A number of state high schools offer programs for very able children which accelerate them through high school and reduce secondary schooling from six years to five years. Entrance is by competitive examination, interview and teacher reference. Due to the large volume of applicants, some schools do not interview for the positions.
A number of other schools offer a High Achiever Program for able students which allows the school to extend a group of children, without the acceleration.
Sometimes the reason for students pursuing places at these schools is because of their excellent reputation. Entry into the programs can give a family outside the school zone an opportunity to enter the school.
The Education Department website offers a brief description of all programs in government schools for bright students. It carries an excellent description of the Select Entry Accelerated Learning classes in some government schools.
Further information can be obtained from The Academy of Accredited SEAL Schools at www.sealacademy.org.au/.
SEAL and enrichment classes exam format
The format of the exam depends mainly on the company that has been commissioned by the school to write the papers. The main companies writing entrance exams for SEAL and High Achiever programs are ACER and Edutest™. Some schools decide to write their own whilst others use independent educational consultants.
With this in mind, it is important to understand which company is preparing the exam for your school. An excellent place to start is the school’s website.
The formats for these companies differ and a general guide to the format can be seen for each :
- Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER)
ACER HAST format
Schools have a choice of different combinations of HAST. They can choose the following formats:
|Four Tests||Four Tests||Three Tests|
|Three Tests||Two Tests|
This area looks to assess the ability of the writer to clearly convey their thoughts in a written piece. The ACER website refers to the assessment of thought and content; structure and organisation; expression, style and mechanics of a candidate’s response.
It must be noted that from past experience, ACER has sometimes provided a prompt for a creative piece of writing but at other times for an opinion or analytical question for written expression. We recommend that to be prepared for the written expression of a HAST exam, you should undertake both our opinion writing and creative writing workshops to prepare for any unexpected topics.
This is to test mathematical abilities rather than mathematical knowledge. It is widely different from school based Maths. Most are worded problems. The ACER website states that the test may require the candidates to extract information; interpret figures; identify connections, relationships and patterns; and identify similarities and differences.
This is a paper requiring inferential skills to interpret written text, maps, diagrams, graphs, cartoons or photographs for 40 minutes with forty questions.
A test of the ability to recognise similarities and patterns in unfamiliar designs. Such reasoning processes are widely accepted as being fundamental to understanding new information and ideas. Using designs rather than words allows reasoning processes to be assessed independently of language skills.
This company uses the same format for scholarship and accelerated programs.
Those students wishing to apply for scholarships or places at two different schools will need to sit at the earliest exam and share the results with the other schools, after paying a fee to each school.
Their format for the exam is as follows:
Written Expression (usually a creative piece)
This area looks to assess the ability of the writer to clearly convey their thoughts in a written piece. The Edutest™ website refers to the assessment of punctuation, creativity, construction, grammar, spelling and relevance to the task.
Common to all exams, the writing component looks at the student’s ability to present their thoughts through writing. The main aim is to assess the content, structure and expression of the written piece.
The Edutest™ website refer to mathematical knowledge, including number, measurement, algebra, space and data. 30 minutes will be given for 60 questions.
The Edutest™ website notes that this area “measures the capacity to read and interpret meaning from written passages and sentence correction.” 30 minutes will be given for 50 questions.
This paper examines how well a student can think and reason numerically. The paper has about 45 questions to be completed in 30 minutes.
This paper looks to see how well a student can think and reason verbally. The paper has 60 questions to be completed in 30 minutes.