The changes to the 2019 and 2020 Selective School Tests, and what it means for your child.

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

Part 1 of a series of blogs we will do to break down the proposed changes to the Selective School Tests and what it means for you and your child. Keep up to date by liking us on Facebook!

If you are the parent of a child preparing entry into a Selective High School and have been keeping track with the news, you will know that there has been talks of a major overhaul of the Selective Test Exam from 2020, and minor changes in the 2019 exam.

The Department of Education has released a 26-page report named “Review of the Selective Education Access”, which can be found here:

To most of us, this document can be lengthy and confusing.

That’s why we will be releasing a series of articles carefully breaking down this report and specifically focusing on what it means for Selective School Test Preparation.

We will tackle issues such as the test format changing to online, what ‘adaptive testing’ is, how the difficulty of the exams will change, and so on!

In this article, we will talk about the first 4 Action Points.

Before we begin, it is important for us to know that this report does not mean that any change is definitely going to happen. This report was simply put together by external researchers to review the Selective Schools Entry process. We do expect the Department of Education to release a full decision sometime around the 2019 Test in March.

This report also is likely to affect the OC Trial Test.


The report finds that there are too few students from disadvantaged and rural backgrounds in Selective schools. There are 3 main actions in response to this:

a. Making Test sites more inclusive of rural regions. This can either be:

- Moving the Test online, or

- Making more Test sites in rural regions, instead of inner Sydney.

b. Equity access schemes. When students face difficulties (such as financial hardship or traumatic experience), tests like the HSC can give them bonus ATAR points. This could be introduced to the Selective School Test, where disadvantaged students could apply for an equity access scheme.

c. School-level practices. While traditionally, schools have not offered a separate course or even practice for the Selective School Test, schools may now offer some practice questions or guidance on this to encourage more students to apply.

What this means for you:

If your child is in a rural region: it will be easier to take the Test because the Test centre will be closer to where you live, or it will be online!

If your child faces special difficulties: you may be eligible for bonus points!

For all students: your school may give you practice papers or lessons on preparing for the Test!


Students with disabilities could be given more attention to ensure that the Test is completely fair. The report suggests either:

a. Introducing a different, adjusted version of the Test specifically for disabled students

b. Considering students for additional scores, similar to bonus ATAR points in the HSC.

These changes will be implemented from 2020.

What this means for you:

If your child has a disability: your will be able to get a different test more suited to their situation, or you may be eligible for bonus points!


The report identified several Selective Schools which are unique, and should have a different selection/assessment based on these needs:

a. Boarding Schools: school principals have suggested that there should be an additional interview process to test students’ resilience and ability to survive in a new environment away from home.

b. Rural Selective Schools: there are a number of Selective Schools which offer a specialist agriculture curriculum (Farrer, Hurlstone and Yanco. NOT James Ruse).

The report suggests adding in an optional interview or portfolio-based assessment for entry into these schools.

The schools likely to be affected by this are:

Hurlstone Agricultural High School (rank 14th in 2018)

Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School (rank 376th in 2018)

Yanco Agricultural High School (rank 317th in 2018)

Aurora College (Virtual High School, rank 35th in 2018)

What this means for you:

If your child wants to attend a Boarding Selective School: your child may be subject to an interview process, as well as a written test.

If your child wants attend an Agricultural High School: your child may be subject to an interview or portfolio-based assessment, as well as written test.


To sum up, the first 3 Action Points address how the Test can change for disadvantaged students:

- Rural Students

Test location will be closer, or Test will be online

- Students Facing Difficulties/Hardships

Bonus points may be given

- Disabled Students

You may get a different test, or bonus points may be given

- Students Enrolling in Boarding or Agricultural Schools

Additional assessments such as interviews and portfolios may be required

- ALL Students

Schools may give better preparation for the Test

Next, we will be going through changes to the Test itself.

This includes things like different weights for the Test Mark vs School Mark, changing the number of extra difficult and challenging questions, making an adaptive test and more. Stay tuned to find out!

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