The tests

HAST is written by ACER educational test developers and panelled by peer group subject experts. The tests are subsequently revised and re-drafted and then trial tested extensively on groups of students similar to the final candidate intake. An IRT Rasch analysis procedure is used to analyse candidates’ responses to items of varying difficulty and discrimination. The test development process ensures that the final test results are statistically reliable with good discrimination between stronger and weaker students.

Mathematical reasoning

(multiple choice – 40 minutes)

This test assesses a candidate’s ability to comprehend, interpret and analyse mathematical information at the junior secondary level and mathematics and science at the middle and senior secondary levels. The skills assessed include comprehending and interpreting data, inferring, predicting, and drawing conclusions, reasoning and problem solving.

Candidates must apply logical and strategic thinking to work through the questions in the test.

The tasks are presented as numbers, text, diagrams, graphs and tables.  Subject areas include number, measurement, space, time, logical relations and problem solving for the mathematics component of the test while science areas may include astronomy, geology, geography, chemistry, physics and biology.

Reading comprehension

(multiple choice – 45 minutes)

This test assesses a candidate’s ability to understand and interpret a range of texts which may include fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction prose, together with diagrams, tables, charts, or maps.

The test draws on general abilities and the kinds of thinking typically used in the humanities and social sciences areas rather than any specific content knowledge.

Candidates are typically required to negotiate texts containing complex sentences; identify and relate main ideas, themes or issues; identify key logical relations; discriminate between competing interpretations of texts; draw subtle and complex inferences; and evaluate assertions about events or characters on the basis of a global reading of the text or by focusing on key particulars.

Abstract reasoning

(multiple choice – 30 minutes)

This test assesses a candidate’s ability to use abstract reasoning skills in order to recognise relationships and to perceive ideas at an abstract level. These types of skills are widely applicable across the curriculum and are related to successful academic outcomes.

Candidates are required to identify a pattern shown in a sequence of diagrams. The pattern may need to be continued or completed or diagrams may need to be re-ordered to identify the middle term in a sequence. The diagrams comprising the pattern may have a number of elements (size, shape, shading, orientation) that need to be considered when deciphering the pattern.

In responding to the items, pattern recognition, hypothesising and evaluation of evidence are important.

The test contains items with low language content which is particularly useful for NESB students who are able to demonstrate skills without proficiency in English.

Written expression

(Writing task – 25 minutes per task)

This test assesses a candidate’s ability to express thoughts and feelings in written English. Assessment is based on thought and content, structure and organization, expression, style and the mechanics of the candidate’s response. The test provides a measure of generative and creative thinking in addition to language competency.

Two different types of writing task provide an opportunity to write for different purposes and audiences. Written Expression 1 is a discursive task that presents candidates with an issue or topic and prompts discussion of the ideas.  The stimulus is usually verbal.  Written Expression 2 is a creative task and prompts narrative or personal/narrative writing. The stimulus is usually visual.

Test packages

Schools can choose from the following:

4 test package:

Mathematical reasoning, Reading comprehension, Abstract reasoning, Written expression

3 test package:

Mathematical reasoning, Reading comprehension and Written expression 1 or 2


Mathematical reasoning, Reading comprehension and Abstract reasoning.