This article is adapted from a thread created on the ATAR Notes Forums. You can find the original thread hereIt is based on specific student experiences (the authors’) alone, and should be taken as a reflection of those personal experiences rather than blanket advice; student experiences and information may differ.


Hi everyone! We wrote the selective high school entrance examination in 2020 and decided to formulate this guide that offers insight about the stressful processes involved in the entrance into selective schools.

The Verbal Reasoning Subtest

“This test assesses the ability to think and reason using words and language. Vocabulary, word relationships, coding, classification and deduction are assessed.”

Verbal reasoning, the first test of the day! Comprised of 60 questions and you are limited to a time of 30 minutes to complete it. You are not expected to complete the test, but you should ideally complete 40 – 45 questions without blindly guessing. Roughly 20% of the test assesses your language reasoning, 40% on word relationships and the other 40% on logical and deductive reasoning.

The test was moderately difficult, but seemingly easier than mathematics and numerical reasoning. Hendersons offered fairly accurate verbal reasoning exams to a certain extent so it may be worth purchasing a mock from them. Usually you don’t really need to know the word definitions, I mean you do but you don’t. See, just read the question and use elimination. For example if they ask an antonym for filibuster, and the options are hesitate, postpone, withdraw, adjourn and sustain, you would pick sustain because all the other words have similar meanings.

As well as the aforementioned tactic for approaching vocabulary questions, having memorised word roots, prefixes and suffixes will help immensely. Anagrams (unjumble a word then find out which category it fits) can be solved by looking for potential prefixes, suffixes and word roots. Or alternatively jot down as many synonyms or words that fit a certain category in the options, and solve the anagram. Anagrams require a lot of practice to get good at. Write down the alphabet when solving questions about a sequence of alphabetical letters, and look at the amount of jumps it took to get to the next letter.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

Note sometimes there are two alphabetical sequences in one sequence (e.g., 1, 3, 2, 6, 3, 9 where every second letter is a set in the first sequence). And rebus puzzles can be cracked by using trial and error. For the questions about rebus puzzles they will often present students with 2 rebus puzzles in one question and ask what pair of words are included in the above puzzles. Also when solving syllogisms (look at the checklist below for example) draw a Venn diagram. When approaching lengthy worded problems read the question first so you know what you are looking for, and then write down notes as you begin reading.

Remember they only announce two certain time increments (15 minutes left and 5 minutes left), they won’t tell you when you have a minute left so remember to fill that answer sheet before the time is over. Many students make the mistake of not filling the answer sheet on verbal reasoning since it’s the first test and they aren’t aware that they don’t give out reminders on the 1 minute mark. Don’t make that easily avoidable mistake. Below is a list of content that past students encountered in the verbal reasoning subtest.

Content Descriptors

Logical Reasoning:

Logical deduction:

• Seating arrangements – circular, hexagonal, rectangular tables and lines (e.g., If X sits next to Y, where does Z sit… etc.)
• Ordering (objects, heights, speeds, etc.) from smallest to largest (exampleexample)
• Finding two statements that together prove (example)
• Syllogisms (solving with Venn diagrams) (example)

• Conversion, obversion, and contraposition (you don’t have to know this but it will aid your understanding of syllogisms) (click hereand here)

• Judgements based on information given (questions like: which option is X likely to pick? Or what option should X pick?) (example)
• Categorising characteristic, features, accessories allocation questions (example)
• Family tree (find out how a person is related to a person)
• Direction and location problems (example)

Word, letter, number, and symbol relationships:

• Sequences and series (involving letters, numbers and symbols)
• Analogies (e,g., Breakfast is to morning as dinner is to _____)
• Foreign Languages (example)
• Coding and decoding (alphabetical letters to numerals, back to front etc.) (example)
• Anagrams (example)
• Rebus puzzles
• Shape logic (example)

• See shapes within shapes and identify their common features

• Word wheel logical games (example)

Language Reasoning:


• Synonyms
• Antonyms
• Classification (odd word out)


• Proverbs and idioms

Word origins (example):

• Suffixes
• Prefixes
• Word roots

Sentence formation:

• Sentence arrangement (unjumbling words to form sentence) (example , example)
• Selecting words that will correctly finish a sentence (e.g., which word correctly finishes the sentence?)

