April 16, 2021 Nic Rothquel

The 2022 Selective School Test

If you are reading this, it’s likely you have a child preparing for the next selective school exam in 2022 (or if you are that child – hi and welcome!). In this article we will go through what we know about the 2022 selective school test so far and how you can help your child prepare for the state’s most competitive test!

The 2022 Selective School Test will take place in early March of 2022. The exact date has yet to be confirmed, but in 2021 it was on the 11th of March and in 2020 it was on the 12th of March – so we can assume it will be in the second week of March.

The 2022 selective school test is for year 6 students for year 7 entry in 2023. Tests for grades 7-10 to enter in year 8-11 take place later in the year (we recommend you reach out to the school you want to enter to confirm the date with them). The majority of students take the test in year 6 for year 7 entry, so that is what this article will focus on.

The most significant change to the 2022 Selective School test is that for the first time ever, the test will be completely online. As of April 2021 the NSW Government has not provided any further information about the format of the test – but our guess is that students will still need to attend a testing center but instead of completing a paper booklet, they will use laptops to complete the test.

The test is made up of 4 sections:

  • Reading
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Thinking Skills
  • Writing

Here is a brief summary of each section:


The reading test consists of 30 questions and students have 40 minutes to complete it. The questions are based on a diverse range of texts and assess a range of reading skills.

The reading test questions are based on different genres such as non-fiction, fiction, poetry, magazine articles and reports.

These are your standard comprehension style questions, testing student’s ability to read and understand content and choose the most appropriate answer.

Mathematical Reasoning

Formerly ‘Mathematics’ pre-2021, the mathematical reasoning test consists of 35 questions and students have 40 minutes to complete the test. The questions are all multiple choice and students will be asked to select the correct answer from 5 options.

The mathematical reasoning test assesses the student’s ability to apply mathematical understanding and knowledge to problems, with questions drawn from a range of mathematical content areas.

Calculators are not used in the mathematical reasoning test.

Thinking Skills

Formerly ‘General Ability’ pre-2021, the thinking skills test consists of 40 questions and students have 40 minutes to complete the test. The questions are all multiple choice and students will be asked to select the correct answer from 4 options.

The thinking skills test assesses the student’s ability in critical thinking and problem solving. There are a range of different question types in the test from number problems and patterns, to complex word problems that require students to think broadly about issues.


Students will be required to respond to one question – usually a creative or persuasive writing piece. Students will have 30 minutes to complete this test. The test assesses the student’s creativity of ideas and ability to write effectively for a purpose and audience. The test will also assess grammar, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary.

The selective school test is very hard – even for the most advanced students. It is designed to discriminate heavily with less than 20% of students that sit the test gaining entry to a selective school. One of the most challenging things for students to overcome is the time limit: 40 minutes may seem like a lot, but not when you have 40 questions to complete: that is just one minute per question!

For this reason, a comprehensive preparation program is essential for every student.

How to help your child prepare for the 2022 Selective School Exam

There are a number of different ways to help your child prepare for the selective school exam, and choosing the right one is really going to be a personal decision. Given the website you find yourself on, (we specialise in one-on-one selective school tutoring) I think you know which one we feel is the most effective – but we will run through all options available to you.

First up, it is worth highlighting that your child is very unlikely to receive any preparation support from their current school. Teachers have enough on their plate – so it is very rare we hear of classroom teachers being able to help with selective school prep. In addition, the selective school test content does not align with national curriculum standards – as in, the average year 6 student would not be expected to know the content of the test. It is specifically designed for the top 5% of any class – so teachers won’t want to spend time focusing on something that is only valuable for 2 or 3 students.

Preparation option 1: self-paced practice with parental support.

Many parents choose to do it themselves. They purchase a workbook or some practice paper bundles (like the ones we sell here) and let their child go through it at their own pace. When their child gets stuck on a question or they get some wrong, they will work through it with them until they get the right answer.

This is a great way to prepare for the test – but it isn’t going to work for every family. You know your family’s schedule – how much time do you have to invest in this? In addition, this may be limited by parent ability. Please remember, this test is really hard (check out a free sample test here) and it may be too challenging for many to arrive at the answer and be able to convey the reasoning effectively.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the selective school test is essentially a competition; your child is competing against 18000 other students across the state for less than 3000 seats. If the only preparation your child has done is a handful of practice papers with your help, they will be naturally disadvantaged to the student that has been working one-on-one with a tutor since year 3.

Preparation option 2: a classroom style preparation course

This isn’t something we offer, but there are a number of centers offering these group options.

Your child will be in a classroom of similar level peers and work through a structured program, usually with one teacher available to assist with any questions they might have.

The pros of these group classes are usually in their structured program – a good program would have been refined over many years, ideally by qualified educators. The downside is the lack of personal attention and individualisation of the content; if maths is your child’s strength and they struggle with English, then you should be devoting more time to bringing that English ability up to where it needs to be. Group classes are not designed to be tailored to a student’s need.

Preparation option 3: a one-on-one program with an accredited tutor

In case it wasn’t clear, this is what we do and how we have got thousands of students into selective schools over the last 15 years.

There is no greater way of preparing for the selective school exam than matching your child up with an accredited Alchemy tutor and working one-on-one in your home or online in the lead up to the 2022 selective school test.

Every part of our program is personalised around your child’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and will cover every aspect of the test with regular testing involved to monitor progress.

The best part is how easy it all is for you as the parent. Lessons at home or online when they suit you. No shopping around for an experienced tutor – all our selective school tutors go through our unique selective school accreditation so they know exactly what your child needs to do to get in. We offer easy weekly payment after each lesson with no contracts, prepayments or minimums. You can check out more than 2000 5-star reviews from parents here.

Whatever method you choose, we wish you all the best. To get started with an accredited selective school tutor, click here.