IGNITE Program (ACER HAST) Entrance Exam in 2021

Here's what every parent should know in order to prepare their child for this competitive selective school entry exam.


Have you ever noticed that your child is quick at grasping new concepts, diverse in their interests and maybe even bored or frustrated because their homework is too easy?

If so, congratulations. You might be raising an intellectually gifted kid who is a perfect candidate for the IGNITE program.

Learn how IGNITE can benefit your child’s future, what to expect from the IGNITE program’s ACER HAST exam, and what you can do to help your child prepare for their challenging test day.


IGNITE Program Basics: What Is It & How Does It Work

IGNITE is a specialised accelerated learning program for students in Grades 8-10 offered by public schools in South Australia. It’s designed for children with high abilities who perform well ahead of their peers and are not sufficiently challenged by the regular curriculum.

The IGNITE selected entry program offers your talented child flexibility to adjust their senior school years as they see fit.

Learners have two options:

  1. Follow a compacted course and complete Grades 8-10 in two years instead of three. Your child can then choose whether they want to finish Years 11-12 in two or three years and take university-level subjects in their final year.
  2. Follow an enrichment companion course. In this case, students complete Grades 8-10 at the usual pace but they learn subjects in more detail compared to their peers. They still can accelerate in the subjects where they excel.

That said, academic challenge is not the only goal of selected accelerated learning programs. By gaining entry into IGNITE, your child reaps many more benefits that go beyond the academic curriculum. They get a unique chance to:

  • learn in a nurturing environment and collaborate with peers of similar abilities and interests
  • master higher-order skills and competencies, including intercultural and ethical understanding, independence, and social awareness
  • develop a lifelong passion for learning.

Gaining entry into IGNITE is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide your child with a high-quality education under the guidance of top instructors.

Unfortunately, this opportunity doesn't come easy...

What Does It Take To Get Into IGNITE Program In 2021?

There are three selective schools in the Adelaide area that deliver the IGNITE program:

  • The Heights School (~6o spots)
  • Glenunga International High School (~100 spots)
  • Aberfoyle Park High School (~50 spots)

Brighton Secondary School offers an enrichment program under the name Think Bright, which is similar to IGNITE. But Think Bright students don’t have the choice of accelerating their learning but rather dive deeper into the curriculum through extension classes and extracurricular enrichment activities.

All applicants for the IGNITE program have to sit a challenging four-part IGNITE exam, held in February every year, followed by an interview. The entrance test is open to students in Year 7 and exceptionally mature Year 6 students for Year 8 entry.

There are about 200 spots available, and hundreds of intelligent students apply every year, which means the competition is fierce. Only the best of the best get through.

To add to the challenge, your child can sit an IGNITE exam only once. If they take it in Year 6 and fail, there’s no possibility of retaking the test in Year 7. You only get the one chance.

What’s In The IGNITE Exam (Test Format, Number Of Questions, Time Limit)

All three participating schools use the ACER HAST exam as a first part of the selection process.

Our students who have sat ACER HAST say that the exam is challenging. It's designed to spot exceptionally gifted and talented kids, so the questions are one or two grades higher in difficulty compared to your child's current year.

The ACER HAST consists of four sections: reading comprehension, mathematical reasoning, abstract reasoning, written expression. Here's an outline of each subtest along with the number of questions and the time limit.


Reading Comprehension


Number of questions: 40 multiple-choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 45 minutes
Time per question* ~ 67 seconds

Reading comprehension tests your child’s ability to work with large chunks of information. Your child will be presented with a variety of texts – from non-fiction magazine articles to poetry – and asked to answer multiple-choice questions based on what they’ve read.

Students face lots of difficulties here. They not only need to display extensive vocabulary knowledge and understand words in context but also know how to read quickly, make inferences, and recognise tricky answer options.

Our reading comprehension course teaches students essential strategies and time-saving tricks to face even the toughest questions with success and confidence. You can take a sneak peek into test-like sample questions and step-by-step video answers here.

Mathematical Reasoning


Number of questions: 30 multiple choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 40 minutes
Time per question* ~ 80 seconds

Mathematical reasoning is not a regular Maths assessment your child takes at school. This part will test your child’s logical thinking and how well they can reason using mathematical concepts. The questions are complex and require your child to figure out what calculations to formulate to arrive at the final answer.

The challenge here is to figure out HOW to solve the problem, what mathematical operators are needed, and do the necessary calculations – all in less than ~80 seconds per question.

Fortunately, there are shortcuts and tricks to solve mathematical reasoning problems quickly and accurately.

Abstract Reasoning


Number of questions: 30 multiple choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 30 minutes
Time per question* ~ 60 seconds

In this part, your child will have to solve visual puzzles and problems. Abstract reasoning questions generally involve patterns, shapes, and colors and (often chaotic at first glance) diagrams.

Many students struggle with abstract reasoning because these questions seem alien and are not taught in school. However, with the right guidance, students can be taught how to critically think through abstract reasoning questions, learn about the types of questions and how to strategically approach them to ultimately solve them.
This is what we teach our students in the abstract reasoning course, which is chock-full of practical tips and techniques to crack abstract reasoning questions like a pro.