The Numerical Reasoning Subtest

“This test assesses the ability to think and reason using numbers. Series, matrices, arithmetical reasoning and deduction are assessed.”

Numerical is probably one of the hardest tests, you cannot really prepare for it. There are 50 questions to be completed in 30 minutes. 50% of the test were patterns and the other half were lengthy logical worded problems. Unlike maths, numerical wasn’t really focused on curriculum or content knowledge, it required applications of various operations (+, -, ÷, ×) logically. You had to think outside the box, sometimes patterns clicked to you, sometimes they didn’t. Having good mental arithmetic or vedic maths will help a lot. However, you shouldn’t focus your studying primarily on numerical reasoning due to the unpredictable nature of it.

Content Descriptors

Logical and Arithmetical Reasoning:

Number Relationships:

• Magic Squares
• Number sequences

• This includes but is not limited to: Fibonacci, arithmetic, geometric, second sequences, prime numbers, square numbers, cubed numbers etc. You may have to think beyond this in the examination.

• Matrices (puzzles in a square)
• Other puzzles placed in shapes such as triangles, circles, hexagons, stars etc.
• Find the odd one out given a set of numbers based on the properties of the number (prime, square, cube, even, Fibonacci, triangular etc.) or based on whether it follows the sequential rule (exampleexample)
• Know how to find the nth term of an arithmetic and geometric sequence
• Finishing off a sequence (e.g., the third, fourth, and fifth numbers are 1, 3, 5. Find the product of all the first 8 numbers.)

Worded Problems:

• Inverse variation (proportion) (example)
• A lot of ratio problems
• Speed/time (speed of watercrafts upstream and downstream as well)
• Probability worded problems
• Direction and location problems (example)
• Average (mean) (if the average of 5 people is X, one person is added and made the average Y, what is the average of the extra person etc.)
• Percentages, discounts, profit, loss, fraction worded problems
• Best value (which of the following costs are cheapest, $10/kg, $0.05/g etc.)
• Simultaneous equations worded problems
• Area, volume worded problems (example)
• Worded problems on sum of consecutive numbers
• Time and timezone problems (given time difference)
• Age worded problems (example)
• Rearranging sets in multiples (example)

Data Interpretation (example):

• Pie graphs
• Bar graphs
• Table charts
• Line graphs

The Reading Comprehension Subtest

“This test assesses the capacity to read and interpret meaning from written passages, as well as correct, complete and punctuate sentences.”

Reading comprehension was arguably the easiest subtest of the Victorian Selective entrance exam. The passages weren’t too lengthy and they weren’t that difficult to interpret. If you’re as lucky as the 2020 candidates, they may number the lines for each extract and might even direct you to the line where the information is found to answer a certain question. However due to the absence of difficulty in this test it makes it 100% more competitive than the other subtests, making it difficult to separate other students when marking. The difference between a superior and above average cut off mark could even be 1 mark for this test.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

If you have a story to read that’s split in paragraphs, the last sentence/first sentence often contains the main point (see: TEEL) and the middle are specifics. Picking the right answer is the process of elimination -> elimination and analysis for the most correct answer. Read the questions first, then skim to find the answer in the passage. Before reading through the given written passages, it is advised to read through the questions relating to the written passage so that you are aware of what to look out for in the passage. I also recommend skimming the questions as well as the possible options (A, B, C, D) which will help you filter out the main points of the passage faster.

Content Descriptors

English Language:

Grammar, punctuation and spelling:

• Sentence improvement (fixing up a sentence, in terms of grammar, tone etc.)
• Finding the correct way to spell a word

Syntax and expression:

• Change of voice or changing the clauses of a sentence or changing the order of a sentence (example)
• Change of speech (direct to indirect etc.)

Figurative Language:

• Oxymoron
• Metaphor
• Simile
• Hyperbole
• Personification
• Onomatopoeia
• Synecdoche
• Metonymy
• Alliteration
• Assonance
• Consonance
• Paradox
• Dissonance
• Idioms and proverbs


Language (questions like, what is the language of this text?):

• Colloquial
• Informal
• Formal
• Slang
• Vulgar
• Jargon
• Argot
• Vernacular
• Poetry metrical lines


Visual stimuli:

• Comic
• Caricature
• Meme


• Expository
• Descriptions
• Narratives
• Persuasive
• Articles
• Editorials
• Memoir
• Poetry

The Mathematics Subtest

“This test assesses year-level appropriate mathematical knowledge (quoted by the SEU however over the years it has been known to be unreasonably harsh) Numbers, measurement, space and data are assessed.”

