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;
  • High-level thinking skills are being tested! In maths, it was reported that there were questions that involved data analysis (thinking, not necessarily calculations) and in reading, questions that involved very abstract thinking and the ability to understand more difficult comedic literary devices and very subtle figurative language.
  • More weighting towards literacy over numeracy. It’s been a trend over the past few years that students who score very high in the maths section (sometimes in the top 1%) but slightly above average in writing have not received an offer. Excellent writing appears to be a key selection point. You’re probably worried about these changes.

When I was provided with details of some of the questions that students encountered, I was pretty shocked.


Well… normally, you don’t see this level of analysis or “thinking” tested at school. In fact, for one of the questions, it reminded me of a past data analysis project at work!

The test has changed and it’s a big shake-up.

For the upcoming NSW selective test (where over 13,000 students sit) it will be the 1st major change in 30 years!

It makes sense though - with more competition than ever, the test has to be harder to help schools select students.

So, how can you make sure your child doesn’t enter the test room at a disadvantage when there’s a harder test?

Meet Exam Success’ Thinking Skills Course – a dedicated course designed to help your child deal with the demands of a harder test where thinking skills are crucial for selection.

The course will be partially available on 1 January 2021 and fully completed by 1 February 2021. The course will be developed by a team likely to involve a past Melbourne University scholarship recipient who has a philosophy specialisation (philosophy is all about thinking!), a former State Debating team member and a scientist.

What’s Exam Success’ Thinking Skills Course (NEW)?

Exam Success’ thinking skills course is a NEW course designed to help students succeed under the 2021+ demands of scholarship/selective school tests where critical and creative thinking are key selection areas.

It is a full length course that will cover:

  1. Introduction

  2. Assumptions

  3. Principles & 1st Principles Thinking

  4. Weakest / Strongest Argument

  5. Parallel Reasoning

  6. Flaws in Arguments

  7. Conclusions

  8. Outliers

  9. Figurative Language

  10. Comedic Devices

  11. Thinking About Data (General)

  12. Thinking About Data in Tables (How to Analyse & Interpret)

  13. Thinking About Data in Bar Charts (How to Analyse & Interpret)

  14. Thinking About Data in Line Charts (How to Analyse & Interpret)

  15. Thinking About Data in Pie Charts (How to Analyse & Interpret)

  16. Thinking About Data in Combined Charts (How to Analyse & Interpret)

  17. Graph Trends

  18. Revision & Final Exam

Next: 2020 Course Update - Available to Pre-Order Now!

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