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 selective school even though the test I did was for the Victorian Selective School (and done by Edutest and the NSW Selective High School Placement Test is done by ACER).  Some of this may be surprising, some not but I hope you find it useful in your own exam preparation.

1. Doing Well Academically in School

Selective schools will take a top per cent of students and to select these students they do it through a test.  Therefore, how your child is doing in school is a good indicator.  If they’re getting generally B+ to A+ marks that’s a good sign.  Doing well academically in school will help your child with the exam because it will improve their general knowledge.  Having tutored children in the past, students who have gotten B+ to A grades in school (with the exception of Physical Education grades) have a higher chance of getting in than a student scoring Cs to Bs, even with intensive tuition.

2. Reading

Reading is one of my favourite things to do although nowadays, I mainly read non-fiction.  Reading both the newspaper and novels (fiction) boosted up both my reading comprehension skills and my English writing.  If there’s an easy and fun way to improve your writing and reading for the selective schools test it’s this!  Better still, if you borrow books and read newspapers in the library, it’s free.  Reading is one of those things that people often overlook as it seems so simple, but the reality is that reading takes time so people don’t get around to doing it.  It is very important to get onto a reading program regularly e.g. make it a point to read once a week or more to improve your writing and reading comprehension.

The editorial section of The Age provides useful ‘persuasive’ style articles and brings you up to date on relevant issues.

3. Doing Practice Questions

This is by far the best way to improve but sometimes people don’t do it properly, and it defeats the purpose.  Here are some ways people do practice questions ineffectively:

  • Doing too many and not going in depth on each question to understand the logic behind the question.
  • Buying too many different resources and not knowing where to start

See my other post here for a detailed method on how to do practice questions effectively along with links for freely downloadable practice papers.

4.  Understanding the Solution

This is key.  In fact, this should be point 1.  A lot of times people think they can just do the practice questions and that’s it - they’re improving.  I’ve had a lot of people ask for more practice questions but the value in practice questions is in the results.  Look at your result.  Does your child understand each question and why they’ve gotten it correct or incorrect?

When I was practicing for the exam, I understood each question and why I had gotten it right and why I had chosen the incorrect option.  By understanding the solution, your child/you will be formulating a strategy and using it for future questions.  I’d say that is the key thing out of the 5 that has helped me get into a selective school.

5. Tuition

I did tuition for the exam but I don’t think it alone helped me to get into the school.  The reason for this is because around <50% of my class got offered a spot in a selective school and the others didn’t.   I think tuition helped because it helped make practicing questions and understanding the solution (3 & 4) a regular weekly occurrence and gave me some direction (remember this was pre-Google days).

There’s always the question of how long to tutor for.  I’ve heard of a student getting 3 years worth and then I’ve tutored students with a 2-3 month lead time and they’ve been successful (but they also did a lot of hard work and were already achieving B+ to A grades  anyway).

Hope this helps set up some action points for your exam preparation!  Remember, it’s not hope but hard work and strategy that’ll improve your score.

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


Manik Barak February 09, 2016

Hi there, I'm currently in year 7 and I am working towards an offer from Melbourne High. I was wondering about how many children get selected from the school you go to. Eg. I go to Mount Waverley SC, how many children will get selected from there?

Vi from examsuccess.com.au February 19, 2016

Hi Manik, What you're referring to is the 5% rule. <a href="http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/parents/secondary/pages/eligibility.aspx#2" rel="nofollow">Here's guidance from department of education</a> about the maximum number of students selected.

Sampada February 21, 2016

I have a exam coming u in 20 days please help me i have no idea which books i should practice

Angelina July 22, 2016

Hi, I'm a year 7 in NSW and I got a really bad result in selective but I have really good grades and is at the top of the class, my tutor say I have a chance but I don't have self confidence and my parents really understand English that much as a second language. I've been offered a place at selective this year but I really want to get in a top school. Can you please give me some advice?

Angelina July 22, 2016

Don't really understand English*

Vi from examsuccess.com.au July 29, 2016

Hi Angelina, sorry for the late reply and well done to be offered a spot in a selective school! What I'd do is go to the selective school that has been currently offered and then from there, keep trying to get into a top school if that is what the goal is (you might even find that you like the selective school that has been offered). I know of someone who really wanted to get into a high school in Victoria and didn't get an offer in each year that she did the test - she sat the test each year for 3 consecutive years. In Year 11, she got offered a place for Year 12. I think what made her successful was in keeping to her goal, being patient and working hard. They're great attributes to develop regardless of what school you go to. I don't want to sound like an inspirational quote (because it's not really my style), but you have to believe in yourself and see amazing things that you can do and that you've already done. You've gotten this far so don't let your worries hold you back :-) Best wishes Angelina!

