Victorian Selective Schools Test Yr 9 - Ultimate Test Prep Guide for Parents (2023 Update)

Fact: 70% Will Miss Out on a Selective School Offer. Will your child get high scores to get into a Selective School like Melb High, MacRob, Nossal or Suzanne Cory?

What is the Victorian Selective Schools Test & How to Prepare Your Child for It?

The Victorian Selective High School Entrance Exam is a competitive 5-part test that decides whether your child will get into one of the state’s 4 prestigious public selective schools: Melbourne High, The MacRobertson Girls High School, Suzanne Cory and Nossal.

Before 2023, the test was written by Edutest. From 2023 onwards, the test is written by ACER.

What does this massive change mean?

One of the most important changes stated on their website is that the knowledge tested will not exceed that found in the Year 8 curriculum.

But... and this is a big means that your existing knowledge should be deep.

It means being able to analyze and work with your existing knowledge in detailed and thorough ways. It means being able to use your existing knowledge in sophisticated ways to solve problems and gain deeper understanding.

Why selective schools?

It is long perceived that selective schools provide students with excellent education without the exorbitant fees normally found in private grammar schools.

Selective schools are public schools. There is $0 tuition fee but the a school may ask for a voluntary contribution which you pay if you want to. These usually range from $500 - $2000.

As a former MacRobertson Girls High School student, I can say that the school is life-changing. My friends who went to the school have become surgeons, doctors, dentists and lawyers.

So more importantly, how can your child get into one of these selective schools and how can YOU help set them up for a secure and successful future?

The answer is simple. To get into Melbourne High, MacRobertson Girls' High School, Suzanne Cory and Nossal, your child needs to ace the Victorian Selective Schools Entrance Exam held around July each year.

To help your child gain a school offer, you should get help for your child to prepare for the test.

With over 3,000 students trying to get a school spot – the competition is fierce. When so much is on the line, it makes sense to get help.

Here are the scores of a past student who missed out and following that, scores of a student who got a school offer:

You can see that sometimes, the difference between getting a spot and missing out is by getting an “average” in just one subject. EVERY part of the test counts – you can’t just expect superior maths skills to get you through. The whole test counts.

Also, you can’t rely on your child’s school scores to get a free pass into the school.

Just because your child gets good marks at school doesn’t mean that they’ll score well on the test. School marks can differ wildly and an “A” with one teacher could be a “C” for another.

Past exam candidates have relied on their school marks only to end up disappointed when they get the rejection letter.

You need expert test preparation and Exam Success gives you that.

What’s in the Victorian selective school test (test format, number of questions and time limit)?

The Victorian Selective Schools Entrance Exam has 5 parts. It is prepared by ACER and the 6 parts along with their description (including estimated time limits and number of questions per test *) are shown below:

General Ability - Verbal

Number of questions: 50 multiple-choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 30 minutes
Time per question* ~ 36 seconds

General ability - Verbal is largely about pattern detection using words and language. The language doesn’t need to be English, sometimes; verbal reasoning questions are about decoding a code written in some alien language. Other possible verbal reasoning questions that could appear in the exam are:

  • Odd word out.
  • Word that has the closest meaning to another word.
  • Adding or removing a letter to make a different word.
  • Logical consequence based on a statement.
  • If & and statements.

Because of its heavy reliance on words, those with a wider vocabulary range (this means knowing how the word is spelled and what it means) may find verbal reasoning easier compared to those with a limited vocabulary range.


Number of questions: 1 writing prompt
What’s the time limit*? 30 minutes
Time per question* ~ 30 minutes

Your child will be asked to write an essay based on a prompt.

Typically, in competitive high school entrance exams, we see generally narrative writing, persuasive or discussion writing. However, the prompt may be open to other genres and styles such as advice sheet.

It's important to make sure that your child understands the differences in styles.

For narrative writing, your child will be tested on their ability to come up with a story that is related to the prompt and communicate that story. This demands more than the ability of your child to recall grammar rules and know the basics. They need to use the basics in a way where they can communicate and tell a story. They need to extend their application of the basics to enhance their expression. They need to write a story that progresses in order and have a beginning, main event and ending.

For persuasive writing, one of the most important things for your child to do is to select a stance or position. They then need to persuade the reader to agree with their stance. Like creative writing, at this level, it is expected that your child will know basic grammar and spelling and the focus here would be on how well they can communicate. This includes writing according to the genre (not confusing it with informative or discussion writing) and writing according to the prompt.

Reasoning - Reading

Number of questions: 50 multiple-choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 30 minutes
Time per question* ~ 36 seconds

Students are asked to read or review a variety of media from non-fiction texts like interviews and articles to fiction texts like narratives. Students are asked to answer questions based on texts presented.

General ability - Quantitative

Number of questions: 50 multiple-choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 30 minutes
Time per question* ~ 36 seconds

General ability - Quantitative is not too dissimilar from numerical reasoning which is all about solving problems that have to do with numbers. Your child may be asked to detect the pattern in a sequence of numbers, select a number that should go in a sequence and more. Usually, there are also worded problems like “If a person is 2 times another person’s age now, how old will they be in 10 years time”. There are strategies your child can learn to help them answer these types of questions quickly and accurately.

