The Selective High School Placement Test is an extremely important exam undertaken by Year 6 students all around NSW each year, designed to measure student ability and provide valuable opportunities for students to enter prospective high schools.
The exam itself consists of 4 parts: a 20-minute writing test and three 40-minute multiple-choice tests focused on the key areas of Reading (45 questions), Mathematics (40 questions) and General Ability (60 questions).
Understanding the format of the exam, as well as the number of questions that need to be answered in designated timeframes is essential to ensuring that your child finishes the exam on time. As a general guide, each Reading question should take 30 seconds excluding reading the passages, each Mathematics question should take 1 minute, and each GA question should take 40 seconds to complete.
The best way to prepare for the Selective Test is through a consistent study habit of doing sample papers, whether that be from specialised online websites, directly from the NSW Department of Education website or from tuition centres (The Brain). Engaging in a lot of practice papers is vital to helping students optimise the pace at which they work.
Looking at the Writing section more specifically, students are given a stimulus which they must incorporate into their answer effectively. The stimulus could either be an image, a statement, a heading or a question. A specific textual form may be asked, for example persuasive writing. Practice and engagement with different stimuli online and textual forms will be crucial to achieving well.
The Reading section requires students to read short passages and then answer multiple-choice questions testing their understanding of the text. It is recommended students look at the questions before reading the text so they know what information they are looking for, and to constantly refer back to the text as they are answering the questions to ensure they are choosing the best possible answers. Comprehension skills can be enhanced through comprehension-based exams online or in dedicated Excel books, and reading short stories.
As for the Mathematics section, students must be familiar with shapes and areas, dealing with coordinates, the foundations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, volumes and 3D shapes, as well as patterns.
Finally, for GA, students will excel if they are confident in recognising relationships between words, letters and numbers, as well as pattern sequences. A tip for understanding complicated questions with lots of information or where you need to rearrange letters would be to write out important details, visualising on paper rather than mentally.
The key is to not overthink the answer! Usually, the first answer you get is the correct one.
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