Sitting a scholarship test, as many would agree is the most dreaded part of a scholarship application. The exam is hugely competitive with strict time limits in place—as little as 25 minutes is given to write a full essay. Moreover, to be successful in a scholarship test, your child cannot excel in just one area but they must perform well in all areas.
Understanding the common components of a scholarship test—mathematics, written expression and reading comprehension will give your child the opportunity to prepare for their important test in an effective way.
Exam Success prepares students for scholarship exams and in this post, I’m going to outline each of commonly tested areas above. These three areas appear in nearly all ACER, Academic Assessment Services and Edutest scholarship exams. In each part, I’ll provide a sample test question and give you valuable tips to help your child get high scores.
Here are the common areas tested in nearly all scholarship exams:
Mathematics appears in nearly all scholarship exams. It tests not only your knowledge of mathematical concepts, but also, your ability to apply mathematics.
ACER mathematics tests are especially difficult as they often test the application and knowledge of mathematics concepts in an interesting way. They often have a ‘missing link’ that has to be identified, calculated and then used to calculate the correct answer.
Here’s a sample question from our range scholarship test papers to show you what I mean:
Here are the first three diagrams in a pattern formed with stick
How many sticks are needed to make the 8th diagram?
A 10 B 13 C 16 D 20.
This question actually involves simple arithmetic and the ‘missing link’ that makes this difficult is first, figuring out the fourth image and then the calculation to approach it quickly.
The answer is C.
Visually, it looks like the pattern extends the triangle to a rhombus (the shape that looks like a diamond) and then the rhombus then gets extended by another triangle. The image you’d then assume comes next (4th image) would be of two rhombi. Such an image would use 4 sticks.
Therefore, the 8th would have four rhombi. Therefore 4 x 4 = 16.
There are other alternative means of getting to this answer such as using a pattern of +1, +3 after the 3rd image however such a method does take time. The quickest way to complete mathematics scholarship tests are to combine visual pattern detection and use shortcuts to get to the answer quickly.
In my view, this is the hardest part of any scholarship exam. The other parts of the test are multiple choice so if you don’t know an answer, you could guess and through sheer luck, get the right answer.
However, written expression doesn’t give you this free pass. Every mistake your child makes is there for the exam marker to see.
Scholarship written expression questions or prompts, as they are known, usually request your child to write a persuasive (also known as argumentative) piece or a narrative.
For creative writing pieces, the prompts are usually images and students craft their story around the image.
Here’s a Year 7 scholarship prompt that your child can practice on. Hint: This is similar to a question that appeared in a past scholarship test:
“Graffiti is art. Do you agree or disagree?”
This prompt would require your child to write a persuasive writing piece. A good response would have good grammar, expression and answer the question using well-supported arguments.
A common mistake is when students misinterpret the question. Sometimes students will write about whether graffiti is a bad thing to do as that’s what they normally associate with graffiti. However, such a response doesn’t answer the question. Your child’s response should directly relate to what the question is asking.
A scholarship-winning written expression response answer the questions and takes it a step further by presenting thoughtful and sometimes unexpected arguments that are extremely convincing to the reader.
Reading is also known by its other name of “reading comprehension” and this exam tests a student’s ability to understand what they read.
There are other ‘versions’ of reading comprehension the deal with specific styles of texts. In some ACER exams, there’s an examinable area in a scholarship test called “Humanities – Comprehension and Interpretation”. The skill being tested is the same as reading comprehension, however, the questions concern humanities text (non-fiction) rather than other texts found in general reading tests like narrative and poetry.
Here’s a sample practice question from our range of scholarship test papers [LINK] your child can use to practice on:
A SEAGULL having bolted down too large a fish, burst its deep gullet-bag and lay down on the shore to die. A Kite saw him and exclaimed: “You richly deserve your fate; for a bird of the air has no business to seek its food from the sea.” (Aesop’s Fables)
The Kite believes that the seagull “deserves his fate” because:
A: he ate a fish that was too big for his body to handle.
B: he ate the wrong type of fish.
C: he should know that large fish are dangerous.
D: he shouldn’t be taking from another habitat.
The answer here is D. At Exam Success, we use a method we call the “on-balance keyword approach”. Using this method, we look for certain keywords that together, on balance, lead us to the right answer.
The statement after “deserves your fate” is “for a bird of the air has no business to seek its food from the sea”. The keyword is “no business” which implies that the seagull shouldn’t have taken from the sea and instead stayed in his own area. The answer option that would relate to this would be D.
Other than using the on-balance keyword approach, my other tip to improve in reading comprehension relates to reading the question first before going through the extract/passage. In doing so, your child will have more focus in searching through the answer when reading through the text.
While this seems unnatural at first (because we tend to read from top to bottom), this method helps save time – I’ve used this tip myself when studying for my own competitive exams.
If you enjoyed this blog post, comment below and let us know. If you’d like to get more information about numerical, verbal (on Edutest tests) and abstract reasoning (Academic Assessment Services tests these), also comment below – we may include it in the next blog post.