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.

Creative Writing- read Harry Potter or short novels in the lead up to the exam.  Copy one page word for word every week so that you start modelling after usually excellent and published writing.  Practice on free writing prompts with a countdown timer on  Review your writing, what can you do better?

Argumentative Writing - each week, read on article on the editorial/opinion section of The Age or the Herald Sun newspaper.  You’ll probably find 5-10 new vocabulary words that will add to your language skills.  Re-write some of them and identify the position of the writer and the issue at hand.  Then, again, practice on free writing prompts (see the link above in the creative writing section).  Reading editorial articles are powerful as first, you’ll model after excellent persuasive writing, secondly, you’ll be up to date with issues in the exam (as the test usually examines current issues) and thirdly, you’ll grow your vocabulary.

Mathematics - go through a whole Year 9 text book (you can pick one up at the library) to make sure your familiar with all the Year 9 mathematics concepts.  The textbook will have heaps of practice questions, so practice, practice, practice!

If you want an easy and structured way to prepare, you could just get an exam package with all the the subjects above.  You can pick it up online here.

Reading Comprehension - Read a range of articles up to the exam.  Autobiographies, newspaper articles, non-fiction texts, narratives, etc… for each paragraph you read, think about what the reader is trying to convey.  What’s the overall tone?  How is this shown through keywords?

Verbal Reasoning and Numerical Reasoning - Again, it’s about doing in depth practice and understanding the logical links within reasoning.  See this past article on how to do practice questions properly!

You’ll see that some of the tips offered, for example, reading schedules, are ‘common sense’ but it surprises me how some students will skip it (as it takes heaps of time) in the hope that there is some other shortcut to become better at reading and writing.

There have also been people who’ve said “You can’t study for the test!” but I find this view very odd.  Why?  Firstly, because logic is a discipline that can be taught (in fact, it’s taught in philosophy courses at University) and secondly, not all students who have ‘natural ability’ are exam smart.  The two are mutually exclusive.  For example, a lot of students who I’ve tutor have ‘natural ability’ in finding the correct answer, however, they’re poor at time management or they don’t have strong logical reasoning ability and consequently, we develop this through strategies.  The test presumes all ‘smart’ children will also be adept at speed, but that’s not true.  Preparation and effort before the exam can help students do better in the test as time limits play an important part.

My proof - the ‘natural ability’ student sat a scholarship exam without ‘studying’ for it and didn’t get in.  After that, he honed his writing in accordance with the time limit and got offered a scholarship.  Same student, different outcome.  This hasn’t just happened once, but with many students I’ve seen.  The outcome that student wanted, he got from preparation and effort! (by the way, that same student also sat the Victorian Selective School Exam, and he’s now at Melbourne High!).



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


Vedika Vasan October 06, 2016

Hello, I am a year 9 student and was just wondering whether you could tell me which textbook Mac Robertson uses because I live in New Zealand and am moving to Melbourne so I am trying to study ahead for the entrance tests! Thank you.

Vi from October 22, 2016

Hi Vedika, thanks for your comment and your patience with my response. There's no textbook to study to get you into the school, however, I'd suggest you go through a Year 9 maths text book and a year 10 maths text book (you can source this from most libraries) to make sure you're across the maths content - otherwise we have some books that may assist with your preparation here:

Dinithi Nagollage December 29, 2016

Hello, I'm a year 7-8 from Melbourne, and I'm worried about studying for the Mac.Rob exam. Do you know any particular studies (theorems, equations) that you think I should know? please reply.

Vi from January 01, 2017

Hey Dinithi, thanks for your comment! A good spot to start would be to go through a Year 9 text book as that'll get you up to speed with potential topics that may appear in the exam. Some theorems that would be useful to know would be Pythagoras Theorem and being confident with linear equations.

Amal john January 23, 2017

I've sat the nsw test and failed and I've sat partially selctive and I aced it I don't know what to expect of the Victorian test though I need answers thank you

Minu De Silva January 28, 2017

Do you think that tuition classes are worth the money for the selective school exams or would studying help you get there? I prefer self study but I am a bit confused on where to go. Since when I do classes I don't understand them very well. Please reply. Year 8, going for Nossal or something similar. Thanks.

heet February 23, 2017

Hi I am currently preparing for the Selective High School Scholarship test for Glenunga International High School in SA. I have done as many preparations as I can, but there are still a few days left and I'm wondering what to do. Thanks

Mukil Kaarthick April 08, 2017

Hi, my name is Mukil and im currently living in singapore. My family holds an Australian PR and will be migrating to melbourne very soon. My parents have applied for the selective entrance examination. I don't really know anything about the Australian exams or the syllabus so i need your help to prepare for the test.

Mina April 26, 2017

Hi, I'm currently in year 9 and am applying for year 10 in Mac.Rob. I'm really stressed out about the test especially because I tried the Verbal Reasoning practice test and scored about 32/60, which I know is very low. How much do you think, on average, one should get out of 60 in each of the test to get accepted? Also do you have any extra/different tips or know anything about the year 10 entrance exam? Your help is much appreciated.

Vi from May 11, 2017

Hi Mina, my general rule of thumb is that 85% and above is generally competitive so that's what you should aim for. Applying this to the score of 60, you're looking to aim to get at least 51 questions correct.