Mathematics was the subtest where most students tended to struggle on. It comprised of 60 questions with a time limit of 30 minutes. You don’t need to answer all questions without blindly guessing to attain a superior for this exam. A raw score of 35/60 may be high enough to get a superior. The questions in the mathematics subtest can be solved systematically, whereas numerical assessed your ability to reason with numbers in a logical approach. If you have your year 10 maths under your belt you should do well on this exam.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

The content list below may seem like a long list, but if you dedicate enough time into studying for it, it’s definitely manageable. Also note sometimes it’s easier substituting the options when answering the questions, or solving by trial and error. And especially for mathematics, don’t spend too much time on one question, and when blindly guessing consider look-alike options (whether they are look-alike because they share similar factors, properties etc.) Usually one of the look-alike options will be correct.

Remember, don’t be overwhelmed by the questions presented in the maths exam as well. If you struggle, chances are there are a lot of other students struggling as well.

Content Descriptors

Numbers and algebra:

Financial Maths:

• Simple interest
• Compound interest
• Loan repayment
• Contribution of money
• Depreciation

Scientific notation and set builder notation:

• Notations such as R, Z, N, Q, P (R=real numbers, Z=integers, N=natural numbers, Q=rational numbers, P=irrational numbers)
• Union and intersection (∪ / ∩) (or / and)
• Elements (∈)
• Scientific notation (know how to express each number in sci note./standard form etc.)


• Basic logarithm such as log3 27=3
• Conversion between bases (e.g., decimal to binary etc.)


• Vertex form
• General form
• Discriminator
• Sketching and identifying important features (x/y intercept, vertex/turning point)
• Finding the turning point from just equation (-b/2a, f(-b/2a))


• Expand (apply algebraic identities)
• Factorise (know your shortcuts)
• Solve for pronumeral
• Complete the square


• Factor and remainder theorem (questions like which is not a factor of <insert algebraic expression>)
• Function notation (brief understanding how to sketch polynomials, parabola etc.)
• Find the degree of a polynomial
• Factorise, expand and solve

Linear and non linear relationships:

• Simultaneous equations (when two equations intersect) – (substitution and elimination)
• Midpoints
• Equations of perpendicular and parallel lines
• Distance formula (distance between two coordinates)
• Inverse and direct proportion and ratios/rates
• Inequalities (compound, quadratic, absolute value, linear)
• Know how to graph basic quadratics, linear equations and inequalities
• Know how to solve basic cubic equations (can easily solve by just subbing the options)

Surds and roots:

• Multiply and divide surds
• Add and subtract surds
• Order surds (largest to smallest etc.)
• Simplify surds
• Convert surds/roots into exponents (eg.2=21/2)
• Rationalise the denominator

Algebraic identities (click here):

• Exponential rules (a^m * a^n=a^(m+n), aman=a(m-n), (a^m)^n=a(mn), etc..) & fractional indices
• Difference of squares a^2-b^2=(a+b)(a-b)
• Difference of cubes a^3-b^3=(a-b)(a^2+ab+b^2)
• Memorise expansions of expressions such as (a+b)^2, (a-b)^2, etc.

Measurement and geometry:

Triangle similarities and congruence:

• Triangle proportionality theorem
• Midsegment theorem
• Angle bisector theorem

Circle theorems:

• Angle and chord properties of circles
• Cyclic quadrilaterals
• Inscribed triangles
• Tangents
• General theorems: click here


• Solve right-angled problems using Pythagoras’ Theorem and trigonometry
• Angle of elevation and depression
• SOH CAH TOA (Sine/sin, Cosine/cos, Tangent/tan)
• Exact values Sin(90°)=1, Cos(60°)=0.5 etc.

