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 been offered one but am interested in future preparation, read on!

In this post, I’ll talk about how to make your application competitive and what they’re looking for.

1) Remember it is competitive.  Let’s look at the stats.

Melbourne High has 15 discretionary spots and 180 applications.  I’m assuming Macrob is not dissimilar.

2) So… to be competitive you’ve got to stand out.  How?

After helping with students and parents with discretionary applications here are my tips:

In the last 12 months, it would be good if:

  • You’ve participated in AND achieved a high level of something outside of just school or tuition.
  • You’ve involved in something that would help to raise the profile of the school for the better <– IMPORTANT

Here are some examples of extra curricular activities you/your child could be involved in that would be consider outstanding:

  • Awarded Best and Fairest at State Level competition for a particular sport (e.g. softball, AFL, soccer, rowing)
  • Unique involvement into a sport - one of the girls at Macrob was heavily involved in her local sailing club and ended up sailing solo for a long distance.
  • Involvement in singing at a high AMEB level and participation in singing competitions - one of the girls in discretionary category got in solely because of this.  It makes sense, as both MacRob and Melbourne High do winter concerts and other singing type events so having good singers is important.  There’s heaps of people that play piano or violin so they’re not ranked as highly as say uncommon type music for example: singing, double bass, flute, bassoon.  I guess it’s playing musical politics here.
  • One that’s out of the box is the online community.  I met a very impressive boy at a meet up who was busy learning how to use the google API and he was making iphone apps wholly self taught.  Something like that is very impressive and can be measured with github communities through level of contribution to open source code etc…

Regarding the application process.  It usually involves:

  • Personal statement/response
  • Achievements outlined
  • Family association
  • Considerations of Disadvantaged.

To do well, it’s the first 2 that really count with particular emphasis on the achievement outlined.

The other question, I get asked often is how to write a personal response?

To write a great personal response I would:

  • Think it through carefully - it is a reflection on you - it must be intelligent and well thought out.
  • Highlight personal achievement and how you got there
  • How you would specifically contribute to the school.
  • How your values abide by those of the school.
  • How you would essentially enhance the school over an above your competitors (other people writing their applications).

If you need help with the discretionary category of a school application, please feel free to schedule a time to chat with me or ask me a question.



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


Anonymous August 15, 2015

Any examples of this? Need reply ASAP, I can't think of anything. How you would essentially enhance the school over an above your competitors

Trung August 11, 2017

i was wondering if u could help me with my discretionary response for MHS

Monica leong August 14, 2017

How can i arrange time to chat with you Vi? Regards Monica 0403192870

Suni March 28, 2018

Hello, We live in the regional area of QLD and interested to move to Melbourne to give our daughter opportunities at better schools. We are looking for a admission in 2020 and exam to write in 2019. Please advise when do we have to apply for the principal discretionary category and how. She has been a high academic achiever all the year of school and has greater involvement in the community engagement. Kind Regards Suni

Vi from March 28, 2018

Hi Suni, Principal's Discretionary Category is not something you apply for but rather, something you may be offered after completing the Victorian Selective Schools Test. What happens is that everyone sits the common entrance exam in June of each year. Students who don't get in first round but their results are acceptable, may be offered to apply through the Principal's Discretionary Category. At this stage, the selection committee will look for other achievements e.g. sporting, music etc.... The first part is to do well in the Victorian Selective Entrance exam - a 6 part exam comprising narrative writing, persuasive writing, reading comprehension, mathematics, verbal reasoning, and numerical reasoning. There is a course package specifically designed for this type of competitive test - Hope this helps!

Amy June 18, 2018

Hello Vi Thank you for the very informative explaination regarding principal discretion letter. May I ask if my daughter is being offered a PD , would it be possible to get assistance from you in this area ? Thank you

Vansh Jain August 10, 2018

Hi Vi, I need your help for Principal's discretionary category. I have participated in many events such as Science Talent Search, Australian Maths Competition and Premier's Reading Challenge. I also have a couple of certificates for academic progress at my current school and a batting award from my cricket club. Do you think that these are enough to make MHS through principal's discretion? Thanks Vansh

Vi from August 12, 2018

I can't say whether the above mentioned events would get you through MHS as that's something for the principal to decide. What I can say is my own view and something like the Premier's Reading Challenge is usually open to many applicants so it's less likely to be impressive. For the Australian Maths Competition - did you achieve the highest award or a notable award? The key here is to be selective with what you decide to include. Awards at a national level are impressive e.g. national swimming, competing in sports at a national or state level and getting to the finals or winning. A batting award from your cricket club would also be quite interesting but again, it depends on how you phrase it in your response.

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