Tiffany October 02, 2016

Hi, I am going to the selective test next year and I really need to improve my GA. All my other subjects are good and I get good grades. Any advice? Tiffany

Vicky October 06, 2016

How do you know which books to read

Angelika October 10, 2016

I am in Year 4 and didn't pass my OC test but my friend did. Now I really need some tips to get into selective, so I can now what to study. I was wondering if you could help by giving some tips. 😅😅😅

Angelika October 10, 2016

P.S My mum and dad told me I should study, and be driven but my habits are opposite. Do you have any tips??? I would be great!!!

Angelika October 10, 2016

Do you know any good schools around NSW, rockdale??

Vi from examsuccess.com.au October 22, 2016

Hi Vicky, I've set up a 10-week suggested reading list here: <a href="http://www.examsuccess.org/reading-list-over-10-weeks-for-selective-school-or-scholarship-test-preparation-for-year-7-entry/" title="Reading List Over 10 Weeks for Selective School or Scholarship Test Preparation for Year 7 Entry" rel="nofollow"></a>. It's also a good idea to read a wide variety of texts. I'd suggest reading the editorial/comments section of your newspapers like the Age or the Sydney Morning Herald and <a href="http://theconversation.com/au" title="The Conversation" rel="nofollow"></a> has an amazing range of analysis and argumentative articles. Just make a plan for regular reading - the key is to get as much exposure and understanding as possible!

Vi from examsuccess.com.au October 22, 2016

Hey Angelika, my tip would be to follow your mum and dad's advice - study and be driven. That's pretty good starting advice!

Yaninna November 10, 2016

Hi I heard there is an independent test that children can do very similar to an selective school. Do you know which one ? I am in nsw

Vicky November 11, 2016

Hey vi,need urgent help on GA and maths,could you maybe give some advice

Vicky November 11, 2016

P.S and this is a question I always asked myself the question 'how do I study' hoping you could answer it🙂🙂🙂 also I neeeeed to get in ,my parents are depending on me😢😢😢😢😢

Vicky November 11, 2016

This time is wrong,it's 9:15am ,where is this time set

Vicky November 13, 2016

Ps I did not get in OC either ,so Aiming for selective😶😶😶

Chandni December 12, 2016

Hey umm for my recent test I got above 70% for everything is that a good chance byways school test

Chandni December 12, 2016

Don't stress

Vivian December 26, 2016

Hi I'm Vivian, I'm about to sit the selective test in 1 and a half month and, I really need help with my Reading and GA, I'm okay with Maths, but excellent at Writing. Please help me so I know how to pass. I'm one of the top 3 students in my class and have always been in a top class since year 1. I'm nervous, I'm really wishing to pass. Please help me desperately. Thank you if you get this I would be the happiest girl in the world if I pass. :) ^.^ Thank you fingers crossed I pass.

Vivian December 26, 2016

I also flunked OC but not really badly but I was not happy with it, I'm nervous if I don't make it to selective. Everyone is depending on me for my future. I also want it really badly too. Please help me Vi.

Angel January 05, 2017

I have selective coming in 2 and a half months and i g tutoring but i dont know how i should practice at home. if you could give some tips that would be great!

Angel January 05, 2017

my parents always tell me its willpower. we all hope for each other to get into selective. my mum always says 'hard work always pays off' it gets annoying at times but at the end of the day I realise she's right!

Marie February 02, 2017

Hi, I have a test coming up in four months, my parents have absolute no hope in me like they had in my sister. My sister got into Nossal and I'm trying out this year. Please help me, I want to make my parents proud, make them regret the words they said. If you could tell me study tips or the best way to study (or anything thing to do with the examination test; math, English, verbal, numerical and reading) I would really appreciate it, Thankyou,

Marie February 03, 2017

Hi, i was wondering if you have any tips, i would really appreciate it thankyou

Vi from examsuccess.com.au February 13, 2017

Hi Marie, I'd suggest going through our most recent post on mathematics, written expression and reading comprehension - http://www.examsuccess.org/scholarship-test-areas-your-child-must-ace-practice-question-written-expression-mathematics-and-reading-comprehension/

Lara April 18, 2017

Hello Vi. In just four months I have a selective test coming up and I am curious to know if you have any suggestions for online or downloadable test for entry to year 8. Also, do you know the lowest mark for each subject as a percentage to be accepted into a selective school? Thanks, Lara

Lara April 18, 2017

Hi again Vi. I forgot to ask which subjects participants will be tested on for year 8 entry and if you could recommend any websites that will have those subjects for a selective test.