Units of measurement:

• Convert metric units of speed, capacity, volume and area
• Solve problems involving volume, surface area, area, perimeter
• Solve distance and time problems
• Basic kinematics (find time when two objects meet opp/same direction)

Geometric Properties:

• Sum of interior and exterior angles
• Number of diagonals in a polygon
• Angles in transversal and parallel lines (co interior, corresponding, alternate)
• Quadrilateral properties

Statistics and probability:

Sets and data:

• Interquartile range
• Mean
• Median
• Mode

Collection of data:

• Venn diagram
• Contingency table
• Bar graphs
• Line graphs
• Box plots
• Stem and leaf plots


• Conditional probability
• Card, dice and coin probability
• Tree diagrams
• Experiments with and without replacement
• Permutations and combinations
• Selections involving identical items

Selection Categories (Year 9 Entry)

5% Rule

The 5% rule is strictly a limit on how many students the 4 selective high schools can take from a school. This rule means that strictly only 5% of a child’s current Year 8 cohort at their school (on the year of sitting the examination) can be accepted, assuming all students reach an acceptable standard for all sections of the examination. A lot of people who attend competitive schools (schools where the amount of students applying surpass a total of 5% of the cohort) may still miss out with 4 superiors, whereas a student who is the only one applying may get a place with just 2 superiors.

In cases where a student was the only one applying and theoretically was the “best” in a sample size of 1, it is just a matter of seeing if they thought their scores were considered enough. For instance, a school that has a year 8 cohort of 100 people, only 5 students could get in, that’s assuming both students pass the threshold scores of getting in. No students could get in from that school as well if they didn’t pass the requirements. Students currently enrolled in an interstate or overseas school are treated as discrete school cohorts, with an average Year 8 enrolment figure used to determine the number of places available.

Equity Consideration:

This category is only eligible for applicants who have parents with either a Commonwealth Health Care Card or a Pension Card, and who qualify for income support benefits. It is also eligible for students who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. Note, if you have a classmate that is applying for equity consideration at your school, it does not make it harder for you to gain entry, they are two completely separate categories, with 10% of enrolments made through equity consideration, and 85% of enrolments are based on the 5% rule.

Principal’s Discretion Category:

Students who were affected by the 5% rule or missed out by 5 marks of the last student are granted the opportunity to apply for the principal’s discretion category. Applicants who are offered this are required to create an application portfolio outlining the student’s co-curricular and academic achievements, and also detailing the reasons as to why they would like to attend the selective school. Interviews are then shortlisted from these applications, and offers are distributed after.

Test Mentality and Philosophy


Do some research into your preferred schools. It is great that all of the applicants have put in the effort and work ethic to get into these schools, however gaining entry into one of these schools isn’t reflective of your success in the later years. It’s much more essential to find a school where you can fit in and have the strongest chance for success. Too many people focus on the VCE rankings when picking their schools and nothing else. If you want to go to X school because it is respected for its strong academic reputation, that’s great, but you should also make sure it is a place that will allow you to be yourself and pursue your interests.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

Furthermore, the VCE rankings and the alumni records reflect historical prestige much more than they actually reflect the quality of education, teaching, opportunities, and environment. Obviously, schools like Melbourne High and MacRob outperform other public high schools because the latter schools have not existed to just select top students from the whole state. All schools go by the same curriculum, attending a school ranked high is not going to magically teach you better or mean that you will have learned more after you finish a given class. And it’s much more motivating to study for something, if you know why you are studying for it.

Practise tests. Do as many as possible, any is fine. Do not worry about high score or low score, real exam is different anyway. You want to get used to timing, pacing, concentration, types of questions. Remember to look where you get questions wrong, note down questions you consistently get wrong as soon as you finish a test, and revise that particular topic, not just for one hour but thoroughly. You want to make sure you know how to pace the 30 minutes provided. Do all the practice you can do at the questions you couldn’t do.

Competing against mates. In life, you must compete for the things you want. This is natural; don’t let it get to you.

Burnout (last week is break week). Although you may have the tendency to cram in information, this is inefficient and will most likely take a turn on the last week. This week is the opportunity for you to relax, and maintain a well rested and healthy mind. You may briefly revise the concepts you have been studying for, but do not cram in information. “A time limit on functioning” is literally how humans work. There’s no point in trying to cram information into your head when you’ve been working hard at something for a long time.

