A comprehensive guide to the NAPLAN, and how to ACE it

While you cannot fail the NAPLAN, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously. Here are a few study tips to help you ACE the NAPLAN.

a year ago   •   4 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Avery Evans / Unsplash

NAPLAN can be quite a daunting period of the year for students and parents. This guide will provide a comprehensive view of what the NAPLAN is, what are the tests, how is your performance measured and some general tips to succeed.

What is NAPLAN?

The National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is a nationwide assessment that evaluates students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, to provide information on their performance in key learning areas to students, parents, and educators from school. The assessment takes place annually to help identify areas of the education system that may require improvement.

Starting in 2023, the NAPLAN system will undergo various changes, including a shift in the testing period from May to a 2-week window in March. Additionally, all tests (except Year 3 writing) will be conducted online, enabling students to receive their results earlier in July. The grading system has also been altered, with new proficiency standards featuring four levels of achievement, replacing the previous 10-band structure.

The Tests

Language Conventions (45 mins):

This test consists of questions that are designed to test your ability to recognise and apply correct spelling, grammar and punctuation in various contexts. It is a mixture of multiple-choice and short-answer questions.

Writing (40 mins)

For this test, you are given a stimulus, which might be a picture, a prompt, or a statement, and are asked to write a text in response to the stimulus. The text may take the form of a narrative, a persuasive text, or an informative text, depending on the year level.

Reading (45 mins for year 3, 50 mins for year 5, 65 mins for years 7 and 9)

The reading tests consist of a series of reading passages, followed by a set of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. The test measures your ability to read and comprehend different types of texts, such as narratives, persuasive texts, and informative texts. To do well, you must have the ability to locate and retrieve information, make references and draw conclusions, and analyse and evaluate texts.

Numeracy (same times as reading)

This section assesses your skills in areas such as number and algebra, measurement and geometry, and statistics and probability. It is a combination of multiple choice and some short-answer questions that require you to critically, problem-solve and apply mathematical concepts in real-world situations. For Years 7 and 9, there are 2 tests: a calculator-allowed and a non-calculator.

What do the results mean, can you fail?

NAPLAN is NOT a pass-or-fail type of test. Performance in the tests is measured based on the scores that students achieve in the assessment. The scores are reported using proficiency bands. These new levels are:

  • Exceeding
  • Strong
  • Developing
  • Needs additional support

According to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the standard for proficiency is set at a “challenging but reasonable level”. If your results are in the ‘Strong’ or ‘Exceeding’ level then you have demonstrated considerable proficiency with your literacy and numeracy skills being at an acceptable stage of your current schooling.

While you cannot fail the NAPLAN, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously. In the end, it will ultimately help you with progressing your learning. So, it is important to give it your all to ensure you have a thorough and clear understanding of what areas you need to improve for long-term success.

Tips to Succeed

  • Stay up to date with the content you have been learning at school (even in previous years) because the tests are based on the syllabus of the Australian Curriculum
  • Familiarise yourself with the test format so you can plan your time accordingly. This can be done by completing practice tests found online here UNDER TIMED CONDITION.
  • With NAPLAN being fully online now, get comfortable with using technology and submitting answers successfully.  
  • Prepare tactics to tackle certain types of questions. For example, for multiple-choice questions, you might need to adopt a process of elimination.
  • On the day of the test, ensure you have a healthy breakfast and get plenty of rest the night before to ensure you have great physical health. This will provide you with sufficient energy and nutrients to help you perform at your best!

Hopefully, by now you guys that are completing NAPLAN now or shortly are feeling much more confident.

Just remember that these tests are only one measure of your academic success so don’t stress out too much, just go out there and give it your best shot and that's all you can do.

Good luck!!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the hardest test?

This is purely subjective as it is shaped by your strengths and weaknesses. Someone who is highly talented at maths, they will find the numeracy section easier than someone who struggles to pick up on mathematical concepts quickly.

Is NAPLAN compulsory?

All students in Years 3,5,7 and 9 are expected to participate in these tests unless they are exempt or withdrawn from these tests by parents or carers.

How to manage time effectively during the tests?

The best way to manage your time effectively is to understand the different sections of the tests before the actual date. This will help you to identify how much you should spend on the easier and harder sections.

Written by KIS Academics Tutor for HSC Mathematics, Hemish Ahuja. Hemish is pursuing a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies with Professional Practice at Macquarie University. You can view Hemish’s profile here and request him as a tutor.

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