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Selective School Guide

Selective School Guide

Unlocking Excellence – The Ultimate Guide to the NSW Selective School system

Are you looking for a school that supports your child’s special talents? As a parent, you want the best for your child. Let us at Pre Uni College Digital make it easy for you to understand the selective schooling system. We’ve put together a simple guide to Selective High Schools and how to apply, so you have all the important details in one place.

What Makes Selective High Schools Special?

Selective High Schools are designed for students who excel academically and show great potential. These schools bring together bright minds to learn in an environment that challenges and supports them. By grouping students with similar abilities and using specialised teaching methods, Selective High Schools ensure every student reaches their full potential.

Key Details:

4,248 spots are available in Selective High Schools across NSW for Year 7 entry in 2023.There are two types of Selective High Schools: fully selective and partially selective, both located throughout NSW.

Important Dates:

Applications: Open from 9th October 2023 to 20th November 2023.

Selective High School Placement Test: Scheduled for 9th May 2024.

1. Fully Selective High Schools:

    These schools, numbering 21 in NSW, exclusively admit academically gifted students. All classes in these schools are academically selective, providing an environment tailored to meet the needs of high achievers.

    2. Agricultural High Schools:

      With a focus on agricultural studies, there are 4 fully selective agricultural high schools. These schools offer a unique blend of boarding and day positions, emphasizing hands-on exploration of agriculture.

      3. Partially Selective High Schools:

        There are 25 partially selective high schools in NSW, where select classes cater to academically gifted students while others remain non-selective for local students. This model ensures a diverse learning environment while offering specialized education to those who excel.

        4. Aurora College:

          Aurora College extends its reach to rural and remote students, offering Years 7 to 10 selective classes in English, Math, and Science through a virtual high school platform. This initiative provides access to quality education for students in geographically isolated areas.

          Should my child attend a Selective School?

          When weighing the decision of whether to enrol your child in a selective high school, it’s crucial to consider both the advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown:


          Specialised Curriculum: Selective schools offer challenging material taught at an accelerated pace, catering to academically inclined students.

          Academic Environment:These schools foster a strong academic culture, surrounded by peers who prioritize their studies.

          HSC Benefits:Scaling and alignment practices can lead to higher scores in the Higher School Certificate (HSC), opening doors to future academic pursuits.


          Increased Stress: Selective schools can be more competitive, potentially leading to higher stress levels for students.

          Longer Commutes: Selective schools may be located farther from home, requiring longer daily travel times.

          Academic Focus:While academics are prioritised, there may be fewer opportunities for involvement in extracurricular activities.

          Ultimately, the decision to attend a selective school should align with your child’s individual needs and aspirations. If your child is academically inclined and desires a challenging academic environment, a selective school may be beneficial. However, it’s essential to consider the potential challenges and ensure that the school’s focus aligns with your child’s overall educational goals. Additionally, even if attending a selective school isn’t the end goal, the experience of preparing for the Selective Test can still be valuable, providing important skills and insights for future academic endeavors.

          The Application Process

          Application Period: Approximately mid-October to mid-November

          Registration and Application: To be eligible for the exam, students must register and apply within the designated application period.

          School Choices: Students can select up to three schools in order of preference. However, they will only receive an offer from the most highly preferred school that their marks qualify them for.

          Example: If Baulkham Hills High School is listed before James Ruse Agricultural High School and the student’s marks qualify them for James Ruse, they will only receive an offer from Baulkham Hills, as it is their top choice.

          Detailed Application Steps: A comprehensive guide to the application process is available on the Department of Education website.

          Changes to Test Date: Unlike previous years, the 2024 Selective Test will be held on the 9th of May, rather than in mid-March.

          How should I choose which Selective schools to apply for?

          Priority Ranking:List preferred schools in order of priority. You’ll receive an offer from the highest-ranked school you qualify for.

          No Changes Post-Placement: After placement, changes aren’t allowed except in rare cases with documented evidence and approval.

          Individual Considerations: Base choices on your child’s needs and circumstances, including transportation and school-specific requirements.

          Additional Requirements:Some schools may need extra information or fees for boarding placements.

          Financial Aspects: While tuition is typically free, schools may request contributions for resources and activities.

          Make informed decisions to select the best fit for your child’s education and future success.

          What is the Selective School selection process?

          Students are arranged by their academic performance in the placement test to determine their ranking. This ranking is utilized to allocate students to schools based on available vacancies.

          To ensure fair and inclusive access for all high-potential and gifted students, including those from low socio-educational advantage backgrounds, Aboriginal students, rural and remote students, and students with disabilities, the Equity Placement Model is employed.

          In cases where a student has missed the test due to a valid reason, alternative evidence of academic merit will be considered for ranking by the selection committee, who will then make placement decisions based on this reviewed rank.

          What is the Selective High School Placement Test like? 

          The Selective High School Placement Test, introduced in 2021, places a greater emphasis on critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and problem-solving skills. This adjustment is in response to the 2018 Review of Selective Education Access report commissioned by the NSW Department of Education.

          The test, which remains in a paper-based format for 2024, comprises four components:

          Reading (40 minutes, 30 questions, 25% weighting):

          Students are assessed on various reading skills through questions based on a range of texts across different genres such as non-fiction, fiction, poetry, magazine articles, and reports.

          Mathematical Reasoning (40 minutes, 35 questions, 25% weighting):

          This section assesses students’ ability to apply mathematical understanding and knowledge to problem-solving. Questions are multiple-choice and drawn from various mathematical content areas. Calculators are not permitted.

          Thinking Skills (40 minutes, 40 questions, 35% weighting):

          Students demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving abilities through multiple-choice questions, covering a range of question types. No prior knowledge is required for this section.

          Writing (30 minutes, 1 open-response question, 15% weighting):

          In this section, students complete one writing task assessing creativity, effective writing for a specific purpose and audience, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary.

          It’s important for students to familiarise themselves with the sample test ahead of the placement test date to prepare effectively. Multiple-choice tests are marked by computer, while the writing section requires manual assessment.


          The results for the 2024 Selective Test for 2025 entry are anticipated to be released around late-August 2024. In the event that an offer is extended, clear instructions will be provided on how to accept or decline the offer. Typically, there is a two-week window to accept results online. However, in certain cases where results are conveyed via phone or other expedited means, a faster acceptance time may be required.

          It’s important to note that failure to accept the position within the designated timeframe will be considered a declination of the offer. Therefore, prompt action is crucial to secure placement if offered. Make sure to carefully review all provided instructions and adhere to the specified deadlines to ensure a smooth acceptance process.

          What if your child can’t attend their top-choice school?

          If your child doesn’t secure a spot in their preferred school, it can be disappointing, but it’s important to remember that there are plenty of opportunities ahead. Each school offers a unique environment, and students can excel in various settings, including local comprehensive high schools or lower-ranking selective schools. With continued effort, students can thrive regardless of the school’s prestige. Additionally, if desired, there’s always the option to transfer to another selective school later on. So, while it may not be the outcome they hoped for initially, there are still paths to success available.

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