Your brain and body need breaks, so take some sporadically when you’re studying or revising through concepts if you have reached a burnout point or if it’s the last week. Once you have 1 week left, you know what you know, if you struggle on the exam use this test as a learning experience so you understand what areas you need to improve on next time.

How to study for selective school entrance exam


Staying focused on your own paper. Don’t get distracted by other students. Work at your own pace, looking at other students makes you nervous about the pace you are completing the test at. Everyone works at a different pace, everyone answers/skips different questions.

Skipping questions is fine, so is guessing. You want to make sure that you don’t spend too much time on a question. Move on (guess or come back to it later) before too much precious time gets wasted, remember you want to get your answer sheet filled by the end of the exam (whether the answers are guessed or not).


Anxiety over result; your score is already set in stone. You finished, so give yourself some compassion. You worked for this, and just the fact that you finished is applaudable. Whether or not you did well, don’t beat yourself up about the exam, you have one month or two to get yourself ready for those results, and use this time wisely, don’t waste it wallowing in self pity about whether or not you performed high enough.

Just remember, this exam is in no way reflective of your success or your self worth, it doesn’t decide whether or not you will be able to pursue your interests. School in essence exists as a stepping stone for people to find out what version of themselves they want to become. The school that selects you, or if you weren’t fortunate enough to get in, the alternative schools you choose to attend doesn’t decide if you will get a good ATAR, or get into the uni course you want. What happens once you get or don’t get into a selective high school is purely based on your willingness to learn.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

Just realise this isn’t the end of opportunities, at some point, you have to move on and look at the future and the opportunities it holds. There’s SEAL, Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences (year 11 and 12 entry), John Monash (year 10, 11 entry), MacRob (year 10,11 entry) , MHS (year 10, 11 entry), SCHS (year 10, 11 entry), NHS (year 10, 11 entry). Even if you don’t get into any of these, it still isn’t the end of the world. Whether you get in or not, try to focus on what’s next and use all the opportunities you are given.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the exam taken place?
Exam is usually conducted the Saturday after the Queen’s Birthday weekend, and applications open in February.

Where can I get past papers?
The commercial provider for the entrance exam is Edutest. Past papers are never divulged, and Edutest does not supply any specific details about the content or format of the exams. However, the DEET has sample material on their website, click here.

Are the practice exams from the government accurate?
Definitely not! The sample material provided by the Department of Education is unquestionably easier than the real deal.

How many applicants are there?
The select entry unit actually made this information available in the COVID-Safe Plan. Attendance based on previous year is as follows:
2021: 4,102 (expected attendance)
2020: 3,289
2019: 3,666
2018: 3,538

How should I list my preferences?
Order of preference matters. If a student qualifies for more than one school they will only be offered into a place of their highest preference. However, if they get an offer for a lower preference, whether or not they choose to accept/decline that offer they will still remain eligible for a later round offer for a place at a higher preference. Therefore, applicants should place their most preferred school as their number 1.

How many superiors do I need to get in?
Depends on the conditions of your application (5% rule, equity) and the schools you are applying for. As aforementioned, there are three selection categories.  As such, it is not possible to determine which student is likely to receive a place by comparing parent reports. Students are ranked in order of mark and selected by this order and in accordance with the selection criterion (5% rule, PD, equity).

Additionally, there are people who miss out with 2 superiors, and other people get the same report as them. This may be due to the three selection categories (5%, PD, equity) or maybe because the person still scored higher than the other (other person may have scraped through top 11%, whereas other person could be top 1%).

How many applicants are there each year? And how many offers are made?
Approximately 3,500 students are expected to complete the test. Between the four schools, there are approximately 1,000 places on offer. Places are presented to students in order of merit and in order of preference based on the availability of places and in accordance with the three selection categories. If one school has 300 places on offer and the student who has listed this school as a preference is ranked 290 but is impacted by quota, they will not get a place. Therefore, it is not as straightforward as simply selecting the top 300 students in this case.

I get As in my school reports, does this mean I will do well on the exam?
All the ability subtests involved in the Victorian Selective Schools entrance examination are not a subject that students will study as a part of the Victorian curriculum, and the achievement subtests are often found to be far beyond what the average year 8 is expected to know. Hence, it is important not to just rely on report cards issued by the candidate’s current school.

