Monday 1 August 2022

2022 Selective and Scholarship Test Preparation

This blog will take the load off the Mathemafix message board by hosting important information about 2022 Selective and Scholarship test preparation. 

21 Aug
The Equity Placement Model.

So, far I don't think there is a lot impact. The impact is only on the few students who are at the border line of entry into the selective schools. The impact is more on the part selective schools and those closer to poor areas of Sydney and mainly for those who want to go to their closest selective schools. It also gives a better chance to those who come from poor areas and wish to travel to the top schools like Sydney Boys, Sydney Girls and North Syd Boys/Girls ...

Some results for 2022 selective test

TS performance was the best among the four components then Maths, Eng and Writing in the order.

20 Aug

This year, they changed the format and parents are no longer allowed to know the scores. Now we only have bands and there is no way to compare students within the year. The bands are wide and there is no arrow to indicate where a student lands in each of the bands. In a sense, the report is similar to ICAS results without the high distinction band (top 1%).

They have also started the Equity Placement Model where socio-economic disadvantaged students are given up to 20% of the places. This year 8.7%of the places have been offered under this new scheme. I have read the info and it looks like they take some places out of available places at each school. Then they place the students normally. Then look at the students who make the reserve list and select the ones who are deemed to be socio-economic disadvantaged (if there is any applying to the school) and give them priority placement into the places reserved for socio-economic disadvantaged students. The mystery is that no one knows how they decide who is a socio-economic disadvantaged student.

They also change the reserve list info and now we do not know the place on the reserve list. They only mention A to F and it looks like students in A - D groups have a high chance of placement.

As they no longer provide the score and only provide the ranking in bands, I generate a score using this formula. I give a score for each area by assigning a band number between 1 and 4 from lowest to highest.

profile = (eng*0.25+math*0.25+ga*0.35+writing*0.15)/4

It is based on the weighting of the areas (ignore school marks) and the max profile will be 1.

It gives a relative idea how a result can be compared even though it is not accurate and cannot differentiate students of similar performance. For example, student A gets Eng (band 4), Maths (band 2), TS (band 3), Writing (band 2) and student B Eng (band 3), Maths (band 2), TS (band 4), Writing (band 2). They have similar performance, right? No. This is because in band 2, one can be on the left 51% and the other on the right at 74%. The SSU has stopped parents from being able to compare results. Only results that have subjects mostly in band 4 are easier to compare to those without many in band 4. 

Look at the following example of 3 students of very similar performance in selective trials and all 3 applied to Fort Street. The set of result for SopR that appears as the weakest is actually the strongest who got straight in! KV1 got on the reserved list and LT1 missed out completely.

As we have over 15500 candidates and only about 4400 selective school places, less than 1/3 of the students will get an offer. So, this means those score only in band 2 (ranked between 51% - 75% of all students for most parts) are unlikely to get a placement). 

13 Aug
The selective result will come out soon. I had a look at the ranking of students on selective trials and the ones who got scholarship interviews and find that it's interesting that even the weak students may get a scholarship from low-ranked private school.

The student near the bottom with a red dot next to his nickname actually gain a scholarship at George River Grammar which is a mid tier private school with fee around 13K per year. We should expect a pretty good set of results.

02 Aug
The 2022 selective test results will come out in the middle of Aug. That's only about 2 weeks from now. I expect a good set of results with all the effort we all put in and the experience from the 2021 selective test effort.

Here are the key dates for parents to oberve.

Mid-August 2022

Placement outcomes expected to be released

August 2022 to May 2023 Parents accept or decline offers
Late-August 2022 Results enquiry due 5 working days after outcomes are released
Late-August/early September 2022 Appeals due 15 working days after placement outcomes are released
Late-August 2022 Reserve lists activated until at least May 2023
October 2022 Appeals outcomes released
14 December 2022 at 3pm Students who have kept offers are removed from reserve lists

Mid-January 2023

Authority to attend letters for entry in 2023 are sent

May 2023 Reserve lists close


24 Apr
Here are some scholarship test results that gain invitations to interviews and some were offered scholarships.

From top tier private schools

 From mid tier private schools


18 Apr
The feedback given by students differe a lot as students are of different levels and they do different contents in Mathemafix. The ones who do a lot of work and covered most of the content in Mathemafix tend to give more positive results. So, what I have here is the averaging of their ratings which does provide a fair picture.

As I go deep into the comments provided by the students, I can see that Cambridge Assessments has adjusted the selective test to be different from the 2021 selective test. This is expected as they would try to make sure it is not too easy for the kids.

I have found the following changes to the 2021 test.