Reasoning - Maths

Number of questions: 50 multiple-choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 30 minutes
Time per question* ~ 36 seconds

ACER tests focus on mathematical reasoning and this means being able to use mathematics to reason and solve problems. The knowledge required is stated to not exceed that of the Year 8 curriculum. However, many students in the past have reported that ACER mathematics is hard!

You will unlikely encounter a straight-forward question asking you:

  • 5 squared = ?

But instead, you might get a question that asks you:

  • How much floor space is required for an office where each person requires at least 1 square metre and the number of people in the office has decreased due to working-for-home arrangements by 50% per cent from its original employee count of 50.

The difficulty is in deciding what mathematics to use!

﹡ The number of questions and time limit have been estimated. 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 number of questions.

How can your child get TOP 10% scores (and get a school offer)?

Many parents ask me this question.

For writing, it’s about getting practice and feedback.

In my experience, sometimes students have missed out on a high writing score because the ordering of their writing was confusing or they used too many ‘fancy’ words that weren’t needed in the story. This leads to “average” marks (even if you write clear sentences with perfect spelling and punctuation).

Once this was fixed up (through feedback), their writing transformed from “average” to “superior” and they got into a selective school (and some even got offered scholarships!).

But feedback shouldn’t be done by anyone. Through Expert Writing Insights, we use a 52-point scoring tool to provide your child with feedback on their writing and whether it is competitive or not. Here’s an example of Expert Writing Insights being used on an essay.

For multiple-choice questions, it’s about practice (again) and filling up knowledge gaps and creating strategies to help your child cope with different question and deal with them in a time-effective way. These strategies are available in my online courses.

Below, I’m giving you 7 key strategies for all parts of scholarship and selective school tests. Watch the video now:

Make the most of your child’s one chance – get quality feedback and preparation with our programs for Victorian selective school…

Here's test preparation designed for your child's success

Reasoning to Reach for Exam Success (for Year 9 entry)

Author's Score (ATAR or IELTS): 96.04

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
How to Write a Creative Piece in Under 15 Minutes (for Year 9 entry)

Author's Score (ATAR or IELTS): 96.04

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
How to Write an Argumentative Piece in Under 15 Minutes (for Year 9 entry)

Author's Score (ATAR or IELTS): 96.04

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See answers to frequently asked questions by parents:

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 $19 per month for an individual course or $39 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.

How do we get more practice worksheets to work on? The videos are helpful but we need more practice material to practice under time constrraints [sic].

As a minimum, per course there are 10 questions x 10 checkpoints = 100 questions (some courses/checkpoints have more). The final checkpoints (Checkpoint 11 / 12) is the practice exam which has for the Year 7 exams, approximately 30-45 questions depending on the course and for Year 9, this is 50-65 questions depending on the course. The course should provide all the practice questions you require in order to prepare effectively for the exam.Parents don't often realise that too many practice questions is not a good thing because students are more likely to skim over the question and 'do it' and opposed to understanding the logic more deeply. Understanding the logic leads to Exam Success!I've seen this problem happen a lot where parents buy all this practice material and become confused and stressed not knowing where to start! Focus on quality of practice questions over quantity and your child will be less stressed, more focused and better prepared for the exam. It's about studying smarter not harder!

If I wish to purchase whole package, how much time (approx.) should it take for my 13yr old to complete all the units?

If you have the time for example, 6 months to spare, I'd recommend 3.5 hours each weekend. Each course has 12 checkpoints and there are 7 courses altogether (84 checkpoints - approximately 84+ hours of exam preparation. If you have 3 months to the time of the exam, I'd recommend doing a checkpoint per day (if doing the full package of 7 courses). Some students say it takes on average 37 hours to complete one course (for 7 courses that would be 210 hours) so potentially, your child could do the course full time during the summer holiday period and beyond.

If we complete certain units but want to go back to previous units, can we do that? How long are the videos available to us? Can they be downloaded?

Yes - that's what we wanted as students often have to reinforce their knowledge. You can revisit the unit whenever you like. It's like having the ultimate text book in video format and you can flip ahead or back whenever you need. Access is granted for a period of six months. If you need an extension it is $19 per month for an individual course or $39 per month to have your whole package extended per month.No the videos cannot be downloaded, everything is available to access on the site.

Is there a discount if we want to buy more than 2 packages? If I plan to buy all packages, it comes up to almost $700/- which is quite pricey

There are packages available that provides savings.

Individual packages are there as sometimes, students may only need to polish up on one area and this provides them with that polishing up.

We price our products based on the work involved to prepare them and we put in alot of effort as shown by our results and reviews from students and parents. When you think about it, we are value for money compared to other providers as:

Hendersons charge around $180 - $270 for a 1-day workshop on 1 subject only. Ours is $150 and students have access for six months AND they can revisit whenever they need.

James An's selective trial test course cost around $1090 for four subjects over a 10-week term (Herald Sun 2013). Exam Success' full package is $449 which includes +3 more subject but also $641 LESS expensive than James An.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald article, "Mr Mysore said he had spent about $3000 to help prepare his son, who went to coaching for four hours a week, for the selective exam." (Herald Sun 2013). Exam Success' course is less than 1/3 of the cost and doing the full package (7 courses) over 6 months would take around 3.5 hours per week.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the teacher. I've heard stories where students have a good teacher at a tuition school and when they don't they don't really take much in.

At Exam Success, we make sure that what your child is watching is effective so that they get the best learning possible and preparation for their exam.

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