Do we get working out paper?
Students are only permitted to use the back of the A4 answer sheet as working out paper for each subtest. If it’s worth mentioning, all the tests are different colours. In 2020 the test papers were as follows: yellow paper was verbal reasoning, green paper was numerical, pink paper was reading and blue paper was mathematics.

Year 10 Entry/PD Tips

Unlike the year 9 entrance to these schools, entry to years 10 to 12 is handled directly by the individual selective entry high schools and selection is not governed by the Department of Education but rather on the basis of the principal’s discretion. 5% rule isn’t part of the selection policy for entry into year 10. You can use these tips if you get offered to apply for principal’s discretion for year 9 entry.

Entrance into year 10 and 12 is divided into 3 assessments:
1. The application portfolio
2. The Edutest examination
3. The interview (if shortlisted)

The Application Portfolio:

Arguably one of the most important aspects for the selection criteria at these schools. This part determines whether or not candidates will be shortlisted for an interview. The primary focus for entry into year 10 is the candidate’s involvement, skills and level of achievement in co-curricular activities. The selection panel creates a shortlist of students they wish to interview. This shortlist is made after reading the applicants’ written application forms. Particular attention is given to the construction and information given in the individual’s personal statement.

The first step of the year 10 entry includes the written application. This is crucial to being offered a spot at a selective school for year 10 entry and is the easiest one, as they’re only looking for your achievements not only in academics but in extra-curricular activities.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

Initially, a selective high school student for year 10 must be an all-rounder. Ways to become an all-rounder include:

→ joining clubs such as debating and homework clubs
→ learning a musical instrument
→ becoming a captain for your house as leadership is important for being selected
→ participating in inter school sports
→ playing a sport such as a cricket, tennis or swimming
→ participating in community service such as beach clean-ups and helping at your local sporting clubs academic achievements: ICAS or AMC and maintaining a good school report

Most people don’t pay much heed to the application, but it can be the difference between getting in and getting rejected. Generally people who have little experience with applications don’t like talking themselves up and stating their strengths. Being capable at writing good applications is an important life skill. Similar to the interview, find what the school is looking for and adapt.

For year 9 it’s all about marks and superiors so the application for most people is more of an afterthought. For year 10 it’s all about co-curriculars so make sure you mention all of your co-curriculars and how you have thrived in them. An impressive and well written application, along with good enough marks on the test should land you an interview. The application tends to be extremely underrated, but it is the easiest part of the whole process, yet it holds high importance in the interview.

The Examination:

All selective entry high schools use Edutest to run the testing for them. Testing follows the exact same format as the year 9 selective entry high schools examination does. Many students believe that the testing for year 10 entry is easier than year 9. You can use the content descriptors above to aid your studying.

The interview:

On the basis of the application portfolio, students will be selected to progress to this stage. It is only after this stage that the test results are reviewed.

Some practice interview questions include:

→ Tell me about yourself?
→ Tell me about your school?
→ What are your achievements?
→ Why should we select you into this school?
→ What are your hobbies?
→ What do you want to become when you graduate out of school?
→ Who do you look up to?
→ Why do you want to go to this school?
→ What makes you stand out the most comparing to other applicants?
→ What are your three favourite things about yourself?
→ What are the three things you’d like to improve upon?
→ What do you do when you’re having a hard time in a subject?
→ How do you like to spend your free time?
→ What does your weekend look like?
→ How have you solved the conflict between students?
→ What is your favourite subject?
→ How can you make students work together professionally, even though they are shown to be disliking one another?
→ Do you have any questions for us?
→ How did you find online learning?
→ Did the news sources inform the public positively or negatively towards the public?
→ How did you adapt to the COVID-19 situation?

Interview tips:

First impression is extremely important. it is recommended to wear your school uniforms, in order to look as formal as possible, though a polo shirt will suffice. When answering these questions be confident. Do not state fake stuff that is not believable. Be yourself as everyone has a different life and has interesting moments.

