offering academic scholarships.  Academic scholarships offers are decided primarily on a child’s performance on an entrance exam.  These exams are competitive and rightly so - a high school scholarship can save parents $90,000*

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Should I send my child to a public or private school?

The decision to send your child to a public or private school is one that many parents worry about.  Understandably so, as there are heaps of choices that can make things confusing.  For example:

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What’s in the Perth Modern School Test?

Perth Modern School is the only fully selective school in Western Australia.  To get into Perth Modern School, students need to sit the Academic Selective Entrance Test, which is coordinated by the Department of Education under the Gifted and Talented program.

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What do kids that go to selective school end up becoming? Is going to a selective school worth it?

The majority of those kids end up being:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
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10 Tips on How to Prepare for the NSW Selective High School Placement Test

With less than 3 months until the NSW Selective High School Placement Test on Thursday 10 March 2016 (but make sure you check the official source to attend your exam at the correct date and time) here are some tips I’ve put together to help those preparing:

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Principal's Discretionary Category Application Form MacRob, Melb High Help!

Congratulations if you’ve been offered an application to the principal’s discretionary category for a selective school!  They’re very hard to get into and to be offered one means you’ve done well in the exam and may have been offered a spot in another selective school.  If you haven’t

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Approach to Writing an Argumentative Piece in Under 15 Minutes for Entrance Exams

Writing an essay or writing piece in exam conditions almost always has a time constraints.  The time constraints for the following exams are:

  • Victorian Selective School (Melbourne High, MacRob, Suzanne Cory and
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Congratulations on Your Results for Selective School Places!

Today, results came out for the Vic Selective Schools and  and we wanted to congratulate:

  • N Sirimanna (online tuition one to one) - who obtained at spot at
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Writing Study Plans for Creative and Discussion/Argumentative Writing - 21 Weeks

If you’re studying for an exam that has a timed writing component - these are the study plans for you.  There are 2 separate study plans - 1 for creative writing and 1 for discussion and argumentative style writing.  While historically the NSW Selective School Placement Test has

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21 Week Study Plan for Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension requires strategies to deal with each type of extract specifically - what does that mean?  It means that in reading comprehension you’re given all these different types of passages such as narrative, poetry, cartoons and more.  To answer them successfully you

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Mathematics and Numerical Reasoning Study Plan (22 Weeks) for Selective School, Scholarship and Police Exams

This study plan is designed to help you prepare for the NSW Selective School (but this study plan can also be used if you are studying for the Victorian Police exam, PSO exam and defence force recruiting and those exams, from my knowledge are also written by ACER).  It assumes that

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22 Week Study Plan for Verbal Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning (included in General Ability)

Abstract reasoning is known by other names such as non-verbal reasoning.  It’s tested in General Ability and you can recognise it by its questions that involve distinctive images like this:

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What's MacRob or a Selective School Like?

Some people perceive MacRob, Melbourne High or any of the selective schools to be really geeky, full of students with Asian background and all they’re interested is in studying.  Most of this is probably true (as I’m of Asian background, geeky and interested in studying) but I’d

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How Many Words Do I Write in a Written Expression Exam for a Scholarship or Selective School Test?

This is a question I get asked often.  While the quality of your writing is considered over the quantity, this is my opinion on how long/how many words should be in an essay or a writing piece for a selective school exam or scholarship test.

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A+ Grade Sample Writing Piece for the NSW Selective Schools Test & Why it's Good

What does a good writing piece for the NSW selective school test look like?  It has the makings of any good writing piece - that means it’ll have:

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The Right Way to Do Practice Questions for Entrance Exams

Some people approach practice questions in an unproductive way.  There’s no need to buy 1000s of questions from different providers.  The reason why too many practice questions is not productive is because firstly, the main focus of practice exam questions is to improve for the

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5 Things That Helped Me Get Into A Selective School

As the NSW Selective School High School Placement Test that happens in March every year is now 9 months away, parents start to ask questions on how to start preparing for this major test.  I thought it’d be great to share with you the five things I did which helped me get into a

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Should My Son or Daughter Get a Tutor for the Selective School Test? Well.... that Depends!

[When I was preparing for the selective school exam (which had verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, mathematics, creative and analytical writing along with reading comprehension) in Victoria, I went to tuition classes that specialised in the exam only.  Parents often wonder whether

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