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.

(1) ACER aka Australian Council for Educational Research

They are one of the largest test paper preparers and their style is very much on ‘thinking’ skills. Their questions are worded in a way that students have to think about / formulate the question and then solve it. They’re very big on patterns and there’s often a ‘missing’ component that students need to figure out before they can solve the question. Usually their tests (it varies by school) are composed of:

For secondary entry level:

  • Written expression - 25 minutes
  • Humanities - Comprehension and Interpretation - 40 minutes - this is essentially a reading comprehension test using non-fiction texts (it doesn’t require you to learn and recall information about humanities such as ’what period did the Egyptians live in?")
  • Mathematics - 40 minutes
  • Written Expression - 25 minutes

For primary school level:

  • Reading and Viewing - 30 minutes - again, this is a reading comprehension test.
  • Mathematics - 30 minutes
  • Writing test with 2 short responses required - 40 minutes.

(2) Edutest

A long running test paper provider and according to students who have sat the test, compared to ACER, they have more ‘straightforward tests’ that require less problem solving and the wording of their questions is simpler to follow. Their scholarship/selective school test is usually composed of (excluding JMSS and Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences):

  • Verbal reasoning - 30 minutes
  • Numerical reasoning - 30 minutes
  • Reading comprehension - 30 minutes
  • Mathematics - 30 minutes
  • Written expression - 15 minutes

They also offer an online practice test: http://www.edutest.com.au/Edutest/LoginCustomer.asp

(3) Academic Assessment Services - formerly Robert Allwell and Associates

There’s not much about this exam/test writer as they don’t publicise their papers or make them available. However, their website (http://www.academicassessment.com.au/parents/test-preparation/) states that they test, like the others:

  • Abstract reasoning + problem solving - including verbal, mathematical (i.e. numerical), figural and spatial (that’s just abstract reasoning) - 40 to 45 minutes
  • Mathematics - both in achievement and reasoning (kind of like numerical reasoning) - 40 to 45 minutes
  • Reading comprehension - 40 to 45 minutes
  • Written Expression - 25 minutes (in 2015 - they had a argumentative writing piece as their scholarship exam piece)

Are their any major differences in their testing styles?

There are some minor differences in what each provider tests and how they write their questions. However, on the whole, I don’t believe there’s a significant difference to be concerned about because something like abstract reasoning with ACER and abstract reasoning with Academic Assessment Services will still be abstract reasoning (it’s just written in a different way) - kind of like when you read a newspaper article from the Herald Sun and the Age on the same topic - it’s the same topic but might be written different (same content though!).

There is a slight difference in terms of mathematics. ACER’s mathematics tests difficult problems (requiring problem solving abilities and more like numerical reasoning) but very simple maths (think basic arithmetic) while Edutest’s maths is more straightforward.

How can you best prepare for their styles?

If you’re wanting to prepare for the selective school and scholarship test, the key is to get a firm grasp on the subject matter (not the testing body). Focus on the subject tested (e.g. abstract reasoning, numerical reasoning, mathematics, writing) and on your problem solving skills. That’s the most effective way to prepare for your exam regardless of who is preparing your test.

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


Private Schools in Sydney and NSW Offering Scholarships & What’s Tested November 25, 2015

[…] For the test maker, to see what they will likely test in the scholarship exam (e.g. written expression, abstract reasoning, humanities, reading comprehension) and a summary of each area, go this this post “Who prepares selective school and scholarship papers?” […]

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