In English reading, they provide a questions that contrast between 2 texts. They also change the sentence cloze to the first sentence of each paragraph and this explores the main idea rather than taking out sentences at random locations (this change is very minor and well covered by contents at Mathemafix on main ideas). I think that all this is minor changes.

In maths, they have made the test a bit harder as the one in 2021 was too easy. Generally, students think Mathemafix covers the maths very well (same as feedback from past years). However, they notice that there was a bit more of Singapore matsh style which is well covered by the hard maths problem solving series and maths challenge year 6-7. I think it's inline with what students do at Mathemafix if they do the hard series. Students will continue to do very well in maths.

The big change they had was in Thinking Skills. Surprisingly, they decide to put more maths reasoning into the paper. This favours the students who do the hard maths problem solving at Mathemafix. So, while students think the TS trials at Mathemafix does not exactly covers the TS part in the selectiev test, the overall TS content (from the boosters and the maths problem solving) covers the TS paper well.

In writing, they again give a recount bordering a simple narrative. So, it is easier than past writing prompts by ACER. Students, who attended the writing class at Mathemafix and paid for professional marking gave a thump up. They think the writing training very helpful as we have gone way beyond the required level. This makes perfect sense as we aim for excellent results in scholarship writing which is a much higher level. And this is confirmed by some of the scholarship test results showing writing was  where the winners got their highest score (even higher than maths!)

08 Mar
Some students have done the 2021 past paper. The raw scores were probably a bit lower than the scaled scores reported by the SSU in the results sent to students last year. So, direct comparison would not be fair.

Three students have been offered scholarship interviews. The red dots identify these students to give some idea the performance of the group.



















17 Sep

It's now the time for year 5 students to start paying attention to writing.

Writing is an area where students really struggle. I find that students tend to have a lot of problems in so many basic areas:

- Punctuation and sentence structure: Students don't know where is the end of a sentence so they have run-on sentences all over the place. This is where they have many clauses in one sentence without using conjunctions to connect them. They also don't know how to us the comma, speech marks (punctuation of dialogues).

- Correct choice of conjunctions to join sentences: Students tend to pick the wrong conjunctions and make the meaning unclear.

- Paragraph: Students often don't know that one paragraph should only contain one main idea. They tend to write their entire text or story in one or two paragraphs!

- Format of a non-fiction paragraph: Students often don't even know the basic structure of a non-fiction paragraph so they write ineffective paragraphs.

To improve basic writing skills in order to move on to write good narratives and persuasive tasks, students should access the following Mathemafix resources

1- Mathemafix's Online Writing Resources (on page QUICK LINKS). This document guides students to how to use all the e-writing resources on the website. This is the map to all important writing resources.

2- The module Punctuation in More ...

3- The essential videos: Adjectives | Adverbs | Participles as verbs and adjectives | Phrases | Adjectival and adverbial clauses | Conjunctions | Use conjunctions to make flowing sentences | Sentence improvement | Sentence construction | Common errors in writing, Text composition skills | Main Idea and Finding Main Idea. They can be found in the module "Writing Workshop".

4- Finally, the most important thing is to write and get feedback. Students should use (1) above to explore all the e-writing modules. Then use the Selective Writing module to practise writing tasks. In this module, parents can help mark the writing of students or pay for professional marking service.

14 Sep
Year 5 students are getting to the final term of year 5. Without such a long lockdown in Sydney, school marks won't be used in the selective application this year. This is good because school marks are very unreliable. The result from 2021 shows that English reading and thinking skills will be most important. Writing also helps a lot. This makes people wonder why a high maths score does not help and whether it's important to do well in maths at all. The answer is not simple.


Maths score is not very important because too many students score too well in maths. But maths takes up about 40% of the thinking skill paper! So, maths is very important and not so important at the same time! Confused? You are not alone.There is an explanation for this.

The maths they put into the maths paper is basic in nature. It is easy and school-type maths. So, most students score very well. The maths in the TS paper is a mix of general knowledge and word problems to explore how students think mathematically. This is the hard-core maths problem solving plus with making a decision based on mathematical calculations. This type of mathematical thinking is almost absent in maths learning at schools until students get to year 8-9. This is why the maths reasoning questions in the TS paper are so hard.

So, students should  do the hard maths challenge series and maths problem-solving series and learn the maths problem solving strategies provided by Mathemafix website.


English reading is so important. It looks clear that the marking favours students who are excellent in either English reading or TS over those who get decent scores across all areas. They might have applied HSC scaling style where it favours those with extremely high scores. Students are troubled by the sentence cloze question type where it's very difficult to put back sentences that have been taken out of a text. Students must be able to predict what the text is about, the structure (organisation) of the text and have the patience to review the whole text before they finally decide what is going where ... This tests the patience of the  students as well as knowledge and skills. Another challenge is poetry which is abstract and demanding in general knowledge and maturity. 

