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How to prepare for the exam

Preparation checklist

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Exam format

The exam takes approximately three hours to complete.

The exam comprises of a series of tests including multiple choice questions and written tasks:

  • Reasoning – Reading (35 mins)
  • Reasoning – Mathematics (30 mins)
  • Short break (20 mins)
  • General ability – Verbal (30 mins)
  • General ability – Quantitative (30 mins)
  • Short break (5 mins)
  • Writing (40 mins)

Reasoning tasks in Reading and Mathematics assess a student’s ability to use their life and academic knowledge and skills and apply them to problems and tasks using the information provided in the task.

General ability tasks assess a student’s ability to learn in each of the tested areas by allowing the student to demonstrate their higher order thinking and problem-solving skills.

The writing test will comprise of two tasks. 

The exam is designed to challenge candidates.

Answer booklet

Candidates must record all their answers to the exam in their supplied answer booklet.

For the reasoning and general ability tests, candidates will shade in their answer for each of the multiple-choice questions. It is important that candidates follow the instructions on the day, to ensure their answers can be read by machine scanners.

Exam strategies

The entrance exam is designed to measure aptitude for problem-solving, reasoning, creative thinking, comprehension, interpretation and applying known concepts to situations. These skills can be developed over time through exposure to a culture of learning, by being immersed in a variety of age-appropriate and engaging stimuli; and by being encouraged to think deeply and freely discuss their learning. The required knowledge in any section will not exceed that found in the Year 8 curriculum. 

It is imperative that the candidate manages their time well during the exam. Before sitting the exam, they should be aware of the tasks they will be expected to complete within a given time frame. It is unwise to spend too much time on any question that is particularly troublesome. If the candidate finds themselves stuck on one question, they may want to make an informed guess and come back to the question at the end if there is time.

Common questions

Some general tips for parents and carers looking to prepare their child for admission into a selective entry school:

  • Provide your child with lots of opportunities to learn and try new things.
  • Make sure your child has things to do that they find challenging, as well as things they like and can do easily.
  • Encourage your child to participate in a broad range of educational and recreational activities.
  • Support your child with both their successes and their failures.
  • Try not to push or place undue pressure on your child.

Sample questions

There is no need for your child to practice or revise for the exam.

However, it can be a good idea to prepare your child for the kinds of questions they will see in the exam. We have created a set of sample questions that you can download to familiarise your child with the style and format of the exam questions.

Please note that the questions are not necessarily reflective of the difficulty of the exam.

Download sample questions

Special arrangements

Accessibility arrangements

Special arrangements for the examination (e.g. wheelchair access, materials for visually impaired candidates) may be organised for candidates where required. Requests for special arrangements must be made by Friday 3 May 2024 in the application portal.

Once you have submitted your application for the exam, in the portal you will be able to access the 'special arrangements' form. To request arrangements, complete the form, provide relevant evidence by photographing or scanning documentation and upload to the portal. The ACER support team will contact you to advise you of the status of the request or if further information is required.

Requests to sit the exam interstate or overseas, or on an alternative date

There are two categories of candidates who may be eligible to sit the exam interstate or overseas, or on an alternative date:

  • candidates who are eligible to apply for entry into a Victorian Selective Entry High School who are currently living and studying interstate or overseas may be eligible to sit the exam interstate or overseas
  • candidates may be eligible to sit the exam interstate or overseas, or on an alternative date, if they are enrolled in a Victorian school but at the time of the exam:
    • are on an overseas exchange program, or
    • are representing Australia for an official duty (sporting, academic, military or cultural), or
    • have a parent/carer who has been required to work interstate or overseas.

Candidates must provide suitable evidence from the exchange program, official organising body or workplace.

Requests to sit the exam remotely or on an alternative date must be made by Friday 3 May 2024 in the application portal. 

Religious reasons preventing attendance at examination

If your child is unable to sit the examination on Saturday 15 June 2024 for religious reasons, you must apply for special arrangements in the application portal by Friday 3 May 2024.

As the parent or carer of the candidate, you must provide evidence to verify the claim that your child is not able to sit the examination for religious reasons, such as a supporting statement from a religious leader or a community referee.

If this claim is accepted, your child will be able to undertake the examination on a designated alternative date.

Special arrangement deadlines

Applications for special arrangements must be received by Friday 3 May 2024.

Requests for special arrangements following this date cannot be accommodated.

Parents must disclose relevant information about their child's medical condition/s and/or disability that could affect safety or performance during the test, could cause disruption to the test, or may require a life-saving response. This information must be submitted using the ‘Special Arrangements’ tab in the application portal.

Tips for parents and carers, helping your child prepare

Here are some ways that you can help your child feel prepared and calm in advance of the exam:

  • ensure they have a good night’s sleep
  • don’t place unnecessary pressure to perform on them; it may create anxiety and affect their results
  • try and stay as relaxed as possible to help them relax
  • make sure that you both have realistic expectations of their exam performance prior to sitting the exam.

It is not unusual for candidates to only answer half the questions correctly and many do not finish.

The exam is designed to determine high-ability and high-achieving students and are therefore designed in such a way that not all candidates may finish all of the questions, so you and your child should not panic if that is the case.

Advice from students regarding Selective Entry High Schools

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Victoria and pay respect to the ongoing living cultures of First Peoples.

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