Planning to get admission to a selective high school for years 8 to 11? Then you need to clear the HAST test, which requires sincere and dedicated preparation to pass.

It’s an ability test developed by ACER to evaluate students’ academic potential and innate ability. This exam is different from curriculum-based exams, the reason why students need rigorous preparations.

In this blog, we’ll give you an insight into Higher Ability Selection Test (HAST) and suggest foolproof ways to answer each section successfully.

But before that, we will quickly give you an overview of this test.

HAST Test – An Overview

HAST is an ability test for identifying academically gifted students to facilitate their participation in enhancement learning and accelerated programs.

The test is available for the following levels – junior secondary (For year 7 students who want to get admission in Year 8), middle secondary (For years 8 and 9 students who want to gain admission in Years 9 and 10), and senior secondary levels (For years 10 and 11 who want to gain entry in Year 11 and 12).

Note that the choice of test level will be determined based on the current year level of the candidate at the time of the exam and not by the candidate’s age.

This exam is crafted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) test developers. The test is constantly revised and redrafted to ensure that the final test results are reliable and to easily differentiate between stronger and weaker students.

Exam Format and Preparation Tips

The test has a wide range of contexts and contains four sections in the following chronological order:

Mathematical Reasoning

This section of the HAST test consists of MCQs that you must complete within 40 minutes. This section assesses the student’s ability to interpret mathematical information. The subject areas include time, space, measurement, logical relations, etc. At the same time, the science area has questions on geology, geography, astronomy, physics, and more.

  • Try out practice tests frequently and understand algebra well and the tricks to solve simultaneous equations.
  • Draw diagrams and label each part, so you avoid any silly mistakes.

Reading Comprehension

This test evaluates the student’s ability to interpret different text types like articles, extracts, poems, biographies, fiction, drama, etc. Reading comprehension is one of the challenging sections of the HAST test. You’ll need to answer all questions within 45 minutes. So, you need a solid preparation to crack it. Let’s check out some of the preparation tips.

  • Read books, articles, and poems as much as you can.
  • Increase your vocabulary to comprehend complex texts and passages. Keep a dictionary – that helps a lot.

Abstract Reasoning

You need to complete all MCQs within 30 minutes. The questions are based on non-verbal reasoning. This section is difficult to prepare since you won’t get questions from your textbooks.

Mainly, you have to perceive ideas and recognise relationships at an abstract level. You need great hypothesising, pattern recognition, and evidence evaluation capabilities. However, there are several ways to improve your stamina and confidence.

  • Practice questions on NSW’s ICAS Science competitive exams because questions asked in abstract reasoning are similar to this exam.
  • Rotate your exam book while working out the patterns.
  • Sometimes questions may have a set of facts based on which you need to make inferences. You can work out on the practice question papers. It will give you deep insights into the type of questions being asked.

Written Expression

This section is further sub-categorized into two parts:

  • Discursive task
  • Creative task

You’ll get 25 minutes to complete this section. Since questions are tweaked every year, you may be asked to write on both discursive or creative tasks, or you may be required to write just one, not the other. Administrators will evaluate your marks based on – structure and organisation, thought and content, style, expression, and mechanics. Most students find it difficult to crack this part due to time constraints. Follow our tips to practice answers within a stipulated time frame.

  • Though you have only 25 minutes to answer this section, we recommend you take 5 minutes from this 25 minutes to plan your response.
  • Make sure you add titles and paragraphs.
  • Read story books – that will give you a deep understanding of how authors naturally incorporate simile, images, and metaphors.
  • Avoid writing superficial or unrealistic things.

Prepare Well to Ace Your HAST Test

Now that you got a holistic understanding of the HAST test and the question format, it’s time to pull your socks up and prepare for your exams. Remember: Doing well in HAST is the first step in securing a good spot in a selective school. If you want to increase your chances of gaining entry, participate in extracurricular activities like volunteering at your local library or playing sports. Spend time in trial tests because it helps build confidence, stamina, and time management. For the HAST practice test papers, you can visit