Written Expression


Number of questions: 1 prompt
What’s the time limit*? 25 minutes
Time per question* ~ 25 minutes

In this part, your child will have to write a piece based on a given prompt. The type of writing required changes from year to year. It may include (but is not limited to): persuasive essay, a narrative/creative essay, opinion piece, descriptive writing, etc.

This subtest is scored not only based on your child’s ability to craft clear sentences (with correct grammar and punctuation) but also on their ideas and content of their essays, how well they can organize their thoughts in writing, and how effectively they use the language.

It seems a lot to accomplish in 25 minutes and because of this, we have developed time-tested strategies that help our students write top-notch essays from scratch within the required timeframe (or less). Want to know how? Join our writing improvement program and learn all the secrets successful students use to create A+ essays.

*The number of questions and time limit have been estimated from the ACER HAST Candidate Information Bulletin and other publicly available information. Please note that the authoritative body can change the number of questions and time limits from year to year so please refer to their websites for the most up to date information. Time per question is calculated by taking the time limit divided by the number of questions.

How You Can Help Your Child Succeed On The IGNITE Exam: 3 Must-Know Tips

You can't sit an exam for your child, but, as a parent, you're probably wondering what you can do to maximise your child's IGNITE test results.

Wonder no more! Here are three tips every parent must know to help their child succeed.

Don’t Rush Into The Test

Since the IGNITE program exam is open to students in Year 6, many parents decide to register their kids for the test as soon as possible. But here's the catch - the IGNITE exam can be taken only once. It means that your child gets only one chance to ace their test.

Plus, they'll compete with talented applicants who had an extra year to prepare for the test.

That's why we recommend parents to not be in a hurry and wait to sit the test in Year 7.

Improve on Weak Areas & Continue to Build Strengths

The final score is broken down into subtests. Your child needs to show exceptional performance on all parts of the test to be more confident of getting an IGNITE offer.

Knowledge is just a part of the exam. Even if your child excels at a particular subject, they need to learn exam strategy, practice their time management, and work on their "test-finishing" skills.

Don't Underestimate Good Preparation

In theory, competitive exams are supposed to test the child's innate aptitude and intellectual ability. Which is why test providers discourage parents from getting their kids any preparation before the test day.

In practice, all the areas tested in the exam can be trained and improved. Students perform better under time pressure if they know what to expect and what kind of questions they will have to deal with.

Most of your child's competitors will come to the test prepared, and some kids start their test prep even two years before they sit the IGNITE exam. It would be unfair to leave your child's success to the whim of destiny.

We've combined 8+ years of experience in the competitive exam industry with our personal academic achievements to bring you the best study materials ever.

With the most up-to-date instructional content, our secret proprietary exam strategies, test-like practice questions, and a strong focus on problem-solving, your child will be not only ultra-prepared for their test day but also gain valuable skills for future academic success.

Choose the way you want your child to prep below.


Practice Writing Package 3 (Essays only)

For students who want to improve their writing skills. Write essays and get scoring & feedback from experts. In this package, your child will access:

The cycle for this writing club is 31 days.

Note well that this plan does not include tutor-led writing club sessions or masterclass videos. The 5 individual and personalised scoring & video feedback is available only while your writing club is active and expire (do not carry over) once your writing club subscription ends.

What happens after you purchase?

First, check your email for log in details. We’ll get in touch with you to complete your exam details and set up your writing club dashboard with prompts that are suitable for your exam. Once your writing club has been activated, you’ll complete an essay and request feedback. When you get your feedback, we'll add masterclass videos to address the weaknesses identified. And then, you continue on writing the next prompt, incorporating all the learning you’ve gained to improve your score each time!

$AU137.50
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
$AU137.50 per cycle
Practice Writing Package 2 (Essays + Videos)

Want to know if your child's writing will pass or fail? Get expert video feedback on their writing while they learn from masterclass videos.

Give them access to:

The cycle for this writing club is 31 days.

Note well that this plan does not include live online tutor-led writing club sessions

What happens after you purchase?

First, check your email for log in details. We’ll get in touch with you to complete your exam details and set up your writing club dashboard with prompts that are suitable for your exam. Once your writing club has been activated, you’ll complete an essay and request feedback. When you get your feedback, we'll add masterclass videos to address the weaknesses identified. And then, you continue on writing the next prompt, incorporating all the learning you’ve gained to improve your score each time!

$AU129.80
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
$AU129.80 per cycle
Expert Video Feedback Package

Want to know if your child's writing will pass or fail? Get expert video feedback on their writing while they learn from masterclass videos.

Your child will be able to request on 5 of their essays:

  • Scoring using our 52-point scoring system that pinpoints 5 areas where they’re losing marks in a scoring panel.
  • Expert video feedback that explains how they can improve on the two major weaknesses in their writing.

You can see an example of scoring and expert video feedback on a real essay here.

In addition, your child will have unlimited access to a library of 96 masterclass videos (viewable online via the website) while their writing club is active. A full listing of available masterclass videos can be found here.

The cycle for this writing club is 31 days.

Note well that this plan does not include live online tutor-led writing club sessions

What happens after you purchase?