To help students, Mathemafix provides a Sentence Cloze module for students to practise this type of questions. A new series of poetry tests will help students improve comprehension of poetry.


14 Jul

The 2021 selective test results look very good. All the noise about Thinking Skills turns out to be nothing. It's of zero concern and actually TS is probably easier to learn than GA where there is really no good way but to do a lot of GA questions. At least, with TS, one can learn properly. And that's why I have created video lessons and practice tests for students. TS learning also enhances writing and reading.

The scores students get for TS look very good and a couple of students got 100%! It looks like we actually over-prepared for TS. Students were advised to also do the GA as well because it's part of TS visual and mathematical reasoning but many did not. We could have got even better results for TS if all students did GA.

The scores for English looks a lot better than those from ACER time when they gave tricky English. I also see high writing scores among students who were actively working on writing with the Selective Writing module. So, overall, I can see that the number of students getting to top 10 selective schools increases over last year's.

The main point I take out of the 2021 selective test results to help kids improve in 2020 is that we now have much better TS prep for the students. The year 5 students now have access to a comprehensive TS preparation module for year 4 students doing OC test. This prep is almost enough for selective TS level. In addition, they will also use the TS prep for year 6 which is a bit too high but that will help more students to score over 90% for TS in 2022 selective test.

05 Feb
Now is the time for year 5 students to build the foundation. Mathemafix is offering two online Google class to take students to a high level of performance in mathematics and in writing.

The first class is for advanced mathematics. It is designed for students who have completed all year 6 school mathematics. The time is really flexible as students have a whole year to do this Google class from now until Feb 2022.

The second class is about narrative and persuasive writing. There is no requirement before starting this class. Students are supposed to have basic grammar and spelling at year 5 level.  Similar to the maths class, the time is really flexible as students have a whole year to do this Google class from now until Feb 2022. 

One of the most important thing about writing is that students need a marker to review and comment on their works. Mathemafix will provide on-demand marking to allow parents to pay only for each piece of work that they request marking.

03 Jan

In 2022, students will be doing an online selective test. They actually planned an online test for 2021 but they changed their mind. They may change their mind again in 2022 unless they think there will be enough computer resources to do this online.

They will replace the GA questions by thinking skills questions. If we look at the selective sample TS paper, they have about 50% of mathematical+spatial reasoning questions and 50% verbal reasoning questions. The big question in the mind of parents would be whether GA tests are still relevant. My opinion is that the GA questions are still relevant as they boost skills in maths reasoning, spatial reasoning and vocab which is useful for understanding verbal reasoning questions. This is why I think students should still do GA tests. There is nothing to worry about the 50% of mathematical+spatial reasoning as I expect students on this website have all what they need to do well.

Then the next question is "What is the TS verbal reasoning?" It's a new style of questions based on verbal arguments. It is grouped into 2 groups. One is of argument and the other one is of logical deduction (only a few questions). The argument group uses the basic skills students learn in English reading with a focus on Main Idea, Supporting Details, Conclusion and Argument. An argument can be defined as a process where the writer/speaker presents the main idea and supporting details on the way to reach a conclusion. So, one can consider "argument" as a presentation method (writing method). Students already work on these basic skills when they do the Reading Skills series from year 3-5. What Cambridge does with TS questions is that they set them at a very hard level where all the basic skills must be good enough before students can deal with Cambridge's questions.

But all this change does not really make much of a difference because students still need to prepare the foundation before they reach the level where they can deal with the exam. And this means the real test preparation only happens about 12 weeks before the exam. The only difference is that the TS questions are set at such high level that it does not make sense for kids to start doing any selective trials before the end of year 5.

01 Feb
The OC result from the delayed 2020 OC test looks much as expected from an ACER test. The only notable difference is that English scores look more stable. The GA scores actually looks high so the scaling for it is probably lower. Students will move on to 2022 where they will do the new Cambridge test. This roup is lucky because in 2021, the first group to do the Cambridge test will face a lot of uncertainty due to the change in test format and the switch from GA to Thinking Skills.

For details on the 2020 OC prep and test result, follow this link.

18 Nov
The OC test in 2020 has been delayed so much that it happens in Nov. Students are tired and they don't get a lot of break time to rest before year 5 starts. What this means is that students should be allowed to rest very well from Nov to Jan 2021. Often parents are in a hurry to get students back to studying again for the selective test. This is not a good idea.

However, for those who really rest, it's a great time to improve English by simply reading a big variety of books and big fiction series. English is always the most important area of learning as it supports GA and word problems in maths. It's very important to enrich English vocab to cope with the hard verbal tests in GA.