Lily May 05, 2017

Hi Vi, I read on one of your earlier posts that you should be getting grades A's and B's to give you a good indication of a students abilities to get into a selective school. The teachers where my children attend school have explained to me that to get a B, the student is working at a year above their level and to get an A, the student needs to be achieving at 2 years above. No one achieves an A and rarely a B. My question to you is, are the A and B grades mentioned earlier the same as how A's and B's given at our school. I am a parent with a year 3 student who is at the top of his class and is at times working at extension level. His reading level is at a year 4 level. I just wanted a little clarity as to if I should push my child harder with his studies. Thanks,

Vi from examsuccess.com.au May 11, 2017

Hi Lily, Great question! In general, you could interpret the Department of Education guidance (http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/parents/primary/Pages/p4p200612.aspx and https://arc.bostes.nsw.edu.au/go/gen-info#A-to-E-grading) as being that a C means that a student is at the expected standard, a B means that the student is above the standard expected and an A means that the student is well-above the standard expected. The As & Bs are just my own observations of reported scores from students who ended up obtaining a selective school spot. Whether or not the As & Bs they've gotten from their school is consistent with your school is something I wouldn't be able to confirm as grading is based on the teacher's on-balance judgement.

Saavan July 14, 2017

Hey There! My name is Saavan. I have tried the OC Test and got a score of 182.4. I have improved a lot. I am taking on the selective test. My Brother, got selected into the 7th best High School in Australia. My family and I are very confident, and encouraging for me to move forward for him. I am doing the test next year. I am putting down: Fort Street, Sydney Tech and Sefton. I have lots of pressure. I need lots of help in my Reading/English! I normally do practise tests and only get 23/45 normally. I am doing tutoring. I have got 44/60 in GA, 30/40 in maths and 16/20 in Writing. I hope you reply. Thx!

Sravan Manoj November 27, 2017

Please help me, I have a lot of practice questions and I can't stay focused please help me! I am really desperate for the Selective Test.

Vi from examsuccess.com.au November 28, 2017

Hi Sravan, thanks for commenting! One of the issues when students have many questions is that they start to feel pressured and overwhelmed. However, parents often buy a lot of practice questions believing that the more questions the better. However, the secret to doing well in the selective test is in how you practice, not how many questions you practice. Students can skim through questions and not learn much, while students to take their time and go through each question in detail are likely to learn more. Here's a post I wrote that has a process on how to do practice questions - I hope it will help you: https://www.examsuccess.org/getting-the-most-out-of-doing-practice-questions/

Inderjeet February 09, 2018

Hi, Can you pls let me know the site to get practice papers. Thanks Ind

Vi from examsuccess.com.au February 15, 2018

Sure - you can purchase practice papers here: https://www.examsuccess.com.au/test_papers

Aoi September 04, 2018

Hello! I m in year 5 and I went today to St George Girls High School Posen day today, it’s in kograh. There’s also Sydney Girls, and Tempe is partially selective.

Samia September 07, 2018

Hi Everyone!!!!! I definitely need some tips on GA. Every other subject I am totally fine with but GA? NO. Please could anyone send me some advise on how to improve my GA? That would be awesome! :D Thanks! (YEAR 5 2018)

Ayushi November 26, 2018

Hi, I'm Ayushi and did not get into the year 6 Selective. I was then hoping to try out for year 7 even though I was told it was very hard. I am wondering how to study for this exam. Please reply as I really need help.

Vic December 20, 2018

Hi Samia. I am in Yr 9 and I just recently made it to a Selectibe school and I have some tips. You should do some practise papers of a variety of GA papers(Excel Test Zone is GREAT!!). Make SURE if you have a tutor get help. Dont be afraid to ask any questions. Hope it helped&gt;__&lt;

Yashvi January 20, 2019

hey i am yashvi i just wanted to ask which tuition do you go to

Sophie February 09, 2019

I am currently a year 8 but I'm not in the seal program. I am wanting to apply for Macrob but I live a while away. I have a 4.7 gpa, so I have an a or a+ average. I am year 9 /10 level for English and writing but I am only doing year 8 Mathematics. I am not sure where to get a tutor to help me with this, since most of the students have been working since last year and it's February and the exam is in June.

Niyati February 25, 2019

Hi there, I am having a selective test in 17 days and I suck at maths! I have no idea on what to do know. Can you help me, please. :( :( :(

Mahima March 12, 2019

Hi I am Mahima and I have selective tomorrow. The pressure is really on me and my parents really want me to get in. They spent so much money on me and all they ask is for me to pass, but I think that I won’t, I think I.. I don’t know! I feel so nervous and I don’t know how to say it! Is there a way to make me feel positive and some ways I can get into selective in 2 days?

Mahima March 12, 2019

I also got like 165 in OC and around that in a pre uni test called ASAT.

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