Be yourself, but be your best self, what it means is that show them all your strengths. When they ask the obvious questions such as, “Tell me about yourself?”, what you say is almost irrelevant. They already know this from your application so it’s all about how you say it and your mannerisms. A little bit of arrogance can go a long way here. Don’t expect the interview to be exactly what you read above, expect more questions that were made for you instead of just general questions you could ask anyone.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

The interview is a guided interview meaning that as the name implies, the interviewer will guide you throughout almost all of if not the entire interview. These kinds of interviews are in general much easier, especially when compared to non-guided interviews. You shouldn’t have to worry about these, but you may be given one curveball question that seems like it belongs in an non-guided interview so be ready to improvise. Never script an interview even if it’s online, nearly anybody can see it’s scripted and it makes you look terrible. What you should do is go back to your application and find 5 or 6 of points/reasons for why you should be offered a spot instead of the next person who comes in for an interview. Create some points that you want to convey to the interviewers. Write down these 5 or 6 points and if your interview is online, it’s great to have those notes next to you while you are doing the interview.

In every interview without fail the interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. This is your time to shine and a chance to really impress them, but I see some many people just say no and end the interview. This is a chance to look at your notes (the 5 or 6 points), and check what you haven’t already conveyed to the interviewers and quickly formulate a question to ask them related to that point. Show you’ve done some research and ask a question like, “Can I get some more information about x club?” Let’s say I hadn’t conveyed my love of history to the interviewers, by asking about the history club I am showing off both my prior research and my love of history, hitting two birds with one stone. This question will not only show off your research on the school, but helps to get the interviewers off their script and have a real conversation. These real conversations are what they are going to remember, which is why your question tends to be important.

If this year’s interview is in any way indicative of future interviews, expect some real-life, problem solving questions that will require some background knowledge of current affairs. They are likely going to ask government-related, COVID questions so be ready to come up with something on the spot. If you are reading this post-COVID then just make sure to pay attention to the news and stay informed.

Another big problem I’ve seen people make is what they do when they need time to formulate an answer. Avoid just sitting there, umming and arring. If you are stuck, it’s okay to ask for a bit of time to think through the question and this gives you a free 10 seconds to think of a good answer. If the answer is good enough they usually won’t even remember that you asked for more time to think, but generally only use this as a last resort if you are stuck as they may take note of your pause.

How to study for selective school entrance exam

If you are at a point where you have a lot of experience with interviews you can utilize a strategy where you already start thinking of the answer before they have finished the questions. From my experience the questions are generally a bit longer then they need to, giving you time to think. Then you can answer the question immediately, but please don’t do this if you are inexperienced with interviews because if you don’t listen to the question properly and then give a random answer that doesn’t fit the question you are going to look pretty silly.

The interviewers want to hear that you want to go for leadership, participate in clubs, do community work and play in sports teams. In year 10 and 11 they are looking for people to help diversify the school and whilst you still are going to need good marks in the test you can get in a lot easier if you say what they want to hear. The test becomes almost null and void the second you start that interview, so don’t worry about the test at all once you are offered an interview. If you are an avid debater this is your lucky day because this interview was basically made for you. The ability to quickly create an articulate response which displays impressive vocabulary is an incredible skill to have for interviews and life, so make sure you utilize it.

If you aren’t so confident or have little experience with interviews, don’t fret as you still have as much of a chance as anyone to ace this interview. If confidence is your problem the one thing I alway recommend is fake it until you make it. At some point you will transition from being an unconfident person pretending to be confident to a confident person just being yourself. For those with little interview experience don’t be worried. The interviewers aren’t expecting people with a lot of interview experience under their belt so it’s alright if you make a few mistakes, but work on minimizing them.

Having nerves before the interview is perfectly normal, but try to refrain from shaking, fidgeting or tapping your feet as this sets bad habits for later interviews. Make sure you are looking at the camera during an online interview or at the interviewer (it’s ok to stare at the camera, but don’t stare too much at the interviewer in a face to face interview). The one thing you want to achieve is starting a casual conversation so just act how you would regularly act in a conversation in terms of body language. Anyone can do well in these interviews, it’s just how you prepare yourself that counts. In the end just have fun with it and value this experience no matter the outcome.

Remember: the information included in this article are based solely on the authors’ personal experiences, and these will differ from student to student. Join us on the ATAR Notes Forums in our dedicated Selective Schools Admissions Tests section for more discussion and resources: