Whether you are taking the Selective High School Placement Test (SHSP) in NSW, Academic Selective Entrance Test or the GATE Test in WA, the Ignite Test in South Australia or any public or private selective school entrance tests in any Australian states, reading comprehension is one compulsory test that students must ace to qualify for an offer.
For some states, the selective school entrance tests may be months away, but it’s never too early to prepare. With a difficulty scale far more challenging than the NAPLAN, it is essential for your child to be prepared, especially in Reading Comprehension.
Reading Comprehension in any selective test is highly rigorous and designed to be extraordinarily difficult, testing language skills, logical thinking, problem-solving and comprehension abilities. Additionally, the severe time limit provides little space for in-depth reading of texts. Many students are unused to these conditions and may struggle if inadequately prepared. However, it is very possible to do well if students apply reading comprehension strategies and have more practice on such questions.
To start off, students must be aware of the time limit for the reading section. For example, there were 35 questions and a 35-minute allowance in the WA’s GATE test to answer them. This meant that for success, students had 1 minute per question. Check the time given and the number of questions in the test for the particular test your child is taking. The reading comprehension tests differ in time and number of questions for selective entrance exams across different Australian states and also across different private schools.
Most reading questions for selective entrance tests are multiple choice. For maximum success, we advise students to simulate the time limit at home, allowing 1 minute per question in a practise environment and quickly moving to the next question when the limit is up. There are some timed reading comprehension tests tailored to your state for practice here https://www.testchamps.com.au/selective-school-testing/
Reading the Texts
Skimming and scanning reading methods are essential for quickly getting information from a passage. When answering questions, read the text with your question in mind, skimming the passage specifically for that question.
If you’re stuck on a question and your minute is up, attempt a guess at the answer and move to the next question. It’s better to guess one answer than missing 5-6 questions because of wasted time. If there’s a time in the end, go back through your paper and attempt that question again using textual evidence.
Inferential and Literal Questions
Selective school test reading questions are seldom literal, where the answer is found in the text, and more commonly, inferential. Inferential answers must be found using information from the text and are the questions students tend to struggle with. Focus on key words from the question and use clues in the text to find the answer. Avoid using prior knowledge to answer – it’s always best to find everything in the passage.
Inferential questions can be easily approached using the elimination method. Questions will often have 2 options that are very similar or that both make sense, making it difficult for students to choose their answer. To break this tie, reading through the text with both questions in mind will usually offer a stronger answer for one. When in doubt, pick the answer that makes the most sense for both the question and in the text.
Conditions in a highly competitive selective exam can make many students feel anxious, and this can lead to poor test results. To avoid nerves, have your child work through practise tests in timed conditions. Simulating the real limit will build students’ confidence and familiarity when the real test arrives.
Check the practice tests here https://www.testchamps.com.au/selective-school-testing/ Remember to select the state where your child is taking the test as selective school tests do differ across states. With more practice, your child will feel more confident in the selective school test.