First, check your email for log in details. We’ll get in touch with you to complete your exam details and set up your writing club dashboard with prompts that are suitable for your exam. Once your writing club has been activated, you’ll complete an essay and request feedback. When you get your feedback, we'll add masterclass videos to address the weaknesses identified. And then, you continue on writing the next prompt, incorporating all the learning you’ve gained to improve your score each time!

$AU162.80
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
$AU162.80 per cycle
Unlimited Masterclass Videos (Videos only plan)

Learn to write quicker and get higher scores for written expression using strategies, tips and tricks that exam experts have used to help others successfully obtain school entry! In this writing club plan, you get unrestricted and unlimited access online to our library of 96 masterclass videos for 31 days (videos are viewable on the website only and not able to be downloaded).

There are expert created masterclass videos to help you figure out:

  • how long your piece should be (how many words)
  • how to 'show' and not 'tell'
  • how to come up with excellent arguments for persuasive writing
  • how to come up with a story
  • how to relate your story to a prompt

...and more! The full listing of all videos available can be found here: https://www.examsuccess.com.au/writing_club_videos.

This package provides over 24 hours of crucial written expression test guidance (and a saving of $1000 if you had purchased the videos individually) for those sitting writing tests for scholarships, selective schools and NAPLAN.

The cycle for this writing club is 31 days.

Note well that this plan does not include tutor-led writing club sessions or any essay scoring/feedback. You would be responsible for selecting your own masterclass videos to watch (i.e. a tutor doesn't custom select them for you). The unlimited masterclass videos access are available only while your writing club is active and expire (do not carry over) once your writing club subscription ends.

What happens after you purchase?

First, check your email for log in details. We’ll get in touch with you to complete your exam details and activate your writing club. Then you'll be ready to select and watch as many masterclass videos as you wish during the subscription period.

What happens if I need more than 31 days?

You'll be able to extend your writing club at a special price of $28.6 (inclusive of GST) for another 31 days.

$AU58.30
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
$AU28.60 per cycle + $AU29.70 joining fee for first cycle only
Writing Boost Package - 3-Months Access, 15 Essays + Unlimited Videos

For students who have an important exam and seriously need to improve their writing skills. In this package (over a 3 month period), your child can get:

The cycle for this writing club is 93 days (approximately 3 months). I.e. It is active for 3 months from date of activation.

Note well that this plan does not include tutor-led writing club sessions. The 15 individual and personalised scoring & video feedback is available only while your writing club is active and expire (do not carry over) once your writing club subscription ends.

What happens after you purchase?

First, check your email for log in details. We’ll get in touch with you to complete your exam details and set up your writing club dashboard with prompts that are suitable for your exam. Once your writing club has been activated, you’ll complete an essay and request feedback. When you get your feedback, we'll add masterclass videos to address the weaknesses identified. And then, you continue on writing the next prompt, incorporating all the learning you’ve gained to improve your score each time!

$AU437.80
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
$AU437.80 per cycle
Practice Writing Package 1 (Essays + Videos)

Want to know if your child's writing will pass or fail? Get expert video feedback on their writing while they learn from masterclass videos.

Your child gets 240+ minutes of study time to help them ace their exams. Give them access to:

The cycle for this writing club is 31 days.

Note well that this plan does not include live online tutor-led writing club sessions

What happens after you purchase?

First, check your email for log in details. We’ll get in touch with you to complete your exam details and set up your writing club dashboard with prompts that are suitable for your exam. Once your writing club has been activated, you’ll complete an essay and request feedback. When you get your feedback, we'll add masterclass videos to address the weaknesses identified. And then, you continue on writing the next prompt, incorporating all the learning you’ve gained to improve your score each time!

$AU123.20
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
$AU123.20 per cycle

Frequently Asked Questions

See answers to frequently asked questions by parents:

Which package / courses should I select? And why is there maths 7 and maths 9 (but not maths for Grade 8)?

For students who excel in maths, we recommend getting the 5 courses package selecting the following courses: reading, maths 9, abstract reasoning, narrative writing and persuasive and discussion writing.

For students who need some help with mathematics, we recommend getting the 6 courses package and adding in maths 7, to do two maths courses, the Year 7 & Year 9 (starting with the Year 7 course).

There is no maths Grade 8 as the test often examines concepts that are 1-2 years above the current year level and the Grade 9 maths module would cover this (and more).

How does the extension work for courses? I need more than 6 months.

It's great that you're planning ahead. Once you purchase, access is provided for 6 months from the date of purchase. An extension is $20.90 per month for an individual course or $42.90 to have your whole originally purchased course package renewed per month. To get extension access, just extend on the website where you access your course.

Will the courses suit my child?

The courses best suit students who are able to work independently and who can operate a computer. Students who have gained the most from our courses have been students who are able to plan out their time and commit to a regular routine of test preparation.

Do I need to buy anything else with the courses? Should I get more practice test questions?

We believe the courses to be comprehensive and contain a sufficient number of questions to help reinforce strategies learnt. Past students have used the courses solely (i.e. did not have outside tuition) and have been offered spots in selective schools or have received scholarship offers.

Have A Question?

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