Smart enough for selective school? Take the test
Thousands of primary school students will spend their summer holidays at coaching colleges grappling with tricky logic questions introduced in an overhaul of NSW selective school tests.
The long awaited official practice test was released to parents on Friday, sending tutoring companies scrambling to finetune their school holiday curriculum.
About 15,000 Year 5 students are expected to sit the selective high school exam next March but competition will be fierce with only 4226 positions on offer for Year 7 entry in 2022.
The government announced in October it would revamp the entrance exam in a bid to make the test more challenging so the smartest students, not just the most tutored, gain entry into selective schools such as James Ruse Agricultural College.
Advice given to parents said: "The Department of Education does not recommend any specific coaching for the test."
But that has not stopped tutoring companies from trying their best to give their students an advantage.
Global Education Academy owner Dr Majeda Awawdeh said her 20 staff this week have been working to tweak the syllabus for their $2590 two week selective school coaching holiday camp to bring it in line with the changes.
"We have 20 teachers here, they're writing and working and modifying for the new structure," she said.
"Usually we do four hours a day during the holidays, we added an extra hour, now we do five hours a day to include the thinking skills."
She will enrol 100 students at both their Kogarah and Turramurra offices over the holidays and is confident they will do well because they have always taught problem solving and critical thinking.
CS Education in Bella Vista in Sydney's northwest also says it has adapted to the revamped tests. "CS Education has fully analysed the upcoming changes and is well prepared to adjust our selective school practice tests," its website said.
Australian Tutoring Association president Mohan Dhall cautioned parents against sending children to coaching colleges because critical thinking and logical reasoning skills could not be taught in a matter of months.
"Parents need to be extremely careful and download a copy of the test paper and check what coaching colleges say their kids are going to do and assess whether the questions being asked are in line with that document," he said.
"I haven't seen questions like this at any of the coaching colleges so there is going to be a significant rewrite of their syllabus that is going to occur.
"It is going to need more than a quick pivot over Christmas, it will take a couple of months of consideration and training."
Owner of Dymocks Tutoring in Parramatta Mark Buckland also warned against making students do copious amounts of practice work to get into a selective school.
"We think coaching for the selective school test focuses on the wrong thing. The purpose of tutoring should be to extend students," he said.
"Some students will go to tutoring because they're lagging behind their peers and they will want some remedial attention and for a large majority, they're doing well and want to do better."
He sends his son Aidan, 13, to tutoring in mathematics and English so he had a good knowledge of the basics, not to try to enter a selective high school.
"You get to learn things you did not know," Aidan said. "When you have trouble learning something tutoring helps you."
Originally published as Smart enough for selective school? Take the test