The Beginner’s Guide to Year 6 NSW Selective Schools

How Selective Schools work can definitely be confusing. We have compiled this guide to help you better understand which Selective School is best for your child, how to prepare for the test and the application process.

What are Selective Schools?


A Selective High School is a public school but with more attention given to academic excellence.

To get into a Selective School, a student must sit a Selective School Entrance Test which tests a student’s academic capability. Entrance to a Selective School is competitive. For example, in 2020, 28% of applicants who sat the test were offered a spot.

We have created this Guide for parents to help them better understand Selective Schools and the Selective School Test so you can make an informed decision.


Different types of Selective Schools

There are five different types of Selective Schools in NSW.

  1. Fully Selective High Schools
  2. Partially Selective High Schools
  3. Agricultural Selective High Schools
  4. Aurora College
  5. Conservatorium High School

Let’s have a look at the differences between them.


1. Fully Selective High School

There are currently 22 fully Selective Schools in NSW where all classes are academically selective. The majority are located within the Sydney region.


2. Partially Selective High School

There are currently 24 partially Selective Schools in NSW. Only some classes are academically selective.


3. Agricultural Selective High School

There are five Agricultural Selective Schools in NSW:

  • Hurlstone Agricultural High School
  • James Ruse Agricultural High School
  • Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School
  • Yanco Agricultural High School
  • Richmond Agricultural College (partially selective)

These Selective Schools will place some emphasis on the study of agriculture. It is compulsory to study Agriculture in Years 7-10 at these schools.


4. Aurora College

Selective schools are not just for students located within the Sydney region. Aurora College is a virtual high school for rural and remote students in Years 7-10.


5. Conservatorium High School

Conservatorium High School is a public high school but with a specific focus upon Music. The selection criteria for Conservatorium High School includes the Selective School Test as well as a musical audition.


Should I consider Selective Schools?

The simple answer is, it depends.

If you would like your child to flourish in Sports or the Creative Arts, Selective Schools may not be the best choice as they tend to focus more on academic vigour (with the exception of Conservatorium High School).

However, the 2018 NSW Education report found that selective schools have supported gifted and talented students socially and emotionally by providing them with academic opportunities and an environment with like-minded peers.

So, if your child is academically-oriented, a Selective School may be highly beneficial for them.


Selective Schools vs Private Schools

The next question you may be asking is what about Private Schools? How do they compare?

Private schools have also topped the HSC rankings. So, you may also be wondering if more opportunities are available in Private Schools compared to Selective Schools.

While Private Schools are much more expensive ranging from $4000 to $40 000 per year, there are scholarships available which you may wish to consider.

To give you a sense of the similarities and differences, we’ve compared different schools.

For boys, we have compared Sydney Boys High School, Parramatta Marist High School and Sydney Grammar School so you can see the differences between a Selective School, a Catholic Independent School and a well-known Private School:


Sydney Boys High SchoolParramatta Marist High SchoolSydney Grammar
Entrance RequirementsMinimum score of 217/300 in the 2018 Selective School TestRecent school report and NAPLAN resultsInternal exam based on English and Maths skills.
2020 HSC Ranking10465
Fees for Year 7 as of 2019$2199$4725 (excludes uniform, excursions, books etc.)

Several scholarships available.

$42 718 (excludes uniform, excursions, books etc.)

25 Scholarships awarded based on either academic performance or musical talent.

Notable Leadership Opportunities
  • Army Cadets
  • Duke of Edinburgh
  • Army Cadets
  • Air Force Cadets
  • Duke of Edinburgh
Notable Sporting Opportunities
  • Sailing
  • Fencing
  • Swimming
  • Member of the Great Public Schools (GPS)
  • Golf
  • AFL
  • Rugby
  • European Handball
  • Sepak
  • Wide range of Sporting facilities including swimming pool, boatshed, gymnasium and access to rifle shooting and fencing
  • Fly-fishing
  • Member of the Great Public Schools (GPS)
Notable Creative Arts Opportunities
  • Musical Production
  • Drama Production
  • Choral Group
  • Vocal Group
  • School Orchestra Program
  • Ceramics
  • Creative Writing Club
  • Drama Club
  • Concerts
  • Musicianship and AMEB exams
Notable Academic Opportunities
  • E-Team Presentation
  • MUNA Representative
  • National Chinese Eisteddfod
  • Tournament of Minds
  • STEM Club
  • F1 Competition
  • Australian Space Design Competition
  • Tournaments of Minds
  • Coding Club
  • Informatics Club
  • Politics Club
  • Ceteris Paribus (Economics Club)
  • Fly-fishing Club
  • Indigenous immersions to NT and QLD
International Opportunities
  • Exchange visits with schools in France and China
  • Exchange visits to France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland
  • Sport tours to UK, US, South America, France, Japan, Italy and New Zealand
  • History tours to France, Belgium, Russia and Indochina


Similarly, we have compared North Sydney Girls High School, St Clare’s College and Wenona School for Girls:

North Sydney Girls High SchoolSt Clare’s College (Catholic)Wenona School for Girls
Entrance RequirementsMinimum score of 216/300 in the 2018 Selective School TestInterview, recent school report and NAPLAN resultsSchool Report, Reference and Interview
2020 HSC Ranking48615
Fees for Year 7 as of 2019~$2000$6409 (excludes uniform, excursions, books etc.)~$30 000 (excludes uniform, excursions, books etc.)

Music and Academic Scholarships available

Notable Leadership OpportunitiesDuke of EdinburghDuke of Edinburgh
  • Gender Equity Group
  • Duke of Edinburgh
Notable Sporting Opportunities
  • Rollerblading
  • Surfing
  • Yoga
  • Standup Paddle Boarding
Water polo
  • Fencing
  • Water Polo
  • Snowsports
  • Golf
  • Diving
Notable Creative Arts Opportunities
  • Sydney Eistedfodd
  • Beijing International Orchestra
  • Theatre Sports
  • Rock Group
  • Musical Performance
  • Creative Arts Tour to Venice, Florence, Paris and New York
  • Oil painting, watercolours, ceramics, fashion illustration, filmmaking and design workshops
  • Musical Performance
  • Dance Performance
Notable Academic Opportunities
  • Karl Ramp Debating Competition
  • Hume Barbour Debating Competition
  • iSTEM elective
  • Mock Trial
  • Partnered with University of Sydney’s STEM Academy
  • Engineers Without Borders
  • Sunsprint Challenge
  • Coding Club
  • Macquarie Cup Debating Competition
  • University of Sydney Union Schools Debating Competition
  • Design Thinking Projects
  • STEM Elective
International OpportunitiesN/AN/A
  • Cross Cultural Exchange with 19+ countries
  • Service Learning trip to Vanuatu, China, Tanzania, Cambodia, Borneo, Thailand, Fiji and Peru

As you can see from the above table, there are plenty of academic opportunities available in Selective Schools. However, international opportunities and sporting opportunities will be limited in schools that lack the resources of private schools.


So, how do I choose the right school?

In the next article, we discuss how to go about deciding which is the best Selective School for your child. We look at the different factors you should consider and provide details of the different schools that you can apply to.

If you think a Selective School may be a good option, read on to find out which Selective School is best for your child!

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