FAQ - Parents

What is the Higher Ability Selection TEST (HAST)?
HAST is a selection test used by schools to determine academic performance at the top end of achievement. Different schools use selection tests for different purposes. Selective government secondary schools and some independent schools in Australia and overseas, use the HAST to determine which students will gain entry to the schools. Some non-selective government secondary schools offer a number of places to students from out of the local school zone and may award these places based on the results of selection tests. Other schools might use the tests to determine which students entering or enrolled at the school are eligible for gifted and talented or accelerated learning programs. Yet other schools may use selection tests to identify high-achieving students in order to offer them extension activities within mainstream classes.

How do I register to sit the Higher Ability Selection Test? 
To sit the test you need to register with a participating school. Check the list of participating schools then contact the school directly to register.

What year level testing is available?
HAST-P is used for Upper Primary (grade 4 & 5).

HAST is used for Junior Secondary (grade 6/year 7 for entry into year 7/8); Middle Secondary (year 8/9 for entry into 9/10) and Senior Secondary (year 10 for entry into year 11).

If I register with more than one school will I need to sit more than one test? 
If the schools that you are applying for have different test dates then each of these schools will be using a different test and your child will need to sit the test at each school on their nominated date.

What if two schools have tests on the same date? Can I sit for both schools? 
No, you will need to choose one school to sit for.

Are there costs to sit the test? 
You will need to contact the school concerned to find out what fees may be payable.

When is the deadline for registering with a school?
You will need to contact the school concerned as the school determines the closing date.

My family is living overseas.  Can my child sit the test in our current location?
You will need to check with the school to find out if they will consider this option.

Can I purchase past papers or sample questions? 
There are no past papers available, however, you can purchase the HAST Sample Question Booklet in the ACER online shop. The HAST Candidate Information Bulletin also contains a small number of sample questions at no cost.

How can I prepare for the test?
The HAST Candidate Information Bulletin and HAST Sample Question Booklet can give you a very clear idea about the kinds of questions that will be asked. You will feel a lot more confident about facing multiple-choice questions in particular, once you have worked through the samples.  In responding to the Written Expression topics you might be asked to think about the topic, organise your ideas, and express yourself clearly and succinctly. These skills are learned over your lifetime both in and out of school so short term training for the tests is unlikely to improve performance. Your best preparation is to read widely and think critically.

For a more in-depth guide, Scholarships and Selection Tests: A guide for students and parents 2nd edition provides information about the tests, the skills and abilities required to do well in the test and preparing for the test day.

I have purchased sample materials.  When will they be delivered?
All orders placed prior to 2.30pm AEST will be delivered to all major metropolitan areas around Australia the next working day. Deliveries to regional areas of Australia may take an additional 1-2 working days, depending on the location.  Deliveries overseas will take longer, depending on where you are located.

What is the cost of the HAST Sample Question Booklet?
$25 (Inc GST) - with added postage & handling the total cost is $31.95 (Inc GST). 

After my son/daughter sits the test how do I find out about the results?
ACER will provide your results to the school you've registered with. The school will then contact parents about results.

How do I find out whether my child has been offered a place?
The school will contact parents regarding the offer of a place. ACER does not know this information.

My child has an injury/disability/etc that requires special arrangements for the test sitting.  What can I do to arrange this?
Under certain circumstances, and with supporting medical evidence, testing can be provided for candidates with disabilities. For example, test material can be provided for candidates with sight disabilities; and for candidates with arm or hand injuries, a scribe may be permitted.  Please first contact school your child will be sitting the test at to alert them to the relevant issues and requirements.  The school should then contact ACER for guidelines on the provision of testing for students with disabilities.  An arrangement will be made between the school and ACER to provide the necessary measures for your child.

What does the Individual Student Report tell me about my child’s performance on the test?
The report shows how your child has performed relative to all other students of a similar age who have sat this particular test. An individual’s standardised score is compared to other students’ standardised scores and then converted to a percentile rank. An arrow indicates your child’s level of performance for each sub-test and overall.

My child has received a very low score on the Mathematics test and this is surprising because he has always performed at the top of his class for this subject and in NAPLAN testing. What has happened?
As with all test results, the HAST provides a snapshot of performance on the day of the test. There are various reasons why a student may not have performed to the best of their ability, such as illness, anxiety or other distractions. Also, unlike NAPLAN, your child is being compared to a different group of students. These students sit the HAST as part of a selection process for a gifted and talented program so their scores may reflect a test population of above average ability rather than the range of ability found in the general population.

In the Individual Report why is the ‘total’ arrow on the far right column lower than the arrows for each of the sub-tests? Shouldn’t it be higher than the other arrows?
The ‘total’ arrow is not showing the sub-test scores on your child’s report added together. The ‘total’ arrow is showing how your child’s total score compared to all other students’ total score but expressed as a percentile rank. The position of the arrow on the total score column is dependent on how the other students have performed.

Why wasn’t my child selected into the school program as he appears to have done quite well on the test?
It is natural to be disappointed when your child hasn’t been selected, especially when your child is used to excelling and receiving high marks at school. Remember that these tests are designed to be challenging for high-achieving students, and although your child may not have received a place, it doesn’t mean that he performed badly on the test. In any group of students sitting a selection test, the overwhelming majority will be students who achieve in the top 20 per cent of the students nationwide, so even if he scores at the lowest range on this test, he may still be performing at a relatively high level compared to the general population. Also, the individual school will have their own criteria for selection, and these may not be based entirely on the test results. They may also be looking at particular aspects of the results, a strong result in mathematics rather than a strong overall result for example.