Anmol May 30, 2017

Hi Vi, I'm weighing out between preparation for selective school entrance tests and the entrance for John Monash science school. Could you please offer some advice on the difference in the test expectation and how to best prepare for it. Is tutoring centres The real solution Thanks in advance

Dinithee June 09, 2017

Hello Vi, my name is Dinithee; I am currently preparing for the year 9 scholarship exam, for Macrob, on the 17 of June and I have wondered on how to get a superior in all the exams. Is there a certain mark to get a superior for all six exams ? I also was thinking on how much superiors would I need to pass this exam and get into Macrob? Kind Regards; Dinithee B.

Atriya August 05, 2017

Hi I am Atriya 13 years old. I can totally relate. I also moved from Singapore. I thought i was good enough but i failed my tests to get scholarships. Now i am trying to get into Nossal in Melbourne. Try buying year 9 or 10 books from the book stores around you and sharpen your maths skills. I particularly suck at English so read the newspaper and write essays with good vocab. Also read books in your spare time instead of playing games or watching TV. Good luck! P.s wish me luck too!

Layla August 10, 2017

Hi Vi, I am a Year 8 student and i didn't get to do the exam this year and i want to do it next year. Can you please tell me what i should study for (the Year 10 entrance test), as the test will be different to the Year 9 entrance test. Thanks and please reply, Layla

Ryan October 29, 2017

Hi Vi, I am currently in year 7 and am doing the year 8 selective entry exam next year. I just wanted to ask if Essentials year 9 maths book is better than Understanding maths Year 9 ? Or which one did you use for your exam? Thanks

Vi from November 23, 2017

Hi Ryan, I can't comment on the brand of text book but be sure to get a current one and one that supports the curriculum. Each brand would be differ in their approach and it would be up to you to select one that best suits your needs. Kind regards, Vi

Ovi January 19, 2018

Hi Vi, I'm a Year 8 student in Melbourne and I am going for the entrance exam this year. I've tried the practice tests and found out that Reading Comprehension was the hardest for me as find it difficult to manage my time with the questions on this test. Is there any strategy to improve on Reading Comprehension? What types of books would you recommend? Thanks

Vi from February 15, 2018

Hi Ovi, our courses in reading comprehension cover strategies. You can find them here:

Hugo March 08, 2018

I prefer self study as well, too bad my parents make me go to the Melbourne high Saturday tuition classes. But with self study you don't have homework to do so you can use that time FOR BETTER STUDY RATHER THAN EASY TIME WASTING HOMEWORK. Yea so self study is better in my eyes.

Hannah April 07, 2018

Hi Viv, I am a year 8 in Melbourne and I'm going for the entrance exam this June. I have been studying many math basics for year 8 and done some trigonometry. However, I'm still not sure exactly what I should study. I'm very stressed and would really appreciate it if you could give me some tips and some study information.

Fionaa J April 09, 2018

Hi, I’m writing for the year 10 MacRob entry. How much harder do you think is this exam? Do you know anyone who did the year 10 entry and got in? If you do, please let me know how to prepare myself in the most efficient way x

jen May 02, 2018

yes, its really important to go to a tuition i used to thought that self study was good as well but now i regret not going earlier as there are many things that you don't know what to learn about.

Samuel Carter May 05, 2018

Hi, I am applying for Melbourne High School in 2019 (Yr. 9). I scored low on the Verbal Reasoning (28/60) and hence brought me to the belief that I may not be intellectual enough for MHS. Any tips for verbal reasoning, primarily, based on my score. I am also looking for a thrilling book that could improve my vocabulary for the exam, any ideas?

Ahmed May 26, 2018

Hello, I would really want to know how I should prepare for the Melbourne High School exam test. I would really want advice for the English side of things.

Vi from May 28, 2018

For a book, I'd suggest anything from the Harry Potter range (you can get them at the library) for narrative writing.

Vi from May 29, 2018

Hey Ahmed, I'd suggest checking out these blog posts for Writing Expression for the Melbourne High School test: I'd also check out the high ranking essays here: so that you can get an idea of what standard of writing scores well for selective exams for schools like Melbourne High. Hope this helps!

jasmine June 10, 2018

Hello, I have the entry exam next Saturday (6 days from now) and i'm not really prepared at all. I know i should've been studying months ago but I've been way to caught up with homework and karate. Excuses aside, do you have any tips for me on how I can study effectively in this short period of time? Also in terms of maths what should i be studying?

Vi from June 13, 2018

Hi Jasmine, Sure - with the short time frame before the Victorian Selective Schools Test, I'd suggest going through this youtube playlist that I've organise here specifically for the exam:

Rashdhaan July 18, 2018

How should I study to improve. What books do you recommend or studying methods. By the way I'm year 7 trying to get into Melbourne High for 2020.

Rakshana Rajesh September 30, 2018

I have heard from many people that you need atleast 3-4 superiors to get in.

Abigail Puszkar March 03, 2019

Hello, I am sitting the test in a couple of months, for a year nine selective school (hopefully Suzanne Cory). I was wondering if you had any advice on what to study leading up to the test. I have borrowed some year 9 math books from my school library, Is there any certain types of math books you recommend. Thanks!

Anonymous April 10, 2019

Hi Vi, I'm preparing for the Macrob exam that I will take next year. What methods should I use to improve my english until then. Tips or tricks that you used? Anonymous

Rosh April 23, 2019

I do self study and I think tutuion would be better. I mean if it helps you do tution. Sometimes when I do self study I don't know what to do or Google isn't explaining it right.

Jovi Simon April 26, 2019

Hi, I'm a year 8 student who will be doing the test in a few months. Do you have any tips to follow while doing the exam? (e.g. coming back to certain questions, etc.) Thanks, Jovi

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